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Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life [Hardcover]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.25" Width: 6.5" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   1.09 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 13, 2008
ISBN  1581348576  
EAN  9781581348576  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Portrays the person, the work, and the teaching of one of the most important figures in modern Christianity, revealing the journey of a man whose abiding passions made him a spiritual giant.

Publishers Description

A monumental work that draws on specially collected oral history to fully portray the person, work, and teaching of one of the most important figures in modern Christianity.

Nearly twenty-five years after his death, Francis Schaeffer's impact as one of the foremost shapers of modern Christianity still reverberates within the church and contemporary culture. A pastor, apologist, best-selling author, and activist whose work and ministry reached around the world, Schaeffer also managed to deeply and personally influence people of every age and position-men, women, youth, and children; the schooled intellectual and the common laborer, the scientist and the artist, the doubting Christian and the skeptical non-believer-in a way that few others have.

His impassioned, genuine life is the focus of Colin Duriez's authoritative biography, which draws on over 150,000 words of oral history in addition to personal interviews and other resources to portray not just the man and his relationships but his spiritual formation and the development of his ideas, creative works, and worldview.

From his working-class childhood in Pennsylvania, to the founding of L'Abri, his personal crisis of faith, and his latter years as a compassionate controversialist in the worldwide spotlight, all the eras of Schaeffer's life unfold within these pages. But Duriez, who studied under and interviewed Schaeffer, also takes a deeper look, revealing those distinct life phases, as well as Schaeffer's teachings and his complexities as a person, within their historical context so that contemporary readers may better understand all of who Schaeffer was-and why he still matters today.

Filling an important void in Schaeffer literature, this full-length biography illuminates the complex journey of one whose relentless passion for truth, reality, a full-orbed faith, and meeting the needs of people made him not just a giant within evangelicalism but a shining example of what every Christian in every generation strives after: An Authentic Life lived to the glory of God.

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More About Colin Duriez

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Colin Duriez has appeared as a commentator on several mainstream documentaries, has authored biographies of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and studied for several months under Francis Schaeffer at Swiss L'Abri before reading English and philosophy at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. He writes books, edits, and lectures.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Helpful Biography of a Great Theologian and Apologist  Oct 8, 2008
One of the most important figures in the areas of theology, apologetics, and culture of the last century is Francis Schaeffer. Until now there had not been a solid biographical work dealing with the life of this important figure. Colin Duriez, someone who knew the man personally, has helped to fill this great need by providing a look at the life of this great man. With an analysis of his books, interviews with Schaffer before he died, his family, friends, colleagues, and people who studied at L'Abri, Duriez offers a volume on the man that essentially comes from the very heart of Schaeffer himself.

Francis Schaeffer was born in 1912 and lived quite a tumultuous life until the Lord took him prematurely from Cancer in 1984. Growing up poor in Pennsylvania, he studied hard in school and sensed the call to pastoral ministry. He studied at Hampden-Sydney College and after studied for his seminary studies at Westminster Theological Seminary and then finished at the new Faith Theological Seminary which was formed out of controversy at Westminster. Much of Schaeffer's apologetical thinking was developed under the Father of Presuppositional Apologetics, Cornelius van Til (although he departed in some key areas). Schaeffer saw how Christianity affected all of life. This thinking is what began his great cultural studies and how he developed the thinking that one could see where one was at and where one was going by studying the development of cultural expression in previous years (areas of art, music, philosophy, etc.). Serving as a Presbyterian pastor for a number of years he convinced the denominational body that a survey trip of Europe was necessary following World War II to see how the New Theology there had affected the churches. Schaffer's trip was something that changed his thinking and developed a new approach to ministry as he sought to intellectually address issues in the growing modernist and soon-to-be postmodernist society. This resulted in the founding of L'Abri (The Shelter) in Switzerland where Schaffer could meet with those who were searching and talk openly about how Christianity was relevant and addressed issues of culture, the arts, and everything. Through Schaeffer's speaking and writing, vast amounts of believers became in-tune with what was going on around them and were becoming more and more willing to present Christianity as culturally relevant and intellectually responsible.

