Posted by: Billy Marsh | September 13, 2007

Reflections On True Spirituality: Session 3

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For this week’s reading in The Francis Schaeffer Book Club, we read and discussed chapter three of True Spirituality entitled, “Through Death to Resurrection”. However, before we dug our teeth into the meat of this chapter, Dr. David Bertch, overseer of the club and professor for The College at Southwestern, engaged the group with a few startling cultural ideas and facts.

First, Dr. Bertch submitted to the group a roundabout statistic which he drew from the College/Seminary population of SWBTS on Facebook and MySpace. Of the some odd 900 +/- students who are a part of these two internet social networks, the approximate three top books were: (1) The Bible (2) The Chronicles of Narnia (3) Blue Like Jazz.

That is a lot of Seminary students, ministers in training, worship leaders in training, homemakers, and so forth that are supplementing their reading of the Bible with a book that stands juxtaposed to the Word, which from my own personal point of view, is a book that will lead people astray from an orthodox reading of Scripture. For instance, take into account Donald Miller’s subtitle to the book which also functions as his main thesis which says, “Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality”. Is that even possible? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother post that I’ve been preparing to write in the near future.

Second, Dr. Bertch gave us a handout which tracked the progression of thought in relation to “how to ask questions” in the 21st century. Ultimately, since Schaeffer’s time, the culture has moved from presupposing that there existed”honest answers and honest questions” to the point that all we have now are a “multiplicity of answers looking for the right questions” (Dr. Bertch’s handout).

This introduction really set the tone for discussing chapter 3 due to the fact that Schaeffer is teaching the reader how to ask the right questions and then where to find the right answers. In addition, “Through Death to Resurrection” was in summary an argument for the space, time, and historicity of not only Christ’s resurrection, but also that this entails the same quality of the believer’s future resurrection. He is laboring to show the objectivity of biblical epistemology as well as the reality of its implications on the entire created world, not just isolated or compartmentalized spiritual or physical matters.

So far, Schaeffer has argued for a two-fold foundational understanding of true Christian spirituality: rejected (ch 1) and slain (ch 2). However, Schaeffer argues that if one stops with “slain” he is not living out true spirituality. The believer must proceed forwards to a third truth, namely raised. In order for Christians to properly live out the true Christian life, he or she must live in light of Christ’s resurrection, and even more so, our own future resurrection. Schaeffer gives a summary statement near the end of this chapter which brings his logic together concerning this matter:

First, Christ dies in history. Second, Christ rose in history. Third, we died with Christ in history, when we accepted him as our Savior. Fourth, we will be raised in history, when he comes again. Fifth, we are to live by faith now as though we were dead, already have died. And sixth, we are to live now by faith as though we have already been raised from the dead (37).

Concerning this sixth and final point, Schaeffer qualifies it a little bit more stating:

First of all, it certainly means this: that in our thoughts and lives now we are to live as though we had already died, been to heaven, and come back again as risen (37).

Schaeffer is trying very hard to persuade believers to live in resurrection power. He is calling Christians to be active in their faith which ought to be wholly empowered by the realization that “all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in [Christ] (2 Cor 1:20).” Heaven, resurrection bodies, the Second Coming of Christ all are and will be space, time, historical realities. Therefore, the believer must let these truths and their certainty shape his life while living on this earth. He is asking Christians to live in light of the triumphant victory of Christ and all the many blessings which his saving work accomplished, purchased, and imputed to the believer.

Schaeffer says it best in this quote:

I must be the creature, but I do not have to be the creature like the clod in the field, the cabbage rotting in the field as the snows melt. I am called to be a creature by choice, on the basis of Christ’s finished work, by faith: the creature glorified. . . . Now there can be spirituality of a biblical sort. . . . Now I am ready for war (40).

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