A Tribute to Edith Schaeffer
Cinema & New Media Arts | On Apr 05, 2013
Without the Schaeffers, I sincerely wonder if we’d have magazines like Relevant and Cardus or journals like Books & Culture or the Mars Hill Audio Journal. I know that the nonprofit Ransom Fellowship, run by two very dear friends of mine, would not exist as it does. And even as some of the work they inspired has fallen out of favor in recent years (most notably the Christian worldview movement spearheaded by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey), I suspect its critics would not be nearly so well equipped to address the movement’s shortcomings were it not for the trailblazing work of the Schaeffers. After all, the worldview movement’s most astute critic, Jamie Smith, is drawing from the same (reformed) theological well as the Schaeffers.
The Schaeffers made it possible in a way it had not been before to be thoughtfully engaged with (and even delighted by) much of popular culture while still holding to Christian orthodoxy. That is atremendous accomplishment when one considers that today’s evangelicals are, by and large, the theological descendants of fundamentalists who emphasized separation from the world. When Francis Schaeffer first came to Wheaton in 1968, he spoke on the music of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and Pink Floyd. He talked about the films of Bergman and Antonioni–and at a time when Wheaton’s honor code forbade students from seeing any movies at all! That the Schaeffers accomplished such an enormous cultural work while also modeling a tremendously generous, sacrificial hospitality at L’Abri that imaged the Gospel to thousands of guests over nearly 30 years is nothing short of remarkable.
What I saw in the Schaeffers, and what I hope many of my peers will come to see as well is that the Schaeffers were imperfect people who God used in great and significant ways to train his church in a greater fidelity to the Gospel, a deeper love of creation, and a deep, profound desire to create places of warmth and hospitality where friends and strangers alike can be received as loved and honored guests.