An apropos word from the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer from my reading this morning shows how the Emerging/Emergent muddle has been a long time in coming to where we are today. An excerpt from his 1984 book, The Great Evangelical Disaster is what follows:
“But there are those within evangelical circles today who would, under the guise of scholarship, belittle all of this and act as though the Christian consensus was always in a total muddle. just how far this can be taken may be shown by the example of one Christian historian who carries the muddle all the way back to the Reformation itself. Thus he writes:
[Schaeffer’s] confusion rests on his inability to see Protestantism as the religious form of Renaissance humanism. To be sure, Protestants said that their consciences were informed by the Bible, on which authority alone rested (“sola scriptura”). Yet we all know of Protestant inability to agree on what the Bible said, or even on what kind of a book it is.
In his triumphalism, Schaeffer cannot see the ironic and tragic in the Protestant movement, because he refuses to see it as an aspect of the humanist movement itself In his various works Schaeffer repeatedly invokes the Reformation as the answer to the problem of humanism, when in reality it is part of the problem. (Ronald A. Wells, “Francis Schaeffer’s Jeremiad,” Reformed Journal. May 1982, p. 18.)
Do you understand what is being said here? The significance of the Reformation is completely devalued and subordinated to humanism. The Reformation and the Reformers’ view of sola scriptura — the Bible as the sole basis for Christian truth — is thrown out completely. Everything the Reformation stood for is swallowed up in a morass of synthesis and relativity. Exactly the same line is taken by the relativistic, non-Christian, secularized historians of our day. This is not a dispute over the facts of history; in fact, many non-Christian historians would disagree with this radically disparaging view of Reformation ideas. What we have here is the infiltration of thoroughly secularized thinking presented as if it were evangelical scholarship. Yes, we must stand against those who would naively baptize all in the past and that would wrap Christianity in the country’s flag. But we must equally stand against those who would accommodate to the world spirit of this age under the guise of scholarship, and in the process not only distort the facts of history but Christian truth as well.”
Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, 1984, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Part Three Names and Issues, Chapter 5 Forms of the World Spirit, The Devaluation Of History, pages 117 & 118