Monday, July 14, 2008


This blog was related to a class at Wellspring Anglican Church, which has ended. I don't plan to post anything else here.

Those interested in my thought may go to: or

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Propositions to Ponder

Propositions to Ponder in Light of “How Should We Then Live?” Book and Film Series by Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-84)

The following thoughts are offered to review some of the most salient ideas of this series and to stimulate further thought for your discipleship under Christ and before “the watching world” (as Schaeffer put it). I make no claim that this list is exhaustive or that I have necessarily covered all the most important points.

1. A person’s thinking effects everything about that person. The thought forms of a culture largely determine the fate of that culture. A culture is only as strong as its sense of and obedience to divine reality. See Matthew 7:24-29.

2. Western Christians should know something of the history of Western civilization, in spite of (and because of) the loss of historical knowledge today. This shortfall is especially egregious among those under thirty. See Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation (Tarcher, 2008). Some historical knowledge is required if we are to understand the present, our place within it, and what we should to for the Lord (see 1 Chronicles 12:32). Can we “read the signs of the times”?

3. The secular humanist project of making sense of life and giving meaning to it apart from biblical revelation has failed, philosophically, culturally, and personally. See Proverbs 8:35-36.

4. Christianity alone gives the proper meaning, dignity, and significance to human beings (as created in God image, fallen into sin, but redeemable through Jesus Christ), but does not make them the center of reality. Because Christianity is theocentric and Christocentric; it is not anthropocentric, but neither is it misogynistic. For a biblical (and Pascalian) view of the human condition and plight, see Doug Groothuis, On Pascal (Wadsworth, 2003), chapter eight.

5. Art often tellingly expresses the worldview of an age. Artists are often like antennae that pick up on culture trends and moods before others do so. Moreover, the art of a culture probably affects culture more than its overt philosophy. See Francis A. Schaeffer, Art and the Bible (InterVarsity, 1973).

6. Eastern religions cannot give true significance to humans or to nature, since all is dissolved into an impersonal and infinite reality that is beyond reason. For an assessment of how eastern thought has effected the West, see Doug Groothuis, Unmasking the New Age (InterVarsity, 1986) and Confronting the New Age (InterVarsity, 1988).

7. Contemporary people tend to put meaning, value, and significance into an “upper story” that is immune from philosophical investigation or empirical verification:

8. Meaning, value, significance, spirituality. Realm of non-reason; requires a leap
Facts, science, verification. Realm of reason; no leap required
Christians should reject these fact/value distinctions since (a) Christ is Lord over all of life (Matthew 28:18-20) and (b) Christianity can be supported through reason; it does not require a blind leap of faith into the dark (to reach the upper story). For more on Schaeffer’s apologetic arguments, see He is There, He is Not Silent (Crossway reprint, 2001). The God Who is There, 30th anniversary ed. (InterVarsity, 1998), and Escape from Reason (InterVarsity Press). For a tremendous exposition of the fact/value dichotomy by a student of Schaeffer, see Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Crossway, 2004).

9. The scientific revolution was based on a theistic worldview, not a naturalistic one. This was in keeping with a Christian concept of nature as rational and knowable. See Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God (Princeton, 2003), chapter two.

10. We owe the benefits of individual freedom, human rights, and constitutional form in civil government to the ideas that flowed from The Reformation in Europe. Schaeffer also developed these ideas in A Christian Manifesto (Crossway, 1981).

11. Contemporary science—especially after Darwin—has junked any theistic basis for nature and exiled design as “unscientific.” But Darwinism cannot explain either (a) the origin of life or (b) the diversity of the biosphere, since it can only appeal to time, space, chance, and natural law for its explanations. The critique of Darwinism and the arguments for design in nature have come a long way since Schaeffer’s day, but he was on to the basic ideas. See William Dembski, The Design Revolution (InterVarsity, 2004) and Jonathan Wells, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science and Intelligent Design (Regnery, 2006) and Icons of Evolution (Regnery, 2000). See also the DVDs: “The Case for Creator” and “Unlocking the Mystery of Life.” Both are by Illustra Media and available at

12. Contemporary media often manipulate the populace through selective reporting and its implicit worldview of naturalism. Christians should critique the worldview of the mainstream media and consult alternative sources. On scientific matters, see The Discovery Institute: On philosophy and culture, see Doug and Rebecca Groothuis web page: Doug Groothuis blog: Rebecca Merrill Groothuis blog:

