Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Train Up A Child

This story (Francis Schaeffer's son: Dad 'worse' than Obama's pastor. Charges black minister's 'anti-America' rhetoric mild by comparison), sent to me by a good friend earlier this week, really got me going for two reasons. First, it is textbook example of the fallacy that goes with believing that Proverbs are promises. Second, the self-righteous, pseudo-sincerity in it is exceeded only by the complete lack of logic it demonstrates.

The second topic first. Frank Schaeffer is the infamous son of one of the greatest philosophical minds in history, Francis Schaeffer , a man whose teaching and writing on the philosophical foundations of the Christian worldview and analysis of the trajectory of human thought are not only required reading for anyone interested in thinking clearly about the Christian faith, but concise and deadly accurate in its predictions about where the humanistic philosophy would take us as a society. His influence on contemporary Christian thinking has been profound. In short, the elder Schaeffer got it right when it came to assessing the philosophical underpinnings of our moral and cultural decline. He was a giant in the area of worldview analysis and his writing has stood the test of time. Yes, there have been those who have taken his views to extremes but we could say that about anybody -- including Jesus Christ. Having said that, please don't let us judge any philosophy or religion by those who choose to corrupt it.

Unfortunately one of those who has chosen to corrupt it is the author's own son.

There isn't room to defend the elder Schaeffer's record here. Others have done a better of that than I ever could. But what I cannot stomach is the deliberate mischaracterization and twisted accusations his son has stooped to for his own left-wing political purposes. Don't get me wrong, Frank Schaeffer has no obligation to agree with or defend his father's views. But to distort them in the way he has in this article is an Obamanation I feel compelled to call out.

For starters, Frank ...
Schaeffer, writing in the Baltimore Community Times, charges "the far-right Republicans and the stop-at-nothing Clintons are using the 'scandal' of Obama's preacher to undermine the first black American candidate with a serious shot at the presidency."
and then goes on to claim that:
"Every Sunday thousands of right-wing white preachers (following in my father's footsteps) rail against America's sins from tens of thousands of pulpits," Schaeffer writes. "They tell us that America is complicit in the 'murder of the unborn,' has become 'Sodom' by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children."
With this he makes the ridiculous claim that reporting the actual words of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's racial rants makes those who do so racist themselves. They do so, Schaeffer says, only to undermine the first black American's legitimate presidential candidacy. The utter foolishness in that claim requires no further discussion. My ten-year old could see how vacuous it is. But the parallel attempt to compare Wright's words to the preaching of a Bible-based morality has to be a deliberate effort to twist the truth. There is no other explanation for it.

Wright denounced, and asked God to damn, America for being a society just like the one the "right-wing white preachers" describe. But what are the characteristics of that society? In his own words it is one that sees abortion, homosexuality, idolizing the creation over the Creator, and pushing aberrant sexuality on children as each being "sinful." Never mind that each of these is defined as sinful in the Bible and has been for the last, oh, 4000 years!

Please note, this is not to claim the veracity of any of these. It is not even to defend the truth of Christianity. That is another subject. The point is that the Bible itself claims that each of these is wrong. There is no denying that. For those that hold Christianity to be true, to teach each of these is simply to articulate their faith. Whether Frank Schaeffer agrees with it or not, it is completely disingenuous to put a defense of the clear teaching of Scripture on par with the outrageous allegations made by the "Reverend" Wright. Is claiming that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin even remotely similar to claiming that the U. S. government deliberately injected the AIDS virus into black men?

C'mon, Frank. Argue your politics all you want, but please don't try to have us accept nonsense like that.

And that brings us to the first topic. It is a common misunderstanding that the Book of Proverbs contains promises that all of us can claim. But proverbs are not contracts we make with God. They are simply the wise sayings of wise, godly men. They represent good ideas that are smart to practice if we hope to live our lives in godly ways. They aren't promises. One has to believe, based on the demonstrated faith of Francis Schaeffer, that he knew them and put them into practice. In this specific case, it is safe to assume that Francis Schaeffer probably believed it was wise to "train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

The actions of his son are living proof that the practice of this particular proverb guarantees the parent nothing whatsoever.

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