Blog Quotes

Francis Schaeffer: The Christian Manifesto

Below are collated direct quotes from Francis Schaeffer’s 1981 book.

“Rutherford presents several arguments to establish the right and duty of resistance to unlawful government. First, since tyranny is satanic, not to resist it is to resist God—to resist tyranny is to honor God. Second, since the ruler is granted power conditionally, it follows that the people have the power to withdraw their sanction if the proper conditions are not fulfilled. The civil magistrate is a ‘fiduciary figure’—that is, he holds his authority in trust for the people. Violation of the trust gives the people a legitimate base for resistance.

tyranny is satanic, not to resist it is to resist God—to resist tyranny is to honor God

Francis Schaeffer, The Christian Manifesto, 1981

“It follows from Rutherford’s thesis that citizens have a moral obligation to resist unjust and tyrannical government. While we must always be subject to the office of the magistrate, we are not to be subject to the man in that office who commands that which is contrary the Bible.

“A ruler, he wrote, should not be deposed merely because he commits a single breach of the compact he has with the people.

Only when the magistrate acts in such a way that the governing structure of the country is being destroyed—that is, when he is attacking the fundamental structure of society—is he to be relieved of his power and authority. 

Francis Schaeffer, The Christian Manifesto, 1981

“In such an instance, for the private person, the individual, Rutherford suggested that there are three appropriate levels of resistance: First, he must defend himself by protest (in contemporary society this would most often be by legal action)…

“This may include doing such things as sit-ins in legislatures and courts, including the Supreme Court, when other constitutional means fail…

The bottom line is that at a certain point there is not only the right, but the duty, to disobey the state.

Francis Schaeffer, The Christian Manifesto, 1981

“…when there is a ‘long train of abuses and usurpations’ designed to produce an oppressive, authoritarian state, ‘it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government…’

“If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the government has been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the Living God, because then you are to obey it even when it tells you in its own way at that time to worship Caesar. And that point is exactly where the early Christians performed their acts of civil disobedience even when it cost them their lives.”

Direct quotes end.

Schaeffer, Covid & tyranny?

If you’re not sure if various severe state measures in response to Covid qualify in Schaeffer’s view as tyranny: consider firstly that he already thought tyranny existed in the states on multiple counts in 1981. Secondly, consider that the widespread limitations have impacted who you meet with, for what purpose, at what time,1via curfews in some countries in what place, whether you can speak to them and—with masks and anti-social distancing—have also placed significant limitations on the nature of any communication that does occur.

It’s pretty clear what CS Lewis thought, and Schaeffer’s further writings take very much the same line:

Culture has lost its way and we should now have somebody new to direct it. Who should direct it? Galbraith’s answer was and is: the academic and especially the scientific elite, plus the state. To those who know Plato, it all sounds very familiar. The philosopher kings are to be reinstated.

If we have an academic, scientific, state elite without any controls upon them, without any outside universal to guide them, it will undoubtedly lead in the direction of an Establishment totalitarianism.

The danger is that the evangelical, being so committed to middle-class norms and often even elevating these norms to an equal place with God’s absolutes, will slide without thought into accepting the Establishment elite.

The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, Francis Schaeffer

And us?

“First, resist…”2His second stage is flee, and third is… — this site aims to aid and abet such a noble purpose by supporting it with a clear theological and Christ honouring basis.

If many of like mind gather together we begin to form cohesive “people” power — and as biblical resistance theory teaches, the people are a king-making and responsible body — quite apart from the doctrine of lesser magistrates.

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