A few years ago, a friend gave me one of the most incredible gifts I’ve ever received, the five-volume set of The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer. As I delved into that first volume (which contains the most essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the foundational elements of Schaeffer’s thinking), I couldn’t help but wish that there was some sort of study guide available to help me cut the text up into smaller bites, because Schaeffer’s thoughts are meaty indeed. This tiny book would have precisely matched my needs at the time, so it’s a small shame that I found the book too late.
The Study Guide recommends that readers consume several common-themed chapters from the three books at once, though of course not without help. The Study Guide introduces each section by discussing Schaeffer’s purposes for writing the selected chapters, and then offers a number of truly thought-provoking questions or activities about each one. The Study Guide then follows these discussion questions with a section of “Implications,” where the readers (or reader) are challenged to thoughtfully apply what they’ve learned to their own lives. It then concludes with a “Summary” section pinpointing Schaeffer’s suppositions, so the reader can move on and build upon his thoughts.
Perhaps the most useful portion of this book, however, for the Schaeffer fan is his brief article at the end of the book titled, “How I Have Come to Write My Books.” In these short paragraphs, Schaeffer shares a quick biography from his younger days of agnosticism all the way through the completion of his first seventeen books, written as a result of his L’Abri ministry. The insights he shares here help the reader get a sense of setting for his highly philosophical works, which is helpful for readers like me who require context. At one point, Schaeffer says of himself: “I think that my knowledge, whatever it is, is formed from two factors: (1) forty years of hard study and (2) trying to listen to the twentieth-century man as he talked.”
Despite the size of the booklet, this truly is a quality Introduction to Francis Schaeffer. I wish I had picked it up earlier, but hey. Better late than never.