Schaeffer and the antithesis

April 17, 2007

I am reading Francis Schaeffer’s “The God Who is There,” and I am intrigued by his emphasis on the antithesis. Essentially, according to Schaeffer, the problem for the church in this new age stems from the world’s abandonment of the antithesis, or the belief that if something is true, then it’s opposite must be untrue.

The question that I am now asking myself is this: do I have to dedicate to such a strong position on truth? I will be the first to claim that things in direct opposition to truth can’t be true (and in that manner deny relativism in any form) but I feel hesitant in rejecting the idea that the opinions opposed to mine are without strong points. Maybe this is not what Schaeffer is suggesting, but I do not want to suppose that those who are outside of the church in no way display the image of God that all of mankind is created with.

I, like so many more Christians dedicated to truth, do not want to compromise the truth that Christianity is the one and only true way to live life, and others do not have a full understanding of God. At the same time, I do not want to ignore that other people’s beliefs do have things in common with mine, and so to say that they are opposite and completely lacking in truth would be a mistake.

So how do we reconcile the problem? I agree with Schaeffer that presuppositional apologetics are the only way to approach discussion with those outside of the faith – that no one can think outside of their context and biases and therefore we have to listen and understand the box in which people are living. I also agree that Christianity is the only true rational way to think about the world because, frankly, God is the basis for reason and logic. Without Him there is nothing ultimate reality we can base anything on.

At the same time I see that many outside of the church are speaking and proposing good things: helping those in need, the recognition of evil in the world, the need to treat all humanity with respect and dignity. These are things that I can agree with.

Ultimately, I think that there is a value in recognizing the antithesis, in that those who do not believe in the truths that I hold dear do not hold truth in its purest form. A true premise based on faulty reasons is still flawed. We can still realize that the efforts for social justice in the world are good things, but continue to dialogue with those who are not in Christ, encouraging them to understand that it is only in light of God’s love that we can truly love others, and that without Him there is no basis for reason at all.

I suppose Schaeffer might write about this later, but I am impatient….and a slow reader.

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One Response to “Schaeffer and the antithesis”

  1. C. W. Weeks Says:

    Schaeffer does not suggest some sort of monopoly on truth – – – – Well, not exactly. His real point is that the abandonment of antithesis as the basis for knowledge marks the death of all knowledge – Moreover, he suggests (as any good Pressuppositionalist would) that Christian theism uniquely upholds this basis – So, to the extent to which the world thinks – it owes a profound debt to Christianity (and God) for such efforts.

    What I find interesting is deep connections to Schaeffer’s set of pressuppositions and the axioms of Objectivism (the philosophy of Ayn Rand) .The difference is the Objectivist sees no need for God to support these ‘first principles’ – This makes me uneasy with Schaeffer’s breed of Pressup – – – – In spite of his (largely semantic) claims to the contrary, it far too closely resembles a secular rationalism.

    All that to say, it was good seeing you – – – – Let’s talk again soon.


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