By Francis Schaeffer:
How Should We Then Live? is “The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture.” Starting from ancient Roman times, tracing man’s development throughout the Middle Ages, going to the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, he shows the steps which led to the modern era. CHAPTER SUMMARIES Chapter One-Ancient Rome The finite Graeco-Roman gods were not a sufficient inward base for the Roman society: Rome crumbled from within, and the invasions of the barbarians only completed the breakdown. Chapter Two-The Middle Ages The Middle Ages were the post-Roman age: a time of uncertainty in which there were great advances of the church but also great distortions of Biblical truth, eventually leading to the Renaissance and the Reformation. Chapter Three-The Renaissance Although the Renaissance revived the realization that man and nature are important, it went overboard by making man the measure of all things-and by that destroyed the importance of man. Chapter Four-The Reformation Like the Renaissance, the Reformation sought to bring freedom to man, yet unlike the Renaissance it did not lose sight of the Bible and absolute values. Chapter Five-The Reformation-Continued The impact of the Reformation on society at large was the opportunity of freedom without chaos. Chapter Six-The Enlightenment The Enlightenment believed in the perfectibility of society, and sought to bring it about mainly by the means of revolution. Chapter Seven-The Rise of Modern Science Modern science could only have arisen from a Christian foundation: namely, that man is not part of a closed system but can observe and act into the system. Chapter Eight-The Breakdown of Philosophy and Science The foundation in Philosophy and Science was changed from antithetical thinking to dialectic thinking-and because of it reason became more and more pessimistic. Chapter Nine-Modern Philosophy and Modern Theology Due to the pessimistic view on reason, Philosophy and Theology started to seek meaning in the irrational. Chapter Ten-Modern Art, Music, Literature, and Films What began in Philosophy now made itself felt in the Arts: the abandonment of reason and increased fragmentation. Chapter Eleven-Our Society We have come full circle, since our society has become like the declining Roman Empire of old: it is marked by the love of affluence, a widening gap between rich and poor, an obsession with sex, freakishness in the arts, and an increased desire to live off the state. Chapter Twelve-Manipulation and the New Elite Because our society stands on the verge of chaos, we are in danger of coming under an authoritarian elite which will increasingly manipulate our lives. Chapter Thirteen-The Alternatives The only plausible alternative to authoritarianism is to align ourselves to a Biblical worldview-a worldview which produces freedom without chaos. CONCLUSION Whether or not one agrees with all of Schaeffer’s points, his passion to be a Christian who engages secular culture has laid the foundation stone for much of Christian thinking in the past three decades.
Learning the truth is a Gift from God