~by Randy Bushey
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary (Luke 1:26,27).
He was one of his era’s most perceptive observers of cultural macro-trends. And what he witnessed caused him to thunder against societal drift with the ire of a biblical prophet.
When he died in 1984, Francis Schaeffer was identified as one of the most influential Christian thinkers and apologists of the 20th century.
In the 1950s, Schaeffer was among the first to recognize, “Our generation is overwhelmingly naturalistic” – something that was eventually conceded by liberals and conservatives alike by the end of the century.
Schaeffer identified naturalism as a worldview that saw all actions and events within a closed system without any possibility of intervention from outside. The result left no room for an effect that could not be explained by a natural cause.
By definition, naturalism only recognized truth that was supported by empirical analysis and said to be in step with science. It excluded anything extra-natural – or supernatural.
Consequently, naturalism careens toward an unavoidable collision with a biblical worldview in general and the Christmas story in particular.
And that brings us to Mary’s encounter with the angel, Gabriel.
What is a 21st century reader of the biblical Christmas narrative to do with heavenly messengers, angel choirs, an interplanetary signal light directing foreign dignitaries from the east, and a virgin birth?
Schaeffer illustrated the 2 worldviews – naturalism only on one hand, contrasted with an acknowledgment and recognition of natural together with the supernatural – by 2 chairs.
Worldviews are like bellybuttons: everybody has one, even if they can’t articulate it.
Our worldview is the lens through which we see – and process the data – coming at us from the world around us.
Against that backdrop – a naturalism-only worldview, over against a worldview allowing for that which nature cannot explain – determines our default reaction to many personal, societal and cultural issues of the day.
And here’s where it is sometimes most obvious: a person’s own worldview is most evident – sometimes painfully, most nakedly so – when going through seasons of significant grief resulting from personal loss.
In this broad categorization, Schaeffer asserted that every person sits in one chair or the other. The apprehension of truth and the perception of reality is filtered through one or the other of only 2 comprehensive worldview lens.
There is no middle ground. No third option. No tertium quid.
The Gospel of Christ – the dominant message of the entire 66 books of the Bible – is intentionally enshrouded in the supernatural
. From the act of creation of all that is natural – matter and energy, the laws of nature and the existence of life – in Genesis 1 to the final consummation of Christ’s Kingdom in Revelation, the Bible projects a reality paradigm in which God is in sovereign control and in which His ultimate purposes for our world and beyond, will never be thwarted.
The life of Jesus of Nazareth – God becoming man – is deliberately explained in the context of the Creator God seeking to redeem those who had rebelled against His authority, thereby rejecting His protective love.
A biblical worldview holistically engages with every area of life: origin and ultimate destiny, meaning and purpose, morality and ethics.
That’s why C. S. Lewis observed: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
If the Gospel of Christ is true, it is true for everyone – even for those who are staunchly naturalistic..
Takeaway: Schaeffer said that every prior generation understood the necessity of a symmetrical worldview: that which is natural, together with that which cannot be explained by nature – the supernatural.
His conclusion “From the Christian view-point, no man has ever been so naïve, nor so ignorant of the universe, as the 20th century man.”
If he were still living, what on earth would he conclude about the 21st century?
If the biblical Gospel is true, then there is no more important consideration for every person in every place, than the eternal destiny of one’s soul.