Prepared by Allan L. Winger, 1996
Transferring the Concepts to Other Homes
The purpose of this chapter is to consider ways in which the concepts taught by L’Abri Fellowship may be transferred to other Christian homes. For this consideration four basic transferable concepts will be developed, one for each area of Christian growth. First, each basic concept will be presented as a theoretical statement. Second, each transferable concept will be developed by constructing a logical link between (1) the written framework from scripture, (2) the written framework from L’Abri, and (3) the framework in practice by L’Abri students. It should be noted at this point that the development of each concept may include material not yet presented in this study. However, that material will still fall under one or more of the three sources mentioned. Then third, the application of the concept will be presented, along with recommendations for further study.
Approximately two weeks after the International Congress on World Evangelization, Lausanne, Switzerland, in July of 1974, Dr. Schaeffer presented a study at English L’Abri. It was entitled, "The Intellectual, (Proof), and Faith," and it was recorded on cassette tape. When a student first begins his or her program of study at L’Abri, this is one of the tapes that could be recommended. In this lecture, Dr. Schaeffer (August, 1974) makes the following statements:
What Dr. Schaeffer is saying here is that Christianity is not just another opinion and it is definitely not just another religion. Rather than being another rationale or philosophy of life, it really is the only way to live that will actually work. All other philosophies and religions fall by the side of the road at some point as they are followed to their logical conclusion. Without Christianity—true Christianity —the only thing that will eventually result, as people follow these other roads, is cynicism. To relate what Dr. Schaeffer has said to today’s culture, there is a certain age group being identified as "Generation X." What has been widely said by the media and by members of this generation itself is that they are cynical concerning just about everything.
A part of this generation will make up tomorrow’s Christian homes. A clear presentation of a Christian world view, in doctrine and in practice, can do much to quell this cynicism. It can also do much to reform the very mediocre brand of evangelicalism that is prevalent today, not only in churches, but in the Christian home. This study, and especially this chapter, is a conscious effort to teach how to avoid the cynicism trap and to break away from "untrue" Christianity, in theory and in practice. It is a real attempt to clearly develop a Christian world view that will lead the Christian home, both present and future, through the test of time until Christ returns.
If Jesus increased in wisdom, and so have others who have followed Christ, such as the Schaeffers and students of L’Abri, then the ability to increase in wisdom is transferable to any culture and to any home at any time in history. Therefore the Christian home should always believe God, in principal and in practice, what He continuously teaches them through the intellectual part of their daily lives.
In chapter two we learned one of the fundamental ways in which Jesus increased in wisdom. The Lord, at the age of twelve, was found by His parents in the temple of Jerusalem. Jesus was sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. They were the teachers of the Bible, the Word of God, as it was known at that time.
In chapter three we learned one of the primary ways in which the Schaeffers increased in wisdom. It is through their belief in the inerrancy of scripture. This is shown by their support for the Lausanne Covenant of 1974 which held to a high view of scripture. This is also shown by their belief that the issue of inerrancy should be the sine qua non of Evangelicalism.
In chapter four we learned how the L’Abri students grow in wisdom. They can be found in Farel House or around the meal table in the various chalets. They are sitting amongst the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. These tutors are the teachers of the Bible, the Word of God, as it is known at this time.
One of the primary elements in the life of a Christian home should be a time and a place for quality discussions. Schedules should be rearranged so that this can take place. As a foundation for these discussions, it should always be taught that the Bible is true truth for all areas of life.
Topics of discussion can stem from books read, movies and TV programs seen, music heard, a visit to a local museum, or the latest fad in school. The list could be endless. Good control of the discussion is recommended with one person speaking at a time while the others listen. A good time to have this discussion could be at the dinner table. Another time could be on a Saturday night after Supper. Try having at least one discussion night a week and then go from there.
It also does not hurt for the family, no matter what age groups are involved, to read a good book together. Either one person can do the reading or the responsibility could be a shared experience. Monday nights could be good for this, especially if Sunday is a full day.
If Jesus grew in stature, and so have other followers of Christ, such as those who have been involved with L’Abri, then the ability to grow in stature is transferable to any Christian home, in any culture, at any time in history. Therefore God should be believed by the Christian home, in doctrine and in real life, for what He teaches them daily through the physical part of their lives.
