The Unusual Francis A. Schaeffer -- By: Udo W. Middelmann

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 06:2 (Summer 2002)
Article: The Unusual Francis A. Schaeffer
Author: Udo W. Middelmann

The Unusual Francis A. Schaeffer

Udo W. Middelmann

Udo Middelmann has been the President of the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation since 1988. He has served as consultant and principle speaker for the International School Project and the Russian Ministry for Education in 65 regional capitals of Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Romania, and Moldova since 1991. He taught previously at King’s College, New York from 1989–1995. He was also the Education Program Director of the International Institute for Relief and Development in Geneva, Switzerland from 1984–1988. He has published numerous articles and the book Pro-Existence: Man in the Circle of Reality (InterVarsity Press).


Even at this distance it is still difficult to put a label on Francis Schaeffer, though many people have tried. For instance, Time magazine called him “a missionary to intellectuals,” while some Christians later saw him only as the founder of a community with an alternative lifestyle. Almost twenty years after his death in 1984 his writings are still read and continue to leave their mark on a second generation. He penetratingly exposed the ideas that have shaped our culture and revealed the truth of historic Christianity in relation to all areas of life. His work continues to rally believers from every tradition. At a time when Christians rarely made any significant contribution to public debates in the face of secularism, liberal theology, and widespread cynicism, Schaeffer built up their confidence, concern, and compassion.

With his wife and family, he opened his home and welcomed people from around the world to his table. These guests went to his home in a remote Swiss village in twos and threes, after hearing a lecture somewhere or through word of mouth. They were often amazed to find an educated person in such a setting. They could not easily classify him. He was knowledgeable about current philosophical and social thought and still believed the Bible to be God’s revealed word. He spoke of art and theology, of law and culture, of justice and compassion from a historic biblical perspective. The real world at the end of the 20th century did not damage his Christian belief, but rather confirmed it. He spoke of spirituality in reasonable terms, of truth with certainty, of faith on the basis of sufficient and coherent evidences. He prayed and saw God answer his prayer to enable him to reach his guests, who came from various backgrounds of existentialism, of the absurd, and of moral ambiguity and who were disillusioned with the 20*century experiments with fascism, communism, consumerism, and democracy.

Schaeffer treasured ideas and understood their power to inform, persuade, and to convict for better and for worse. He recognized the uniqueness and...

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