Remembering Francis Schaeffer -- By: R. Greg Grooms

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 06:2 (Summer 2002)
Article: Remembering Francis Schaeffer
Author: R. Greg Grooms


Remembering Francis Schaeffer

R. Greg Grooms

R. Greg Grooms worked at L’Abri, both in Switzerland and the United States, from 1978–1994. Since 1994 he has worked at the Probe Center, a Christian study center serving students and faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is currently the director.

In the summer of 1974 a committee headed by Billy Graham convened a conference on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. Among the many papers presented at the conference was one entitled “Two Contents, Two Realities,” which begins simply,

There are four things which I think are absolutely necessary if we as Christians are to meet the need of our age and the overwhelming pressure we are increasingly facing. They are two contents and two realities:

The First Content: Sound Doctrine
The Second Content: Honest Answers to Honest Questions
The First Reality: True Spirituality
The Second Reality: The Beauty of Human Relationships1

The paper’s author was Francis Schaeffer. I begin my reminiscences of him here for two reasons. First, because this paper was my first exposure to his work. I was twenty-four years old in 1978, a recent college graduate. I had bummed around Europe for six months, prior to stopping by the Schaeffer’s home in Switzerland. As I listened there to a recording of “Two Content, Two Realities” I was so intrigued by what I heard that I abandoned my travel plans and stayed put. Even now, twenty-four years later, I remain intrigued by Francis Schaeffer and his work. The second reason I begin here is because I can think of no better summary of what was important to him and what so fascinated me than “Two Contents, Two Realities.”

In the interests of full disclosure, let me confess here that I—as we used to say at home—was born and raised a Southern Baptist. My family has been Baptist for several generations. Every pastor of every church I attended as a child was educated at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville during the 1950s. Thus my first impressions of Schaeffer were peculiarly Baptist. Those impressions? This man believes what I believe. His understanding of the gospel was the same as that I had heard preached in revivals by Angel and Homer Martinez when I was a boy. He was, I thought, a true fundamentalist, and thus was trustworthy.

At the same time he was unlike any fundamentalist I had ever met. He was well-read in a wide range of subjects including philosophy, fiction, and history. He took an evident delight in music, not just the Christian composers like Bach, but even wild secularists like Beethoven and Debussy. The visual arts, especi...

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