Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Review: Schaeffer's 'The Great Evangelical Disaster'

Most of Schaeffer's writing is easily read and accessible - that's what makes him a good introductory author for theological topics. Here's a one-sentence summary of the book: If evangelical believers don't know how to convey the truth in love, they will accommodate the world and commit theological suicide.

These are a few points that might be easy to overlook, because he presents them in simple terms:

  • The world often knows what's at stake, and better expresses the divide between belief and unbelief, than Christians do. (Why is that? He doesn't say, but I'm guessing it's because Christians often and erroneously think that because Jesus crushed Satan's head, the spiritual war is over. It's not.) 
  • Evangelicals who get confused between 'showing love to the brethren' and 'giving up [truth] to get along' do more damage than the world.
  • If we do not fight the spirit of compromise within our own churches, we will continually lose battles until self-proclaimed Christians are nothing more than spiritual zombies.

  • Theological, church-wide statements, far from being mere formal expressions of intellectual assent or dissent on difficult topics, have real-life applications: abortion, marriage, homosexuality, creationism or evolutionism, etc.
  • Repeated important word and topic: "the watershed". Schaeffer explains the divide that happens when water falls on an area, flowing either to the right or the left. What starts as a small difference, in scope and perspective, becomes a large difference. 

  • Far from pushing his readers to exhaustively examine every small detail (and Christian) for error, he repeats the idea of the Double Task: "[The Christian] has to practice both God's holiness and God's love." 
  • Just as holiness without love is harshness, love without holiness is compromise. Both are grave watershed errors.
  • These errors allow Satan to encourage Christians to swing from one arc of the pendulum to the other, from compromise to harshness and back again. "The devil never gives us the luxury of fighting on only one front, and this will always be the case." 
  • The costly nature of showing love to the bretheren includes monetary losses, or any other kinds of losses, because it's one of the true ways that the world can see whether or not we are Christ's disciples. (John 13:33-35) 
  • While the Parable of the Samaritan shows the costly love we are to have for our neighbors regardless of their faith (since all men are made in God's image), our true test of discipleship comes out as we love our fellow believers even more (Galatians 6:10). It's a both-and, not an either-or. 

Love and truth, based on the Rock. Go and do likewise. :)

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