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How Shall We Then Live?—Francis Schaeffer

Episode One: The Roman Age
Key Terms:
A. "Presupposition" Those foundational ideas or concepts that are:

  1. assumed to be true or self-evident.
  2. form the basis of one’s explanation of the world, man and God.
  3. The "first" or "beginning" ideas or propositions that are the "Given."
  4. The glasses through which you interpret life.

B. "Human autonomy"

  1. The foundational presupposition of all humanistic philosophy, religion, ethics, politics, etc. 
  2. It is the assumption that man starting from himself, by himself, with himself without any information from the Bible can come to a correct understanding of himself, the world around him, and God. Thus he can establish truth, justice, morals, meaning, significance, dignity and beauty. "Man is the measure of all things" is the motto of humanism.

C. "Absolutes" vs. "Relativism"

  1. "Absolutes" are those standards by which we judge truth, justice, morals and beauty to distinguish truth from non-truth, justice from injustice, good from evil and beauty from ugliness. 

  2. Absolute standards are:
    1. Eternal: always valid
    2. Universal: everywhere valid
    3. Objective: not subjective, i.e. not dependent on man’s existence of approval.
    4. For all men: not for a particular group within humanity such as a nation.
    5. Obligatory: nor optional
    6. Necessary: not arbitrary
  3. Absolutes are based on the law of antithesis: Within the universe that exists, "a" cannot be both "a" and "non-a" at the same time.  
    1. Being vs. non-being
    2. True versus false
    3. Right vs. wrong
    4. Justice vs. injustice
    5. Good vs. evil
    6. Beauty vs. ugliness

  4. For example, the moral law, "Do not murder" is an absolute in the sense that it is valid at all times everywhere for all men with no exceptions.
  5. Civil law is nothing more than codified moral law - which is nothing more than someone’s theology. This is why civil laws change when a society changes it morals - because it changed its theology.
  6. When we ask for the "basis" of truth, justice, morals and beauty, we asking for the justification and demonstration of the valid grounds of those things. On what basis do we say that something is wrong or false, etc.? Why is it is wrong? 
  7. The basis of truth, justice, morals and beauty is either rooted in absolutes or in relativism. 
  8. Relativism is the concept that there are no absolutes by which we can judge between truth and non-truth, justice and injustice, morality and immorality, and beauty and ugliness. Of course, this concept is self-refuting because it is says the absolutes are false. Thus it sets itself up as the absolute standard by which to judge the truth-values of absolutes.
  9. A society exists only as long as it’s concepts of morality and civil laws are based upon ethical absolutes.
  10. It is logically impossible to have ethical absolutes without utilizing the concept of the personal/infinite God of the Bible and the laws given in the Bible. He alone can be the infinite reference point that gives meaning to all the particulars. 
  11. Pagan societies such as Rome tried to base their civil laws on the relativism inherent in finite deities, totalitarianism, elitism, and arbitrary jurisprudence. They collapse in the end because these things cannot form a sufficient base for truth, justice, morals and beauty. 
  12. Western society produced such good things as capitalism, civil rights, and human rights because of its historic Christian presuppositions. 
  13. When the West turned away from Christianity, it lost its absolute basis for its civil laws. It has tried to base its laws on the arbitrary jurisprudence of judges. The primary example is the arbitrary jurisprudence practiced by the Supreme Court in which eight men arbitrary declared unborn children as non-citizens and thus not covered by the constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The ruling ignored all legal precedents and brushed aside the Christian absolute of the sanctity of life. This has led to wholesale slaughter of millions of little babies. What is even more important is that the legal precedent has now been established that the judges may arbitrarily decide that any group of humans are non-citizens and strip them of their constitutional rights as well. In this way, Christians could be excluded from constitutional freedoms and be put to death without violating the law.
  14. The West will fall just like Rome because it no longer has an infinite basis for its particular laws.

 

Episode Two: The Middle Ages
Key Terms:

  1. "Asceticism": The view that matter is inherently evil and that by afflicting the body you will gain salvation. Under this idea the monks would inflict physical pain on their bodies to gain spiritual blessings. The idea did not come from the Bible but from Greek philosophers such as Plato. 
  2. "Usury": Charging interest on loans made to others. It has been modified at times to mean the charging of unjust loans through high interest rates. 
  3. "Conciliar movement": The attempt to place the authority of the council of the bishops under the authority of the popes.
  4. "Infinite reference point": In logic, you cannot have a universal in the conclusion unless you have one in the premise. In philosophy, only an infinite absolute can give meaning to the particulars of life. 
  5. "Christian art": As Christianity became corrupted by the intrusion of pagan philosophy, the art reflected this change. It went from real people in real backgrounds to unreal people (symbols) in real backgrounds to unreal people in unreal backgrounds. 
  6. Christian music was also corrupted by pagan thought. The message of the music was emphasized over the medium. Then it slowly changed to the medium over the message. The Gregorian chants are an illustration of this process. The chants were in a language which the common man did not understand. But it did not matter as the music of the chants gave man a non-rational religious experience that did not center in truth but in the experience itself. It made you "feel" religious. 
  7. The Middle Ages produced some pre-reformers such as Huss and Wycliff who warned that the Roman Church had departed from the Gospel and that the common man with his Bible could decide religious truth. They taught that the Bible was the absolute authority in all matters of faith and practice- not the arbitrary rulings of the clergy. 
  8. This threatened the popes because their authority was arbitrary and not based on anything other than their own personal opinion. Not having any biblical support for such things as the Mass or such doctrines as purgatory, the popes then used the power of the state to kill those who disagreed with them.

 

Episode Three: The Renaissance
Key Terms

  1. "Cultural transformation" always begins with the thinkers (philosophers and theologians). They develop ideas which influence the artists who depict the new ideas. These ideas are then picked by the politicians, lawyers, doctors, and wealthy businessmen. It then passes on to the educators who influence the students. The students return home and influence the common people. Cultures are thus usually transformed from the top down. The only exception was the Reformation which in many situations went from the bottom (i.e. the common man) to the top.
  2. "Syncretism" is the attempt to combine different worldviews into one system. Many have tried to combine Christianity with pagan worldviews in order to make Christianity "relevant" or "modern." 
  3. Examples:

      D. The flow of philosophic ideas has a certain pattern. This pattern can be traced in the 
            history of ideas.
 

 

 

Episode Five: The Reformation
The Reformation was actually a mighty revival during which hundreds of thousands of people were ushered into the Kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing less than a mighty act of God could free half of Europe from its bondage to the dogmas, rituals and superstitions of popery.

The Revival (or Reformation) was a combination of the preaching of the Gospel and the power of the Spirit (I Thess. 1:5). The Reformers could put the Gospel into the ears of people but only God could plant it into the heart (I Cor. 3:6).

There are many exciting stories during this Revival. Entire cities and even nations were converted in a manner of days. People turned to the Scriptures and set up churches that preached the Gospel of free grace. It was a time of miracles, signs and wonders.

The Reformation focused on certain Gospel truths that have always accompanied true revivals of religion. One explanation why we do not see widespread revival today is that most people have forgotten these truths and are drifting back to Rome. What are these Truths?

I. Scripture alone should be our final authority in all matters of faith and practice.

II. Grace alone is the only basis of salvation.

III. Faith alone is the only means to receive and to keep salvation.

IV. Christ alone is the Way to the Father.

May God raise up mighty preachers today who shall preach the Word even though it is "out of season."