Francis Schaeffer is an extremely challenging read for me. I have read a number of his books and essays and most of them (with the exception of his essay on Baptism which is helpful) really push my comprehension. I have tried to pinpoint why I struggle with Schaeffer, but I am not quite sure. Whether it is his writing style or my cognitive limitations, I have always had to work real hard to understand him. All that being said, I still love to go another round with tackling what he has to say. I find him intriguing and would love to have met him.
Schaeffer was really an evangelist rather than a philosopher or an apologetic theorist, though he was quite brilliant. He studied under Cornelius Van Til and his writing reflects very similar terminology employed by Van Til, such as presupposition. Thus, much of Schaeffer’s writings are a popularization of Van Til. Schaeffer was almost uniquely effective in leading intellectuals to Christ and was one of the first to get the evangelical world excited about the uniqueness of the Christian worldview. There are many scholars, pastors, and teachers today who came to Christ through Schaeffer’s work.
I recall reading an essay (recommended to me by John Frame) a number of years ago by William Edgar entitled, “Two Christian Warriors: Cornelius Van Til and Francis A. Schaeffer Compared,” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 57, Spring 1995, pp. 57-80. Overall, I found the piece to be quite helpful and a nice survey, but it seemed Edgar was a bit reverential toward Van Til.
Overall, I am very positive toward his work and enjoy reading him, but he does tend to embrace Greek philosophy. He commends them in believing objective truth, and at one point he denies that truth is “ultimately related to the Bible.” I have never quite understood what he meant by that, and it would be false based on most natural interpretations.
If you are interested in reading a wonderful synopsis on Schaeffer’s apologetic in relation to Van Til, please read John Frame’s assessment on Frame-Poythress.org.