Reductio ad Hitlerum (Latin for “reduction to Hitler”), also known as playing the Nazi card, is an attempt to invalidate someone’s position by claiming the same view was held by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party. For example, the Alliance Defending Freedom released audio of a Colorado commission member who compared a Christian baker who refused to make a cake for a homosexual wedding this way: “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust… I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me, it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use — to use their religion to hurt others.”

I haven’t heard much from Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, for some time. It’s probably because I don’t frequent his new world of leftist politics and anti-Christian screeds. But here he is, describing people who oppose abortion because they believe killing unborn babies in their mother’s womb is immoral as Nazis. The following is from an interview he did with Christiane Amanpour. (It seems anytime the Leftist media need a prop to bash Christians, they call on someone like Frank Schaeffer). He begins by claiming that his work with his famous Christian parents was like belonging to the Hitler Youth:

I look back on what I did in my youth maybe I guess the way some people would at wartime experiences or political experiences — maybe in the 1930s in Europe if they joined one of the fascist parties, lived to see it play out in a world war and what happened. I feel much that level of regret and culpability.

If that wasn’t enough, he brought into the “argument” that conservatives, including Christians, want what we see in Iran:

You know, you have an Iranian background. You are going to get these words. We are trying in this country to fight against people who are — not just Democrats, but anybody who believes in democracy — people who believe in a theocracy. And what these people want is a Christian white national version of what you have in Iran today and Saudi Arabia. And so, if you want to live in that country, then that’s where we’re headed.

When you can’t argue the facts, you formulate a reductio ad Hitlerum attack. “It’s just like Nazi Germany!” And just in case that doesn’t stick, you pull the “Muslimocracy” card.

Thinking Straight in a Crooked World

Thinking Straight in a Crooked World

The nursery rhyme ‘There Was a Crooked Man’ is an appropriate description of how sin affects us and our world. We live in a crooked world of ideas evaluated by crooked people. Left to our crooked nature, we can never fully understand what God has planned for us and His world. God has not left us without a corrective solution. He has given us a reliable reference point in the Bible so we can identify the crookedness and straighten it.

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Frank Schaeffer believes in democracy. I’ll quote his father on this one. Francis Schaeffer described law by majority opinion, certainly a definition of democracy, as “the dictatorship of the 51%, with no controls and nothing with which to challenge the majority.” Schaeffer deduced a simple application of this definition of democracy: “It means that if Hitler was able to get a 51% vote of the Germans, he had a right to kill the Jews.”[1]

Given this definition of Democracy, Iran is a democracy.

Frank broke with his famous parents not long after his father’s death in 1984. The worldview he now despises made him famous and probably rich. Here’s how Dr. Gary North tells it:

Franky adopted a specific marketing plan for over a decade. It worked as long as his father was alive. He cultivated a specific pose — the angry young man — but after his father died, he started coming off as a whiny kid. Today, he is an aging “kid emeritus.” Still, his tantrums continue. He has now slandered the very industry that he did his best to cash in on for ten years: Christian publishing. My guess is that his book royalties have run out. So, he publicly bites the hand that no longer feeds him.[2]

In 2007, Frank wrote Crazy for God, seemingly a tell-all book about his life with his parents Francis and Edith Schaeffer and how he “helped found the religious right and ruin America.” It’s an angry book, and an immature memoir. By the time someone is a grandfather, memories of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and idiosyncratic parents should be a distant memory. Frank seems to remember all the bad things about growing up with his famous parents as a major worldview shift was taking place in the evangelical-fundamentalist world.

There’s one paragraph in Crazy for God that caught my attention. It describes what was wrong with the Schaeffer’s worldview and what may have contributed to Frank’s disillusionment and angry denouncement of his work among evangelicals:

The debate [over abortion] became vicious. And Dad and I went from merely talking about providing compassionate alternatives to abortion, to actively working to drag evangelicals, often kicking and screaming, into politics. By the end of the Whatever Happened to the Human Race? tour, we were calling for civil disobedience, the takeover of the Republican Party, and even hinting at overthrowing our “unjust pro-abortion government.”[3]

Francis Schaeffer never worked out the implications of his worldview, although he did lay the groundwork for further discussion. A Christian Manifesto was Schaeffer’s most popular book. In the 1981 preface, Schaeffer began with “the Lordship of Christ over all of life—philosophy, theology and the church, art, music, literature, films, and culture in general. The books that followed dealt with and extended areas of Christ’s total Lordship in all of life.”[4]

This led Schaeffer to ask about the “next logical step”: “What is the Christian’s relationship to government, law, and civil disobedience?”[5] He followed the arguments of Scottish Presbyterian Theologian Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) set forth in his book Lex, Rex: Or the Law and the Prince.

