About Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality
How do you deal with the ongoing sin in your own heart and life? During the time that you have followed Jesus Christ, has anyone ever taken the time to help you understand the biblical truths about the power of sin and how it can be defeated in the life of a believer? Unfortunately, over the years, there have been many who have proposed unbiblical solutions, leaving their followers with many unanswered questions, even hopeless despair at the prospects of being unable to live a life that is pleasing to God. If this is true of you, you need not live this way any longer. But you must be committed to understanding the biblical principles that will set you free from your despair and learn what the Bible teaches about resisting sin and living a holy life.
If you were to ask the people who have been impacted by the life and writings of Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), you would find that the vast majority of them would say that the most significant book he wrote was True Spirituality: How to Live for Jesus Moment by Moment. “If we love Christ more than ourselves, then we must be ready to fight against the longing to be proved right, against the hunger for honor, for praise, for leadership, for money, for power – and we must fight this battle daily in the power of the Spirit,” says Dr. Jerram Barrs, who hitchhiked to Huémoz, Switzerland in the fall of 1967, to study and to help in that branch of L’Abri where he spent many hours with Francis and Edith Schaeffer as he grew in his new-found faith. He was so transformed by what he learned that Tyndale House asked him to write the Introduction to the thirtieth anniversary edition (2001) of True Spirituality. The biblical truth presented in this work is so important that Schaeffer himself claimed that “without the material in this book there would be no L’Abri.”
In 1976, five years after publishing True Spirituality, Schaeffer wrote How Should We Then Live? in which he maintained that “as Christians we are not only to know the right world view, the world view that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that world view so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can to the extent of our individual and collective ability.”
Commenting on the importance of Schaeffer’s book, Chuck Colson noted that “True Spirituality seeks to ground the believer in true faith. It is a probing, penetrating search through the Scriptures for what it means to be truly Christian. Schaeffer himself said it should have been his first book, and he may have been right, for until you are grounded in the truth of God and are living it, you have nothing to defend in the marketplace of ideas.”
During the fall and spring of 2014-2015, I gave eighteen lectures on True Spirituality in Atlanta, Georgia, designed to introduce this important work and to examine Schaeffer’s understanding of the Christian life in the light of the Scriptures in order to answer the question: “What does it mean to be truly Christian?” My notes are available here to supplement your own study of this enduring classic.
The good news is that we can have freedom now from the bonds of sin as well as freedom from the results of the bonds of sin. In a brief 158 pages, Francis Schaeffer, has pointed us to the infinite, personal God of the universe and taught us how to live coram Deo, before His face, through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. By the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, it is really possible for us to practice true spirituality.