Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Interview with Frank Schaeffer

I was surprised to find an interview with Frank Schaeffer on the editorial page of the today's Dallas Morning News, here. Editorial columnist William McKenzie examines the role of celebrity worship within Evangelicalism. He notes that while the movement prides itself on needing no mediator between themselves and God, they in fact suffer from the worship of icons--in this case, celebrities.

McKenzie is a frequent commentator on religious topics and is perhaps unusually qualified to write on this subject, having studied for 3 months at Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri Fellowship in 1977. This lead to this interview with Schaeffer's son, Frank, an Orthodox convert. Some Orthodox consider the plainspoken younger Schaeffer to be too polarizing a spokesman. Perhaps. All I know is that in my first inquiries into Orthodoxy, the first book I purchased after an Orthodox Study Bible was Schaeffer's Dancing Alone. Honestly, I don't believe it particularly set me on the wrong path at all. I appreciate and acknowledge the part he played in my early inquiries into the Faith.

McKenzie believes that "evangelicals have a rare chance to rethink whether the worship of leaders is healthy for their movement. And how much is consistent with the Gospel." He agrees with Schaeffer's statement:

"Big-time American Christianity is incompatible with the Gospel. It is part of the entertainment business. No matter what you think you are doing, you are really just another celebrity in a celebrity-obsessed culture."

And as McKenzie asks, "Where's God in all that?"

The article is worth a read, as is the more extended interview, here.


s-p said...

It is somewhat ironic that Franky comments on "celebrity worship". It seems some of that has been imported into the Church with the onslaught of Protestant converts, many of whom were celeb status folks as evangelicals. A "Cradle" priest I knew thought, from all the "hype" surrounding the EOC that "Peter Gillquist" was as much a household name among protestants as "Billy Graham", and was sorely disappointed when the entire city of Phoenix didn't turn out to hear him speak. He was shocked when I told him I never heard of him until I became Orthodox. Yep, we all have our idols. Ah, human nature....

Kirk said...

When I was a wee lad, I went to the same church as a guy that now hosts a popular Orthodox internet talk show! I'm practically famous! Aren't I special!


I agree with s-p, though. All of the contemporary Orthodox celebrities have written books that are sitting on my bookshelf and have podcasts on AFR! That makes Frank's point no less valid, however.

s-p said...

Hi Kirk,
LOL! Actually you are kind famous. I get email all the time from church of Christ folks who have found Orthodoxy. To "comfort" them that they aren't alone I tell them about all the elders, deacons and preachers who have/are converting and I mention that there's even a "kid" who was at a Church where I was a youth minister 34 years ago that has found Orthodoxy (WHAT??? has it been that long?.... yikes.) Don't let it go to your head, but you can write a book now. :)40 times.
But...are some people celebs because they've written books, or do we buy their books because they're celebs, or because they're good books. If it is the latter, the issue really becomes, how do we regard them and how they use their "celeb" status.

John said...

Glad to facilitate this reunion, you two. Maybe we could start an ex-CoC support group??? We could have some real fun naming it...ha!