Editorial: The Impact of Francis Schaeffer: Faith, Hope, and Love -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 06:2 (Summer 2002)
Article: Editorial: The Impact of Francis Schaeffer: Faith, Hope, and Love
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Editorial: The Impact of Francis Schaeffer:
Faith, Hope, and Love

Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner is a professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also taught New Testament at Azusa Pacific University and Bethel Theological Seminar y. He is the author of Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament and co-author of The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. His most recent book is Paul, the Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. In addition, he is serving as the preaching pastor of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

In this issue of the journal we reflect upon the legacy of Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer has had a massive influence upon evangelicalism, an influence that lives on in our day. When I think of Schaeffer, the three virtues of faith, hope, and love come to mind. I am using the word “faith” here to mean adherence to truth, his devotion to Christian doctrine, and his unflinching defense of the inerrancy of Scripture. Schaeffer was passionate about the truth of the gospel. He spoke and wrote about “true truth” in an age when relativism was polluting the intellectual climate. Nor did Schaeffer restrict truth to the “spiritual” sphere. The truth of the gospel spoke to every arena of life, including philosophy, music, art, and homemaking. For Schaeffer Christ was not only Lord of the heart but also Lord of the mind. He encouraged Christians to enter the intellectual sphere with confidence and to take every thought captive to Christ. Schaeffer’s intellectual work has been criticized as simplistic and even mistaken in some areas. It is acknowledged by all that Schaeffer was a generalist, and hence he inevitably misconstrued some of the details. But we must beware of diminishing his brilliance as a thinker. He got the big picture right, brilliantly right, and he was able to communicate this picture in a way his contemporaries could understand. Specialists may correct Schaeffer here or there, but many specialists lack the ability to see the whole. They are weak precisely where Schaeffer was strong.

Schaeffer was also a man who loved. He loved people in the particulars of every day life. He made time to meet with and to minister to people. The Schaeffers opened up their home to all the problems and inconveniences and messes that come from loving human beings. Francis Schaeffer showed his love by listening to what others had to say before responding. People were open to Schaeffer’s answers because they knew that he heard their questions. It is fitting that we run his sermon “No Little People” in this journal, for Schaeffer lived out the truth that there are no little people in God’s sight.


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