Book Review: “He Is There, And He Is Not Silent” by Francis Schaeffer (1972)

“With God’s norms of truth, morals, values, and knowing we have…a North Star [which gives] unity to the internal and external world.” (Chapter 4)

He Is There, And He Is Not Silent came as Francis Schaeffer’s third offering to the apologetically-starved Christian community of the 1960s and 70s, a community which faced yet again the rehashed and repackaged anti-philosophies that the world has been microwaving for thousands of years and feeding to a public who themselves were starving for answers. Christians had too few answers up to this point, even with Bible in hand, as they stood shocked into a sort of dumb fear whenever the godless psychologists and philosophers brought out yet another “new” explanation for reality (or the lack thereof). By God’s grace, Francis Schaeffer, a philosopher himself, followed the Holy Spirit into a call that has changed the philosophical landscape for countless people over these past 50+ years. He Is There, And He Is Not Silent is not simply a rehashing of the vital information discussed in his first two books, but is rather a further development into not simply the existence of God, but the communication He has given us both in His written Word and in the gift of reasonable brains that can understand Its light, especially when back-dropped by the darkness of the world’s anti-philosophies. As he states in his opening chapter, “In the basic concept of existence [or morality or knowledge], it is the Christian answer or nothing.”

In this book, Schaeffer tackles the difficult subject of what he calls “the philosophic necessity of God’s being there and not being silent—in the areas of metaphysics, morals, and epistemology.” (Ch.1) And from the outset I must admit that when reading Schaeffer, one has to follow his reasoning from beginning to end, for to take just one chapter (or section) from the book as a single unit would be as irrational as taking a verse of the Bible out of context. Don’t do it!

Chapter 1 deals specifically with our existence, Being, and discusses at length the necessary contrast between our Creator (the infinite-personal God, the Trinitarian God) and us (finite-person creatures made in His image): “If a finite point does not have infinite reference point, it is meaningless and absurd.”

Chapter 2 then discusses morality. Without an infinite-personal God opposite our finite-personal selves, then morals disappear, and we’re left with “what is antisocial, or what society does not like,” “moral motions,” “situational, statistical ethics,” “what is, is right,” with “no standard in the universe which gives final meaning to such words as right and wrong,” no morality at all (Chapter 2). And yet while many in the world today believe this very non-reality, they still have a difficult time describing why this world can produce such cruelty (if they can even use such a term). Only the Christian viewpoint has a valid answer to man’s cruelty, that he did something long ago that turned both him and his offspring somehow into something morally abnormal. Schaeffer then uses this basic supposition to lead directly to the cross (Ch.2)

In Chapter 3, Schaeffer reviews much of his in-depth philosophical studies from the first 2 books regarding Epistemology (the theory of knowledge). Then in Chapter 4, he answers this bleak outlook toward epistemology. One of my favorite Schaeffer statements (that needs a week’s time of reading to fully understand) is this: “All men constantly and consistently act as though Christianity is true.” Regarding the person who refuses to allow in this debate the presupposition that the biblical position is intellectually possible (far too many critics are in this sphere, unwilling to fight the battle on common ground!), Schaeffer writes that if he insists “upon holding this view, even though it dehumanizes man, and even though it is opposed to the evidence of what man knows about man, then there is no place for revelation.” (Ch.4) To any critics of Christianity, I personally recommend that if you don’t believe his statements about biblical revelation, and if you’re at least willing to approach some common ground, read Schaeffer’s first book, The God Who Is There. It’ll make your head spin, but I think in a good way.

In conclusion to this study on how God has provided answers in the areas of Being, Morals, and Knowledge, Schaeffer writes: “So we have three things coming together: God, the infinite-personal God, who made the universe; and man, whom He made to live in that universe; and the Bible, which He has given us to tell us about that universe. Are we surprised that there is a unity between them? Why should we be surprised?” “With God’s norms of truth, morals, values, and knowing we have…a North Star [which gives] unity to the internal and external world.” (Ch.4)

©2015 E.T.

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2 Responses to Book Review: “He Is There, And He Is Not Silent” by Francis Schaeffer (1972)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: “Introduction to Francis Schaeffer” by Francis Schaeffer (1974) | Elliot's Blog

  2. Pingback: Book Review: “Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History” by Francis Schaeffer (1975) | Elliot's Blog

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