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





Rob Sturdy: “Jesus will win.” Explaining death to a 3 year old…

20 12 2011

Over the past year or so my son and I have read through the Jesus Storybook Bible multiple times.  He always enjoys the reading and is engaged, but it continually amazes me just how caught up he gets in the four stories in the book that deal with the Lord’s Supper, the trial of Jesus, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.  Rarely can we begin the Lord’s Supper and not have to read all four stories.  No matter how much I want to wind down the evening, I find it really hard to refuse reading the Bible to my little boy, especially those wonderful and crucial sections of the Gospel.

This past time reading through was different however.  His excitement was still there, but this time he began to ask questions and the one question that he was most interested in I felt totally ill prepared for.

“Daddy, what’s death?”

My mind went racing.  I had no idea how to answer this.  I walked through several generic answers before I was reminded of a metaphor used for death in the Scriptures.  When speaking of death, the Apostle Paul says that death is an enemy that must be destroyed by our hero Jesus (1 Cor 15.26).  The metaphor of death as an enemy works well with my little boy’s mind.  Right now everything is good guys vs. bad guys, superheros vs. villains.  Happy that the scriptures discussed death in these simple terms that my son could understand I replied:

“Well buddy, death is an enemy.”

“An enemy?” he asked.

“Yup.  A bad guy.”

What happened next was quite intriguing and I thank God for the conversation.

“But I’m strong,” said David, and he flexed his muscles and scowled his face like the cartoon superheroes he watches.

“Death is stronger,” I replied.

“But I’m really fast,” he replied, without near as much certainty.

“Death is faster.”  And while I was talking to David about death it began to dawn on me that one day this enemy would come for David and I felt the same pain that any parent feels when something makes them consider this.  Though my typical reaction would be to force this thought as far away as possible, I resisted the urge and pressed on.  ” One day buddy, death is going to come for you and he’ll win.  He’ll always be stronger than you.  He’ll always be faster and one day he will come for you.”

“Oh,” he said.

But we didn’t leave things there and thanks be to God neither does he!

“But David,” I said, “Jesus is stronger than death.  Jesus is faster than death.  One day, when death comes for you, Jesus will be there and he’ll win.  Even though you could never beat death, Jesus can and he’ll be there for you when you need him.”

“Jesus will win?” he asked.

“Yeah buddy, he always does.”  Then we thanked God that Jesus would beat this bad guy, I kissed David on the cheek, gave him three bear hugs, and off he went to sleep.





The Jesus Story Book Bible: A first look

19 12 2011

My dad was a pretty well travelled businessman.  He was frequently out of town, working hard all (literally)  over the world.  One of the things he would do when he went out of town was get me some small present that he picked up on his travels.  Though I don’t go out of town nearly as much as my dad, I

have picked up the habit of grabing my son David a little gift when ever I do have to go out of town.  My wife and I spent this past weekend in Charleston, attending the New Wine conference at St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant (fantastic!) as well as getting some much needed one on one husband and wife time.  We left David in Myrtle with his godparents. On the way home we stopped at Barnes and Noble and were pleased to see that they carried the Jesus Story Book Bible.  Having received many good recommendations about this children’s Bible, I sat down and read a few of the stories and quickly determined to purchase it for David.  Let me just say before we get too far along, I’m very excited about this book, not only for David but also for myself and Stephanie.  As Dr. Tim Keller has said, “I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian.”  This may sound like a bit of an exageration, but having read through it I must agree.  This is a great book for kids, but I’m ready to go ahead and go out on a limb, adults should purchase this book.  Seminarians should purchase this book.  Pastors should purchase this book.  And yes, it’s just a children’s Bible.  So what makes it so good?

The full title of the book is The Jesus Story Book Bible: every story whispers his name.  Many Christians have a difficult time connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament.  Like many children’s bibles, the The Jesus Story Book Bible covers the major episodes of the Old Testament.  However, unlike many children’s bibles, The Jesus Storybook Bible links every story in the Old Testament to Jesus, and applies the Gospel to every story in both the Old and New Testaments as part of the lesson.  For example, below is a caption from the creation story in Genesis.

God looked at everything he had made, "Perfect!" he said. And it was. But all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened. Whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so it was that the wonderful love story began...

This is the Jesus Story Book Bible’s version of the creation.  Note how this Bible is preparing us for the fall as well as for our redemption.  “God loved his children,” the story reads, “Whatever happened.  Whatever it cost him, he would always love them.  Just as the cover advertises, ever story whispers his name, and this Bible is very good at whispering the name of Jesus in ever story, as well as his highlighting his marvelous and merciful work on the cross.  This will not only help children connect the dots between the O.T. and the N.T., but I think it would be a great help to adults.

It might surprise you to hear me say again that I think adults should purchase this book for themselves.  Let me give two examples.  A good friend of mine, and fabulous preacher, Hamilton Smith, has already confessed to using some of the points made inThe Jesus Story Book Bible in his sermon prep.  And before you pick on Hamilton for using a children’s bible for sermon prep, consider that the famous preacher and author, Timothy Keller, uses the story of Abraham and Isaac from The Jesus Story Book Bible almost word for word in a conference message about the church engaging postmoderns.  That’s how good this children’s bible is.

It’s not just the content that impresses me.  I consider the artwork to be outstanding and highly engaging.  David loves it, but so do I.