Christian thinker, Francis Schaeffer, died in 1984, but he was a man whom God allowed to see the future. Schaeffer saw, wrote, and spoke about the church and our cultural degeneration these almost 40 years from his death. I just received an email from Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason (str.org) talking about Schaeffer's notion of the "mannishment of man" and how we can take advantage of that notion in witnessing to others who might otherwise totally tune us out.
"Because we all live in God's world and are all made in God's image, there are things all people know that are embedded deep within their hearts - profound things about our world and about ourselves - even though we deny them, or our worldviews disqualify them.
Consciously, we construct a system that satisfies our demand for autonomy - for self-rule. We say there is no God - at least, no God to worry about. We say there is no ultimate purpose in life. We are free of those constraints. We live by our creed - "You do you," - our modern motto.
But then our words betray us when our guard is down. Our actions - actually, our re-actions - tell a different story, revealing deeper beliefs, tacit convictions that conflict with our man-made philosophies, accurate intuitions about reality we cannot deny even when we try. "That which is known about God," Paul wrote, "is evident within them; for God made it evident to them"" (Rom. 1:19). Our mannishness cannot be suppressed.
Here's how Schaeffer's insight can be useful to you:
- Listen to the way people talk. Watch for when - from their own mouth - their acknowledgment of reality intrudes on their philosophies.
- Then exploit that tension by asking a question. In a world without purpose, why is death a tragedy? If there is no ultimate, universal morality, how can anything really be evil? Why try to talk someone out of a suicide? If there is no meaning to life, what's the point?
- Listen for when a person's "mannishness" speaks. When they tell the truth -—and they must, eventually—- point it out, and see what they have to say. It's a rather simple way to get them thinking."
The church library has several books by Francis Schaeffer - and several by his wife, Edith. We also have two excellent books authored by Greg Koukl - "Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions" and "The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between".