Book Review: “Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History” by Francis Schaeffer (1975)

As I work my way through The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, occasionally I hit snags where I just don’t feel like finishing a book. As great as Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History is, I had difficulty maintaining an interest at the beginning. I have my own reasons, of course—I’m teaching through 1Corinthians and Titus at the moment, so OT history such as this becomes more of a scholastic distraction than an intensive read—but unlike the books in Volume 1 of Schaeffer’s complete works, this book is designed for a specific study for specific reasons. The reader ought to approach it as such, or else risk discouragement in having lost the passion for reading that he might enjoy while devouring any of Schaeffer’s other works.

With all that said, Schaeffer certainly was driven with a specific mission in writing this book, which was to emphasize the historical and theological “link” that is the book of Joshua. “It stands as a bridge, a link between the Pentateuch (the writings of Moses) and the rest of Scripture. It is crucial for understanding the unity that the Pentateuch has with all that follows it, including the New Testament.” (9)

As he works his way through this book, Schaeffer follows a semi-chronological pattern, relaying the highest points of the historical narrative and the division of the land which follows and showing how those particular events connect God’s plans and works from history past to his continuing plans and works in history future. In fact, as I read this book and began mulling over the history involved, I was able to get a fuller understanding of such difficult NT passages as John 4:20, Acts 5:1-11, Colossians 2:11, and Hebrews 6:4-6.

While Francis Schaeffer is best known as a Christian apologist, philosopher, and theologian, what drove him most to become such things was his passion for evangelism. This passion becomes clear as you get deeper into Joshua, for in every chapter, Christ and His saving work discussed, all by using Joshua as a springboard. While I wouldn’t normally turn to Joshua for more education in evangelism, I was very glad to see how this pinnacle of Christian doctrine can be seen even in the such contexts as historical narrative and the parsing of land.

This book does not change my opinion of Francis Schaeffer as being one of my favorite author-teachers, though it has made me realize that not all his works will be as riveting as his earliest (for example The God Who is There and He is There and He is Not Silent).

©2015 E.T.

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