One of the great things about God is he does not remain silent, and he does not leave us without a witness about himself. Our God is a self-revealing God; a God who, as the writer to the Hebrews says, has spoken to us through the prophets at many times and in various ways (Heb 1:1).
But as tremendous as it is that God speaks and sends his spokesmen, it is also so very terrible that they are universally rejected. Yahweh’s prophets of old were constantly being scorned, rebuffed and rejected. Indeed, they were often even warned ahead of time that the people would not receive them.
Jesus of course experienced all this as well, and spoke about it many times, eg: “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all” (Luke 11:47-51).
The disciples also spoke to this truth, as for example Stephen: “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it” (Acts 7:51-53).
But God in his grace continues to send his spokesmen, and still seeks to speak to both his people and the world today. He still raises up prophetic voices to share his heart and stir up his people. But as before, these words of rebuke, warning, encouragement and reproof are usually unheeded – at least by most people.
But a remnant usually does stand up and take notice. One such prophetic voice was used mightily by God last century and his voice still speaks today. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was such an important mouthpiece for God, and his latter work especially was very prophetic in nature, urging God’s people to wake up to the many battles all around them: theological, spiritual, cultural, ethical, political, epistemological, philosophical, and social.
He sought valiantly to wake up a sleeping church, and he did all he could to sound the alarm about the wars waging in its midst. But as is the case so often, most people did not listen. Most people did not awaken. Most kept right on snoozing through their own collapse.
But a remnant did heed his words then, and a remnant still values greatly his words today. I of course have shared so many of his words over the years, and will continue to do so. Here I wish to share a short talk he gave thirty years ago. It is even truer now than when presented back then. So here is “The Price We Pay for Negligence” by Francis Schaeffer:
As I state in A Christian Manifesto, America was greatly influenced by Reformation ideals. This is not to say that all the founders were Christian. Nor that the Christians were totally consistent in their political theories. However there was a Christian underpinning which distinguished America’s birth from the French and Russian Revolutions. Even the non-Christians recognised a Creator who gave the “Inalienable rights” in contrast to man or the state being the giver of those rights.
Today, however, we are a nation “under man” – centred around man’s self-appointed autonomy, governed by man’s fluctuating opinions and chiefly existing, it seems, to give man personal peace and affluence. In other words, the Judeo-Christian ethos, based on God’s absolutes, has been supplanted by a secularistic, humanistic, arrogantly arbitrary philosophy.
This worldview is spreading rapidly, and our legal system is a prominent perpetrator of it. Law in this country has become situational law, controlled by a small but dangerously powerful elite. The courts are dangerous because they pontificate arbitrarily what they personally consider to be “good” for society, yet they demand – and aggressively enforce – absolute allegiance to their arbitrary decrees.
But what did we expect? The humanistic, secularistic thinkers have merely carried their philosophy to its logical end. They have remained true to their worldview in both words and actions while, unfortunately, Christians have equivocated. They simply have not taken the Lordship of Christ seriously.
Instead, Christians have largely shut up their spirituality into a small corner of life Sunday church or their Bible studies instead of realising that the Lordship of Christ is to permeate the whole spectrum of life. They have coasted along complacently, often serving up such dogmas as “you can’t mix religion and politics,” or “you can’t legislate morality,” or “we just need to pray and witness to people” – when what they really meant was “we just don’t want to be disturbed.” They were content in their “comfort zone.”
But Christians are paying for their negligence. We have permitted the dominance of a philosophy that sanctions the killing of an unborn child for the mother’s convenience. A philosophy that deems it acceptable for parents to allow a “less than perfect” newborn child to die – again, because it is convenient. A philosophy that can talk of euthanasia of the aged and a general devaluation of all human life. A philosophy that has euphemized a wrong and self-destructive sexuality into “alternative lifestyles.” A philosophy that drives its proponents to unashamedly seek the banishment of all religious influence from the stream of public life, leaving a totally relativistic value system and law.
This secularistic worldview has engulfed every area of society which Christians have chosen to ignore – the government, the courts, education, the media. And it is now threatening the areas which Christians naively took for granted as being beyond its reach: the family, the Christian school and the church. More and more the state is opening the door to restrict the free exercise of our faith through increased regulation.
And if the majority of Christians persist in their complacency, we will increasingly lose our freedoms. Christians largely sleep on, as step after step is taken. It is not too late to change this destructive situation, but it is too late for mere words. It is time for Christians to fight this materialistic, humanistic tide and provide Christian alternatives. It is time that we came out of our cloistered, compartmentalized existence and took our place in the political and legal arenas.
We must continue to pray and witness to people of salvation in Christ. But we must also fight for the sanctity of human life, fight for the protection of the family, fight for the proper education of our children, fight for our right to speak and worship freely, and fight for a church that is bound to the tenets of God and not the state as though it were an autonomous authority.
We must protest. We must resist. Yet we must not move with zeal without also moving in wisdom and scriptural authority. We must understand how God’s Word applies to the whole spectrum of society, and we must know how to use our constitutional channels to work toward change.
We must use the law effectively in the coming years if we are to see any positive change. Our system of law has veered so far from its original mooring that it is going to take aggressive challenges in the courts to thwart the destructive trends. We cannot afford to sit back and allow humanism to increasingly roll over us.