For the first time in decades, I picked up and read my well marked copy of Francis Schaeffer’s The Great Evangelical Disaster this week. And I noticed more the sadness of it than I did in my callow 20’s. In both the preface and text, Schaeffer acknowledged his health was failing, and he died a few months after publication in 1984. This was to be his last book.
I think his health affected the book. He told in the preface of his hospitalization with a deadline to meet. With help he made the deadline. But the result does not seem as well written or as tightly reasoned as his earlier work.
Nonetheless – and this is part of the sadness as well – it is a prophetic work as noted elsewhere. Most of what he decried in culture and church in the West have only gotten worse. Perhaps his saddest statement comes early on:
It is a horrible thing for a man like myself to look back and see my country and my culture go down the drain in my own lifetime.
Though younger now than he was then, I can certainly relate.
As for his warnings about the direction of Evangelicals, he may have seemed alarmist at the time. But the Neo-Evangelicals of today have pretty much proved him right.
Personally, I used to be a happy reader of Christianity Today. But a few years ago, I cancelled my subscription. I was gladly active in InterVarsity in my college years. (By the way, the leader of my chapter at the time was one Mark Dever.) But with their pushing Black Lives Matter and more, I am thoroughly alienated from them now. I am thankfully not at that point with evangelicals within ACNA, but I have been disturbed by what I see more than once. Too much of what I fled when I fled mainline denominations decades ago I now see among evangelicals. That is one reason I do not refer to myself as evangelical.
Schaeffer’s warnings about American culture have proven too true as well. Have I mentioned this is not a happy read?
And, although I revere the man, I concede his last book is probably not his best book. Nonetheless, it should not be neglected by those who acknowledge the importance of Francis Schaeffer and of his critique of church and culture in the West. Nor should it be overlooked by those concerned by the current direction of evangelicalism.