The relevance of Calvin, Pascal and Francis Schaeffer to postmodern apologetics
The purpose of this study is to incorporate the thought and apologetic impulse of John Calvin, Blaise Pascal and Francis Schaeffer into a Christian apologetics suited for an audience steeped in postmodernity. In order to achieve this goal this study investigates the spirit of postmodernism, the theology of Calvin, and the apologetic methods of Pascal and Francis Schaeffer. First, this study traces postmodern intellectual thought through the twentieth century and the effects this has had on the culture at large and theology in particular. Secondly, this study focuses on Calvin's theology especially regarding reason, the state of humanity and the centrality of Scripture. The theology of Calvin has had great influence on worldview thinking as articulated by neo-Calvinists like Abraham Kuyper and Herman Dooyeweerd, who in turn influenced the thought of Francis Schaeffer, who incorporated this aspect of new-Calvinism into his apologetic system. Thirdly, this study examines Pascal's thought and apologetic approach and considers the remarkable connections to Calvin, which can be applied to a Christian apologetic in a postmodern culture. Lastly, Francis Schaeffer's apologetic method is explored to counter the relativism so prevalent in postmodernity. The striking similarities between Calvin, Pascal and Schaeffer's thought, especially regarding their mutual disdain for the autonomy of reason, can be used as a point of connection to postmodern thought. Their collective view on the state of man, the centrality of Scripture and their emphasis on the Christian life is a corrective to the postmodern insistence on experience, emotion and autonomous feeling, especially prevalent in postmodern spirituality. The commonalities in thought between Calvin, Pascal and Schaeffer can be effectively applied to a Christian apologetic to counter a postmodern culture where truth seems to be abandoned and where Christianity is pushed to the periphery of society.
- Theology