11 July 2011

Being Right Is Not Enough

On October 26, 1951, Francis Schaeffer wrote a letter to a pastor friend of his, a friend who had recently assumed leadership of an independent, fundamentalist-leaning church. Schaeffer was himself in the throes of removing himself from the Presbyterian group that had been growing increasingly vociferous in its denunciation of liberal theology.

Part of that letter reads--
As I have thought perhaps more quietly than in previous days, it has seemed to me that in the past there has been a fallacy in my thinking. That fallacy is simply this: that insofar as we are so abundantly right (as we are concerning the biblical position of separation), therefore it would certainly follow of a necessity that God's rich blessing would rest upon us as individuals and as a movement. I no longer believe this is so. For increasingly the realization has welled up in my own soul that although this principle [of separation] is of tremendous importance, nevertheless there are other principles in the Word of God which must be kept with equal fidelity if God's full blessing is to be upon us. . . .

What does all this mean to me? I am not sure, except that it brings me increasingly to my knees--to ask that the Holy Spirit may have His way in my life; that I may not think just of justification and then the glories of Heaven (with merely a battle for separation between). But that I may think of all the wonders of the present aspect of my salvation, and that they may be real to me in my life and ministry. What a wonderful Lord we have, and how glorious it is to indeed have God as our Father, and to be united with Christ, and to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Oh, would to God that our ministry could be under His full direction, and in His power without reservation.
Three years later Schaeffer wrote similarly to another friend of the family:
Events since we have seen each other make me more sure than ever that the Lord is calling some of us indeed to learn all that the blood of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit should mean to us in this present life. Increasingly, I believe that the Devil fears this above all else. Doctrinal rightness and rightness of ecclesiastical position are important, but only as a starting-point to go on into a living relationship--and not as ends in themselves.
--Lane T. Dennis, ed., Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer (Crossway 1985), 35-36, 46


Luma said...

Dear Mr. Ortlund,

Thank you for writing this and for the post over at the Gospel Coalition site.

I also went through a similar time during the past year or so. I have been using the term "gospel amnesia" as I recover from forgetting the gospel, from thinking of the gospel only in terms of justification, and for concentrating so much on correct doctrine and my personal sanctification that I forgot what Jesus really did for me. I forgot what grace really was, and so I was undoing in my life what I was laying claim to with my lips.

Thank you!

jenni ho-huan said...

the Gospel needs to be freshly recovered. appreciated and lived. this is what COmmunion, Sabbath and community are for no?
thanks for sharing about Shaeffer. that was the time of great rational thought (we alas we are losing today)...but GOd is maturing us all to fullness if we let Him!
jenni ho-huan