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Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America: Fundamentalist Warrior, Evangelical Prophet (Library of Religious Biography) [Paperback]

Barry Hankins
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

7 Feb 2008 Library of Religious Biography
Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was probably the single greatest intellectual influence on young evangelicals of the 1960s and '70s. He was cultural critic, popular intellectual mentor, political activist, evangelist, Christian apologist, and the author of over twenty books and two important films. Along with his wife, Edith, he founded L'Abri, a loving community of intellectual and spiritual exploration where visitors ranged from European existentialists to American evangelicals and even some radicals.

In America he lectured widely on college campuses, where he encouraged world-wary evangelicals to engage the culture around them. Along the way he attracted a great many admirers, a few critics, many admirers who became critics, and a few critics who learned to admire him. It is, in short, impossible to understand the intellectual world of evangelicalism today without understanding Francis Schaeffer.

Barry Hankins has written a critical but appreciative biography that explains how Schaeffer was shaped by the contexts of his life - from young fundamentalist pastor in America, to greatly admired mentor, to lecturer and activist. Drawing extensively from primary sources, including personal interviews, Hankins paints a picture of a complex, sometimes flawed, but ultimately prophetic figure in American evangelicalism and beyond.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (7 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802863892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802863898
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.8 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,529,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.0 out of 5 stars De haut en bas account 18 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very readable book, especially in its narrative, biographical passages, charting the life and ideas of Schaeffer and describing their religious, cultural and political effects on evangelicalism, particularly in the USA.

Hankins has researched his subject, and the context of Schaeffer's times, thoroughly and gives every sign of being factually sure-footed. Schaeffer's major writings and his films are each given full discussion in turn.

However, Hankins' superior attitude to his subject will not endear him to all readers: his description of Schaeffer as a 'pop evangelical intellectual' sums up his condescension; in Hankins' view Schaeffer tended to be superficial in his understanding and analysis of the philosophy against which he made his polemic.

The book's discussion of fundamentalism, and of evangelicalism, is coloured by the author's pretended neutrality; his own position appears to be that most kinds of Christian profession are validly Christian. The position for which he shows most sympathy and respect is that exemplified by George Marsden and Mark Noll; readers who have their own view of these writers will know what presuppositions may lay behind this book.

Francis' son Franky features largely towards the end of the book; the author shows a significant weakness in his uncritical retelling of Franky's cynical and jaundiced (fictional) account of life in the Schaeffer home. At the same time he shows little awareness of the sadness and disappointment that was the probable result; that in itself is a disappointment. Together with the author's assumption of a de haut en bas attitude to his subject, this limits the enjoyment to be had from this well-written book.

There is an index, but no bibliography. At least a bibliography of Schaeffer's own works would have been welcome.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very accessible 19 Oct 2012
By david - Published on
Barry Hankins has written a very readible critical appreciation of the life and works of Francis Schaeffer, apparently based on interviews and other primary source material. He not only looks at Schaeffer in light of the times in which he lived, but also in the context of our present 'post modern' intellectual climate, as well as 'the de-westernized Christianity' of today. This book is not only thought provoking, but a good introduction to Schaeffer's most famous works. I highly recommend this book to all interested not only in religion, but also to those wishing a deeper understanding of our current culture in general.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique & fascinating figure 14 Jun 2014
By TheBos - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There was a time in college when I - along with countless other "Jesus people" - depended on Francis Schaeffer even more than I did C. S. Lewis to help me grasp the contours of the Christian faith and especially its relationship to culture. I did not realize how much times have changed until I read this book, and I did not really realize the extent to which Schaeffer helped shape those times. The author seems to do a very fair and balanced presentation. Relying on the memories and insights of people who knew him, the book gave me a much better appreciation of his strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps because of my personal interest in Schaeffer, but I could not put the book down. Recommend it strongly.
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America 1 Jun 2009
By Charles A. Brewer III - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book brings clarity to the the criticism and the praise of Francis Schaeffer. Barry Hankins understanding of the history of the Evangelical movement in America and provides insight why Francis Schaeffer's teachings remains relevant today.
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