Schaeffer: Defending the faith for your children’s sake

20 12 2011

The following is an excerpt from Frances Schaeffer’s The God Who is There, found in Vol. I of his complete works.  In the first paragraph, I feel a particular heartache that resonants with many parents in our congregation.  I hope Schaeffer’s words give you some instruction, but also I hope prompts some new questions.  For me the value in Schaeffer’s words are that the Gospel must be communicated to your children in such a way as makes sense in their current cultural framework.  This means parents must learn their children in the same way a missionary must learn the culture he has been sent to and for the same purpose. We will be visiting issues such as this with greater frequency over the coming months…

I find that everywhere I go– both in the United States and in other countries– children of Christians are being lost to historic Christianity.  This is happening not only in small groups in small geographical areas, but everyhwere.  They are being lost because their parents are unable to understand their children, and therefore cannot really help them in their time of need.  This lack of understanding is not only on the part of individual parents, bu toften also of churches, Christian colleges and Christian missions.  Some Christian colleges (and I am not talking of ‘liberal’ colleges) lose many of the best students before they graduate.  We have left the next generation naked in the twentieth century thought by which they are surrounded.

So then, the defense for myself and for those for whom I am responsible, must be a conscious defense.  We cannot assume that because we are Christians in the full biblical sense, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, automatically we shall be free from the influence of what surrouns us.  The Holy Spirit can do what He will, but the Bible does not separate His work from knowledge; nor does the work of the Holy Spirit remove our responsibility as parents, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, or teachers.

Having said that, however, Christian apologetics should never be restircted to guarding against attack.  We have a responsibility to communicate the gospel to our generation.

Christian apologetics is not like living in a castle with the drawbridge up and occasionally tossing a stone over the walls.  It is not to be based on a citadel mentality– sitting inside and saying “You cannot reach me in here.”  If the Christian adopts this attitude, either in theory or in practice, his contacts with those who have accepted twentieth-centrury thought will stop.  Apologetics should not be merely an academic subject, a new kind of scholasticism.  It should be thought out and practiced in the rough and tumble of living contact with the present generation.  Thus, the Christian should not be interested in presenting a nicely balanced system on its own, like some Greek metaphysical systme, but rather in something which has constant contact with reality– the reality of the questions being asked by his own and the next generation.

No one can become a Christian unless he understands what Christianity is saying.  Many pastors, missionaries, and Christian teachers seem to be helpless as they try to speak to the educated people and the mass of people about them.  The do not seem to face the fact that it is our task to speak to our generation; the past has gone, the future is not yet here.  So the positive side of apologetics is the communication of the gospel to the present generations in terms they can understand.

From The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol I pg pg 152-153



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