After a time of living as a self-proclaimed agnostic, he decided to read the Bible, & see for himself if God exists. Within six months, he was convinced that God is real & that the Bible is His revealed Word to mankind. In 1930, eighteen-year-old Francis Schaeffer prayed to receive Christ as his Savior.
From that day, Schaeffer was passionately committed to the proclamation & rational defense of the Gospel. One of the foremost Christian thinkers & apologists of this century, he wrote 24 books, which have been translated into more than 20 languages. Schaeffer's basic message was the same - God's Word is the only guide man needs to interpret his past & solve contemporary problems.
When Schaeffer graduated from Faith Theological Seminary in 1938, the United States faced many perplexing new social & religious problems. The evangelical movement was threatened by encroaching liberal ideologies, which argued that the Bible is not a reliable source of truth. He & his wife Edith, were both eager for opportunities to speak out in defense of conservative doctrine.
As a pastor, Schaeffer was grieved at the compromise he saw in many mainline Protestant denominations. Then, in the late 1940's, he toured Europe on behalf of the American Council of Christian Churches. To his astonishment, he saw even greater needs there & moved to Switzerland to work with youth, founding the Children for Christ ministry in 1948 in Lausanne. In 1951, Schaeffer wasn't sure where God was leading him, & questioned his convictions. He remembers, "I felt a strong burden to stand for the historical Christian position, & for the purity of the visible church. As I rethought my reasons for being a Christian, I saw again that there were totally sufficient reasons to know that the infinite-personal God does exist & Christianity is true."
But what was the best way to reach cultures so closed to God's Word? Schaeffer was convicted to start right where he lived in Switzerland. In 1955, he formally opened his chalet in Huemoz as a "home" for solid Bible teaching, where anyone could come & listen to thought-provoking analysis of Scripture. This haven of spiritual rest and discovery was named L'Abri.
Throughout the remainder of the 50's & 60's when authority & "the establishment" were most severely questioned, L'Abri drew thousands of visitors. Dr. Harold Brown says, "L'Abri's initial theological impact was not made institutionally...but indirectly, through individuals whom the Schaeffers came to know and whose lives they changed."
In 1968, Schaeffer published his first two books - Escape From Reason & The God Who Is There. In these he explored ways in which other philosophies have failed to adequately come to terms with real-world problems. Gradually, the work that Schaeffer had been developing for years gained recognition, especially in the US.
Schaeffer was frequently criticized by non-believers, but more surprisingly by many believers who were worried by the explicit stand he took for the bold & consistent application of the Bible. However, Schaeffer continued to proclaim the message of the inerrant Word.
When Schaeffer was diagnosed with cancer in 1981 & given only six months to live, he did not cease his labor. The Lord gave him three more years of active teaching & exhorting. His illness, with its long and sometimes debilitating treatments, gave him fresh opportunities to address nationwide medical concerns.
Schaeffer died in his home on May 15, 1984. As President Ronald Reagan said, "It can rarely be said of an individual that his life touched many others & affected them for the better; it will be said of Dr. Francis Schaeffer that his life touched millions of souls & brought them to the truth of their Creator."
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