In January 1977 Francis Schaeffer did a national tour with his films and lectures entitled How Should We Then Live?, also published as a book. I was there in Oakland, California, when he premiered the series. Schaeffer helped us see where we have landed in the flow of Western history, and it is sobering. In the final chapter of the book, entitled “The Alternatives,” he wrote with prophetic foresight:
“Overwhelming pressures are being brought to bear on people who have no absolutes, but only have the impoverished values of personal peace and prosperity. The pressures are progressively preparing modern people to accept a manipulative, authoritarian government. Unhappily, many of these pressures are upon us now” (page 246). Then he listed and commented on those pressures:
- economic breakdown
- war or the serious threat of war
- the chaos of violence
- the radical redistribution of wealth in the world
- a growing shortage of food and other natural resources.
And that is our world today. Then Schaeffer wrote, “In such circumstances, it seems that there are only two alternatives in the natural flow of events: first, imposed order or, second, our society once again affirming that base which gave freedom without chaos in the first place — God’s revelation in the Bible and his revelation through Christ. We have seen in the previous chapters many of the implications of an imposed order. But rather than throwing up our hands and giving in, we should take seriously the second alternative.”
That second alternative is revival. Our churches are Ground Zero for cultural renewal, if only we will see our destiny and by grace live up to it. But I do believe that only awakened churches, only unusual churches, only churches with biblical power upon them will have any voice today or offer anything meaningful and relevant today. Everything else, everything less, will be swept away.