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The God Who Is There Paperback – October 16, 1998
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This classic book needs to be read by a new generation that may not know of Schaeffer, and re-read by those who have been influenced by him. (Knowing & Doing, Spring 2009)
"'This book, and its companion volumes, accomplished something startling and necessary: It made intellectual history a vital part of the evangelical landscape, opening up the worlds particularly of art and philosophy to a subculture that was suspicious and ignorant of both,' writes John Stackhouse, professor of theology and culture at Regent College." (Christianity Today, October 2006)
About the Author
Francis A. Schaeffer founded the L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and was the author of many books, including The God Who Is There. Until his death in 1984, he was also a noted speaker with a worldwide ministry. His ministry continues through his books, with over two million copies in print.
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His proof can be reduced to three parts. First, the observation of God's of effect on humanity. Using the scientific method, we first conduct an experiment and look at the result. God exists because we can observe how people change in his presence. Second, each and every individual longs for some meaning in their life. And third, the argument for a source from which morality springs.
In his first proof, which I believe to be his most compelling, we cannot differentiate Christianity from other religions. Plus, if as what Marx calls the opium of the people, or as Freud calls an illusion, we still see societies reacting in ways that are rallying around a higher calling. Societies can always be motivated to rally around a higher calling...there are many examples both good and bad.
In his second proof, the search for meaning at the individual level, here too, if Christianity is an illusion -- just like a placebo, the meaning could profoundly affect the individual. It is this purpose that separates us from the machine, plants, and animals. A lot wrong here -- and although his profound love for humanity is clear, he has no faith that humanity is ultimately good and will find their own way to the Truth. Instead, if they are left to their own devices they will only deteriorate and then commit suicide. He uses prime examples from the masters of Secular Humanism who happen to be some of the most arrogant individuals in society -- that were in fact -- truly struggling because of their pride and higher intellect. He paints a very depressing and bad view of society without the Love of Christ in an individual's heart. Christians know that God works in everyone even if they are not "conscious" of his presence, and humanity, on the whole, has more love than hate. So Schaeffer is really dark on this subject.
And finally in this third proof, I think a great deal of work as been done in the area of morality and where it comes from since Schaeffer wrote this book. Again, Christians already believe the work of God always prevails here - because they can pin it on Him because they know His finger prints. The rest of humanity will still search for another cause and never see that He was in the house. No proof here for those who do not believe already.
So basically -- once you come to believe -- the proofs Schaeffer uses are self-evident which brings up his most powerful contribution to both theology and conversion. This is his requirement for apologetics to both prove God's existence and communicate His existence at the same time. Otherwise they are just philosophers. It puts the burden on the actions and deeds of the individual and not just the words. And for the witness, once you bring someone over to Christ, what more proof do you need. It's a self reinforcing algorithm. And for the subject, once you believe, again, the proof becomes self evident. So it's a great approach for gaining disciples -- which is what Christians are called to do, and why this book is from them.
So Schaeffer was clearly one of the best apologetics and put the formula for coming to know the Truth in writing. Ultimately -- the proof is in the pudding. It's therefore a very powerful proof - it does not mean, however, that the Kierkegaard "Leap of Faith" is wrong because the Truth can still not be proven quantitatively -- and therefore, no matter how deep we dig, taking the plunge is what's important -- that also gets the non-believer where they need to be...namely, believing.