As we saw from last week, Schaeffer has shown us how the rise of natural philosophy gave way to the autonomy of mankind. The grace/nature distinction and unity began to be broken apart by man’s claim to autonomy. Where the Renaissance left off in terms of developing man’s autonomy Kant and Rousseau carried the ball even further. Schaeffer states:
By the eighteenth century there was no idea of grace – the word did not fit any longer. Rationalism was now well-developed and entrenched, and there was no concept of revelation in any area. Consequently the problem was now defined, not in terms of “nature and grace,” but of “nature and freedom.” (p. 227)
From here autonomy gave way to determinism in the field of physics as being applied to people. This led to a new kind of natural science. Christian scientists always believed in natural science “but what they did not believe in was the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system.” (p. 229) thus the machine was created:
The modern modern scientists insist on a total unity of the downstairs and the upstairs, and the upstairs disappears. Neither God nor freedom are there anymore – everything is in the machine. In science the significant change came about therefore as a result of a shift in emphasis from the uniformity of natural causes to the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. (p. 230)
One of the most sobering examples of the result of thinking of man and all of reality as in a machine was Marquis de Sade, the catalyst for the modern porn industry. Schaeffer notes the devastating results:
The conclusions he drew were these: if man is determined, then what is, is right. If all of life is only mechanism – if that is all there is – then morals really do not count. Morals become only a word for a sociological framework. Morals become a means of manipulation by society in the midst of the machine. The word morals by this time is only a semantic connotation word for nonmorals. What is, is right. (p. 231)
After Kant, came Hegel who relativized epistemology and methodology with synthesis (p. 233). On the heals of Hegel came Kierkegaard because he gave up on a unified field of knowledge (p. 234). With Kierkegaard came “the leap of faith.” Thus, there is no connection between the “upper” and “lower” stories. Nothing connects what’s left of the universals and particulars. Schaeffer explains:
Below the line there is rationality and logic. The upper story becomes the nonlogical and nonrational. There is no relationship between them. In other words, in the lower story, on the basis of all reason, man as man is dead. You have simply mathematics, particulars, mechanics. Man has no meaning, no purpose, no significance. There is only pessimism concerning man as man. But up above, on the basis of a nonrational, nonreasonable leap, there is a nonreasonalbe faith which gives optimism. This is modern man’s total dichotomy. (p. 237-38)
Following Kierkegaard we come back to what Schaeffer discussed in the first chapter of The God Who is There, existentialism’s search for a “final experience.” Within secularism this manifested itself in the form of drugs. The goal was to “authenticate” one’s self through “an experience so big that it gives you certainty you are there and a hope of meaning – even though, rationally, you cannot have such hope.” (p. 238-39) Within the field of religion Karl Barth carried the existential ball. We will close with three paragraphs from Schaeffer on Barth:
He held the higher critical theories until the day of his death – the Bible contains mistakes, but we are to believe it anyway. His position was that though the Bible contains mistakes, “a religious word” comes through anyway. “Religious truth” is separated from the historical truth of the Scriptures. Thus there is no place for reason and no point of verification. This constitutes the leap in religious terms.
The separation of what the Bible teaches in religious and spiritual matters – as being authoritative in these areas, while saying the Bible contains mistakes where it would be verifiable – is the curx of this form of irrationalism.
What is particularly important to notice in this system is the constant appearance in one form or another of the Kierkegaardian emphasis on the necessity of the leap. Because the rational and logical are totally separated from the nonrational and the nonlogical, the leap is total. Faith, whether expressed in secular or religious terms, becomes a leap without any verification because it is totally separated from the logical and reasonable. We can now see, on this basis, how the new theologies can say that though the Bible, in the area of nature and history, is full of mistakes, this does not matter. (p. 240-41)