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Escape from Reason [Paperback]

Francis A. Schaeffer , J. P. Moreland
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 26 2006 IVP Classics
Truth used to be based on reason. No more. What we is now the truest source of reality. Despite our obsession with the emotive and the experiential, we still face anxiety, despair, and purposelessness.

How did we get here? And where do we find a remedy?

In this modern classic, Francis A. Schaeffer traces trends in twentieth-century thought and unpacks how key ideas have shaped our society. Wide-ranging in his analysis, Schaeffer examines philosophy, science, art and popular culture to identify dualism, fragmentation and the decline of reason.

Schaeffer's work takes on a newfound relevance today in his prescient anticipation of the contemporary postmodern ethos. His critique demonstrates Christianity's promise for a new century, one in as much need as ever of purpose and hope.

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Escape from Reason + How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Do you value liberty, reason, science, individualism and progress? If so, read this short book by Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer to learn why these and other western values are hanging in the balance today. Schaeffer offers an explanation of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment that is in agreement with the traditional view of history that our most cherished western values are fruits of our Judeo-Christian tradition. This view has been promoted by such thinkers as Burke, Tocqueville and Acton. An excellent modern defense is given by M. Stanton Evans in his book The Theme is Freedom. Schaeffer's treatment is philosophically deep and historically broad, although the book's short length severely limits consideration of detail.
Schaeffer sees the true beginning of the humanistic Renaissance in the work of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Aquinas' dualistic Grace/Nature scheme was useful in many ways, but its critical flaw was in failing to recognize man's fallen intellect along with his fallen will. Aquinas saw man's intellect as essentially undamaged by the Fall. This had the unfortunate consequence of setting up man's intellect as autonomous and independent.
Aquinas adapted parts of Greek philosophy to Christianity, perhaps most importantly (and with the most negative consequences) the dualistic view of man and world as represented by the Grace/Nature split. As Schaeffer stresses, the main danger of a dualistic scheme is that, eventually, the lower sphere "eats up" the upper sphere. Another way to say the same thing is, once the lower sphere is given "autonomy," it tends to deny the existence or importance of whatever is in the upper sphere in support of its own autonomy.
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Francis Schaeffer's books filled a huge vacuum in evangelical thought. In the 1980's, Schaeffer broke new ground by giving Christian fundamentalism an intellectual voice that it otherwise did not have at the time. For thoughtful Christians, Schaeffer was like a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, Schaeffer's rationalism only creates more confusion about the nature of Christian truth. He correctly talks about the "line of despair" in Western culture, but he draws it in the wrong place. He tends to demonize Kierkegaard in a way that is less than helpful. He shows a complete misunderstanding of Karl Barth -- a burden that Schaeffer passed onto evangelicalism in a way that continues to keep many evangelicals from appreciating Barth's radically orthodox Christological insight for a postmodern age. The best I can say about Schaeffer, for which I am truly thankful, is that he opened up the door for a new generation of Christian thinkers who can engage the challenges of contemporary thought in a more accurate, compelling and compassionate way. Schaeffer was just about all you could read 20 years ago that was intellectually and evangelically insightful. I'm just thankful that there is better stuff available now.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Very Poor June 23 1999
By A Customer
This is a very poor book. Schaffer's analysis of Aquinas is fundamentally wrong and his contention that Aquinas is responsible for issuing in the modern age and reason's revolt against revelation is false. Schaffer claims that because St. Thomas asserted that reason can know some truths independent of divine revelation, he allowed reason to exist in its own autonomous sphere and this led to the view that belief in God is dispensible and reason alone is supreme. St. Thomas taught that there are things that can be known from the light of reason. This is of course, self evident and it is even biblical (see Romans 1:20 where St. Paul even asserts that the existence of God can be known from the knowledge of created things, so that all have knowledge of God, even those without Divine REvelation in the Scriptures). So Schaffer is clearly wrong even from a biblical point of view (which he claims to espouse). Also, his analysis of existentialism is perhaps partially correct from a point of view, but it is superficial. All in all, this book gives a distorted view of western thought. I would recommend reading Frederick Copleston's 9 Volume History of PHilosophy to get a much more balanced and thorough account of the development of western philosophy and christian thought.
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By A Customer
With this book, Schaeffer has two noble aims:

1 to analyze the evolution of philosophy from the Christian Middle-Ages up to the Atheist existentialism of Sartres,
2 to show that Atheism and Mysticism are non-sense and that only Christianity is true.

Unfortunately Schaeffer lamentably fails.

Concerning the history of philosophy the book is plagued by Schaeffer's ignorance. For example his blaming of Aquinas for the decline of Christianity is completely unfounded and simply false. Aquinas is the father of most consistent, soundly-founded and complete Christian philosophy ever built. The fideism (blind faith) of the Luther, Kierkegaard or the Agnosticism of Kant should rather be blamed for the decline of Christianity.

Concerning Schaeffer's defense of Christianity, one can only be appalled at the misery of Schaeffer's logic. That Atheism and Mysticism are irrational entails in no way that the Bible is God's word or that Chistianity is true! Yet this is how Schaeffer reasons!
The book has also some interesting insights on the history of art, but I am unable to evaluate them .

Schaeffer could be thought of as the worst among the famous Christian "thinker " of the century. But was Schaeffer really Christian? He did not believe in the doctrine of hell and eternal damnation , a most basic Christian doctrine contained in all Christian creeds, neither did he believe in some other Christian doctrines.

I would not recommend his books to readers who appreciate logic, cogent arguments and well-researched studies. I recommend instead some books written by authors that are really Christian and can think logically:

- the works of Norman L Geisler, James P Moreland, William L Craig and Douglas Geivett.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to the path of Western thought
This is a crash course on the development of Western culture and Christian history... Where is has come from and where it is now. A quick but potent read.
Published 6 months ago by Shane A Mattenley
Escape from Reason. Francis A. Schaeffer. InterVarsity Press, 1974. 96pp. ISBN 0-87784-538-7.

Francis Schaeffer has been widely recognized as one of the twentieth... Read more
Published 20 months ago by David Haines
1.0 out of 5 stars Schaeffer evidently didn't read primary sources
First, I have to express appreciation for Schaeffer. When I was in high school, I read through all of his books with great interest and avidity. He (along with C. S. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2001 by Robert Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars A prescient work
A penetrating analysis of trends in modern thought. We now realize Schaeffer was writing about Postmodernism -- as a Christian well ahead of his time. This is truly classic. Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2001 by "discerningreader"
5.0 out of 5 stars Still fills a vacuum in evangelical thought
Schaeffer's understandings of Kierkegaard and Barth are right on the money. His "rationalism" (i.e. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The prophet of the 20th Century speaks
This is a rather small book. Including the index, it has only 96 pages. But the contents of 'Escape From Reason' delivered on its claim as a penetrating analysis of trends in... Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2000 by WTM
4.0 out of 5 stars Is God Personal?
"Escape from Reason" is a clear and straightforward look at modern thought and reason or the lack thereof. It is a powerful argument for the validity of christian ideas. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2000 by Aaron Wallis
1.0 out of 5 stars confirms that christianity is superstition
I was given this book by a Christian who tries to convert me by claiming that Christianity is the only rational choice for those who think. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is highly thought provocing.
Schaeffer has unlocked the thought proccess of western society. His understanding and research is tight. Read more
Published on July 22 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Classic
In spite of the forgoing lenghty review it is plain from the reading that this is a timeless and helpful book. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 1999
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