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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 510

In Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live?, the author criticizes various historical movements for the supposed negative impact each had on humanity. Schaeffer’s text is often credited with inspiring the evangelical Christian resurgence that became prominent during the 1980s. The book is divided into 13 chapters with an index and note of instruction to its Christian audience.

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The central premise of the book is that a God-centered approach to forming society leads to a harmonious existence for humans. Unfortunately, Schaeffer asserts, society has often based itself on humanistic principles, or the belief that people are sufficiently good on their own. Schaeffer posits that the main flaw of basing society on such principles is that people disagree on what is best for people, which creates conflict and inequality.

To support this argument, Schaeffer explains how various societies throughout history failed because of their reliance on humanism. These include the fall of the Roman Empire in Chapter 1 and the nearly theocratic system of Middle Ages Europe. Schaeffer praises the Christian elements of the Middle Ages, but he suggests that the gradual incorporation of humanism, which culminated with the Renaissance, corrupted the Bible-based foundation of society.

After discussing the failings of the Renaissance, Schaeffer spends several chapters on the Protestant Reformation, explaining why reformers wanted to leave the Catholic Church. Generally, Schaeffer paints the Reformation in a positive light, depicting how it impacted even non-Christians positively.

During the Enlightenment, however, society separated the achievements of humans from the influence of religion, a flaw that Schaeffer asserts gave way to the development of modern science. Schaeffer suggests that the flaw of this approach is that it assumes God can be easily understood or controlled by man. In fact, he discusses how over time, prominent scientists completely disavowed religion altogether, reaching the dismal conclusion that humans are simple animals who exist only by chance via a series of natural accidents. Schaeffer credits this philosophy with...

(The entire section contains 510 words.)

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