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A Christian Manifesto
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 1998
I am just coming to read the books of Francis Schaeffer, and what has impressed me initially is his holistic perspective of Christianity. Schaeffer insists that Christian belief and God's reality necessarily pervade the whole of life, and he justifies his insistence with Biblical/theological evidence that is both reasonable and practical. This book focuses on how Christian belief should extend into the realm of government. He persuasively argues that not only is the United States founded upon the Christian belief in an ultimate truth, God, but also that this is the only foundation upon which a government can truly stand. "A Christian Manifesto" is essentially a warning cry about the encroachment of humanism, but rather than being an alarmist writing (although at times it ventures dangerously close to that ground), "Manifesto" is instead a reasonable, logical presentation of predictable results of the humanist world view. If there is anything alarming about "Manifesto" it is the realization that the humanist world view cannot compel a person to obey the law for any other reason than force.
Equally interesting is Schaeffer's discussion of a Christian's proper response to government, the basis of a government's authority, and the Christian response to government that usurps it's authority. In all of these discussions Schaeffer undergirds his arguments with the ultimate reality of God and the implications of this reality.
I found myself uncomfortable at times as I made my way through this book because I came at it from a liberal Christian perspective. However uncomfortable I felt, I found his arguments difficult to deny.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2003
Seldom do I read many things that peak my attention such as the works of Francis Schaeffer. "A Christian Manifesto" reads as though it were written today. One can imagine it was a book before its time as the idea of "post-modern" Christianity has now become a forward-moving trend. Above all, I believe what this book succeeds in doing is calling Christians to serious reform in worldview; linking the problems of our society today to a humanistic view of total reality that has lost its morality and spiritual roots. He renounces dualism and admonishes us to look at issues in their totaliy as symptoms of a greater problem. In this book, Schaeffer sites some of the top legal decisions that will affect the people of faith in the coming decade. The issues still stand even today. He challenges the censorship of the open marketplace where people should be able to decide for themselves whose "god" is God. This is perhaps one of the most profound reads in quite awhile. You will be challenged, if not changed.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Francis Schaeffer had amazing insight into the world around him. He looked around and made predictions that others thought impossible to ever come true. He tied together causes that others disregarded. He described a coming world view that others comsidered extreme and alarmist.
Now . . . it has come to pass. Many today will read this book and have trouble believing that Schaeffer's world ever existed. To others, Schaeffer's words will seem as if they were penned only yesterday. Some will probably call him immoral. Others will call him a prophet. He is certainly politically incorrect.
And all of this change happened in the span of about 20 years. This book was penned in 1981. You owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this book and look around at the change that has happened to society. It is sobering.
Schaeffer wrote his Christian Manifesto as an antithesis to the Communist Manifesto. He imagined the logical progression of a world built upon a morality other than God. Imagine if you will, what a world would be like if the government totally removed God as the basis for law and morality. It might be like a snowball rolling down a long hill with nothing to stop it. What would be the results way down the hill into the far future? How could the snowball ever be stopped once it reached critical mass? How long before it reached critical mass? How should Christians react to this changing world?
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2007
I love Francis Schaeffer. For my money, there is no one better to express deep thoughts about the Christian worldview, fully and briefly. Reading Schaeffer is like savoring a good meal. I plan to read a lot more of him.

First of all, cool cover. Maybe the best ever.

More than this A Christian Manifesto looks at the theological basis for government and examines the Christian's responsibility toward government that is failing its responsibility to uphold justice. The first fifty pages or so are classic Schaeffer. Biblical philosophy is brought to bear on the origin of government; justice exists outside of law, and so governments are liable to rule on the basis of what is right. Law, on the contrary, does not determine what is right, it only upholds it. Loved it.

