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Death in the City


We live in a post-Christian world. What should be our perspective as individuals, as institutions, as orthodox Christians, as those who claim to be Bible-believing? How should we look at this post-Christian world and function as Christians in it?

This book will try to answer these questions. I will begin by asserting a proposition concerning the basic need of the orthodox church in our post-Christian world, and then I will consider that proposition in the biblical context of the books of Romans, Lamentations, and Jeremiah. Throughout we shall look at the situation we face in the modern world and the perspective we must have as Christians in that world.

(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

Commercial Availability of Work
Death in the City (paper - out of print)
The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer (paper)
The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer (Windows CDROM)

Quotes From The Book

The church in our generation needs reformation, revival, and constructive revolution.

At times men think of the two words reformation and revival as standing in contrast one to the other, but this is a mistake. Both words are related to the word restore.

Reformation refers to a restoration to pure doctrine; revival refers to a restoration in the Christianís life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture; revival speaks of a life brought into its proper relationship to the Holy Spirit.

The great moments of church history have come when these two restorations have simultaneously come into action so that the church has returned to pure doctrine and the lives of the Christians in the church have known the power of the Holy Spirit. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation; and reformation is not complete without revival.

Such a combination of reformation and revival would be revolutionary in our day -- revolutionary in our individual lives as Christians, revolutionary not only in reference to the liberal church but constructively revolutionary in the evangelical, orthodox church as well.

May we be those who know the reality of both reformation and revival, so that this poor dark world may have an exhibition of a portion of the church returned to both pure doctrine and Spirit-filled life.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

When the Scripture speaks of man being thus foolish, it does not mean he is foolish only religiously. Rather, it means that he has accepted a position that is intellectually foolish not only with regard to what the Bible says, but also to what exists -- the universe and its form, and the mannishness of man. In turning away from God and the truth which He has given, man has thus become foolishly foolish in regard to what man is and what the universe is. He is left with a position with which he cannot live, and he is caught in a multitude of intellectual and personal tensions.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1, referring to Romans 1:21-22)

Ours is a post-Christian world in which Christianity, not only in the number of Christians but in cultural emphasis and cultural result, is now in the minority. To ask young people to maintain the status quo is folly. The status quo is no longer ours.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

The Bible puts its religious teaching in a historic setting. It is quite the opposite of the new theology and existential thought, quite the opposite of the twentieth century's reduction of religion to the "spiritual" and the subjective. Scripture relates true religion to space-time history which may be expressed in normal literary form. And that is important, because our generation takes the word religion and everything religious and turns it into something psychological or sociological.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

A holy and a loving God really exists, and He works into the significant history which exists. He works in history on the basis of His character; and when His people and their culture turn away from Him, He works in history in judgment.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

For man is not just a chance configuration of atoms in the slipstream of meaningless chance history. No. Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose -- to be in relationship to the God who is there. And whether it is in Jeremiahís day, or in our own recent generations, the effect is the same. Man forgets his purpose, and thus he forgets who he is and what life means.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

Today we are left largely not only with a religion and a church without meaning, but we are left with a culture without meaning. Man himself is dead.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

What marks our own generation? It is the fact that modern man thinks there is nobody home in the universe. Nobody to love man, nobody to comfort him, even while he seeks desperately to find comfort in the limited, finite, horizontal relationships of life. But it doesn't go -- in his art, in his music, or any other place. In his literature, in his drama, it doesn't go. In the sexual act, in human relationships, he finds only the devastatingly sterile and the ugly.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

Today most men in America are not physically starving. In fact, most Americans are suffocating in the stench of a completely affluent society. But no matter what their philosophic and intellectual system is, men, being made in the image of God, have human hungers that need to be satisfied. To some, the major need is intellectual; they must have answers. So they look into existential philosophy, linguistic analysis, and other non-Christian philosophies. But there is no final answer there. Other people have a deep longing for beauty. So they try to produce beauty out of their own fallenness and self-expression of fallenness. But the final answer and true comfort are not there.

Some hunger for beauty. Some hunger for answers. Still others are hungry for moral realities. Many modern sociologists, for example, are troubled by the lack of a firm basis for moral and social form. How is man to find firm categories to distinguish social good from social evil? They try relativism, the concept of social contract, and various types of totalitarianism, and comfort slips through their fingers.

And many men are hungry for love, for God has made man to love. So our generation has turned to sex as a fulfillment of the need for love in the human heart. But it doesnít work; sex, separated from humanness, is not love. So man cries out, "I am starving."
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

As the Jews of Jeremiah's day were hungry for bread and had no comforter, our post-Christian world is hungry in state and society and in the individual longings of the heart, for it too has turned in our own day from the only sufficient Comforter.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

Therefore, if we are going to understand anything about reformation, revival, and real constructive revolution in our own hearts and in the evangelical church, if we are going to start thinking about it and praying for it, we must be realistic. The place to begin is to understand that you and I live in a post-Christian world. Because man has turned from God, there are hungers on every side; there is death in the polis, there is death in the city!
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)

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