Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)
1951 was a brutal year for Francis Schaeffer.
He took stock. At nearly 40 he ran a privileged ministry out of a chalet high in the mountains of Switzerland. Often he traveled in Europe to help churches set up Bible studies for children, but he was never too busy not to visit Europe's great art museums. The truth was he and his family lived well. They hiked. They enjoyed picnics. They vacationed. They all knew how to ski. But that apparent life of ease was not what was bothering Francis in 1951. It was his black mood.
Where were the fruits of the Spirit? Instead of 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control' promised by Paul in Galatians 5 Francis saw within himself contention, anger and even hate. Since 1935 he had been a fighter - in the 'Separatist movement' - within his own denomination. He wrote a friend how "then came the struggle against the Old Church machine, and then against Westminster [seminary], and then against the N.A.E.[National Association of Evangelicals], and gradually 'the [separatist] movement' loomed larger and larger."
Finally in 1951 Francis's black mood shattered him. He went to his wife Edith. She was aghast as he explained what he intended to do. He was going back to his agnosticism that he had abandoned at the age of 17! He was going to rethink the whole business of believing in the existence of God. And off he trudged - an ordained pastor - to be alone and fret over the cosmic meaning of life. He had betrayed God. He had betrayed his church. He had betrayed his family. He had never felt such failure...
[Sources: True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer, 1971, and The Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer edited by Lane T. Dennis, 1986.]
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