Still, where I was excited and challenged by the opening chapters, I lost interest in the last two-thirds. There Schaeffer argues that Christians have the duty to resist unjust or immoral governments. I just didn't buy into public protest as civil disobedience in the US. Too little is said to establish what exactly demands resistance and how far to go. Abortion was the case-in-point, and the book didn't reach much beyond that. Really, I was hoping that the book would shape my thinking of how Christians should participate in politics, but was left wanting.

At the same time, "Christian Manifesto" is worth the read because Schaeffer still provides a great deal of food for thought in just around 140 pages. Though the book is full of legal citations from the early 1980's, Schaeffer was ahead of his time in anticipating the post-modern worldview that we know so well today. His ideas are always challenging, and even where you disagree you will find your worldview sharpened.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2003
Like most works by Schaeffer A Christian Manifesto contains Schaeffer's standard rundown of Western Civilization after the Reformation. If you've read any of his books you probably know his take on things. However, the reason I would recommend this book is his emphasis on how Christian truth is not just for Sunday mornings. It affects every facet of our lives, including politics; which, prior to the 80's was a field that most Evangelicals had previously been reluctant to enter. His insight into the acceptance of abortion in Western culture is unique and must be read by anyone who wants to understand the issue.
With these good points, I must point out that some of his historical analysis, with regard to the Reformation, is definitely faulty. He tries to point out how political activism of the Reformers insured the success of the Reformation in Northern European nations. Then he tries to tie it to peaceful (to an extent) anti-abortion activism. His historical analysis is so scant because he probably wouldn't want to point out that the reason the Reformation was successful in those countries because the reformers themselves promised a select group of nobles absolute power and free reign to loot Catholic lands. Once the rulers were in the hands of the reformers they could enforce whatever they wanted to.
Despite flaws like this felt that overall it was a good, thought provoking read.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2002
This book is not only for God-fearing Christians, but was written also for the relativistic humanists. Some of Schaeffer's points made me jump out of my seat. Are you tired of the moral decay in this world? Are you tired of the attacks on Christian ethics? This book will make you want to get off your "hiney" and do something about it. Schaeffer backs up his points with historical insight and biblical truths.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An incredible book that I first read back in eighth grade, A Christian Manifesto is Schaeffer's examination of the conflict between the Christian worldview versus the humanistic worldview as it plays out in law and government. It is that shift in worldview which Schaeffer identifies as the fundamental issue in our culture today - and the fact that far too many Christians are fighting this war on various battlefronts, missing the totality of the conflict in which they are ultimately engaged! The battle, according to Schaeffer, is a conflict over Truth, whether there is a comprehensive and absolute Truth about all reality or not.

Schaeffer does an excellent job of reviewing human history and demonstrating clearly and convincingly that Christians have in almost every generation and every culture been at the heart of this continuous battle for truth. Setting the stage from the Protestant Reformation, Schaeffer then turns to the uniqueness of the legal and governmental status found in the United States - a government established on the principle that God supersedes law and that law supersedes man. But, warns Schaeffer, that uniqueness has been slowly eroded away by the humanist worldview and its invasion of the public policy arena with the fallacy that the state is supreme in the absence of the existence of God.

Schaeffer encourages Christians to be an active presence in the political process - and warns that when the state violates the liberties granted by God, civil disobedience is not only an option, but a commandment as well - to submit to an authority in clear violation of Biblical principles is not an option for a follower of Christ - "citizens have a moral obligation to resist unjust and tyrannical government," he writes.

Looking at the United States in the early 1980s, Schaeffer sees a window of opportunity for Christians to make their presence felt in the process, but warns that this window is slowly closing. Schaeffer uses the issue of abortion as his example of an issue where Christians must be a part of the solution, and gives various strategies that can be employed to make a difference in the culture on this particular travesty of humanistic reasoning.

A Christian Manifesto is a great read, especially for a Christian who wants to engage their culture for Christ in the public policy arena. Schaeffer's reasoning is solid, challenging and relevant even today!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
(Note: Please be aware that the author of this review spent 15 years entrenched in politics and has a passion for all things political. The biases I posses clearly obscure my objectivity on the topics contained in this book.)