There was much controversy and pain in the life of Francis and his wife Edith. People did not understand their new approach to ministry by interacting with people on this kind of casual level at L'Abri. The schedule was intense and with people living with the family it often took tolls on the family relationships and on health in general. Schaeffer though saw himself as being a defender of Christianity by presenting the Christ of the Scriptures and how all men everywhere need to be transformed by Him. Schaeffer's unique approach allowed him to reach people who were not being reached by the church. The intellectuals of the world turned to Schaeffer as the one who presented a culturally relevant Christianity. To this end he was greatly used of the Lord.

Duriez traces all the events of the life of Schaffer from birth to death in a very readable way. He presents the life of this man and his family as a choice servant of God. This is a solid contribution to the history of evangelicalism in the last decade, to the history of apologetics, and ultimately, to the life of this man, so often misunderstood in his own life and today. The only real weakness is that Duriez does not interact with his theology as much as would be helpful. He admits in the beginning that this is not a theological biography, but one is necessary. Duriez offers a helpful look at the life of this man. Now, someone must look at the theology of this man to continue to better help the church. But, this book is highly recommended as a well-written account (from the very mouths of Schaeffer and those who knew him best) of the life of pastor turned denominational leader turned missionary turned prophet and apologist. May all of us have the dedication that Schaffer did for the cause of Christ today in our ministries. Read and be challenged and encouraged by the work of God in the life of His servant.

Pure genius - Colin Duriez does it again  Sep 25, 2008
Other reviewers have concentrated on the subject - this review is about the author, the outstanding British thinker, cultural critic and accomplished biographer Colin Duriez. Colin's books are always fun to read and highly accessible, though always based upon firm scholarship and research, and this life of the great Francis Schaeffer, whom Colin knew well, is an ideal introduction not just to Schaeffer's thought but also his life as well. This sits superbly well with Colin's splendid books on CS Lewis, Tolkien and on the Inklings, and his definitive book on the origins of Christianity. If you want a full orbed biography of a significant Christian, Colin is your person and this book shows beyond doubt that Colin Duriez has done it again. Christopher Catherwood (author of CHURCH HISTORY: A CRASH COURSE FOR THE CURIOUS).
Introducing Francis Schaeffer  Aug 1, 2008
Introducing Francis A. Schaeffer
Francis A. Schaeffer was perhaps the most influential Christian apologist of the latter twentieth century. His fame was such that even Time magazine reported on his "mission to intellectuals" in 1960 and noted his passing in 1984. Yet few individuals today, even among evangelical Christians, know who he was. He studied the changing culture of the sixties and seventies and tried to make it understandable. But like many of the best known cultural icons of that "Age of Aquarius," only those who knew him or where influenced by his diverse ministry still remember him. It is largely they who keep his many books in print. The Swiss alpine study center (L'Abri) founded by he and his wife Edith remains a destination for individuals seeking answers to life's many troubling questions. There, or at its branches in England or the U.S.A, individuals are encouraged to challenge the relativism of our postmodern age by asking if there is such a thing as truth (i.e., truth spelled with a capital "T") or merely many truths.
Colin Duriez's new biography, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life, is a brief, straight forward, chronological biography particularly suited as an introduction to the man and his important intellectual contributions. It is not, as claimed by its author in the Preface, "a comprehensive biography." Those already familiar with Schaeffer will find nothing new here. It has all been said before in other books about Schaeffer and L'Abri. Those looking for a discussion and assessment of Schaeffer's ideas or methodology will be disappointed. That must be found elsewhere.
Duriez's biography of Francis Schaeffer is a glowing tribute to a teacher by a devoted student. But saying so is not meant to diminish its value in any sense. It is well-written and a pleasure to read. For the newcomer to Francis Schaeffer, it is the best introduction available in print, well worth the price and highly recommended by this reviewer, who, like Duriez, is a great admirer of Scaeffer and former student of L'Abri.
Excellent Book  Jul 28, 2008
This book does an excellent job of showing that Francis Schaeffer was someone that attempted - and sometimes failed - to practice what he preached. Though Schaeffer had bouts of anger, depression, and slowly began to drift towards some of his earlier fundamentalism, he also attempted to live his life valuing each individual.