13. Much of supposedly Christian theology is held hostage to alien worldviews, perspective antithetical to historic Christian orthodoxy. Schaeffer was especially concerned with traditional liberalism (Harry Emerson Fosdick) and neo-orthodoxy (Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich), both of which grant far too much ground to naturalism. Today many Christian thinkers are compromised by postmodernism. See Doug Groothuis, Truth Decay (InterVarsity Press, 2000), especially chapter seven. Thinkers such as Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) and Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis) are afflicted with postmodern glibness, flippancy, and an unhealthy infatuation with mystery and paradox that robs Christianity of its rational, explanatory, and apologetic power (see 1 Peter 3:15-17; Jude 3). These writers reassert the fact/value dichotomy warned of by Schaeffer forty years ago.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


[In light of Schaeffer's discussions on how the media can manipulate us, I here post an essay I wrote on cultural awareness. I have updated is slightly.]

Curmudgeons are picky about media. They don’t just turn things on and let them run. They develop opinions on what is trustworthy, thoughtful, and worth attending to. In our overly mediated culture, we need to develop some discernment over the media we use and how. This is nothing like a treatise on that subject, although one day I hope to write one. This essay simply lists some of my media sources and some brief commentary. I do not discuss books because I have written long annotated bibliographies on that subject. Books are my primary access to knowledge.

These are the popular media outlets I frequent, for what it’s worth.

1. Television. I watch almost none—except some Ken Burns specials such as “Baseball” and “Jazz.” These can be checked out from local libraries. I suggest engaging in guerilla warfare against television: unplug and unseat televisions wherever and whenever possible. TV-B-Gone is very helpful in this respect. It is a universal remote control that turns off many televisions.

2. Radio: KUVO-FM (89.3). This is Denver’s only genuine jazz station. It is listener-supported. They feature live performances by local artists and many worthwhile programs such as “Jazz Set,” “Piano Jazz,” and “Billy Taylor’s Jazz.” Web page: I have been listening to National Public Radio since the mid-1970s. It is left of center politically, but takes jazz seriously and features some thoughtful, slower-paced news and commentary. Many of their programs are archived on their web page:

In the last few years, I have been listening to more “talk radio,” but only when I’m in the car driving somewhere. The most balanced, congenial, and intelligent host is probably Dennis Prager, who is a conservative Jew and an adult convert to political conservatism. Michael Medved is also quite sharp, but a bit more acerbic than Prager. He, too, is a conservative Jew and, like Prager, is very friendly toward evangelicals. Some may write off Michael Savage as an extremist because of his anger and hyperbolic statements. Nevertheless, he is very witty--although in a narcissistic way--and often courageous in the views he holds. He is not afraid to name evil for what it is (especially regarding the Islamic sources of terrorism) and is a theist of some sort. Rush Limbaugh is the king of conservative talk radio for good reason: he is smart, well-informed, and has a marvelous stentorian voice. The self-promotion is, I think, mostly tongue in check (but can be annoying, nevertheless).

3. Newspapers: Rocky Mountain News and the Sunday Denver Post. I emphasize the editorials and check the “Spotlight” section of the News for popular culture events. My favorite columnists are Thomas Sowell, Mona Charin, Charles Krauthammer, Cal Thomas, and George Will. Norman Provizer has a column on jazz each Friday in The Rocky Mountain News. Dusty Sanders has a column every other week on jazz in The Denver Post, Sunday edition. I also check The New York Times web page almost daily and watch for their book reviews.

4. Magazines: Christianity Today has declined recently in content (too trendy) and form (it is image-dominated), but is still the main organ of evangelicalism. Books and Culture attempts to the evangelical equivalent of the New York Times Book Review. The results are mixed, but there is some very thoughtful writing. My wife and I find that US News and World Report beats Time and Newsweek for content. John Leo’s regular column, “On Society,” is worth the subscription. [This discontinued a few years ago.] I also regularly check (but do not subscribe to) Harpers and The Atlantic Monthly for important cultural trends. The Chronicle of Higher Education is a key organ for college professors and administrators. First Things is a very thoughtful journal, which treats matters of religion and culture. The writers are usually orthodox Jews, Evangelicals, and Roman Catholics. The New York Times Review of Books is an important source on current books, but not as scholarly as The Times Literary Supplement. The Christian Research Journal is the best source for following and evaluating counterfeit religious movements.

