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3.0 out of 5 stars De haut en bas account, 18 May 2011
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This review is from: Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America: Fundamentalist Warrior, Evangelical Prophet (Library of Religious Biography) (Paperback)
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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Location: Bristol, England

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