Sunday, August 23, 2009

Frank Schaeffer's Memoir: Background

Frank Schaeffer's memoir has had a strong effect on me. The memoir has a long title: Crazy For God: How I grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.

Frank is the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, Evangelical Christian missionaries who founded the L'Abri (French for The Shelter) ministry in Switzerland in the 1950s. Francis and Edith Schaeffer began by simply offering hospitality to young seekers. Francis Schaeffer engaged the young people in discussion and provided Biblical answers to their questions about life, but not before deeply listening to them and starting from where he and they could establish common ground. Besides his extensive Bible knowledge, Francis Schaeffer had a deep appreciation for art and for popular culture. Edith Schaeffer kept the home running smoothly, welcomed the young people warmly, and served lovely meals and a spectacular high tea on Sunday afternoons.

Francis and Edith Schaeffer espoused a view of Christianity that sees the Bible as literally true and salvation as coming through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one's personal Savior. L'Abri was at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s but is still active and has branches in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.

I myself spent about two weeks at L'Abri in 1975, during the lengthy spring break of the year I was serving as an English language teaching assistant at the Lycee Victor Hugo in Marseille, France. As a very short-term L'Abri visitor, I didn't stay at L'Abri proper but at a farmhouse in the village. However, I was able to attend L'Abri lectures, listen to L'Abri study tapes, and occasionally have dinner with one of the L'Abri families.

Frank Schaeffer's memoir describes his growing up years within the L'Abri community and his subsequent spiritual pilgrimage. Frank is the youngest of Francis and Edith Schaeffer's four children. He has three elder sisters: Priscilla Schaeffer Sandri, Susan Schaeffer McCauley, and Debby Schaeffer Middelmann. Frank was born in 1952. He is married and has three grown children. He and his wife have lived in Massachusetts since 1980.

This post has given some background about Frank Schaeffer and his memoir. My next post will describe insights from Frank Schaeffer's memoir.

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