This book and its author, Francis Schaeffer, are considered by many to be contributing factors to the rise of the Christian Right political movement in the 1970s and 1980s.

Schaeffer indicates that the current decline of Western Civilization can be attributed to humanity becoming ever more pluralistic and humanistic, resulting in a shift "away from a world view that was at least vaguely Christian". Schaeffer argues that there is a philosophical battle between the people of God and the secular humanists.

Schaeffer bemoans the fact that as the secular humanistic view thrust itself into our culture in the 1960s and 1970s, Christian attorneys, politicians, pastors and laypeople sat back and let it happen. We now have a culture and society that embraces the sinful man and relegates God and His truths to that of spectator status.

Humanism has eroded the public perception of truth and morality. Faith and freedom have been legislated into the shadows. Christians have withdrawn from our culture and the public arena.

Schaeffer reminds Christians that being salt and light is irrelevant if we are not salt and light in the society. He calls all Christians to engage society and culture. By teaching, by life and by activism, Christians are called to provide examples of the truth that Christ's grace provides us.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Francis Schaeffer is a great author. That is why I bought this book.
This book lived up to its reputation--it is very insightful. It is very introspective and deals with a lot of issues and problems pertaining to our society. It shows how in some ways Christians have not compreheneded the nature of the battle and have lost some ground. A must read for the Christian who wants to fight humanism in our society.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2009
This book was definitely one of the more political ones of Schaeffer's. This came towards the end of his life when he was very upset, understandably, over Roe v. Wade and the abolition of anti-abortion laws by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was done well and one that had many great arguments of why we shouldn't really be surprised at what is happening because of the allowance of secular humanism becoming so rampant in our schools and among our society as a whole (in practice anyways).

Like most of Schaeffer, he does very well at showing historically why we are dealing with these issues as a whole. He shows how this country was set up, although not as a Christian one, one that obviously drew from a distinctively Christian mindset. From there, he shows the historical shift that began to take place when the humanist manifesto made it's debut in 1933 and from there the downfall was set in motion. From there, the 1st amendment started to be interpreted differently than the Founding Fathers had in mind and then the 60's started living out the humanist manifesto and we, as a nation, never looked back.

Schaeffer shows why it is necessary for countries to believe in a moral law giver and not in the humanist call that every man decide, in their context, what is right and wrong. Schaeffer actually shows masterfully why abortion is the greatest way that the humanist manifesto has shown itself in our culture. What else should we expect from people who believe that it is up to the person to decide what is right and wrong? Now one can murder their child, because they deem that it is right within their context and for their life. Although deplorable, should not surprise us.

From there Schaeffer gives a historical and biblical understanding of when it is okay to show civil disobedience to a government who goes against God's decrees. Although I don't agree with all his points and he even admittedly states that some will take what he writes beyond the bounds he means them to go, I can see the fruitfulness of this discussion and his reasons.

The one thing that I found to be disturbing within the context of abortion is that he gives four defenses that all Christians should take up for the child. The problem is that these four defenses are all against the government and none against the actual people murdering their children. He points to how to try and fight against a government who allows this murder to happen, but does not show anyway to rise up against the actual murderers of their children. He does this throughout the book on the whole though. He talks about government as a whole, instead of the individual. This is definitely a short coming in the book. Until people are transformed, we can try and change as many laws as we want, but we will come up well short of the overall goal: transforming people to live for the glory of God.

Overall, the book is definitely a political one more than an apologetics book. It is a book where I found myself in agreement and also disagreement, but overall found it useful. As usual Schaeffer wrote this and it sounds like he was living today and not close to 30 years ago. Most of what Schaeffer has forecasted is now happening and it is very close to come to a place to where the Christian voice will be silenced completely. Until then, we must preach, teach and transform the lives of people, not just government. Recommended.
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