Book Review–March

How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture

I read this book earlier in my life, but it did not impact me then as it did this past month.  In preparation for the “Truth Project” from Focus on the Family, I committed to read “Total Truth” by Nancy Pearcey, which I reviewed last month.  I also wanted to re-read this book and another by Charles Colson, “How Now Shall We Live”, which I hope to review next month.

This book, like last month’s, is not an easy read but it is very helpful and insightful.  In it, Schaeffer reviews history from ancient Rome up to the present day.  There are chapters on the middle ages, renaissance, reformation, and enlightenment.  He covers modern science, art, philosophy, literature and films.  He covers changes in theology that have roots in the ideas of the culture.  Major trends in thought and culture have an impact on the morals, government, arts and literature.

The Bible states that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”.  (Proverbs 23:7 KJV)   Man’s thinking has been clouded by sin and the idolatry of self since the fall of man in Genesis 3.  Because of this, truth as revealed by Scripture, has not been popular in most cultures.  The great thinkers of the ages have tended to shape the art and culture of their times, but most of them were not focused on the one true God.  Frances Schaeffer attempts in this book to trace man’s thinking and it’s impact on the development of Western thought and our present culture.

This book also attempts to show how Christianity and the Gospel worked on the pagan cultures and began to bring change in thinking.  The Gospel is a powerful message of truth that can truly set men free from the chains of humanistic culture that attack them constantly.  As God’s people faithfully lived and preached everywhere, God did His work of saving people.  But there has been a constant war against Biblical truth and God’s people are in a constant battle.

In America, this battle has been fought as well.  America was founded with many who had an understanding of Biblical truth.  America, as a nation under God, was to be different from other nations in it’s respect for God, His laws, and human freedom.  These concepts have been attacked from the beginning and are currently under attack as never before.  I feel that Frances Schaeffer was a modern day prophet.  The last chapters of his book declare what he saw happening in America in 1976.  Now in 2009, many things have come to pass or are unfolding before our eyes.  This book is amazing for the author’s careful study of history and insight into our present culture.  I would highly recommend it to serious Christians who are seeking to understand and impact their culture today.  It is very helpful in a study of current world views!

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