"Paths to Authoritarianism:

The Last Five Straws," With Sections II, III, IV, & V,

Conclusion of Study Guide to HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? by Francis Schaeffer

Note: Though Communism in China and other countries, and Socialism in Europe, are very much evident, being authoritarianisms, there is now secularist humanism and the aggressive Islam religion, both which are additional authoritarianisms to deal with. Add the last two, and this brings Schaeffer's views right up the present hour, when we are presented and challenged with the growth of both in the West and America at an astounding rate, both of which aggressively pushing out Christianity, the Christian world-view, and destroying the Christian consensus that has guided the West and America in the past and protected their liberties.--Ed.

13 The Alternatives

I. Summary of Contents

A. Paths to Authoritarianism: The Last Five Straws

1. Economic breakdown

a) Spiral of inflation leads to economic recession

b)Parallel with Weimar Republic preceding Hitler

c)Fear of economic breakdown swamps concern for liberty

2. Threat of war between West and Communist bloc

a)Has the West the inner resolution to resist aggression?

c)Fear of war opens the way for many to accept authoritarianism as lesser evil

3. Random violence and political terrorism: Fear can be so great that any compromise is worth security

4. Change in world distribution of wealth and goods

a)Threat of lower living standards alters basic attitudes

b)Authoritarianism more likely to be accepted in a descending spiral of prosperity and a country's place of power

5. World food shortage

a) Loss of Christian value of compassion makes poverty seem a threat, not an opportunity to share

b) Acceptance of powerful government in return for guaranteed living standards

B. Demise of Democratic Principles

1. Situation in lands without a historic Christian base

a)In general, people opt for security and affluence at expense of other values

b) Societies without a Christian base will sacrifice liberties first: Asian and African states

c) World view determines values; democracy cannot be transplanted; freedom without chaos has come from a Christian base

d) We ware foolish to think that world organizations like the U. N. will act on a democratic base when most member states reject democracy

2. Situation in lands which had a Christian base

a)Christian base, if rejected, finally ceases to produce liberties

b)There are exceptions, but principles of most leaders are pragmatic [pragmatism: "whatever works, is right"]

c) Munich Pact: pragmatism in action; Churchill's warning

d) Failure of West to see the moral battle was being lost in a new way after 1945

3. General results

a)All values dispensable in return for security and affluence

b) Roman bridge simile: humanist values collapse under pressure

c) Two alternatives to chaos: authoritarianism or society once again affirming the original source of freedom

C. Reconsidering the Second Alterantive

1. Nonpragmatic nature of biblical Christianity

a)Christianity not a superior utilitarianism to mend society

b)Stems from the infinite-personal God who exists: demands obedience to him

c) The acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord

c) The acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord

d)Obedience issues, as historically in the West, in remedial social activity

e) Christians can influence consensus without being a majority [even as a small rudder directs a mighty ocean liner]

2. The message of Paul to the Greek and Roman world applied

a) Classical humanist answers insufficient

b) World guilty of suppressing God's truth and living accordingly; the universe and its form and the mannishness of man speak the same truth that the Bible gives in greater detail

c) The return to a more biblical Christianity in the time of Reformers was a message that people could return to God on the basis of Christ's work alone, but it also opened the way for form and freedom in society

d) It is this which can give us a hope for the future

e) It is either this or an imposed order

3. A reminder about presuppositions

a) Men act out their thoughts, whether they know it or not

b) All depends on the world view one accepts and lives upon

D. A Special Note: Coming to Terms with Reality

1. Discern the existentialist methodology and reject it; not to do so, is to shortchange our children and the world

2. Act out into life the Christian world view

3. Stand in the stream of Fry, Wilberforce, and Wesley [please see forthcoming The Emmaus Walk Presents message on John Wesley which will be on-line soon] and simultaneously and equally speak and act against the rise of authoritarian government

4. Count the cost and be prepared to pay it

5. Not paying the cost now means increasing the cost for the future

II Questions

A. In a world moving steadily toward authoritiarian regimes, does the relative slowness of Western democracies to lose their freeedoms increase or decrease the likelihood of the West's political survival? Give reasons.

B. Do you recall the question at the end of the Introduction. On the basis of what you have learned from the film ["How Should We Then Live?"--a Film Series on the Book, still available by ordering at Book Stores or by going to], is your perception of the truly significant things going on in the world different now from what it was before?

C. "it is obviously better to talk than fight. If the cost of engaging all the world in dialogue is visible hypocrisy at the U.N., isn't this far preferable to visible armed confloict outside the U. N.?" Comment.

D. Can you think of ways in which you and your church's attitudes to society betray the utilitarian appproach to the world? ["utilitarian" meaning what ever is useful at the moment for problems is the best way to go, no matter God being for something else, or the questionable morals or the problematic future consequences of that way, and done often at the expense of certain groups now "for the sake of the majority" or the elites governing them and what they are championing as the highest goods of that society]

III. Key Events and Persons

Paul's speech in Athens: c. A.D. 53

Paul's Epistle to the Romans: c. A.D. 57?

Munich Pact: 1938

IV. Further Study

Green.: E.M.B. Evangelism in the Early Church. Eerdmans, 1970.

Schaeffer, Francis A.: A Death in the City. Inter-Varsity, 1969.

Shute, Nevil. On the Beach. Morrow, 1957.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander: Communism: A Legacy of Terror, 1975

Weaver, Richard M.: Ideas Have Consequences. University of Chicago Press, 1948.

Quotes from the Book to Ponder:

Christian values cannot be accepted as superior utilitarianism. The biblical medsdsage is truth and demands a commitment to truth.

To make no decision in regard to the growth of authoritarian government is already a decision for it.--pages 61-63, Study Guide by Jeremy C. Jackson

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