In chapter two we learned that Jesus increased in stature by practicing the culture of the body. Jesus lived a life of restraining the flesh, holding passion under the mastery of principle. We can especially see this in the forty days of His temptation by the evil one.
In chapter three we learned that the Schaeffers believe very strongly that the Lordship of Christ is to cover every aspect of life and that includes the physical. Before earthly appetites can be controlled by heavenly wisdom, some basic answers have to be given to the hard questions of life. Questions about our physical existence and the fact that we were created to really be temples of the Lord need to be addressed. In addition to the works cited for this section, Edith Schaeffer shows in the book L’Abri (1969, p. 208) just how much care they took in preparing meals for instance. Page 208 is a copy of a very detailed menu for August 11, 1968.
In chapter four we learned
several ways in which L’Abri students grow in stature. One is by serving
L’Abri in accomplishing the many daily chores that are required to keep
the ministry going. Another is by serving the local village by helping
them with their daily chores as well. It could also be said at this point
that when this writer first went to Swiss L’Abri and knocked on their door
for help, the first question was not, "What is your problem?"
It was, "Have you had anything to eat today?" So the care for
the physical side of life is very obvious at L’Abri.
One of the key environmental factors in the life of a Christian home should be that there is a time for work as well as rest and relaxation. As the family gets bigger and bigger (and older and older) that fact becomes more obvious. The formal sitting down and making of a family schedule also becomes more necessary as well. Everyone should share in the daily chores that are necessary for the sustainment of a Christian home of the 1990’s. This idea of service to others should also be carried over into the local community and the family church.
Keeping physically fit and eating the right foods are important teaching points in the Christian home as well. Time should be taken to teach children how to shop for the right foods, how to prepare those foods, and how to serve them in a balanced way. The family dinner table should be one of the most important places in the Christian home. How the family’s time is scheduled, however, will determine just how important that mealtime really becomes.
If Jesus increased spiritually, and so have other Christians, such as L’Abri Fellowship and their students, then the ability to increase spiritually is transferable to any Christian home, anytime and anywhere. Therefore the Christian home should always believe God, in word and in deed, what He constantly teaches them through the spiritual part of their everyday lives.
In chapter two we learned that Jesus grew spiritually by living in grace with God. All through His years of development, He maintained His fellowship with God. Jesus developed spiritually under the constraint of a will submitted to God. Through this relational exercise of God’s grace Christ was able to show that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence upon souls and turns them to Himself. Christ was able to show in both a vertical as well as a horizontal relationship how God keeps, strengthens, and increases believers in the Christian faith.
In chapter three we learned that the Schaeffers grew spiritually by utilizing the three word concept of Rejected-Slain-Raised. They teach the argument that this is the basic model of what Christ’s life was and is and that the Christian should live the same life. Dr. Schaeffer also teaches that there can only ever be two chairs in the universe that man can sit in; the chair of unbelief and the chair of belief. There is no room for a chair called unfaith, because in the final analysis it too is really unbelief. Edith Schaeffer teaches that through the hard times of life Christians are going through a refining process. God is teaching that His purpose for Christians is greater than their afflictions. What is wrong with Christians today, according to the Schaeffers, is that they tend not to be a praying people. Without this vertical and horizontal relationship with God, believers are denying the example of Christ and are only living a Christian humanism.
In chapter four we learned that L’Abri students grow spiritually by being involved in personal and family-type devotions. This activity is done on a daily basis. We also learned that they are involved in a weekly prayer day and that personal as well as corporate fasting is encouraged.
One of the most important teaching tools in the life of the Christian home is personal and family devotions. Personal devotions should be something that is taught by example by the parents. Family devotions should be supervised by the parents but the actual responsibility for leading family devotions should be a shared experience. Teach the younger ones how to lead in the home where the atmosphere is a loving and caring one, and they in turn will become loving and caring leaders away from home.
Personal and corporate prayer teaches that there really is a God that interacts from the unseen world into the seen world. Once certain things are prayed for, the whole family should watch for how God responds to that prayer. In this way the concept is taught that God really does answer prayer, but not necessarily in the way that man would want Him to all of the time. The more and more that a family prays, the more in tune they become with the will of the Father. As they learn to pray in the way that God wants them to pray, the answers to prayer are more easily seen. The prayers of the Bible are the best teachers of this concept.
