"The problem with depicting abusers as full-time monsters is that when a person is actually experiencing abuse in their own life, they'll think "oh but he's the sweetest guy most of the time so he can't be an abuser " or "but he's not ALWAYS horrible, he's usually amazing, so he's not an abuser", and they'll make the mistake of thinking they mustn't really be being abused when they actually are.” ― Miya Yamanouchi link
In the span of about a week, TWW received two emails that discussed some pretty serious sins and the lack of response by the churches involved. Both churches have pastors that most every reader here would immediately know. One women said, "I bet you don't believe me. No one does." I answered, "I have no reason, at this point, not to believe you."
Why did I answer like this? It is because of this blog. We have posted story after story of serious sin committed by Christian leaders. When we do, we inevitably get pushback. Some claim we are lying. Others say they go to his church and just *know* he couldn't do anything like that. Others say we just shouldn't talk about it because it is gossip and it hurts the church when these things get out.
It is next to impossible to keep sins of the pastor celebrities hidden because they exist in the public eye. Most of them will make some sort of statement to the fact that "I am not perfect" but they never tell us what they mean by that. They could simply mean that they disobey speed limits or overeat. But they could also mean that they molest kids. When the bad thing that do is finally revealed, their followers often state "Well, they said they weren't perfect."
As I take a long view of Scripture, it seems to me that serious sin is part and parcel of the lives of all Christians. I don't really want to get into a discussion of whether *so and so* is or is not a Christian. In the end, it is up to God to make that decision. Can we assume that because someone is a well known theologian type Christian, that they are somehow less sinful than me, the *Joe Average* Christian?
When I first became a Christian, I was encouraged to read Francis Schaeffer's books. His view on abortion had a significant effect on my pro-life stance. In my mind, he was one of those super Christian celebrities who really *got* the Bible. He believed that the Bible should influence society and culture. This influenced me to become involved in politics until the last decade or so when I realized that it wasn't my hill to die on. But, Schaeffer was always high on my list of go to authors as a young Christian.
Then, today, I learned that Francis Schaeffer abused his wife, Edith. He had a terrific temper and would hit her and throw things against walls.
Francis Schaeffer allegedly physically abused his wife, Edith.
In 2013, Christianity Today published Remembering Edith Schaeffer, the Evangelical in Pearls and Chanel No. 5.
Of course, Edith didn't really let us in on the secrets of the Schaeffer family; her son, Frank, did that later in his books Crazy for God and Sex, Mom, and God, telling us of Francis' fits of abusive rage and apparent sex addiction, Edith's periods of manic activity and her obsession with maintaining the impression of her family's perfection, and his own drug use and sexual activity with the pretty hippie girls who dropped by L'Abri, all of which his parents knew about and carefully cloaked. Even as I would've been helped in my early adulthood by knowing that she wasn't really that perfect, I had to sympathize with my dad's response to Crazy for God: "If for some reason you need to write a tell-all about me, could you please wait until I'm dead?"
…Edith was from a different time; a time when people didn't air dirty laundry and where maintaining outward appearances was considered an important part of being a good "witness for Jesus." I will not defend her self-abnegating vision of Christian womanhood (to the point that she seems to have tolerated abuse), nor the fact that she presented a picture of family bliss that was not, according to her children, at all accurate.
Their children appeared to take second place to Francis and Edith's ministry.
These may have been the hardest years of marriage for the Schaeffers, both of whom were extraordinarily intense, work-centered personalities. Edith was by nature proud and competitive, and Francis had for a long time struggled with a plant-throwing, pot-smashing temper. Stormy sessions between them were not infrequent.
…Edith also took up her typewriter, publishing L'Abri in 1969. In the mid-1970s, she wrote a regular column for Christianity Today, and by 1981 had completed a total of eight books on family life and devotional topics that had sold over 1 million copies. In her writing she often voiced opposition to "women's liberation" and the trend toward two-career families. This latter was curious, given that Francis's wider ministry commenced for her a new full-time career as a writer and lecturer. Meanwhile, 11-year-old Franky was trundled off to English boarding school.
Francis and Edith Schaeffer were Calvinist in their perspective.
According to their son, Frank, in Sex, Mom & God
Frank indeed grew up in a strange world. Growing up the son of hardline Presbyterian missionaries in a missionary chalet and spiritual-seeker-haven in Switzerland would have to have been a very unique experience (though it must be added that many, many people count their visits and time at L’Abri as seminal moments in their own Christian journeys…and I do wish I had been old enough to visit as well). As Francis and Edith grew more popular, Frank was left alone for long periods of time as his parents went on their speaking tours. He witnessed a double-life in his parents as well that scarred him deeply. Francis had a terrible temper and would hit and throw objects at Edit
Eventually Francis apologized to Edith for hitting her (it took years) and worked on controlling his temper. Apparently this meant giving up on his idea that men were the head of the household, according to his son.
My parents gradually learned to ignore the biblical teaching about men being the “head of the home” to our benefit.
Did Francis Schaeffer's treatment of Edith have an effect on today's Calvinist teachers?