5. Movies: I have seen very few recently—meaning the last 15 years—because they are either: (1) too stupid, (2) too sensual or (3) too violent—or all three or any two of the three. My favorite movies are: “Babbette’s Feast” (Danish, with subtitles) “Citizen Kane” (Orson Wells classic) and “It’s a Wonderful Life” (James Stewart classic).

6. Recorded interviews: Mars Hill Audio, hosted by Ken Myers (author of All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes): Myers interviews many thoughtful intellectuals and artists in a bi-monthly recording (CD or cassette).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Episode #4: The Reformation

Some questions to ponder:

1. What about The Reformation has been lost even in Protestant Churches today?
2. How does the Reformation art Schaeffer displayed--Durer, Rembrandt--compare to Christian art today?
3. What is the exact meaning of "Sola Scriptura" with respect to knowledge and theological authority? What role does tradition have for a biblical Protestant?
4. Do you think the Reformers should have destroyed the idolatrous art of the Romanist churches?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Episode #3: Renaissance

Here are some questions on the last film.

1. How can a Christian appreciate art which has a nonChristian meaning or purpose?
2. What is a proper understanding of humanism?
3. Is there a Christian humanism?
4. How much emphasis should Christians place on art, even nonChristian art?
5. Why is so much "Christian art" so bad today--if you think it is?

Another book that looks at the development of modern art that you may want to read is Hans Rookmaaker, Art and the Death of Culture, which has been republished by Crossway. Rookmaaker was an associate of Schaeffer's, who taught at the Free University of Amsterdam and led the Dutch L'Abri for a time. Sadly, he died as a young man (about 51) in 1977.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Transcript of Schaeffer Message: "A Christian Manifesto"

A reader of this blog found a transcript of the Schaeffer lecture, "A Christian Manifesto" (1982). The DVD may now be hard to find, so I hope many of you will read the lecture. It is by no means dated.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Episode #2: The Middle Ages

The episode explored many things, but we focused on the relationship of faith and reason. Another way to think out is, How can we come to know that Christianity is true? How do claims in the Bible relate to claims outside of the Bible?

Today, most people put faith in a realm apart from fact. It looks like this:

Faith: values, preferences, unverifiable
Fact: empirical truths, verifiable

Let me know what you think, please.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Review of "A Christian Manifesto" DVD

This is a sermon delivered at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in 1982 by the seventy-year-old evangelist, apologist, theologian, preacher, teacher, author and activist, Francis A. Schaeffer. It was two years before his death from cancer in 1984. He was not a flashy speaker, but trades rather on reason, passion, and knowledge.

The message basically covers the material from his book, A Christian Manifesto (Crossway, 1981). Schaeffer argues that the secular humanist worldview is responsible for the loss of human value and religious freedoms in the United States. He claims that the Christian worldview will bring forth a different and better culture than a worldview that takes the ultimate reality to be impersonal matter. Schaeffer calls Christians to know their history and to know their Lord as the Master of all life, to use their political freedoms to counter the humanistic consensus in law and culture.

This is solid and stirring stuff. There was no bluff, no glibness, and no trivia in this brave and wise man. He saw the big picture, but did not revel in superficialities. His words are measured, but delivered with fire and light. May his tribe multiply in our day—twenty six years after he delivered this message, a day when abortion on demand is still the law of the land, when infants who survive abortions are left to die, when the infirm are left to die or actively killed (as with Terry Schiavo in 2005), a day when too many Christians are stupefied by conformist and apathetic ways of life that fail to honor Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

This is highly recommended for small groups, adult education classes, family viewing, and in Christian education (high school and above). It would serve the Kingdom of God well if every pastor in America saw this vide and read the book of the same title. Forget about Barna for awhile and take this into your soul.

As Schaeffer once wrote, “Oh, triune God. Shake the world again.”

Sunday, April 6, 2008

On Knowing History

Cicero: "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child."

Winston Churchill: "Study history. Study history."

Episode One: The Roman Age

What are your responses to episode one, "The Roman Age?"

1. Do you think Schaeffer is accurate in his description?
2. What do you make of his theological assessment of the Roman gods?
3. How is American culture like Roman culture?
4. What can contemporary Christians learn from how the Roman Christians responded to their social and political situation?