Thoughts from 1974 for Right Now (part 2)

I wrote part 1 of this post on April 30th, with the intention of posting part 2 the next day. Life working from home with a bunch of kids in quarantine has a way of disrupting some of our intentions. That was the end of that week, and then it was on to some more pressing matters the next week... all that is to say, we're almost two weeks later and I'm finally posting part 2.

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 1974 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 Schaeffers little book, Two Contents, Two Realities.

In Part 1, I summarized the two contents with excerpts from Schaeffer, and I'll do the same here with the two realities.

The First Reality: True Spirituality

Let us emphasize again as we have before: we believe with all our hearts that Christian truth can be presented in propositions, and that anybody who diminishes the concept of the propositionalness of the Word of God is playing into twentieth-century, non-Christian hands. But, and it is a great and strong but, the end of Christianity is not the repetition of mere propositions... the end of the matter is to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds. The end of the matter, after we know about God in the revelation He has given in verbalized, propositional terms in the Scripture, is to be in relationship to Him. A dead, ugly orthodoxy with no real spiritual reality must be rejected as sub-Christian.

Back in 1951 and 1952, I went through a very deep time in my own life. I had been a pastor for ten years and a missionary for another five, and I was connected with a group who stood very strongly for the truth of the Scriptures. But as I watched, it became clear to me that I saw very little spiritual reality. I had to ask why. I looked at myself as well and realized that my own spiritual reality was not as great as it had been immediately after my conversation. We were in Switzerland at that time, and I said to my wife, "I must really think this through."

I took about two months... I thought and wrestled and prayed, and I went all the way back to my agnosticism. I asked myself whether I had been right to stop being an agnostic and to become a Christian. I told my wife, if it didn't turn out right I was going to be honest and go back to America and put it all aside and do some other work.

And gradually I found something. I found something that I had not been taught, a simple thing but profound. I discovered the meaning of the work of Christ, the meaning of the blood of Christ, moment by moment in our lives after we are Christians - the moment by moment work of the whole Trinity in our lives because as Christians we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That is true spirituality.

The Second Reality: The Beauty of Human Relationships

Read the New Testament carefully with this in mind; notice how often Jesus returns us to this theme, how often Paul speaks of it. We are to show something to the watching world on the basis of the human relationships we have with other people, not just other Christians.

I am talking first of all about non-Christians. The first commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind, and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. After Jesus commanded this, someone said, "Who is my neighbor?" And Jesus then told the story of the good Samaritan. He was not just talking about treating Christians well; he was talking about treating every man we meet well, every man whether he is in our social stratum or not, every man whether he speaks our language or not, every man whether he has the color of our skin or not. Every man is to be treated on the level of truly being made in the image of God, and thus there is to be a beauty of human relationships. This attitude is to operate on all levels.

Now, if we are call upon to love our neighbor as ourselves when he is not a Christian, how much more - ten thousand times ten thousand times more - should there be beauty in the relationships between tru Bible-believing Christians, something so beautiful that the world would be brought up short!... I we do not show beauty in the way we treat each other, then in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of our own children, we are destroying the truth we proclaim.

Men should see in the church a bold alternative to the way modern men treat people as animals and machines. There should be something so different that they will listen, something so different it will commend the gospel to them... There should be beauty, observable beauty, for the world to see in the way all true Christians treat each other.

In Summary:

We need two orthodoxies: first, an orthodoxy of doctrine and, second, an orthodoxy of community... When a person really has desperate need in the area of race, or economic matters, or psychological matters, does he naturally expect to find a supporting community in our evangelical churches? We must say with tears, many times no!

Both orthodoxies must be practiced down into the warp and the woof of life where the Lordship of the Lord Jesus touches every area of our life... And when there are the two contents and two realities, we will begin to see something profound happen in our generation.

I hope this gives some introduction to Francis Schaeffer that may draw you toward his larger body of thought and work. There is a lot to explore from him. If any of this has awakened an appetite for more I would commend to you his book, True Spirituality, which expands on these ideas and is the more robust outworking of that season of wrestling which he references above.

People talk about books being classics. True Spirituality is truly a classic. I read it 5 years ago and it radically altered the trajectory of my life, my ministry and Generations. In that sense it has influenced all of you already. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that outside of the Bible, this has been has shaping to my as any book I've read so I commend it to you all.

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