Family devotions are also a great opportunity to get more involved in world missions. One excellent tool in teaching this concept is the book Operation World, compiled by Patrick Johnstone, and published by Zondervan (1993). It is a day-by-day guide to praying for the world.
Family devotions can also be a place where each member practices reciting Bible verses that they have memorized. There can be one verse or a group of verses that everyone is responsible for memorizing for the week.
If Jesus experienced social growth, and so have others, such as Francis and Edith Schaeffer and their students at L’Abri, then the ability to experience social growth is transferable to any culture where there is a Christian home at any time. Therefore it is paramount that the Christian home believe God, in doctrine and in practice, what He teaches them all the time through the social part of the life He has given them.
In chapter two we learned that the growth of Jesus socially was exhibited by the good reputation that the Bible says Jesus had among the local people. This same kind of reputation was also carried over through the Church as they followed in His steps. Jesus and those who followed Him had a personality that in its humanity was gracious.
We learned in chapter three that the Schaeffers grew socially by practicing Christian love. Their lives teach that this love should be for all mankind because man is created in the image of God. The lives of the Schaeffers teach that this love should be especially shown in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Without this love, a sinful world has every right to doubt whether Christ ever came or not.
In chapter four we saw several ways in which L’Abri students grow socially. There are church services every Sunday where the students are mixed in with many other English speaking people that are in the local area visiting. We saw where they are involved in special evenings together where they share with others what they have created through the many arts. L’Abri students also learn that even a simple task like washing the dishes can be a socially enriching experience.
Washing the dishes is not something that only the ladies of the home are supposed to do. It is a family chore. It is also not a chore that should be done alone. It should be a shared experience, because you share more with each other than just hot water and baked-on grease. It is a place where the discussion from the meal table can be carried on a little further. It can be a place where the little things in one’s daily life can be shared because there are no little things in life. Everything is important and has meaning.
Families should have Family Nights or Cultural Activity Nights where each shares something that they have learned or are learning. If financially possible, the younger ones in the family should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument for example. Careful attention should always be given to identifying the talents of each member of the family. Then those talents should be nourished by the whole family working together.
Never underestimate the amount of growth that can take place by inviting people to your home for a meal or to share in an evening that your family may normally spend alone. In very simple terms it could be said that all L’Abri has ever been is a Christian home with an open door.
The church services that were led by the Schaeffers as they began L’Abri in the 1950’s were also nothing more than a natural extension of what they already had established in their own home and in their own family life as "church." As the church services grew, they moved out of their home and into a church building. But even though these larger services may have been taken out of the home, the home was never taken out of the services. For example, people were always invited for Sunday dinner after church, and that tradition is still being carried out at Swiss L’Abri. Therefore, if relationships do not develop in the church that the family is attending, to the extent where someone is not eventually invited home for a meal for instance, then something is wrong, either with the church, the family, or both. There needs to be a saying hung in the kitchen of every Christian home that reads, "Food is the love of God made edible."
Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in the sight of God and man. Likewise the Schaeffers grew in doctrine and mature dialogue as well as in their relationships with their God and neighbor. Also, L’Abri students grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Therefore, other Christian homes can increase in wisdom and stature and in the sight of God and man. They can have a Christian world view that covers every aspect of their lives.
When this writer went to Swiss L’Abri in May of 1978, there developed a question in my mind that eventually had to be answered privately by Dr. Schaeffer himself. It was a question born out of a conviction that I needed to break with the past. I needed to live the Christian life as it should be lived, indeed as I was seeing it lived before my very eyes there at L’Abri. The question was, "How do I teach the power of the Holy Spirit?" Another way of putting that question, in the light of this study, could be, "How do I grow as a Christian, in every area of my life?" "How can I be real in a world that does not know how to be real?"
This study was also born out of a conviction that my family and I needed to break with the past. It was time to begin a new chapter in our lives. The questions were the same. Only the "I" had become a "we." A loving God, through Dr. Schaeffer and L’Abri Fellowship, answered my question before. The same loving God, through the Schaeffers and L’Abri, has answered our questions now. It is our family prayer that whoever reads this study will have had their questions answered as well, or have had at least been given a starting point.
For an overall view of this thesis on one page, please see the Comparison Chart.