Frank Schaeffer is an interesting guy, and I’m looking forward to hearing him again tonight. He has come to Kansas City to promote his new book, “Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace.”
The other time I met Frank was when he was in town promoting a previous book, one with an even more arresting title: “Sex, Mom, and God” (2011).
Frank’s “Mom” was Edith, who died last year at the age of 98. And his father, Edith’s husband, was the widely known conservative/fundamentalist theologian and author Francis Schaeffer (1912-84).
Frank is a complex man. You see that in the title of his new book. Some may even say his thinking is perhaps a bit schizophrenic.
But rather than being schizoid, he just has a paradoxical view of reality. That is one reason I appreciate his views so much. (One chapter in my as yet unpublished book, “Thirty True Things Every Christian Needs To Know Now,” deals with the significance of paradox.)
Early in his book, Frank avers, “Embracing paradox helped me discover that religion is a neurological disorder for which faith is the only cure (p. 13). I like this, for I too often feel negative toward religion but positive about faith.
“With the acceptance of paradox,” Frank writes, “came a new and blessed uncertainty that began to heal the mental illness called certainty” (ibid.).
Later on, Frank advises his readers to “flee from exclusionary certainty.” Then he asserts,
There is only one defense against the rising, worldwide, fear-filled fundamentalist tide engulfing all religions (including the intolerant religion of the New Atheists) which once engulfed me: the embrace of paradox and uncertainty as the virtuoso expression of love (p. 90).
Frank seems to be a very honest man. He shares himself, “warts and all,” quite freely. (I do wonder, though, if the title of his new book was chosen more to sell books than to express accurately his real belief about God.)
Frank is not so much an atheist as he is an afundamentalist. That is, he is not a nonbeliever in God. Rather, he is a nonbeliever in the God of his fundamentalist past.
Actually, he is quite a good apologist for Jesus—and for Christianity as it should be: a religion of love and grace.
While his rhetoric is perhaps exaggerated at times (as was that of the One who spoke about camels going through eyes of needles), his is a vibrant spirituality that probably Jesus would have been, and is, delighted with.
“Jesus’ co-suffering love,” according to Frank, “is the best lens through which to reconsider God” (p. 127). A little later he writes, “Our hope is that when we look at God through the eyes of the loving Christ we will see who God really is “ (p. 138).
Frank Schaeffer is in Kansas City this week thanks to the efforts of Thinking Friend Charlie Broomfield. Frank will be speaking at the Community Center in North Kansas City this evening from 7:30 and at the beautiful downtown Kansas City Public Library from 6:30 tomorrow (Thurs.) evening. There is no charge for attending either gathering.