Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Francis Schaeffer: Herman Dooyeweerd's Trojan Horse?

Was Francis Schaeffer just a popularizer of Dooyeweerd's ideas? A narrative pushed (&believed?) by numerous (Dutch & American) publicists, policymakers and Reformational philosophers. Just a recent example in this quote by Byron Borger:
'Roots shows Dooyeweerd's broad analysis of the flow of Western history, the consequences of the dualisms inherited from Greek thought, the synthesis of medieval worldviews, and the subsequent secularization as (to use the words of popularizer Francis Schaeffer) "nature eats up grace."'
Michael Horton, host of the popular White Horse Inn radio ministry, recently said:
“There is disenchantment with market-driven approaches [like Warren’s]. A new generation is looking for a little bit more seriousness and depth.”
The success of Jim Demint's grassroot advocacy points to this same trend away from top-down. This is bad news for people like Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson who have distinguished themselves since 2008 through their efforts to sink the grassroots campaigns of both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. A few weeks ago Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson wrote a ( according to Joe Scarborough 'great' ) essay on saving the Republican party. Today Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post 'Rand Paul masks his true worldview' which reminds us of the fact that Michael Gerson was the speechwriter of Charles Colson. Michael Gerson writes:
'In the interval, Paul gathered the sudden, unexpected, Internet-driven momentum of a varied coalition.'
The success of Rand Paul's filibuster builds on years of transpartisan coalition building. For years Michael Gerson could afford to ignore and ridicule the efforts of people like John Whitehead, who served as research assistent to Francis Schaeffer on the influential book "A Christian Manifesto". Whitehead's blogpost Setting the Record Straight: Michele Bachmann, Francis Schaeffer and the Christian Right gives some insight in Francis Schaeffer's thought:
'However, while the Christian right has made big gains politically in the past several decades, the Christian involvement in politics has produced little in terms of definable positive results spiritually. After all, political action as a cure-all is an illusion. Although it is a valued part of the process in a democracy, the ballot box is not the answer to humankind's ills. And, in fact, Christians who place their hope in a political answer to the world's ills often become nothing more than another tool in the politician's toolbox.
Francis Schaeffer understood this. As he advised in "A Christian Manifesto," Christians must avoid joining forces with the government and arguing a theocratic position. "We must not confuse the Kingdom of God with our country," Schaeffer writes. "To say it another way, 'We should not wrap Christianity in our national flag.'" As history makes clear, fusing Christianity with politics cheapens it, robs it of its spiritual vitality and thus destroys true Christianity.'
John Whitehead's words on Francis Schaeffer's thinking are confirmed in a blogpost by Colin Duriez who corresponded with Schaeffer on supposed links between his thinking and Dooyeweerd's philosophy (of sphere sovereignty):
'I am really not sure that I have much relationship to Dooyeweerd. Most of my thought was developed prior to my detailed contacts with Hans Rookmaaker and in our detailed contacts I do not think that what we exchanged had so much to do with Dooyeweerd at all, but simply our own thoughts which undoubtedly we have shared backwards and forwards to our mutual advantage for the 20 years.'
The battle for a bit more seriousness and depth among Evangelicals is directly linked to the battle for Francis Schaeffer's legacy. You either trap Calvinists lightningbugs with Dooyeweerd, or you engage the grassroots in a learning process.

Instead of using Schaeffer as the Trojan horse for Olasky's compassionate conservatism or Dooyeweerd's sphere sovereignty, let's dig deeper. To understand the origin of Schaeffer's thought and thoughtleadership, we should read the work of J. Oliver Buswell and  van Til's friend Geerhardus Vos.

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