Thursday, June 11, 2015

God's Actions Rooted in History: Some Comments by Francis Schaeffer

We began a series of studies through the book of Isaiah last night.  Isaiah 1.1 begins the book as follows:
"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah."
I then came across these words by Francis Schaeffer--he was writing about the prophet Jeremiah but they fit just as well for Isaiah.
“The Bible puts its religious teaching in a historic setting.  It is quite the opposite of the new theology and existential thought, quite the opposite of the twentieth century’s reduction of religion to the ‘spiritual’ and the subjective.  Scripture relates the true religion to space-time history which may be expressed in normal literary form.  And that is important, because our generation takes the word religion and everything religious and turns it into something psychological or sociological.
"The Bible also has another emphasis.  Not all that occurs in space-time history is explainable on the basis of natural cause and effect--for example, economic, military, and psychological.  Most modern men explain all of history this way, but the Bible does not.  The Bible says that there is a true significant space-time history which God has made.  Of course, history must be understood to be partially a product of the economic forces, of the flow of cultural thought, of military power, and so forth.  If we had sufficient time to look at Jeremiah in detail, we would see various forces present: the great countries (Egypt on one side, Babylon on the other), tremendous external and internal forces.  Still, history is not to be explained only on this basis.  A holy and a loving God really exists, and He works into the significant history which exists.  He works in history on the basis of His character; and when His people and their culture turn away from Him, He works in history in judgment ”[1]

     [1] Francis A. Schaeffer, Death in the City [1969] in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview—vol. 4 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1982), 213-214.