Sunday, April 13, 2008

Review of "Letters of Francis Schaeffer"

Letters of Francis Schaeffer by Lane T. Dennis

Normally I don't enjoy books of letters. For instance, I've read a book with letters from D. Martyn Lloyd Jones. Though I greatly respect that man and his ministry, and the letters certainly didn't diminish my respect for him, the letters made for banal reading. But this book is quite different. The letters are compelling and rich with content, not just run-of-the-mill correspondence. Schaeffer answers people in thoughtful, penetrating, and sometimes quite controversial ways. The overall theme is "Spiritual Reality".

Part One is "The Reawakening of Spiritual Reality'. These letters deal mainly with the controversies of Presbyterianism in the 1950's and Schaeffer's growing disenchantment with much of the "separated movement". Schaeffer's own personal crises is also brought up in some of these letters.

Part Two is "Spiritual Reality in Daily Living". Here we find letters to people, mainly former L'Abri students, who are struggling with sin, psychological problems, spiritual growth, health issues, the meaning of life, etc.

Part Three is "Spiritual Reality in Marriage, Family, and Sexual Relations". Here, as the title implies, the letters focus on marriage, relationships, family, and sex.

I'm impressed with these letters and throughout them you will find great "take home" tidbits (although some of them may seem quite familiar to you if you've read more than a couple of Schaeffer's books). Some of the letters are dated to the times they were written in, but that is to be fully expected in a book of letters. I've also learned a lot from his method of corresponding, and I feel I'm better equipped to respond to different situations myself. For these and many other reasons, I highly suggest that you check out this book! I don't necessarily agree with every single thing Schaeffer said, but then again, if I did that would be scary! I found the letters helpful, challenging, and found I could agree with the vast majority of what he says.

I do have one complaint. The book is filled with Schaeffer's apologies for not writing in a timely manner. It gets tedious after a while. I realize they are a genuine part of his correspondence and removing them would make the letters choppy and incomplete. But, still, they slow down the reader. Understandably, Schaeffer was a very busy man. Sometimes I wonder how he was able to manage this extensive correspondence! He lived from 1912 to 1984. He wrote over 20 books. He directed films. He ran L'Abri, a very busy ministry in Switzerland. He toured Europe and America. He had cancer. He had children with health concerns. But thank God he wrote these letters (both for the sake of those to whom they were addressed and for the sake of the people who read them now). And thank you, Lane T. Dennis, for editing such a great book!

(And thank you Ian for lending me this book!)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

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