This week’s session of The Francis Schaeffer Book Club consisted of reviewing Schaeffer’s historical record of the shift from modernism to postmodernism which he fleshes out in his book titled, Escape From Reason. This work was the first book the club read by Schaeffer a year ago this semester. It is a very prophetic book and is a good summary of how the 20th century ushered in the philosophy that has produced so much relativism and subjectivism in regards to answering Pontius Pilate’s infamous question/response to Christ, “What is truth?”. The reason refreshing our minds with this historical context is beneficial to our discussions on Schaeffer’s take on Christian spirituality is due in part to the fact that he incorporates an apologetic aspect into his writing in all of his books where one can obviously see that he is emphazing certain themes and nuances in order to combat the prevalent thought forms of his time. Now, let’s get into some of the highlights of chapter 4, “In the Spirit’s Power” of True Spirituality.
In last week’s post on my reflections from Session 3, I discussed how Schaeffer agrues for a space, time, historical, and physical resurrection as well as acension of Jesus Christ. His reason for doing so is to confirm in his readers’ minds the reality of their own physical resurrection in Christ. Therefore, by treating the resurrection as a real event which occurs in this universe, one will be more prone to live in light of Christ’s victory and promises which are wrapped up in his defeat of sin and death.
Schaeffer begins chapter 4 not dealing with the Holy Spirit, but instead extending his discourse concerning a physical resurrection (he was reacting heavily to the neo-orthodox and liberal theologians of the first half of the 20th century) based off of an analysis of the concept of a physical resurrection validated in the OT. The grounds of his biblical argument rest in some “resurrection” texts that he selects and explains such as Job 14:12-14, Hebrews 11:17-19(Abraham and Issac), Daniel 12:2-3, and the scene at the Mount of Transfiguration. He qualifies his own illustration of the Mount of Transfiguration by saying, “One would not wish to be dogmatic . . . (43)”; however, he does attempt to draw a conceivable truth out of this glorious scene. In a nutshell, here is what Schaeffer believes one may deduce from this story:
- Moses represents the OT dead.
- The Apostles represent the NT dead.
- Elijah represents what he calls “the translated ones” (in other words, he stands as a representative guaranteeing the “translation” of all of those who will be alive when Christ returns into their own resurrection bodies (Phil 3:21); this would of course include Enoch).
Therefore, after citing 1 Cor 15:51-58 and 1 Thess 4:13-17, Schaeffer emphazies that the Mount of Transfiguration, a space, time, historical event as recorded in inerrant Scripture, communicates that all the dead in Christ (OT & NT) and those who will be alive and present at the physcial Second Coming will all experience a historical, physical resurrection.
So, now that Schaeffer has further exhausted his argument for Christians to live in light of the resurrection knowing that it is in fact one day going to occur, he now asks sympathetically, “How is it possible to live so (47)?”
Schaeffer’s immediate answer is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Here, Schaeffer is at his best. He shows in some of the clearest writing I have ever read what he designates the “equal reality” of the promise that when we die we will be with the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ and also the promise that when one accepts Christ as his or her Savior, “he lives in me (49).” Schaeffer goes on to say:
They are two streams of reality, both equally promised. The Christian dead are already with Christ now, and Christ really lives in the Christian. Christ lives in me (49).
This is all made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
Ahhh . . . there’s just so much more to say! The end of this chapter really convinced me at how profound Schaeffer’s writings are for the current mystical climate of contemporary religiousity. I will have to do a second part to this post to go more in-depth in revealing Schaeffer’s thoughts on the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Christian’s life and bearing upon his spirituality. Stay tuned!