Let’s begin this installment with the following excerpt from Schaeffer’s article:
Fast-forward 30 years to the early 21st century: The messengers, leaders and day-to-day “issues” changed. For instance, we were into taking away a woman’s right to choose. Today it’s about gay bashing and denying climate change — and now the nakedly racist anti-immigrant movement threat is part of the reaction to the black man in the White House.
Schaeffer’s mention of “denying climate change” is incredibly unfair and exasperating.
Whatever environmental concern can be found in the evangelical movement owes itself at least in part to Schaeffer’s father. The late Francis Schaeffer’s book Pollution and the Death of Man (1970), co-authored with Udo Middelmann, made Christian environmentalism and, by extension, acknowledgment of climate change, possible and intellectually respectable within upper levels of the evangelical movement, if not always among the rank and file.
Oddly enough, when I attended a 1999 L’Abri Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina, Tim Keyes, one of the sons of L’Abri leaders Dick and Mardi Keyes, gave a presentation — to an auditorium full of avid Francis Schaeffer fans — about the biblical, Christian reasoning behind concern for the environment. I’ll take that as evidence not only of the impact of Pollution and the Death of Man, but also of its continuing influence. (I say all this, of course, with the backdrop of my own frustrations with the word “biblical” and its variety of referents.)
So with irresponsible writing and sweeping rhetoric, Franky carelessly associates his environmentally sensitive father with climate-change denial. That is a fundamentally indecent and inaccurate thing to do.
Schaeffer seems more and more like a sensationalist. The tricks he once appropriated for the religious right he now has re-appropriated in a quest to ingratiate himself to the conventional left. His thinking is unclear and irrational, no matter in whose service he employs it.
In Part Three, I’ll explain Frank Schaeffer’s oversimplification and degradation of his father’s legacy. I hope to show how Franky has made anti-abortion politics his late father’s unforgivable sin, while ignoring Francis Schaeffer’s many decent and humanizing accomplishments.