Before he died, the last book he published was entitled "The Great Evangelical Disaster". I still have the same copy I bought all those years ago. Today, twenty-three years later, I can look around at this republic of ours, the United States, and what do I find? I see a society that is literally crumbling right before my eyes because of its incurable sickness. Our Constitution has been rendered of no effect; we are now governed by an two-headed oligarchy consisting of a priviledged few, the elite, the rich, and the powerful. Likewise, I can look around at the churches, and what do I see there? Well-oiled, smooth-running church-machines humming along nicely, energized by marketing research and sociological data, yet in the midst of them a spiritual catastrophe is unfolding on a scale unlike anything that's ever happened before. For evangelical churches are literally rotting from the inside out. The rot is accommodation with the World.
Twenty-three years ago, Francis Schaeffer could see that this disaster was coming. And he called his last book "the most important statement I have ever written." This is what he wrote in the title chapter:
Accommodation, accommodation. How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands. The last sixty years have given birth to a moral disaster, and what have we done? Sadly we must say that the evangelical world has been part of the disaster. More than this, the evangelical response itself has been a disaster. Where is the clear voice speaking to the crucial issues of the day with distinctively biblical, Christian answers? With tears we must say it is not there and that a large segment of the evangelical world has become seduced by the world spirit of this present age. And more than this, we can expect the future to be a further disaster if the evangelical world does not take a stand for biblical truth and morality in the full spectrum of life. For the evangelical accommodation in the world of our age represents the removal of the last barrier against the breakdown of our culture. And with the final removal of this barrier will come social chaos and the rise of authoritarianism in some form to restore social order.What Schaeffer warned about is coming to pass right before our eyes, while people continue to dance on his grave.
Whether we see this as the judgement of God (which surely it is) or the inevitable results of social chaos makes little difference. Unless the mentality of accommodation within the evangelical world changes, this is surely what we can expect.
After this death, one of the things I noticed was the glee with which certain people were starting to dance on his grave. These people felt themselves free at last and commenced celebrating. Since he was now gone and had no way of lifting his hand to defend himself, they could now dance a jig over his body, cold as it was in the grave, as they set about "re-interpreting" Francis Schaeffer and his ministry in all the various ways that suited their purposes. The first to join this celebration was that obnoxious little book, entitled "Reflections on Francis Schaeffer." And what did it offer? In it a throng of carping stuffed-shirts and lordly academicians from "important" xtian colleges and universities took turns "analysing," deconstructing, minimizing, belittling, and denigrating Francis Schaeffer. They danced on his grave. But he is now gone, and nobody has yet stood up to protest that the jubilant celebration was both unseemly and indecent. But what can one expect from such arrogant people, with minds so clogged with silly minutia, and eyes too blind to see the larger horizon he once was pointing at.
And strangely enough, even after all these years, they're still dancing on his grave. As one example of this, just watch the comboxes at the Beliefnet web site should anyone there dare bring up the memory of Francis Schaeffer. Oh, the hilarity that ensues and the consternation that breaks out. It's like a sudden blast of hot sulfurous air. They will say: "Francis misunderstood this. Oh, check with the experts about Francis. Francis was a narrow-minded, fundamentalist fool. Francis was in error. Francis was a bad theologian. Francis was a bad historian. Francis was a fraud. Be on your guard about Francis because Francis had it all wrong. For Francis was this. And Francis was that. Wadda. Yadda. Badda." And so forth.
But, really, when you think about it, that this happens is nothing short of remarkable. How can it be? For the man has been dead and in the grave for over twenty-three years. To bring up the name of any other person who's been in the grave that long would have elicited little more than a yawn, or a puzzled look, or someone asking "who was he?" Yet for some reason it's entirely different when it comes to Francis Schaeffer.
But that's what happens. After twenty-three years, they're still dancing on his grave. Though he is dead now and his mortal frame has gone to the dust, Francis Schaeffer when he was alive could see the larger picture in its totality, could elucidate its essential nature, and bravely dared to speak the truth about what he saw. George Orwell once said that to see what is front of one's nose needs constant struggle. But more than this, to say clearly what is right before your eyes is an act of heroism.
What did Francis Schaeffer say? Simply this: Autonomous Man congratulates himself that he has gained absolute Freedom. But no, he didn't get what he bargained for. He's been cheated. Instead, what he's gained was absolute Death.
Francis Schaeffer saw that the World Spirit of Modernism is killing us, killing men, women, and children; killing all that is good and decent. And what is Post-Modernism? It is just more of the same poison. With every passing day, it is killing us gently, efficiently, with more scientistic precision and targeted-market research and polling data, and with added anaesthesia to dull the senses while the heartbeat stops. But Francis Schaeffer saw the World Spirit for what it really was and spoke out against it. Therefore, the stuffed-shirts, the Hollow Men, the sophisticates, the lordly academicians, the important people, the appeasers, the compromisers, and the accommodationists will never forgive Francis Schaeffer for what he said. But now that he's dead, they cannot pull him down, so all they can do is to dance on his grave.