Schaeffer claimed that Rutherford’s arguments were used by John Locke in a secularized form and also by John Witherspoon (1723–1794), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, for the justification of the War for Independence. Rutherford wrote in a time when the king was the law—Rex, Lex, as Schaeffer put it—and there was no way to bring about social or political change from the people.

But civil disobedience was not the next biblical step in America. There was and is so much that could have and was done without the call for civil disobedience. What made the Schaeffer’s believe that civil disobedience would bring about change when they couldn’t get enough Christians to vote for change?

To advocate civil disobedience was and is an admission that no constructive alternative to the humanistic system existed, and he didn’t have one to offer. Being a critic is the first step, but it must be followed with reconstruction. Because of Schaeffer’s pessimistic eschatology—he was a classic premillennialist—he could not envision a long-term strategy for change. Civil disobedience seemed to be the logical alternative.

What’s become of Francis Schaeffer’s Legacy? C. Everett Koop was the co-author of the book Whatever Happened to the Human Race? And later film series. He became Surgeon General under Ronald Reagan. Liberals attacked him because of his anti-abortion stance and his relationship with Schaeffer. “The nomination was held up for more than eight months. Only after Dr. Koop promised to abandon the antiabortion circuit and to refrain from using the Surgeon General’s office as a pulpit for his right-to-life beliefs did the Senate finally vote its approval.”[6]

Under questioning, Koop admitted that as Surgeon General, he would recommend abortion as one way of dealing with the unborn children of mothers with AIDS. By the spring of 1987, Koop was self-consciously in retreat from his earlier Christian position. With respect to abortion, he commented, “I’ve written all that I have to write on that issue. There are other, bigger things that I should turn my attention to as surgeon general: Where this country is and where it’s going in health care.”[7]

In 1986 and 1987, Koop officially called for sex education on AIDS in the public schools as early as kindergarten and for public school instruction on how to use condoms. Homosexuality had become a politically protected lifestyle. “I am the surgeon general of the heterosexuals and the homosexuals,” Koop argued, “of the young and the old, of the moral and the immoral, the married and the unmarried. I don’t have the luxury of deciding which side I want to be on.” (Quoted in North, Political Polytheism, 201.) He had retreated to what Schaeffer called “the line of despair.”

This so-called neutral moral position cost people their lives. Koop should have come out denouncing the behaviors that were causing AIDS. He did it with smoking. Why was “safe sodomy” an option but not safe smoking? Cigarette smoking kills, the government was telling everyone. Laws had been passed to make it increasingly more difficult for people to smoke in public buildings. Tobacco products are heavily taxed. Do we find the following on tobacco products? “Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health…. So be sure to use a filter if you decide to smoke.” Koop was calling for condoms (filters) to help curtail the transmission of AIDS instead of denouncing the behavior that was spreading AIDS.

After his father’s death, Frank continued to speak and write, but he seemed to be going in another direction. He could not sustain his father’s worldview because there was no place to take it beyond cultural criticism. Several of his books hit the best-seller list. The most memorable was A Time for Anger (1982). He produced four low-budget movies that were flops. The worst was Wired to Kill (1987). “So, in the end,” film critic Ted Baehr wrote, “this is a humanistic film about humanistic despair, showing no way out, no alternative…. Stay away from Wired to Kill unless you want to weep at how an opportunity for Christian filmmakers was thrown away.”[8]

Frank has described his late father’s work “a circus trick.” Here’s how Os Guinness, a friend and associate of both Francis and Frank, tells it in his must-read review of Crazy for God:

The problem is not so much that Frank exposes and trumpets his parents’ flaws and frailties, or that he skewers them with his characteristic mockery. It is more than that. For all his softening, the portrait he paints amounts to a death-dealing charge of hypocrisy and insincerity at the very heart of their life and work. In Frank’s own words, his parents were “crazy for God.” Their call to the ministry “actually drove them crazy,” so that “religion was actually the source of their tragedy.” His dad was under “the crushing belief that God had ‘called’ him to save the world.” Because of this, his parents were “happiest when farthest away from their missionary work.” Back at their calling, they were “professional proselytizers,” their teaching was “indoctrination,” and it was unclear whether people came to faith or were “brainwashed” and “under the spell” of his parents. Frank’s own arguments in their support, he now says, were a kind of “circus trick.”

