Book Review: “No Final Conflict” by Francis Schaeffer (1975)

“The Bible Without Error in All That It Affirms”

“The issue at stake,” writes Schaeffer in his opening chapter, “is whether the Bible gives propositional truth (that is, truth that may be stated in propositions) where it touches history and the cosmos, and this all the way back to pre-Abrahamic history, all the way back to the first eleven chapters of Genesis, or whether instead of that it is only meaningful where it touches that which is considered religious.” Were the critics and liberals able to finally seal the coffin on the authority of the Living Word of God (an impossibility, but for the sake of argument), then Christianity would like many other outdated religious die a slow, shameful death. And this is just what the Enemy desires, even if his critics and liberals don’t quite realize it!

I have often wondered how a liberal man or woman, personally uncertain about the authority and impeccability of Scripture yet committed to the “cause of Jesus,” could commit himself to a lifetime of service in full-time ministry. Where’s the foundation? Where’s the hope? I met such a pastor who told me explicitly, “The difference between you and me is that you believe everything in the Bible.” A Pastor! What in the world is he giving his life for? A Savior and a God Who makes the occasional mistake? How horrifying: Atheism would be a far more pleasing choice, were that the truth. And that’s what makes this short little book so enticing. Schaeffer carried the standard of Biblical in-errancy forward when others let it fall, at a time when liberal theology was sinking its teeth deep into American Christianity.

Martin Luther felt the same at a time when tradition had already eaten away the soul of the Catholic Church and when the Church was attempting to prevent all the people from hearing the Truth in their own tongue for their own sake. Schaeffer quotes Luther as stating what all believers in America need to hear today: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” (13)

One portion of this book that really struck me was Schaeffer’s chapter on the freedoms we have when considering the cosmos. He lists seven possibilities, adjustments to our entire Evangelical concept of biblical history for which the Bible actually allows, since it remains silent on the issues. For example, there’s truly no telling how much time passed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 or between Genesis 1:2 and 1:3. In response to these seven possible freedoms, I wrote on the pages of my book as I read: “These possibilities are so freeing! Creationists hurt the cause of Creationism when they fill in the biblical blanks that God never intended to be filled (i.e. the true age of the earth, purely speculative!) and hold on to their theories dogmatically. Once these Creation theories (for anything not based on Scripture is a theory) are disproved by Bible-haters (which is possible), Creationism will be partially discredited, not because it’s untrue, but because Creationists’ own unfounded personal theories got mixed in as truth.” I still stand by that summation. And if you’re interested in finding out just what these possibilities are, you’ll need to pick up a copy of No Final Conflict for yourself. It’s a power little read, and I highly recommend it.

©2015 E.T.

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