Escape from Reason by SchaefferThis is the final post for the final three chapters of Schaeffer’s . In the previous chapters we saw how rise of natural philosophy, and thus the autonomy of man in human reasoning, influenced both the religious and philosophical enterprises. In chapter five Schaeffer looks at how the destruction of the universals/particulars and creator/creature distinction has influenced various other fields such as art, music, theater, poetry and television. Two example here can suffice. In regards to Picasso’s abstract art Schaeffer writes:

Abstraction had gone to such an extent that he had made his own universe on the canvas – in fact, he seemed at time to be successfully laying at being god on his canvas. But at the moment when he painted a universal and not a particular, he ran head-on into one of the dilemmas of modern man – the loss of communication. The person standing in front of the painting has lost communication with the painting – he does not know what the subject-matter is. What is the use of being god on a two-by-four surface when nobody know what you are talking about. (p. 247-48)

Another example can be seen in t.v. Schaeffer observes that both the popular BBC an American television fell prey to existentialism and entertained people to death. Schaeffer recounts an experience that is rather sobering:

I happened to hear the program on BBC when the famous four-letter word was first used. There was a tremendous outcry. Such usage was obviously a serious departure from old standards; yet I would say that if I were given a choice and had to choose, let us have ten thousand four-letter words rather than the almost subliminal presentation on English television of twentieth-century thinking without the four-letter words. The really dangerous thing is that our people are being taught this twentieth-century mentality without being able to understand what is happening to them. (p. 255)

In the final chapter Schaeffer concludes with some consequences of pitting faith against rationality, that is, putting Christianity within the upper story of the universals:

  1. This effects morality in that how can we establish a relationship between Christianity and morals? Because the separation of faith and reason has left nothing in the upstairs what good is it to put Christianity there?
  2. This effects law in the same manner as Christianity. If law is pushed into the upper story with nothing there then it becomes meaningless and cannot speak to the lower story of the particulars. Schaeffer points out that “the whole Reformation system of law was built on the fact that God had revealed something real down into the common things of life.” (p. 261)
  3. This effects the ability of Christianity to speak to the problem of evil. If there are no universals in the upper story, and Christianity is placed there, then it cannot speak to the historic, space-time, real and complete Fall in Genesis 3.
  4. This effects the ability of Christianity to evangelize to the modern man. If there are no universals from which to speak into the particulars, then Christians cannot speak the truth of God into the real spiritual needs of fallen man. There would be no unified field of knowledge with which to address mans deepest needs.

With a restoration of the universals/particulars distinction Schaeffer offers the solution:

It is not sufficient to say only that God reveals Himself in Jesus Christ, because there is not enough content in this if it is separated from the Scriptures. It then becomes only another contentess banner. All we know of what that revelation of Christ was, comes from Scriptures. Jesus Himself did not make a distinction between His authority and the authority of the written Scriptures. He acted upon the unity of His authority and the content of the Scriptures. (p. 263)

The fundamental idea we can see as we have journeyed from The God Who is There to the end of Escape From Reason is that unless we hold to the distinction between the universals/particulars and creator/creature then man will be without hope. He will, as Schaeffer described it, fall below the line of despair. If Christianity allows these two distinctions to effect its thought then it will have no basis for its own existence nor a rational or ability to speak into the despair of the modern man. Once again, though Schaeffer’s words were spoken decades ago they still ring true today. Twenty-first-century man is in no less of a disparity then was twentieth-century man.

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