“The God Who is There” Review

The God Who Is There. By Francis A. Schaeffer. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1998. 226. Available on Amazon

Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer dedicated his life and ministry to reaching a post-modern world with the gospel of Christ. In his writings, lectures, and fellowship with unbelievers, Schaeffer demonstrated the supremacy of God as the only Being who can satisfy man’s search for truth over and against the overwhelming despair modern man under which man  languishes.

Schaeffer weaves The God Who Is There around three components concerning post-modernism and Christianity. Schaeffer begins with the post-modern conception of “truth” that in reality is no truth at all (28-31; 141), but rather moral and cosmological relativism (31). Then, Schaeffer outlines the “line of despair” below which modern man lives in a world devoid of truth, and then identifies this “line” in the culture (31; sections I and II). Once Schaeffer has demonstrated that modern man, in his despair, cannot live within his own presuppositions (97-99), Schaeffer presents the Christian worldview as the hope for modern man (III—VI).

In these sections, Schaeffer argues that, because the Bible provides genuine truth about God who, in creating the universe and man, we have a real basis for truth (167; 178-180). Without a basis for truth, modern man suffers beneath the line of despair until someone “takes off the roof,” shows him the shortcomings of his own worldview (141-51), and then leads him to the cross (185-87; 191-95). Subsequently Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There produces two noteworthy benefits for its reader by way of both description and proscription. Schaeffer’s method is worthy of our imitation, as he surveys the cultural landscape of the modern world and, in sympathizing for the lost, tries to understand the artists and writers in their own worldview, as they struggle to make meaning in a universe they believe to be devoid of any meaning at all. Should we find ourselves in such a conversation with unbeliever, we are to imitate Schaeffer and provide the gospel as the means of saving them from their own despair (160-67; 173).

Furthermore, Schaeffer offers several proscriptions for engaging in apologetics when we “take the roof” off of unbelievers (158). As Christians, we engage with our culture and find common ground, but we are to never treat unbelievers as anything less than human beings made in God’s image and deserving of our kindness. When we show unbelievers the logical ends of their presuppositions, we are to provide the gospel so as to give them the only source of hope, the person of Jesus, for modern man rather than leave them worse off and still in their sin (158-160). As a result, Schaeffer provides an excellent treatise on apologetics by describing a method by which we engage with culture and grounding that method in a biblical definition of evangelism.

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