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A Christian Manifesto by Francis A. Schaeffer


This is probably my least favorite of the handful of Schaeffer books I've read. It was written near the end of his life, and it's clear that he recognizes that his time is running out. It is meant to complete his works on culture which began with The God Who Is There, Escape From Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent, and continued with How Shall We Then Live, and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? by adding a discussion of law and civil disobedience to these earlier books about American culture, philosophy, art, and literature as relates to Christianity. In this Manifesto, he decries the loss of the Christian outlook from American culture, and especially from law, allowing such things as abortion to continue unchecked. He advocates civil disobedience from Christians in order to gain our rights back from non-Christian authorities who refuse to give Christians the rights that were intended to be protected by the First Amendment. He goes so far as to allow the use of force in acts of civil disobedience. But his arguments to back up this allowance are not organized and well-thought-out, as are his arguments in his earlier books. He relies much on emotion and his own personal feelings to try to get his point across. I get the feeling that he simply rushed through writing the book because he was afraid that he wouldn't finish it in time, since he had already been diagnosed with cancer when he wrote this

His underlying ideas are not bad, and many of his pleas have a good basis. But he fails to adequately back up his call for civil disobedience, and the whole book loses something because of it.

We had to read this for a class at school, a class focused on learning critical thinking. It was a good book for that, because it is open to much criticism, while still allowing agreement with some things in it. But I was very sorry that this was the first introduction to Schaeffer for many of the students, as I think it left them with a poor impression of Schaeffer, and they may be unlikely to seek out his earlier, better books.