Sharing the Gospel with People Who Don’t Know the Bible (Schaeffer)

In chapter five of Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America, Barry Hankins discussed Francis Schaeffer’s 1968 Wheaton College lectures – lectures which were later transcribed and put into book form: Death in the City. It’s an interesting story! More could be said about this, for sure, but in Hankin’s discussion of Schaeffer’s book I came across this helpful paragraph worth sharing. Here’s a great thought for the day:

Schaeffer used Acts 14:15–17, Acts 17:16–32, and Romans 1:18–2:16 to show how the apostle Paul talked to “men without the Bible”—that is, to Greeks who were not schooled in the Old Testament scriptures. Schaeffer believed Paul should serve as a model for how to evangelize in a modern secular culture among people who no longer knew the Bible very well. In each of these biblical examples, most completely in Romans, Paul argued from human nature and human history to show that the deep needs within human beings are evidence of a creator, and that humans themselves are created in that Creator’s image. “Primitive man, cultured man, ancient man, modern man, Eastern man, Western man,” Schaeffer exclaimed, “all have a testimony that says man is more than their [sic] own theories.” Even in an age built on evolutionary science there are glimpses of this, Schaeffer continued. Einstein, for example, at the end of his life turned to mysticism because he came to believe there was something beyond what science could explain. Sartre pondered the question, Why is there something there instead of nothing? Scientist Murray Eden at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a computer to calculate the probability that the complexity of the universe could have arisen from chance alone and concluded it was virtually impossible. Charles Darwin himself, according to Schaeffer, near the end of his life said, “I cannot believe with my mind that all this was produced by chance.” Schaeffer used these stories to illustrate his belief that deep in every human being was a sense that there was something beyond us. He believed, therefore, that if Christians pressed the issue correctly, they could help modern people with little knowledge of the Bible see their need for God.

Hankins, Barry. Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America. Edited by Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, and Allen C. Guelzo. Library of Religious Biography. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008, p. 115-116.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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