Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review. "Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life." By Colin Dureiz

After reading several of Schaeffer's books firsthand, (The Mark of the Christian; The Great Evangelical Disaster; A Christian Manifesto; How Should We Then Live?; He is There and He is Not Silent) I was eager to learn more about the life and thought of this great evangelical apologist from the last century.

Colin Duriez's biography certainly did not disappoint me on that quest to know Francis Schaeffer better.

Duriez, who bases his "Authentic Life" on voluminous personal interviews (including an interview with Schaeffer himself added as an appendix) does an admirable job in tying together first-hand witnesses, written sources, letters, and the author's own personal experiences at L'Abri in Schaeffer's presence.

Duriez traces the unassuming young man from his rural Pennsylvania upbringing, through his fundamentalist early years in the pastoral ministry, into his European study excursion, and ultimately to his founding of L'Abri and corresponding meteoric rise in international prominence, driven by his writings and film production.

Thankfully, someone has done a full-length biography of this prophetic pastor, and cultural guru before the generation of living witnesses to his ministry thins and ultimately dies out. This book combines the authoritative force of a well-researched documentary, with the personal ethos of a student of Fran who knew him personally.

By the time the author traces Francis Schaeffer's life to his demise at the mercy of cancer in 1984, the reader feels that he too--along with the whole evangelical community--has lost an important voice for truth.

Thankfully, Schaeffer's writings live on, continuing to influence generations still today. This biography would serve as an excellent companion for those considering spending some time in Schaeffer's mind though his writings and films. Colin Duriez's book will doubtlessly last as a helpful companion to understanding the life and mind of the author of these epochal works.

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida.

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