Carson Clark on Francis Schaeffer vs. Rob Bell

Carsol Clark runs a very interesting blog called Musings of Hard-Lining Moderate. The Assorted Thoughts of An Evangelical Anglican. I often find there very interesting discussions on current issues.

One of his latest posts deals with the Rob Bell debacle and brings an unlikely combatant in the field, the late Francis Schaeffer, one of the Evangelical thinkers who influenced me substantially in my young years., but with whom I cannot disagree more on the most important points.

Here are a few interesting musings from this blog post:

Have you ever come across a quote that describes the present better than its own time? I recently had that experience while reading Barry Hankins’ biographical work, Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America. Time and again I reread Schaeffer’s words, thinking about their applicability to the present theological war over Love Wins. It caused me to consider what Schaeffer would have thought about Bell and contemporary evangelicalism.

To be perfectly candid, I groan virtually every time I encounter Schaeffer’s treatment of history or philosophy. It’s just awful. For example, his so-called “Reformation base” is an ideological Utopia that never actually existed and his criticisms of Thomas Aquinas reveals rampant ignorance about his subject matter. Furthermore, I cringe at the solutions he proposed to legitimate problems. This is perhaps best illustrated by his role in galvanizing the Christian Right into a political bloc after Roe v. Wade. Yet, despite such blunders, his discernment of the cultural challenges of his day were truly penetrating as he identified issues like ecology and homosexuality decades before other conservative evangelicals. It was that ability that enables his observations to still ring true some 30 years later.

“What men find ugly is what they see in Christians who hold to the orthodox doctrine that men are lost, but show no signs of compassion… This is what causes men in our generation to be turned off by evangelicalism.”

My suspicion is that Schaeffer would see that Bell’s fans are motivated not by a rational disdain of “biblical doctrine” (as so many have charged), but rather an existential reaction against the (apparent) delight those individuals take in their doctrines about God’s wrath and eternal punishment. For most the motivation isn’t an assault upon the doctrine of hell, but a retreat from its misuse and abuse.

* * *

I must confess that I could not agree more.

Read the whole post HERE.


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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