“We helped make a movement that went totally off the rails and, of course, politically is still going now.” (Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer)
Francis Schaeffer was a Christian theologian, pastor, author, political activist, founder of L’Abri community in Switzerland, noted intellectual, and profound speaker. He emerged as a powerful critic of American Evangelical churches and their many compromises with the world, especially abortion. He lectured, wrote books, and filmed a series of documentaries.
Schaeffer then crisscrossed America in the early 1970’s with his wife Edith and son Frank, pointing out our nation’s sins. His messages caught the attention of powerful Christian politicians: Congressman Jack Kemp, Senator Bob Dole, President Jerry Ford, Ronald Reagan, and the Bush family. These politicians believed the Republican Party needed to back Schaeffer’s ideas.
Also, during the 1970’s, Rev. Jerry Falwell, pastor and founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University, realized America was becoming more and more secular, moving away from its Christian roots. Although he had believed and preached for years that Christians should not be overly involved in politics, he noticed the success of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in changing America through the political process. He then traveled across the nation in his “I Love America” tour in 1976 and preached against Equal Rights Amendment, lack of prayer in schools, and abortion.
Schaeffer happened to see Falwell on a televised crusade in 1978. Schaeffer instantly recognized Falwell’s potential for building a broad fundamentalist-evangelical alliance. The two met and Schaeffer convinced Falwell that Christians needed to change America through political involvement.
From this meeting, Falwell went on to found the Moral Majority with Paul Weyrich, a Republican political activist. President Ronald Reagan stated that the Moral Majority helped put him in the White House in 1980.
The Moral Majority was eventually disbanded in 1989. Jerry Falwell stated: “Our goal has been achieved…The religious right is solidly in place and … religious conservatives in America are now in for the duration.”
I agree with Francis Schaeffer’s son Frank’s above quote, but for totally different reasons. More on that later.
But once again, what if Francis Schaeffer had never met with Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1978?
Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, wrote a best-selling memoir, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. His quote — “We helped make a movement that went totally off the rails and, of course, politically is still going now” — mainly refers to his disenchantment with Evangelical Christianity from his insider’s view of the participants.
But more on that later.
Let’s say that Francis Schaeffer was busy reading a book and didn’t watch TV the night Rev. Jerry Falwell preached at the televised crusade in 1978. Then, they probably would never have met. Then, Rev. Jerry Falwell would not have been involved in politics. Then, the Moral Majority would never have begun. Then, the Evangelicals would not have flocked to the Republican Party. Then. Then. Then. Then. Many other things would not have happened in America.
Would we be any worse off in America today if Schaeffer and Falwell had not met in 1978?
I believe the answer is a loud “NO!”
In fact, I believe we might be better off today if these two men would never have met.
Both Schaeffer and Falwell were dynamic, persuasive, intelligent believers. So, when they arrived at American Christianity’s fork in the road in the late 1970s, they set the standard for Christian leaders by choosing the much-traveled path of preaching and lecturing, which allowed them to reason with hundreds of thousands of people. Their examples spawned tens of thousands of pastors and preachers to tread on the same roads.
Almost overnight, eighteen state Moral Majority Chapters were organized with grassroots volunteers, supporting the Republican party. This probably helped elect President Ronald Reagan in 1980, but it also encamped most Evangelicals inside the GOP as lemmings following supposed Christian/conservative candidates.
The sad fact is that Christianity entered into spiritual warfare against abortion and anti-Christ attitudes by aligning itself with a political party and placing its hope in politicians. Yipes! We’re using the world’s weapons to try and defeat Satan on his battlefield and with his rulebook. It will never result in victories for Christ and His followers!
Yet, if anyone mentions that we’re heading the wrong way, tens of millions of believers will rise up and scream, “It worked for us in 1980. We just need another Ronald Reagan to change America!”
It would have been better to have suffered defeat in 1980. Then, we could have licked our wounds, sought the Lord, and learned how to fight the good fight. And anyway, almost every accomplishment of President Ronald Reagan has long since been lost…except for the political template, which we Christians drag out every four years to supposedly “take back America.”
I agree with Francis Schaeffer’s son Frank’s quote, but I believe Evangelical Christianity never had its wheels on the right track even at the beginning of the journey in 1979. However, we’re still trying to beat the rock with Moses’ worn-out staff, hoping to get water from it.
Will America survive?
I really believe that God is backing Donald Trump’s bid to become the Republican candidate for President of the United States.
Okay, okay, relax for a moment. Take a deep breath and then continue reading.
No doubt, it’s easy for all of us to point out Trump’s flaws and his lack of Christian credentials. What you see with Trump is pretty much what you get: a seventy-year old man with swooped back hair, wearing a Brioni suit and dripping with pride, petty anger, lack of graciousness, intelligence, and bravado. He is what he is and nothing more.
Aha, so why would God back him?
Trump is the perfect tool in God’s hands to expose the Republican Party — GOP, as in God’s Own Party — to us Christians. And oh my! Has he ever! Trump has ripped open the underside of the Republican Party and exposed the party as a bunch of lying, conniving, manipulating, money-hungry scalawags that cares little about us believers, except for needing Evangelicals to keep them feeding at the money trough.
“Deception lasts until the faith for it is all used up.” (Francis Frangipane)
We Christians should praise God for Donald Trump. We should rejoice that our eyes are opened to the whitewashed deception that is the Republican Party and our involvement with it. We should bow on our knees and repent for placing our hopes for America in the GOP. We should then say, “Lord, what do You want us to do?”
Will Donald Trump become President of the United States? Maybe, but I do not know for sure.
Will America survive?
I believe America will survive – and may even see prosperity again – for a few more years, but we need to use this time of grace to wisely prepare for the horrible times that await us. How well we and our families handle the bad times in the future depends on our preparations now.