I have just purcashed the complete works of Francis Schaeffer in Libronix Format. I have some paperbacks of his that I am willing to give to someone as long as they intend to read it. His writing is both easy to read and deep with an acute awareness of the devlopment of philosophy and culture. In the following quote he challanges the reader to recognise the cultural trends which have taken place. Schaeffer wrote before the full effect of postmodernity became known yet his words are still applicable fro us today. For those readers from college interested in emergent issues, church planting, or evangelism, he has something deep and profound to say. Hopefully the quote may wet your appetite for more of him.
Yet if Christians are going to be able to understand and talk to people in their generation, they must take account of the form rationalism is currently taking. In one way it is always the same — people trying to build from themselves alone. In another sense it is constantly shifting, with different emphases with which a Christian must be acquainted if he is not equipping himself to work in a period which no longer exists.The line of despair indicates a titanic shift at this present time within the unity of rationalism. Above the line, people were rationalistic optimists. They believed they could begin with themselves and draw a circle which would encompass all thoughts of life, and life itself, without having to depart from the logic of antithesis. They thought that on their own, rationalistically, finite people could find a unity within the total diversity — an adequate explanation for the whole of reality. This is where philosophy stood, prior to our own era. The only real argument between these rationalistic optimists concerned what circle should be drawn. One person would draw a circle and say, “You can live within this circle.” The next person would cross it out and would draw a different circle. The next person would come along and, crossing out the previous circle, draw his own — ad infinitum. So if you start to study philosophy by pursuing the history of philosophy, by the time you are through with all these circles, each one of which has been destroyed by the next, you may feel like jumping off London Bridge!But at a certain point this attempt to spin out a unified optimistic humanism came to an end. The philosophers came to the conclusion that they were not going to find a unified rationalistic circle that would contain all thought, and in which they could live. It was as though the rationalist suddenly realized that he was trapped in a large round room with no doors and no windows, nothing but complete darkness. From the middle of the room he would feel his way to the walls and begin to look for an exit. He would go round the circumference, and then the terrifying truth would dawn on him that there was no exit, no exit at all! In the end the philosophers came to the realization that they could not find this unified rationalistic circle and so, departing from the classical methodology of antithesis, they shifted the concept of truth, and modern man was born.In this way modern man moved under the line of despair. He was driven to it against his desire. He remained a rationalist, but he had changed. Do we Christians understand this shift in the contemporary world? If we do not understand it, then we are largely talking to ourselves.