There is also at this time a renewed interest in the work of Francis Schaeffer. I was present at Wheaton when he presented the sermons which later became the book: The God Who is There. Schaeffer had a profound and beneficial effect on my thinking and my spiritual walk. There is a core part of his methodology that needs to be thought through again.
Schaeffer was one of the first to wrestle with both apologetics and evangelism to what we now call post-modern people. He understood the central issues of post-enlightenment thinking and was able to marvelously illustrate them from the arts. He also grappled with the work of the Holy Spirit and of the Word of God and the reformed rejection of natural theology, which is the attempt to prove the existence of God apart from the revelation contained in Scripture.
However, he believed that apologetics is not only possible, but biblical. For him John 20:31 “but these are written that you may believe” is an invitation to apologetics-- the giving of reasons to believe, which is more than a defense.
Schaeffer spoke of “taking the roof off” of a person’s intellectual and spiritual house and letting existential rain come in. What he meant by that was that logic should be used to demonstrate the flaws in a non-theistic worldview, especially a worldview that we would now speak of as post-modern but which he spoke of as being “below the line of despair.” He saw the “roof” as the delusion of post-modern man that they can have modernism in science but post-modernism in ethics, art and spirituality. Once the roof was off, the rain could come in, that is, the reality of what the world really would look like if one actually lived out this worldview.
I think this approach, which he used in thousands of evangelistic conversations, has much for us to consider. The respectful approach that does not fear to engage a non-theistic or non-Christian worldview is very important. Further, when Schaeffer exposed the devastating consequences of post-modern thought and its linkage to the existential pain frequently being experienced by the people to whom he spoke, he would go beyond apologetics into soul care and soul cure.However, there also seemed to be in Schaeffer a need to convert people from a post-modern/Hegelian (below the line of despair) epistemology to a modern epistemology as part of “taking off the roof.” Schaeffer saw this from a non-acceptance of logic to an acceptance of logic, i.e., accepting that A cannot be non-A. This raises for us the issue: is it possible to do Christian apologetics without first doing an apologetic for a preferred epistemology?