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The church at the end of the 20th century Unknown Binding – 1972
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He wrote in the introductory section of this 1970 book, "In this book, I have attempted to describe the sociological milieu in which the church of Jesus Christ finds itself. Amidst an international student revolution, and in the midst of a culture cut loose not only from God and revelation, but also cut loose from reason---in a society easily subject to manipulation by a New Left or an establishment elite---what future is there for the institutional church? It is in the context of this question that the present book has been written." [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 153-page paperback edition.]
He argues, "Unless people see in our churches not only the preaching of the truth, the practice of love and the practice of beauty; unless they see that the thing that the humanists rightly want but cannot achieve on a humanist base---human communication and human relationship---is able to be practiced in our communities, then let me say if clearly: They will not listen and they should not listen... But if Christians can take these factors into account... then we will have the possibility of a stirring of a fresh revolution... And then by God's grace a Christian consensus may be active again." (Pg. 40)
He asserts, "It is my thesis that as we cannot bind men morally except with that which the Scripture clearly commands (beyond that we can only give advice), similarly, anything the New Testament does not command in regard to church form is a freedom to be exercised under the leadership of the Holy Spirit for that particular time and place. In other words, the New Testament sets boundary conditions, but within these boundary conditions there is much freedom to meet the changes that arise both in different places and different times." (Pg. 67)
After quoting John 13:33-35 [e.g., 'By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another'], he observes, "The passage reveals the mark that Jesus gives to label a Christian not just in one era or in one locality but at all times and all places until Jesus returns... An 'if' is involved. If you obey, you will wear the badge Christ gave. But since this is a command, it can be violated. The point is that it is possible to be a Christian without showing the mark, but if we expect non-Christians to know that we are Christians, we must show the mark." (Pg. 133)
Schaeffer's meditations and advice are of continuing value to discerning Christians.