Friday, October 15, 2010

Plainly and Simply Crazy

Further Remarks on Frank Schaeffer’s
Impatience with Fundamentalism and 

Infatuation with Mysticism
Due to Studied Ignorance of the  Protestant Reformation

While this is not a complete book review,  just an examination of the Prologue  which can be read for free on the internet,  to Frank Schaeffer's latest book, some things are still a dead giveaway. Schaeffer still tells us what he thinks as  bluntly as he used to in the old days when, as “Frankie”, an angry young evangelical, he wrote A Time for Anger, The Myth of Neutrality in 1982.

Yet for those who appreciated his father, the well known Christian pastor, theologian, philosopher  and best selling author Francis Schaeffer, even as separate and apart  from his  political activism with Frank in getting the Religious Right started and Reagan elected in 1980, these have not been happy days since Francis died in 1984.   Among other things, Frank ended up joining the Greek Orthodox Church in 1990. 

 
Unfortunately that means when he is not voting for or playing the Byzantine sycophant to Barack Obama - see for example his Open Letters to the Republican "traitors"   and the President -   he’s been busy castigating both his parents  and his past involvement with   the Religious Right. Ergo his book  Crazy for God : How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back (2007).

Patience with God
Now however, in his latest title of 2009,    Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), while Frank is beyond being crazy for God,  he’s still crazy -  as in irrational. (But that’s  OK because it’s part of being both religious and experience oriented according to Frank.) His latest tells us of his irritation with and  rejection of both evangelical and the secular “New Atheism” fundamentalism as opposed to his fascination with Kierkegaard’s philosophical existentialism, if not again Eastern Orthodoxy, which always hovers in the background.

In other words, his thesis is that these two mysticisms, philosophical and theological  thoroughly refute  the various contemporary fundamentalisms, religious or otherwise. Uncertainty, paradox and experience are the ultimate truths that rebut those who arrogantly claim to know different  ultimate truths. While this makes for a  bizarre and eclectic  melange of a substitute for those same evangelical fundamentalist  certainties, it comes at the expense of the genuine Reformation alternative. Hence the following.

Mr. Schaeffer is either genuinely ignorant of,  if not that he deliberatively chooses to ignore, Biblical Christianity,  at least  as it was understood and confessed at the Protestant Reformation in the Reformed Faith by the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in concocting his rebuttal of fundamentalism. Of course, Mr. Schaeffer is entitled to his opinion on these matters; that is beyond question. That his arguments are new, of substance and persuasive is an entirely different matter. Consequently an examination and critique of both  evangelical fundamentalism on the one hand and existentialism and Eastern Orthodoxy on the other is in order, as below and  in contrast to Mr. Schaeffer's evasion of the orthodox and Biblical solution to the issues he raises.