Renouncing Rationalism to Recover Rationality (Schaeffer)

I really appreciate some of the points Francis Schaeffer made in Escape from Reason. Specifically, I enjoyed chapter seven which Schaeffer called “Rationality and Faith.” Here’s a helpful section from that chapter:

Christianity has the opportunity, therefore, to speak clearly of the fact that its answer has the very thing that modern man has despaired of—the unity of thought. It provides a unified answer for the whole of life. It is true that man will have to renounce his rationalism, but then, on the basis of what can be discussed, he has the possibility of recovering his rationality. You may now see why I stressed so strongly, earlier, the difference between rationalism and rationality. Modern man has lost the latter. But he can have it again with a unified answer to life on the basis of what is open to verification and discussion.

Let Christians remember, then, that if we fall into the trap against which I have been warning, what we have done, amongst other things, is to put ourselves in the position where in reality we are only saying with evangelical words what the unbeliever is saying with his words. In order to confront modern man truly you must not have the dichotomy. You must have the Scriptures speaking true truth both about God himself and about the area where the Bible touches history and the cosmos. This is what our forefathers in the Reformation grasped so well.

On the side of infinity, as we saw before, we are separated from God entirely, but on the side of personality we are made in the image of God. So God can speak and tell us about himself—not exhaustively, but truly. (We could not, after all, know anything exhaustively as finite creatures.) Then he has told us about things in the finite created realm, too. He has told us true things about the cosmos and history. Thus, we are not adrift.

Francis Schaeffer, Escape from Reason, chapter 7.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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