Dear Dr. Schaeffer,
This change we go through at our death, at our glorification, I wonder how much we’ll know about what is going on down here, and how much we remember about when we were here. Do you even remember me? We met twice, with a gap of a decade between. I’m looking forward to when we will meet again.
At our first meeting I was around seven years old. You had come to visit the Ligonier Valley Study Center. I imagine the extent of our interaction consisted of you thinking, “Gee, what a cute little red-headed boy.” Whereas I was thinking, “He seems a smidge too tall for an elf, though he sure looks like one,” what with your knickers and that long hair and beard.
About a decade later we met at the Congress on the Bible conference in San Diego. Your thoughts probably went something like this,” Boy, R.C’s son sure looks like a sophomoric, pseudo-intellectual ninny,” and my thoughts were, “Wow! That’s Francis Schaeffer.” I went home with several of your books, and as the saying goes, they changed my life. Which is interesting because you had already changed my life. I grew up at a study center that existed in part because of L’Abri. That upbringing, the conversations and the community, shaped who I am, and informed what I am now doing.
But I’m sure this wouldn’t surprise you. You seemed to have this knack for seeing how history’s ripples keep on moving. You showed us that we think what we think because of what we learned yesterday, that ideas have consequences. It was you, like some reincarnated Abraham Kuyper, which got us Reformed folk in American to start working to take every thought captive. You gave us a vision for worldview. Indeed it is my habit, whenever I am teaching, if the word worldview even comes up, to stop and remind the gathered, “We wouldn’t even be having this conversation were it not for Francis Schaeffer.”
I hope we at Ligonier are making you proud. We are striving not only to look backward into history to glean the wisdom of our fathers, but are laboring to think in a forward direction, teaching our children what we learn. We want the make the ripples run deeper, and truer, participating in creating that great tidal wave that will one day cover the whole earth!
Do you reflect on your life, on the ways in which God used you? I wish you could write back and let us know enough of the future that we would act with greater confidence. But then I suppose we have word from Someone I admire even more than you, and He has given us all the reason in the world to be confident. His Kingdom will come in its fullness, His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven and we get to participate in that.
And therein lies another lesson we learned from you. We can be prophetic, denouncing all that is wrong in the world and in the church, and still sleep the sleep of children, at peace and at rest, knowing that all that is wrong works out for the best. Even when we fail we do exactly what we are supposed to do, bring glory to God, if only because He has redeemed sinners like us, that He gives us shelter under His wing.
We thank God for you Dr. Schaeffer, for what you taught, and how you taught it. And we are not alone. You served your King faithfully, and we hope to follow in your footsteps, who followed in the footsteps of Paul, who followed in the footsteps of Jesus. And we hope too that others will follow in that same path, walking simply, separately and deliberately to the glory of God and for the building of His kingdom.
In the King’s Service,
R.C. Sproul Jr.