Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 24, 1971

I Have Found A New Voice

Have You Ever Read John Keats' Sonnet, "Oh First Looking Into Chapman's Homer?"

In telling how Chapman had opened his eyes to the beauty and glory of Homer, he wrote: "Then felt I like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken; or like stout Cortez (he meant Balboa) when with eagle eyes he stared at the Pacific — ."

I have recently shared in Keats' sense of elation as I was led to discover a new writer. Through the suggestion of a fine medical student at the University of Alabama, Bill Roper, I was led to read some of the writings of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, particularly "The God Who Is There," "Death in the City," and "The Church at the End of the 20th Century." I want to tell you a bit about this experience. First, who is Francis A. Schaeffer? Let me give you the "blurb" from the inside cover of one of his books:

"Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer is a cosmopolitan. In 1948, he and his family went from America to Switzerland, finally settling in the small village of Huemoz sur 0llon, high in the Swiss Alps. To his home — which was later expanded into L'Abri Fellowship — have come thousands of disillusioned and puzzled young men and women from across Europe, Asia and the Americas. At L'Abri, often after long reflection, one by one these agnostics, atheists, believers and semi-believers in every religion from East to West have found in Christ significance and meaning... (His books have been translated) into German, Dutch, Japanese, Finnish, French and Italian. Always truly an international figure, Dr. Schaeffer, through his books and articles and his lectures in Britain, America and the European Continent, is, with zest and relevance, speaking historic Christianity into the 20th century."

And what is so strange about this new writer? Well, the "historic Christianity" that he is speaking sounds almost like a "re-write" of Campbell's "Declaration and Address," or like some choice articles from the Gospel Guardian! No wonder I like him!

Here is a man who is truly an international figure, to whom multiplied thousands of troubled people have turned for help, and who unhesitatingly affirms the absolute authority and relevance of Bible teaching. How does this sound to you:

"We call ourselves Bible-believing Christians. Some of us have stood together shoulder to shoulder since the early thirties in the battle for Bible-believing Christianity. That is beautiful. We must still stand regardless of the cost until Jesus comes. But let us understand that when I call myself a Bible-believing Christian, this cuts in two directions: It means that I speak when the Bible speaks, and I am silent when the Bible is silent." (Church at End of 20th Century — p. 74.)

This man's writings are filled with such down to earth, simple, and unequivocal expressions. He is unequivocal in his conviction that the Bible is a unique revelation, that God has intervened in time-space history to speak in clear and certain terms. Here are some of the "norms" which he believes are set forth for those who would serve God:

"The first biblical norm, then, is that there should be churches made up of Christians."

"Second, it seems clear that these congregations met together in a special way on the first day of the week."

"The third norm, therefore, is that there are to be church officers (elders) who have responsibility for the local churches."

"The fourth norm is that there should be deacons responsible for the community of the church in the area of material things.

"The fifth norm is that the church is to take discipline seriously."

"The sixth norm is that there are specific qualifications for elders and deacons."

"The seventh norm is that there is a place for form on a wider basis than the local church."

"The eighth norm is that the two sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper are to be practiced."

He writes more fully of each of these "norms" citing the Biblical passages which lead him to conclude that this is God's desire for the "normal" association and activity of his people. I take exception to his seventh "norm" which he bases on Acts 15, which he regards as a sort of "general convention" of church leaders to determine matters of church doctrine and polity. Even here, however, he makes it clear that the matter was settled by an appeal to the Scriptures — not merely by the judgment and wisdom of those in attendance. I would add to this, however, that the meeting in Jerusalem was a special meeting, convened once and for all at the moving of the Holy Spirit, for the specific purpose of making clear to all, both Jews and Greeks, the true relationship between the Old law and the New.

It is truly stimulating in this time of intellectual chaos, moral confusion, and social and political anarchism to find an authoritative voice, speaking so clearly the ancient and sacred truths which our fore-fathers accepted unquestioningly, but which our age has largely rejected.

— F. Y. T.