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4.0 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 1581346921
Manufacturer : Crossway Books|
Release data : 08 March, 2005
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I love Francis Schaeffer. For my money, there is no one better to express deep thoughts about the Christian worldview, fully and briefly. Reading Schaeffer is like savoring a good meal. I plan to read a lot more of him.
First of all, cool cover. Maybe the best ever.
More than this A Christian Manifesto looks at the theological basis for government and examines the Christian's responsibility toward government that is failing its responsibility to uphold justice. The first fifty pages or so are classic Schaeffer. Biblical philosophy is brought to bear on the origin of government; justice exists outside of law, and so governments are liable to rule on the basis of what is right. Law, on the contrary, does not determine what is right, it only upholds it. Loved it.
Still, where I was excited and challenged by the opening chapters, I lost interest in the last two-thirds. There Schaeffer argues that Christians have the duty to resist unjust or immoral governments. I just didn't buy into public protest as civil disobedience in the US. Too little is said to establish what exactly demands resistance and how far to go. Abortion was the case-in-point, and the book didn't reach much beyond that. Really, I was hoping that the book would shape my thinking of how Christians should participate in politics, but was left wanting.
At the same time, "Christian Manifesto" is worth the read because Schaeffer still provides a great deal of food for thought in just around 140 pages. Though the book is full of legal citations from the early 1980's, Schaeffer was ahead of his time in anticipating the post-modern worldview that we know so well today. His ideas are always challenging, and even where you disagree you will find your worldview sharpened.
Prelude to the abyss
I read Schaeffer at least 28 years ago now; and certainly it is the case that at first I was overjoyed to read and absorb his view of societal reform and the kind of restorative vigour that he was prepared to envisage.
But I have read more now. This isn't a casual observation; but as time goes on I will extend this review to a much larger scope and size. The book, as far as I can observe now, is possibly the "first cause" in a process which has lasted some 25 years (oddly coincidental) and has precipitated the widest and deepest crisis in Christendom since the Augustine era.
My alarm at this book particularly, is so deep that I may be preparing to spend a very large proportion of my time remeining refuting it in detail, and as publically as possible.
My concerns are very wide ranging, but essentially they are as follows;
1. Schaeffer has completely misunderstood the character of the founding fathers of the USA, it's political and spiritual foundation from the very beginning, and has placed the entire book on this most uncertain moot;
2. Schaeffer has similarly and most spectacularly misinterpreted the entirety of what Christians call "The Great commission" and settled into a position where he is essentially calling for a recreation of the temporal / spiritual nexus of the pre-reformation period; a period in which there was tremendous darkness;
3. This has in turn led to appalling developments in which .. in fact.. this book has played a central role, defining at least part of the projected ideology of the contemporary neocons and the current of the middle eastern conflicts; a terrible legacy for a man who at least gave the impression of a reformer.
4. Bibical authority has been sidelined in a number of ways here; the idea that the USA is any kind of "redeemer nation", or even anything that might even conceivably give any place to that idea, or the germ of it, is a dreadful thing to allow; it's totally foreign to the current of biblical prophecy in either testament.
I am desperately concerned that people who are in the body of Christ read this book and start to rediscover the actual scriptures that the church should be based on. THat should not be too much to ask. A generation or two ago this was a fairly reasonable request. But nowadays it appears that all manner of people have crept in unawares; in sheeps clothing for sure, and how convincing they may indeed be!
But it is time for us to be aware of all of this; and no matter how appealing it may be, we shoud be aware of where this book may have led the church; and where it may led us still.
Wake up and Think!
Great work from a great mind. Thoroughly readable and challenging. This is part of my law school curriculum but it was a personal choice to read long before. Recommended for everyone.