Immediately after finishing seminary, I read through the life works of Francis Schaeffer. (In case you’re wondering, that’s 22 books, but many of them are short.) Like many who have encountered Schaeffer’s writings, I have been deeply impacted by Schaeffer’s approach to life and theology. Truth be told, I have something of a man-crush on this goateed knicker-wearing theologian/philosopher/mountain man. My first daughter even received part of his last name for her middle name (Schae). I know that makes me a nerd, but I still like it.

Of course, some of Schaeffer’s teachings have been helpfully critiqued, and I can’t say that I agree with everything he wrote. But I want to highlight one aspect of Schaeffer’s thinking that has had a big impact on the way I view the world.

Francis Schaeffer had great confidence in the Christian worldview. For quite some time now, most non-Christians and even many Christians have grown very skeptical of the Bible. Non-Christians don’t think the Bible is a reliable source of truth—whether it be spiritual, historical, philosophical, etc. Christians have been eager to preserve the spiritual truth of the Bible, but they have not always defended the historical and philosophical truth of the Bible. What this basically amounts to is that the Bible is not generally seen as offering a complete worldview. It may offer some spiritual insights that we can use to please God or operate in our world more effectively, but it doesn’t explain enough about this world and how it works to offer a complete worldview. Or does it?

Schaeffer was adamant that the Bible offers a complete “system.” Not only is the Bible reliable on every level, but it presents a view of the world that corresponds to our experience with the world and accurately answers all of life’s most important questions. The Bible tells us where we came from, where history is headed, why we have an innate sense of morality, why there is evil in the world and why we have the urge to fight against it, why mankind is unique, and a host of other important answers that help us understand the world.

This confidence in the biblical worldview set me free to explore a lot of issue that I had previously considered dangerous. If the biblical worldview is true, then it will hold up to intense scrutiny, and there is no question we cannot ask. We don’t need to shy away from controversial issues or challenges to our faith.

And that confidence led Schaeffer to another point that has deeply affected my thinking. He said that he was always ready to give “honest answers for honest questions.” Students would come to him from all over the world, from all sorts of religious and philosophic backgrounds, and he would take their questions at face value. They knew they could ask anything without being scolded because he would take their question seriously and give them an honest answer from the biblical worldview.

I find this approach inspiring. If God’s word is true, then it will guide us through whatever unique questions and dilemmas we face in our modern age. Our job is to understand the Bible as well as we can and then to listen with honesty and compassion to the questions that people around us are asking. No matter where you’re serving, faithful ministry means giving honest answers for honest questions.

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Mark Beuving
Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of "Resonate: Enjoying God's Gift of Music" and the co-author with Francis Chan of "Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples." Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.

3 COMMENTS

    • Hi Muffy! Ryan told me you were at L’Abri for a while. It’s really encouraging to hear from someone who was personally impacted by Dr. Schaeffer. I keep learning more about the depth of the impact he has had; God definitely did something unique through him.

  1. Wow…
    You’ve read all 22 books by Francis Schaeffer?!
    Gnarly much?

    “Honest Answers for Honest Questions.”
    Well said.
    I really appreciated the last 2 paragraphs, hit home for me…
    because
    you demonstrate and give me honest answers to all the questions I frequently bombard you with…

    Thanks Mark