We are all aware of John Piper's infamous video in which he said that women should endure abuse for a season. Even his attempts at clarification were not terribly helpful. I wondered if John Piper ever listened to Francis Schaeffer. Apparently he heard Schaeffer speak at Wheaton College in the 1960s.
Thus Schaeffer wrote, “The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.” “If we do not want to waste our lives,” Schaeffer continued, “then we must understand the importance of having a humble, quiet heart and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
…Schaeffer was not a flawless man, but we can benefit greatly today from his commitment to historic Christian orthodoxy, and for his compassion to reach this desperately lost generation with the only hope there is — the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word, lived out across the whole spectrum of life, in compassionate response to the degeneracy of the world and the tragic consequences this has in the lives of people everywhere
The article ends by saying this.
I would commend this sermon by Francis Schaeffer as one that has profoundly shaped the work of Crossway and that has likewise provided a frequent checkpoint and challenge to me personally — to do “the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way,” in the power of the Spirit rather than the power of the flesh, and for God’s glory alone.
But in spite of this theology, he beat his wife!!!!
Sure, his orthodox teachings were fine and he wanted to save the lost but he was a terror at home, raging and throwing things at the wall while smacking Edith. Is this a normal response of those who have the power of the Holy Spirit? Did Schaeffer's theology, so admired by today's Calvinists, make a difference in the personal lives of these men.
I have a theological dilemma, folks, and I need your help in figuring it out.
How could Schaeffer abuse his wife while functioning under the power of the Holy Spirit?
Since Schaeffer was a Calvinist, it is only fair that we view the Christian life through his lens to attempt to understand his actions.
Calvinists believe that when God, via His Holy Spirit, calls His elect to come to Him, they must respond in the affirmative since he is part of the Godhead. This is irresistible Grace, the letter *I* in the TULIP.
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that "it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy"; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out," (John 6:37).
Now, all Christians are given the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion. This is the same Holy Spirit that calls the elect to God. This is irresistible Holy Spirit now dwelling in the lives of the elect.
A number of the gospel™ boys recommended Jen Wilkin's post Failure Is Not a Virtue at The Gospel Coalition website. here is her construct.
If our hearts have been transformed by the Holy Spirit, we can obey so says the Calvinists at TGC.
She starts off OK, stating that our hearts are now different because of the Spirit.
Interestingly, Jesus battled legalism in a different way than the celebratory failurist does. Rather than tossing out the Law or devaluing obedience to it, he called his followers to a deeper obedience (Matthew 5:17-48) than the behavior modification the Pharisees prized. He called for obedience in motive as well as in deed, the kind of godly obedience that is impossible for someone whose heart has not been transformed by the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit
We must stop disobeying and begin obeying because the gospel gives freedom to obey so they say.
She has switched from the Holy Spirit to *the gospel.*
The gospel grants both freedom from the penalty of sin and freedom to begin to obey (Rom 6:16). And what are we to obey? The Law that once gave death now gives freedom. God's Word teaches us that behavior modification should absolutely follow salvation. It just occurs for a different reason than it does in the life of the unbeliever. Modified behavior reflects a changed heart. When Peter says we have spent enough time living as the pagans do, surely he means that it is time to stop disobeying and begin obeying
How does this work for us? Through Biblical lists and Christian leaders according to TGC.
Earnest Christians look to their church leaders and ask, “Teach me to walk in his ways.” We owe them an answer beyond, “Fail and repent.” We owe them, “This is the way, walk in it.” This way is often delineated by lists—a list of ten don'ts in Exodus 20, a list of eight do's in Matthew 5, a list of works of the flesh (Galatians 5:22-23) and spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) in Galatians 5, and so on.
Wait, where did the Holy Sprit go? Is the Holy Spirit ineffectual in causing us to obey? Is that why we need lists?
If the Holy Spirit is effectual in calling us to Christ, why is it not effectual in stopping men like Schaeffer from abusing their wives? Surely Schaeffer knew all of the lists given by Wilkins. He knew all of the great Christian leaders of his time as well. So, why wasn't knowledge of Scripture, orthodox doctrine and a zeal for God not enough to stop a man like Schaeffer from abusing Edith?
What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and the gospel in Wilkin's treatise?
Here is the list from Galatians 5:22-23. Is the Holy Spirit effectual in helping us do these things? How effectual? When does it decide to let us attempt do good on our own as opposed to helping us do it? If I pray for all of these fruits each day, whey doesn't the Holy Spirit guarantee that I can do it?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Why do I ask these questions? The more I see the leaders fail in spectacular ways: adultery, pedophilia, domestic violence, child abuse, embezzlement, etc. I wonder what went wrong? Does being *orthodox* in one's theology means anything when it comes to sinful behavior?
I want to hear from you since I do not have any pat answers. I really, really want to know why the Holy Spirit is sometimes effectual but not effectual in stopping supposed Christian orthodox theologians and leaders who know all about the lists from abusing their spouses.
I think I would rather have seen a world without the works of Francis Schaeffer if it would have prevented him from abusing Edith.