This is the second post in a series of studies found in the book “The Great Evangelical Disaster”, by Francis Schaeffer. I’ll be going chapter by chapter, sub-section by sub-section, in as much “true to the book” order as I can. Last time was the exception, because the last subsection is the thesis of the chapter – so, I covered it first. From the thesis, I’m advancing to the supporting truths used to reach that conclusion.

If you’d like to follow along in this study, and really get the “meat” of it, I suggest you pick up a copy of this book. It isn’t prohibitively long. It’s 192 pages, including references, both a preface and introduction, as well as “The Mark of a Christian” included, to reinforce the Biblical emphasis on love being the Christian’s mark in the world. If you can’t find at your local Christian bookstore (and I suggest you encourage them to carry volumes of a deeper nature, like this one), it may be found on Amazon . Onward.

The title of this subsection is “The Quest for Autonomy”. defines this as:

The condition or quality of being autonomous; independence.
1. Self-government or the right of self-government; self-determination.
2. Self-government with respect to local or internal affairs

Now for the first quote.

Something happened during the last sixty years – something which cut the moral foundation out from under our culture. Devastating things have come in every area of our culture, whether it be law or government, whether it is in the schools, or our local communities or in the family. And these have happened within the lifetime of many who are reading this book. Our culture has been squandered and lost, and largely thrown away. Indeed, to call it a moral breakdown puts it mildly. Morality itself has been turned on its head with every form of moral perversion being praised and glorified in the media and the world of entertainment.

Does this sound familiar to you? Here is something surprising. This book was written 20 years ago. 1984. 20 years ago! Let me ask you, dear readers – most of you in your twenties to forties – what, if anything, has changed? Anything? If anything has changed, it has been for the worse! So, I ask you – if he is calling this the “Great Evangelical Disaster”, from 20 years ago, and 20 years of battles ago – what is it now? The Great Evangelical Catastrophe? The Great Evangelical Cataclysm?

We, as a majority of Biblical Evangelicals, have watched those who were “in the fight” engage themselves in a holding action. They were holding the line for us, and for God’s Truth, while simultaneously trying to wake us up from our slumber. We watched them fight, and go down fighting, while we complacently watched them from the sidelines and cheered – dispiritedly. Take this verse as a reminder of what our calling is:

“To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power” (2 Thess. 1:11)

What does God tell the Church, and those who fell asleep at the helm of Christ’s Church?

“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)

Wake Up and Fight!!

In order to make sense of these last sixty years, and equally in order to understand the present, and how we as Christians are to live today, we will need to understand the idea of our age – or what we might call the spirit of the times which has transformed our culture so radically since the 1920’s. This idea, this spirit, Time says, has been the idea of “freedom” – not just freedom as an abstract ideal, or in the sense of being free from injustice, but freedom in an absolute sense:

“The fundamental idea that American represented corresponded to the values of the times. America was not merely free; it was freed, unshackled. The image was of something previously held in check, an explosive force of a country that moved about in random particles of energy yet at the same time gained power and prospered. To be free was to be modern; to be modern was to take chances. The American century was to be the century of unleashing, of breaking away, at first from the 19th Century (as Freud, Proust, Einstein and others had done), and eventually from any constraints at all.” (Italics Schaeffer’s)

Further along in the same essay Time comments: “Behind most of these events lay the assumption, almost a moral imperative, that was was not free ought to be free, that limits were intrinsically evil,” and that science should go wherever it pleases in a spirit of “self-confident autonomy”. But, as Time concludes, “when people or ideas are unfettered, they are freed but not yet free.”

Isn’t that an extraordinary statement? Any constraints at all. Does that not capture the spirit of our age perfectly? “There are no absolutes” comes to mind. “Freedom from religion”, as the separationists like to say, comes to mind. “Free love” comes to mind. Do you see the spirit of our freedom, or “liberty”, morphed into libertine “freedom”?

What does this “freedom” become? Pride. The pride of life, specifically, I’ll posit. “Freedom” from inconvenience… which results in the mass murder of millions of innocents. “Freedom” from the bondage of responsibility… which results in divorce, broken homes, and broken children. “Freedom” from morality… which leaves us nothing but the vestiges of a Judeo-Christian society – and replaces it with moral nihilism, where all we have to go by is “what feels right” – or, in other words – “subjective” morality. Which, if we are at all honest, is no sort of morality at all.

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Rom. 7:24)

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Tim. 4:16)

Amen – and amen.