How Should We Then Live?

I have immensely enjoyed reading Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live?. It has been a great way to put into context much of what I've read this year about modern times and thought. I take some issue with the way Schaeffer presents the Medieval period and the Reformation (with the Reformation sweeping away the Medieval period and returning to some ideal purity of the Early Church), and I think he does injustice to Aquinas, Kierkegaard, and Barth. However, even if his history is flawed in, his brilliance in analyzing and diagnosing our modern situation and culture makes up for it. As with Chesterton's Everlasting Man, the ideas set forth more than compensate for a couple hundred pages of vague, un-footnoted history. (Though Chesterton is still a more enjoyable read.)

To give an example of Schaeffer's prophetic gift, here are some quotes from him about things that will induce people to give up their freedoms to an authoritarian government. Keeping in mind that this book was published in 1979, it's shocking to see how accurate it is to a post-9/11 world.

"Modern society's inability to find a solution to the problem of inflation without causing economic recession opens the door wide fro economic breakdown. Each cycle of inflation, attempted control, the threat of economic recession, and finally, released control, has increased inflation, yet politically, with most people dominated by the concept of an ever-expanding affluence, it is difficult or impossible to face the danger of economic recession. Thus, each threat of economic recession opens the door for the next higher state of inflation. At a certain point economic breakdown seems all to possible." Government rebate checks anyone?

"Both in individual nations and in the overall world the widespread use of political terrorism has become one of the phenomena of the age. Random and indiscriminate terrorism is even more frightening...We have already seen indications of how people give up liberties when they are faced with the threat of terrorism."

"Without the base for right and wrong, but only a concept of synthesis, pragmatism, and utilitarianism, what will not be given up, both inside of nations or in foreign affairs, for the sake of immediate peace and affluence?...If further economic recessions come, if fear of loss of personal peace and prosperity increases, if wars and threats of wars intensify, if violence and terrorism spread, if food and other resources in the world become ever scarcer...the trend is speeded up...In such circumstances, it seems that there are only two alternatives in the natural flow of events: first, imposed order or, second, our society once again affirming that base which gave freedom without chaos in the first place--God's revelation in the Bible and his revelation through Christ."

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