Writing for Townhall.com, Marvin Olasky (author of Compassionate Conservatism) attributes the election of evangelical Christian George W. Bush not to strategists like Karl Rove but rather the political legacy of Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), the Presbyterian theologian who founded the Christrian community of L’Abri in Switzerland.
According to Olasky, it was Francis Schaeffer’s warning to Christians in How Should We Then Live? that they should not remain aloof from political life, and his later urging that they should “bring Judeo-Christian principles into play in regard to government” (in A Christian Manifesto) which paved the way for subsequent political organization of evangelical Christians:
Such a breakdown of values can eventually lead to further violations of human life in the forms of euthanasia (the killing of the elderly) and infanticide. With former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and his son Franky, Schaeffer published Whatever Happened To The Human Race?, which tackled these social issues specifically. [Source]
When Francis Schaeffer died in 1984, President Reagan praised him: “It can rarely be said of an individual that his life touched many others and affected them for the better; it will be said of Dr. Francis Schaeffer that his life touched millions of souls and brought them to the truth of their Creator.”
As a student in college I recall reading Schaeffer’s Pollution and the Death of Man: A Christian View of Ecology, which situates the environmental movement in a Christian context. I appreciated the way Schaeffer criticized “the establishment” in a manner which could charm both the radical activist and the most jaded conservative:
Later on I read, and was rather less impressed by, Schaeffer’s criticism of Aquinas in Escape from Reason — by then I was well on my way to the Catholic Church.
I’m not educated enough in Schaeffer’s works to comment further, but my father spent some time at L’Abri during his hippie days. If you ask him politely, he may be persuaded to share a personal story or two of his experiences. =)
- The Shelter, a website about Francis Schaeffer containing a biography, selected quotes, links to articles.
- The Collision of Two Minds: Malcolm Muggeridge Meets Francis Schaeffer, by David Virtue. Touchstone Jan/Feb. 1999.
- The God Who is Where?, Patton Dodd discusses his encounter w. Schaeffer, excerpted from his book My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion. (Reprinted in The New Pantagruel Issue 3, Summer 2004.
- Aquinas at the Origins of Secular Humanism? – Treats Schaeffer’s criticism of St. Thomas Aquinas’ distinction of nature and grace in Escape from Reason in light of Pope John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio. (I’d cite the source, but the author of the paper neglected to disclose his name).