In reading Crazy for God, one gets the impression that it was Frank who was the hypocrite. If he saw all these things in his parents, he kept them to himself for profit. Consider these dedications to his parents to his 1982 aptly titled and self-descriptive book A Time for Anger. Was he lying?:

To my father:

A man of courage, conviction and Christian principle, who has stood faithfully in a world of cowardice and compromise.

To my mother:

A woman of vision, depth, and love, who has courageously provided a bright spot of humanity for her family and so many others.

Thank you both.[9]

So, what are we to believe today about Frank’s repudiation of his father’s worldview? Is it as opportunistic as his enablement of his father’s foray into the anti-abortion movement and conservative politics? I wonder if Frank still gets royalties from the books and films he wrote and produced with his father, or has he also disavowed the economic principles in Is Capitalism Christian?,[10] a book he edited in 1985 that includes articles from some of the world’s finest free-market economists.

Frank has followed Crazy for God with Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion {or Atheism}. He writes in the Acknowledgments that it was the “several thousand people” who emailed their thoughts to him (“whether kind or rude”) on Crazy for God that prompted him to write Patience with God (229–230). One of the most irritating things about Patience with God is that it does not include any references to the quotations. This is odd given his penchant for identifying his sources in his days as an evangelical.

Patience with God is a two-part book. In the first Part, Schaeffer attempts to offer arguments against the New Atheists. He makes it clear that he disagrees “with the New Atheists and with religious fundamentalists” (x). So do I. It’s in Part 2 that he “goes postal” once again on his favorite topic: fundamentalists/evangelicals. I don’t see him disagreeing much with leftist ideologues who are probably snickering behind his back because the once-evangelical spitfire has turned his guns on the world that nurtured him. When he has inflicted the needed damage, they will discard him like the skin of a sucked-out orange. They laud and praise his “coming clean” because he fills a need, a need to destroy certainty so they can implement a false certainly that they define and control. Frank’s struggles with his beliefs are personal to him. I respect that. If he had written a book about those struggles without the vitriol leveled against the fundamentalist and evangelical worlds that embraced him and he has since rejected, I’m sure most people would have understood. Many probably would have voiced similar struggles and thanked him for being honest.

Frank writes that he is “no longer proselytizing” (xiv). Nonsense. As he wrote in 1982 in the subtitle of his book A Time for Anger, neutrality is a myth. He’s just proselytizing for a new faith as his interview with Christiane Amanpour demonstrates.

Pushing the Antithesis

Pushing the Antithesis

Pushing the Antithesis consists of twelve chapters that include study questions, an answer key, a glossary of terms, and a comprehensive bibliography. If you want to be equipped to present the truth of the gospel in a compelling way, then Pushing the Antithesis is required reading.

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[1]Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1970), 33–34.

[2]Gary North, “Franky Schaeffer, Please Shut Up!,” Position Paper on Blasphemy (March 1992).

[3]Frank Schaeffer, Crazy for God: How I Helped Found the Religious Right and Ruin America (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007), 293. I’m quoting from the advanced reading copy. The official publication date was October 1, 2007.

[4]Schaeffer, “Preface,” A Christian Manifesto (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1981). This book can be found in the five-volume series The Complete Works of Francis A Schaeffer, 5:417.

[5]Schaeffer, “Preface” (1981), A Christian Manifesto (1981), Complete Works, 5:417.

[6]Quoted in Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), 199.

[7]Gary North, Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1996), 1004–1006.

[8]North, Political Polytheism, 176–177.

[9]Franky Schaeffer, A Time for Anger: The Myth of Neutrality (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 7.

[10]Franky Schaeffer, ed., Is Capitalism Christian?: Toward a Christian Perspective on Economics (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1985).