You feel that this book was written in 2012, but in reality it was penned 1984. The content of the book is so relevant to the religious culture in America; you feel that the author had the ability to predict the future. Even in the 1980’s the author was discussing the moral decline of the country. Needless to say the situation has not improved in the following years.
Francis Schaeffer spends the majority of the book reflecting on the decline of convictions in the Evangelical world. But what was happening to denominations in 1984 is presently happening within the church. He notes the watershed principle in which, at one point, water will flow in either direction. Those in Colorado understand this dynamic well, as the Continental Divide is located in the state. On one side of a mountain range the water will find its way to the Pacific Ocean, while on the other side of the range the water will flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The author indicates that the watershed in Christianity is the issue of the inspiration of the Bible. During the 1980’s, the Evangelical world was compromising on inerrancy of the Word of God. Certain leaders were not denying a level of inspiration of the Bible, but were denying that the Bible was inspired in all areas. These teachers would believe that the Bible was correct on spiritual matters, but could be erroneous on details concerning history, science, and other disciplines. But this step is a huge chasm in Christianity. To reject complete inspiration is to reject that God’s Word is perfect. It seems odd that God would communicate with his people perfectly on spiritual matters, but get history incorrect. If a man compromises on the inspiration of the Bible, the pathway to error is essentially paved.
In the next section of the book the author laments the decline of morality in society, but points the finger of blame back to the church. Church people have mourned the decrease in ethics in culture, but seem to place the responsibility on the world. The author calls the church back to pure living. He realizes that the church is the “salt of the earth, and the light of the world” and for the world to be increasingly more wicked means that the church has been unfaithful in its call to holiness. The church must practice radical holiness and purity. Sadly, the church’s morality in marriage can often be statistically the same as those in the world. For the world to get right, the church must be right first.
One of the best aspects of this text is his insightful understanding of the foundational thoughts that influence society. In one area he calls much of philosophy “religious mumbo jumbo.” He applies this insight into the nature of man. He says that conversations over the definition of man are ridiculous. How smart, how old, how something, these are just attempts for people to confuse the issue over abortion and the sanctity of life. Defining humanity is not that difficult. He also mentions the slogan “do not rock the boat.” He indicates the high level of individualism in culture. But in reality it means that no one takes responsibility for anything. This attitude is even pervasive in the church.
The last great insight from this book is concerning the balancing of holiness and love. He proposes the idea of what to do in a culture or church in which people are polarizing. He notes that both love and holiness must be in tension. There is always complexity in knowing the balance between love and holiness. The author noted changes that were happening in 1984, and as one reads this book, you realize the changes are now reality!
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