This book is excellent for anyone attempting to see the "man behind the message." It is valuable to understand why Schaeffer wrote what he did and, more importantly, why he became politically active later in his life. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to understand exactly who Schaeffer was.
Finally, Objectivity  Jul 27, 2008
As an admirer of Francis Schaeffer, one of the saddest things I have witnessed during the last few years is the attempts by both his own son and by other detractors to impugn his integrity or, at least, to redefine him as something he was not. Reading son Frank Schaeffer's memoir, both father and mother are portrayed negatively, Francis as a reclusive, depressed, sometimes suicidal man and Edith as a perfectionist nut. Well, perhaps the title says it all --- "Crazy for God." This book by biographer Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life, should set the record straight.

Colin Duriez is sympathetic toward the Schaeffers and deeply appreciative of the time he studied under Francis, yet at the same time he is engaged in writing an authentic and carefully researched biography, of telling "true Truth" (to use Schaeffer's nomenclature) about this extraordinary man. While noting Frank Schaeffer's very subjective memoir, and even quoting from it on occasion, he acknowledges that it added little to what he already knew (little, that is, that can be documented, that actually squares with reality). What he takes issue with is Frank's contention that his father kept up a "facade of conviction" in his latter years, something he says is not borne out by the evidence. And that's about all we hear of the strange memoir until near the end of the book where, in a footnote, Duriez cannot seem to restrain his feelings, noting that "he [Frank] is at times in error over fact or interpretation . . . in his unashamedly subjective and at times bizarre memoir." That's a restrained critique by a historian.

But enough of what the book is not. What it is is the best biographical treatment of the man and his mission that has yet been written --- scholarly, without being pedantic or lifeless; sufficiently nuanced, without chasing every thread of the man's life and work; sympathetic, and yet not avoiding the truth about the man's weaknesses and struggles. If you want to feel what animated Francis and Edith Schaeffer, to be caught up in the emotion of what they felt, read Edith's Tapestry and L'Abri. (Set aside sufficient time for their combined 906 pages, however!) But this is the biography for most to read, as it is concise and yet comprehensive enough not to miss any important detail of their story.

In eight chapters and a total of 208 pages, Duriez covers Schaeffer from birth in 1912 until death in 1984 from cancer. Along the way he speaks of his conversion, his years as a pastor, his involvement with the separatist movement and subsequent divergence from it, the L'Abri years, and the latter years of films and more political involvement. What emerges is a portrait of a man who, like any Christian, matured in faith and whose understanding of scripture and culture developed. And yet, looking at Francis Schaeffer's whole life, there no sense that he was a wholly different person in 1975 than in 1955. What comes across is his integrity and consistency. And while Duriez acknowledges Schaeffer's occasional anger or impatience, and even his depression, none of this does anything to damage his reputation. They endear him to us, demonstrating his humanity and his honesty (as these failings and struggles were acknowledged by him to those who knew him).

For most who are familiar with the Schaeffers and who have, perhaps, read Tapestry and L'Abri, much of what is written here will be familiar and unsurprising. What Duriez's succinct book does, however, is provide a kind of condensation for those much longer stories. I found myself drawn back into memories of some details contained in those books that were not included here, a very helpful effect. But the book is more than a revised Tapestry. It also contains excerpts of fresh interviews with the daughters of Francis and Edith Schaeffer: Priscilla, Susan, and Debbie. Once again, there are no surprises, and yet it is helpful to hear their memories and to hear the respect they had for their parents. Then are many other interviews as well, with L'Abri workers like Os Guinness and Dick and Marti Keyes, and perhaps going back farther than any other, with Hurvey and Dorothy Woodson (who actually had a L'Abri in Italy in the late 1950s). Dorothy said that "When Mr. Schaeffer would talk to you, there was nothing else in the world that was going on. He was totally focused on you and what you were talking about. . . ." Great comment. And that's how it goes. Real insights are given into the character of the man. Much is there to emulate.

I recommend Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life. If you think you already know him, this summary study of his character will sharpen your appreciation for him. If you don't know much about him, you'll meet someone you want to know better. And if all you've read is Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God, remedy ignorance: get the "true Truth" here. (taken from


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