I have been re-examining, “How Should We Then Live,” and watching the film series on line. Wikipedia gives a fairly good run down if you aren’t familiar. It’s a book by theologian Francis A. Schaeffer first published in 1976 and made into a series of films.
He is best know for his trademark goatee and lederhosen. Well, perhaps that is not what he is best known for, but it is what gives him some character.
I nearly knocked myself out trying to do the math, but I wanted to see if some of what he had said, had stood the test of time, if his prophecies had come true. The shock of realizing 1976 was nearly 45 years ago, threw me for a loop! Anyway, it wasn’t really “prophecy,” it is more an examination of history from ancient Rome through the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Age, until we arrive at where we are today. I like the films very much, they are brief, visual, and give you just a tiny taster bite of each subject.
Something I like about Schaeffer, he seems to share my concerns about the Greek philosophers and also about Thomas Aquinas. I often see their influence being a part of what has led us into humanism, into relativism. Schaeffer says of Aquinas, “In his view the human will was fallen or corrupted, but the intellect was not. As a result of this emphasis, gradually philosophy began to act in an increasingly independent autonomous manner.”
Independent of what? The emotional, spiritual, and supernatural.
I have said something very similar myself, over and over again, in numerous posts. The tendency when we are confronted with moral relativism and excessive emotionalism is to just cry out for more reason, logic, and facts, as if reason were the cure, when in fact, human reason is often what has caused the opposite rebellion, the sudden fondness for emotional chaos! Human reason has just left many of us as hapless trauma victims.
I’ve lost track of all the times I’ve heard in faith, “the heart is wicked above all else,” as if the cure were simply to avoid the heart and rely exclusively on the brain. We conveniently forget the second part, “lean not unto your own understanding” or “there is a way that seems right to a man…” Like, your heart is wicked, who can know it, but what you think you can reason and rational-lies is a real train wreck, too! The fall also impacted our brains. Don’t believe everything you think.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say the cure for human insanity and total chaos, is more reason. I think that is a really tempting fallacy, especially for men, and men have often been the dominant theological voices throughout history. There is a tendency among men to value more tangible, concrete things, and to devalue what is perceived as being more ethereal, more emotional, and less solid in material appearance.
Humanism, relativism, the age of reason, science, and artificial intelligence, are the fruit of this unwillingness to embrace all the other things that make us human, our emotional selves, the sheer irrationality of falling in love or…...laying down one’s life for their brothers. You simply cannot plot those things out on a computer, they defy logic, they belong to our higher selves, they exists somewhere beyond feelings and logic.
We are currently responding to covid like a bunch of blasted bureaucrats completely devoid of our humanity, our tyranny disguised as compassion, and our cruelty rational lied, ad nauseum. Your parents need to die alone in isolation, for their own good. Wouldn’t want to get them sick! If your spouse or child is injured and in the hospital, well, you can’t visit because covid. You must shut down your business and stop providing for your family, for the common good. What we are doing is unnatural, immoral, and rational. It is devoid of what would traditionally have been labeled feminine, nurturing, emotional, and pragmatic when it comes to the actual care and feeding of human souls.
Literally computer algorithms have projected potential pandemic outcomes, bureaucrats have stepped forward, Science has been seated on the throne of our worship, and we have all lost our darn minds. THIS is exactly what Francis A. Schaeffer was talking about, although I doubt even he could imagine how absolutely ludicris it would all get.
Schaeffer’s conclusions are really quite chilling in how accurate they are, how it is as if we have woken up, looked about, and discovered we have now arrived at our final destination.
Wiki sums it up nicely. “He warns that when we live by these values we will be tempted to sacrifice our freedoms in exchange for an authoritarian government who will provide the relative values. He further warns that this government will not be obvious like the fascist regimes of the 20th century but will be based on manipulation and subtle forms of information control, psychology, and genetics.”
Indeed! So, how should we then live? In His image, as full human beings, mind, body, and spirit, male and female He made them, and pronounced it good. “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” Anytime we try to seat the creature on the throne and not the Creator, in our individual lives or as a cultural collective, we are going to be subject to tyranny and chaos.