Thoughts From 1974 for Right Now (part 1)

If you've listened much to my preaching you know I have been impacted quite profoundly by Francis Schaeffer's writings. I wanted to give you all a little taste of his insights here. He wrote a little work in 1973 called Two Contents, Two Realities which is as timely today as could have ever been.

If you're part of Generations then you know we conceive of discipleship as continual growth in 4 key areas: Gospel (theological clarity), Spirituality (personal reality), Community (relational beauty) and Mission (intentional ministry). I see some reinforcement of those categories in Schaeffer's ideas, which are summarized in the following excerpts. I will limit this post to the Two Contents and post the Two Realities tomorrow.

There are four things that I think are absolutely necessary if we as Christians are going 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 first content is clear doctrinal content concerning the central elements of Christianity. There is no use talking about meeting the threat of the coming time or fulfilling our calling at the close of the twentieth century unless we consciously help each other to have a clear doctrinal position. We just have the courage to make no compromise with liberal theology and especially neo-orthodox, existential theology.

Christianity is a specific body of truth; it is a system, and we must not be ashamed of the word system. There is truth, and we must hold that truth. There will be borderline things in which we have differences among ourselves, but on the central issues there must be no compromise...

... And as we have a strong doctrinal content, we must practice the content, practice the truth we say we believe. We must exhibit to our own children and to the watching world that we take truth seriously. It will not do in a relativistic age to say that we believe in truth and fail to practice the truth in places where it may be observed and where it is costly.

The Second Content: Honest Answers to Honest Questions

God made the whole man; the whole man is redeemed in Christ. And after we are Christians, the Lordship of Christ covers the whole man. That includes his so-called spiritual things and his intellectual, creative, and cultural things; it includes his law, his sociology, and psychology; it includes every single part and portion of a man and his being.

The Bible does not suggest that there is something distinct in man that is spiritual and that the rest of man is unrelated to the commands and norms of God. There is nothing in the Bible that would say, "Never mind the intellectual, never mind the cultural. We will follow the Bible in the spiritual realm, but we will take the intellectual and the creative and put them aside. They are not important."

If Christianity is truth as the Bible claims, it must touch every aspect of life... Christianity demands that we have enough compassion to learn the questions of our generation. The trouble with too many of us is that we want to be able to answer these questions instantly, as though we could take a funnel, put it in one ear and pour in the facts, and then go out and regurgitate them and win all the discussions. It cannot be. Answering questions is hard work. Can you answer all the questions? No, but you must try. Begin to listen with compassion. Ask what this man's questions really are and try to answer. And if you don't know the answer, try to go someplace or read and study to find the answer.

It is not true that every intellectual question is a moral dodge. There are honest intellectual questions, and somebody must be able to answer them. Maybe not everybody in your church or your young people's society can answer them, but the church should be training men and women who can...

And there must be the work of the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, what I am talking about is our responsibility to have enough compassion to pray and do the hard work that is necessary to answer the honest questions. Of course, we are not to study only cultural and intellectual issues. We ought to study them and the Bible and in both ask for the help of the Holy Spirit.

The urgency of Schaeffer's plea here is only magnified a generation later. The world is more secular now, and needs us to take them seriously and their questions seriously... and they need us to take our convictions seriously.

That's the the Two Contents: Sound Doctrine and Honest Answers to Honest Questions. Tomorrow we'll look at the Two Realities.

Read Thoughts from 1974 for Right Now (part 2)

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