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If the number of awards scooped up by George Marsden's 2003 biography of Jonathan Edwards is taken as the index of achievement, Marsden stands as the dean of living interpreters of American religion. With The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, ...

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Stefan Stackhouse

March 12, 2014  11:36am

David: "How to be Your Own Selfish Pig" was authored by his daughter Susan, not by Edith. The Francis Schaeffer of the late 70s and early 80s was not the same Schaeffer of the late 60s and early 70s.

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David Stafford

March 08, 2014  1:01pm

Francis Schaeffer was my hero. In my newbie Christian days, I worked at a Christian bookstore where we were invited to read as many of the books as we wished as part of our outfitting ourselves for our job. Fancying myself to be an analytical thinker, I loved Francis Schaeffer and devoured him up until his wife came out with her book, HOW TO BE YOUR OWN SELFISH PIG, afterwhich, I drifted away from the whole L'Abri idea, which seemed to be pushing the idea of making the world a better place, one paperclip at a time, but with the mechanistic spirit of Hitler ala his movie, THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. After viewing fare such as the Tehrir Square sit-in and life of Mussolini on Netflix, I reread Schaeffer's sermon, A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO, given at "THE EVANGELISM EXPLOSION" church some 32 years ago. And saw in it the same spirit of self-righteous murmuring, complaining, and rebellion I saw in them all. That is why, that in my eyes today, Francis Schaeffer has been exposed as counterproductive.

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Kirk Ruch

March 06, 2014  1:45pm

A refreshing book review, and a refreshing series of comments on it to date. Thank you all.

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Rick Dalbey

March 05, 2014  12:44pm

Stefan, Schaeffer gave me permission to enjoy and create poetry, theater, painting, dance, sculpture, music and to formulate a Christian worldview and apologetic which included political conservatism and appreciation for the inerrant word of God. I've been a serious painter for most of my life. Today I am a Charismatic (pentecostal) Christian, a Calvinist, Ecumenical, with a deep appreciation for history and literature. Professionally I am a Creative Director. In short, a puzzle to my leftist friends and clients. But probably none of this would have been possible without Schaeffer's liberating view of culture through the lens of the Bible.

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Stefan Stackhouse

March 05, 2014  8:34am

The Religious Right's approach may have been counter-productive, but some of this can be attributed to reading too little of Francis Schaeffer rather than too much. Schaeffer did indeed draw a line in the sand between the Christian worldview and secular humanism, but he was entirely right to do so. We can thank Schaeffer that a whole generation of Evangelicals learned that there even was such a thing as a "worldview", what a Christian one looked like, and why it was important to develop it for oneself rather than just uncritically accepting the non-Christian alternatives on offer. If more of the people that became the Religious Right had really read all of Schaeffer rather than just sampling a few tidbits, perhaps things would have turned out far differently. Rather than becoming "tribal", they might have actually been able to reach out and find considerable common ground with other constituencies.

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Stefan Stackhouse

March 05, 2014  8:24am

Also, Schaeffer did not say that the US was founded as a "Christian nation"; he said that while some of the founders were not themselves Christian believers, the US was founded on the basis of a Christian consensus. This much is not historically dubious but rather quite accurate. One little tidbit that many people don't know: Schaeffer developed considerable qualms about churches displaying the US flag. This went beyond just a separation of church and state thing. He felt that it communicated a too-uncritical acceptance and endorsement of a government and society that had strayed all too far away from biblical norms. In contrast, the Religious Right very uncritically wrapped themselves in the US flag.

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Stefan Stackhouse

March 05, 2014  8:18am

The Religious Right may have been greatly influenced by Francis Schaeffer, but that isn't really where he was during the 60s and early 70s. Schaeffer in those days could pretty much be called a dissident, and he actually had considerable sympathy with the cultural critique of the New Left against the mainstream liberal establishment consensus that Marsden writes about. Schaeffer disagreed with the New Left policy prescriptions, of course, as well as with their personal beliefs and lifestyle choices - for the most part. While he would have been opposed to the whole sex, drugs, and rock & roll thing, the back-to-the land movement and the appreciation for the natural and the human was right in line with what they were emphasizing at L'Abri. The Religious Right never bought into this aspect of Schaeffer's emphasis.

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Dr Leslie Robert Keylock

March 04, 2014  5:25pm

The review by Wacker convinced me to read the latest Marsden book.

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