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ISBN/ASIN : 1581345364
Manufacturer : Crossway Books|
Release data : 16 March, 2005
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Seminal contribution, but postmodernists will detest it
This is an enormously important contribution to the history of ideas. Unfortunately it runs in the opposite direction from most post-modern thought, so many of today's 'alternative' thinkers who would be Schaeffer's natural audience are likely to disregard it.
Schaeffer's basic thesis is that there is a flow to history and culture, and that this is rooted in the way people think. Therefore, by charting the flow of ideas from the Romans to the time of the book's writing, he attempts to account for how modern culture developed. One could paraphrase this quest by saying 'to know where we are going, we must know where we have been'.
Schaeffer's assessment is that up to a point, the history of philosophy proceeded by someone critiquing the previously accepted worldview and then replacing it with their new theory. However, from a particular moment, thinkers wrote to dispose of previous theories and replace them with nothing.
Schaeffer was writing before postmodern thought became popular. Modernism has been defined as 'the fear of memory', and Schaeffer makes a compelling case for this without actually using the phrase. However, Postmodernism can be defined as 'the fear of explanations', or, more particularly, the fear of metanarratives which attempt to explain everything. This is a development which Schaeffer predicts.
'How Should We Then Live?' is itself just one of those metanarratives. Readers who are unquestioningly committed to the postmodern anti-dogma will find this a hugely disappointing book, and will resent its attempts to make sense of the past two thousand years.
This is a pity, because this book is probably the most compelling challenge to postmodern worldview. Anybody serious about questioning today's questioners would do well to read it.
Reasoned view of history. Truly predicts current society.
Schaeffer follows history through the ages and shows that man can choose two paths: (1)God's way which leads to maximum responsibility and maximum freedom or (2) man's way (do your own thing) which leads to minimal responsibility and minimal freedom (tyranny). As the US follows man's way and we reject God we see our government taking over our liberties and violence in schools erupting. Just as Schaeffer predicted.
"As a man thinketh, so is he."
Schaeffer's analysis of a world which chooses to deny theexistence of a supreme Creator is dead on. Furthermore, the facts of history bear out Schaeffer's most poignant assertion--men tend to live according to their presuppositions whether or not they realize they are doing so. Man's pessimism in a world which he believes to have been created by time plus chance alone follows from his denial of the Christian worldview. Nonetheless, humanist man still struggles to sow meaning from a meaningless foundation. Schaeffer shows with compassion and honesty that Christianity is the cure for a hurting world.