Ugliness repels, beauty persuades

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Francis-Schaeffer

“Three or four years after moving to Switzerland, Francis Schaeffer went through a profound spiritual crisis.  What brought on this crisis?  Going back many years to his time in college and later in seminary, Francis and Edith were bothered by the lack of love shown between Christians, especially where there was any disagreement.  The denomination of which they were a part had been formed by a split from the Northern Presbyterian Church over the influx of Liberalism and the defrocking of J. Gresham Machen when he started an Independent Mission Board to ensure that the missionaries sent overseas were Bible-believing Christians.  This new church experienced a subsequent division into two denominations within a year of the first split.  Schaeffer was a student during these divisions and had joined the part that started Faith Seminary in Wilmington, Delaware.  At that time, Francis and Edith had wrestled with the question, ‘How could people stand for God’s holiness, and the purity of doctrine in the church, and in one’s personal life, and yet not have it turn out to be harsh and ugly?’

By 1951 Schaeffer felt he had seen so much that was harsh and ugly within ‘the separated movement’ that he was not sure he could in honesty be a Christian any longer.  He saw so much that was negative, so much that defined itself primarily in terms of what it was ‘against.’  He saw so much infighting within the circles of which he was a part, in his own denomination and across large segments of the evangelical community.  He saw men struggling for power and using unscrupulous methods to gain or to maintain control and positions of influence.  He saw church courts which were so governed by secret meetings, by prior agreements, and so manipulated in underhanded ways by men who were so absolutely confident that they were right and were serving the Lord better than anyone else, that presbytery and synod gatherings seemed sometimes more like the worst of political shady dealings and movements to wrest control by any means at hand.  He began to despair of whether Christianity could indeed be true.”

Jerram Barrs, Francis Schaeffer: The Man and his Message

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