Excerpts from “A Christian Manifesto” by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer. This address was delivered by the late Dr. Schaeffer in 1982 at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is based on one of his books, which bears the same title.
Christians, [since 1900], have only been seeing things as bits and pieces which have gradually begun to trouble them and others, instead of understanding that they are the natural outcome of a change from a Christian Worldview to a Humanistic one; things such as overpermissiveness, pornography, the problem of the public schools, the breakdown of the family, abortion, infanticide (the killing of newborn babies), increased emphasis upon the euthanasia of the old and many, many other things. I want to say to you, those of you who are Christians or even if you are not a Christian and you are troubled about the direction that our society is going in, that we must not concentrate merely on the bits and pieces. But we must understand that all of these dilemmas come on the basis of moving from the Judeo-Christian worldview — that the final reality is an infinite creator God — over into this other reality which is that the final reality is only energy or material in some mixture or form.
This is the real reason for the breakdown in morals and values in our country, and it is the reason that our Supreme Court now functions so thoroughly upon the fact of arbitrary law. They have no basis for law that is fixed. The worldview that the final reality is only material or energy shaped by pure chance, inevitably, mathematically–with mathematical certainty–brings forth all these other results which are in our country and in our society which have led to the breakdown in the country–in society–and which are its present sorrows. The courts of this country have forced this view and its results on the total population. What we find is that as the courts have done this, without any longer that which the founding fathers comprehended of law (A man like Blackstone, with his Commentaries, understood, and the other lawgivers in this country in the beginning): that there is a law of God which gives foundation. It becomes quite natural then, that they would also cut themselves loose from a strict constructionism concerning the Constitution. The government and the courts have become the vehicle to force this anti-God view on the total population. It’s exactly where we are. So, if you hold this other worldview, you must realize that it is inevitable that we will come to the very sorrows of relativity and all these other things that are so represented in our country at this moment of history.
It should be noticed that this dominant worldview is a view which is exactly opposite from that of the founding fathers of this country. Now, not all the founding fathers were individually, personally, Christians. That certainly is true. But, nevertheless, they founded the country on the base that there is a God who is the Creator who gave the inalienable rights. If society–if the state gives the rights, it can take them away–they’re not inalienable. If the states give the rights, they can change them and manipulate them. We are now losing those freedoms and we can expect to continue to lose them if this other worldview continues to take increased force and power in our country. We can be sure of this. Inevitably, mathematically, all of these things will come forth.
You must realize that this other view is totally intolerant. It is totally intolerant. I do not think we are going to get another opportunity if we do not take it now in this country. I would repeat, we are a long way down the road. I do not think we are going to get another opportunity. If the Christians, specifically, but others also, who love liberty, do not do something about it now, I don’t believe your grandchildren are going to get a chance. In the present so-called conservative swing in the last election, we have an opportunity, but we must remember this, and I would really brand this into your thinking: A conservative Humanism is no better than a liberal Humanism. It’s the Humanism that is wrong, not merely the coloration. And therefore, at the present moment, what we must insist on, to people in our government who represent us, is that we do not just end with words. We must see, at the present opportunity, if it continues, a real change. We mustn’t allow it to just drift off into mere words.
And this is brought to bear, specifically, and perhaps most clearly, in the public schools in this country. From the lowest grades up through university, for the public schools of this country to teach any other worldview except this world view of final material or energy. Now this is done, no matter what the parents may wish and those who pay the taxes for their schools may wish. The courts force their view, and this false view of reality on the total population, no matter what the total population wants. This country was founded on a Christian base with all its freedom for everybody, not just Christians, but all its freedom for everyone. And now, this is being largely lost.
There is no other word we can use for our present situation that I have just been describing, except the word TYRANNY! TYRANNY! That’s what we face! We face a worldview which never would have given us our freedoms. It has been forced upon us by the courts and the government–the men holding this other worldview, whether we want it or not, even though it’s destroying the very freedoms which give the freedoms for the excesses and for the things which are wrong. We, who are Christians, and others who love liberty, should be acting in our day as the founding fathers acted in their day. Those who founded this country believed that they were facing tyranny. All you have to do is read their writings. That’s why the war was fought. That’s why this country was founded. They believed that God never, never, never wanted people to be under tyrannical governments. They did it not as a pragmatic or economic thing, though that was involved too, but for principle. They were against tyranny, and if the founding fathers stood against tyranny, we ought to recognize, in this year 1982, if they were back here and one of them was standing right here, he would say the same thing–what you are facing is tyranny. The very kind of tyranny we fought, he would say, in order that we might escape.
We must absolutely set out to smash the lie of the separation of religion from the state which most people now hold and which Christians have just bought a bill of goods. It has no relationship to the meaning of the First Amendment. The First Amendment was that the state would never interfere with religion. THAT’S ALL THE MEANING THERE WAS TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT. Just read Madison and the Spectator Papers if you don’t think so. That’s all it was! Now we have turned it over and we have put it on its head and what we must do is absolutely insist that we return to what the First Amendment meant in the first place–not that religion can’t have an influence into society and into the state–not that. But we must insist that there’s a freedom that the First Amendment really gave. Now with this we must emphasize, and I said it, but let me say it again, we do not want a theocracy! While saying clearly we are not in favor of a theocracy in name or in fact, from where we are now, where all religious influence is shut out of the processes of the state and the public schools. We are only asking for one thing. We are asking for the freedom that the First Amendment guaranteed.
I think the Church has failed to meet its obligation because 1) we have a truncated view of spirituality that don’t see true spirituality touching all of life, and 2) Christians, whether they are doctors, lawyers, pastors, evangelists–whatever they are–too many of them are afraid to really speak out because they did not want to rock the boat for their own project. We must understand, it’s going to cost you to take a stand on these things. There’s a cost, but I’d ask you, what is loyalty to Christ worth to you? How much do you believe this is true? Why are you a Christian? How much are you willing to pay the price for loyalty to the Lord Jesus? There is no possible way to heal the relativistic thinking of our own day, if indeed all there is is a universe out there that is silent about any values. None, whatsoever! It is not possible. It is a loss of values and it is a loss of freedom which we may be sure will continually grow.
Now I want to say something with great force, right here. What I have been talking about, whether you know it or not, is true spirituality. True spirituality, after you are a Christian and have accepted Christ as your Savior, means that Christ is the Lord of ALL your life–not just your religious life, and if you make a dichotomy in these things, you are denying your Lord His proper place. I don’t care how many butterflies you have in your stomach, you are poor spiritually. True spirituality means that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of all of life, and except for the things that He has specifically told us in the Bible are sinful and we’ve set them aside, all of life is spiritual and all of life is equally spiritual. That includes (as our forefathers did) standing for these things of freedom and standing for these things of human life and all these other matters that are so crucial, if indeed, this living God does exist as we know that He does exist.
Now, I come toward the close, and that is that we must recognize something from the Scriptures. When the government negates the law of God, it abrogates its authority. God has given certain offices to restrain chaos in this fallen world, but it does not mean that these offices are autonomous, and when a government commands that which is contrary to the Law of God, it abrogates its authority. Throughout the whole history of the Christian Church, at a certain point, it is not only the privilege but it is the duty of the Christian to disobey the government. Now that’s what the founding fathers did when they founded this country. That’s what early Christians did. That’s what Peter said. You heard it from the Scripture: “Should we obey man?… rather than God?”
– David Norris