If asked what is the deepest relationship imaginable, many people would say it is between lovers, or between husbands and wives. The case can be made, however, that from a Christian perspective, no relationship is more mysterious and more wonderful, yet sometimes more troubling, than that of fathers and sons. The depth and wonder begin with all we know of the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, while the troubled aspects stem from the Fall. Consider Absalom's rebellion against King David in the Old Testament, Edmund Gosse's exposure of his father Philip, the Oedipal drive in the writings of Sigmund Freud—and now Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God, a memoir that is his personal apologia at the expense of his famous father, Francis Schaeffer, who was the founder and leader of the worldwide network of L'Abri communities....[Hat tip to J.M.]
The problem is not so much that Frank exposes and trumpets his parents' flaws and frailties, or that he skewers them with his characteristic mockery. It is more than that. For all his softening, the portrait he paints amounts to a death-dealing charge of hypocrisy and insincerity at the very heart of their life and work.....
... Francis Schaeffer, in his son's portrait, lacked intellectual integrity. There was a lie at the very heart of the work of L'Abri, and the thousands of people who over the decades came to L'Abri and came to faith or deepened in faith, were obviously conned too.
I challenge this central charge of Frank's with everything in me. I and many of my closest friends, who knew the Schaeffers well, are certain beyond a shadow of doubt that they would challenge it too. Defenders of truth to others, Francis and Edith Schaeffer were people of truth themselves....
... Frank's portrayal of his mother is cruel and deeply dishonoring, monstrously ungrateful since she poured herself out for him far more than his workaholic father.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Os Guinness vs. Frank Schaeffer: "With such a son, who needs enemies?"
Os Guinness, in "Fathers and Sons" (Books & Culture, March/April 2008), takes Frank Schaeffer to task for his treatment of his father in his new book, Crazy for God. Some excerpts: