If it is true that journalists write the first rough draft of history, then it is critical for journalists of faith to be epistemologically self-conscious. Why is that? The reason is that historians have an advantage over journalists in that historians select an event or person to investigate after the fact.
As Robert Drake has noted (World and Life, Morris Publishing), this historical selection is possible because writing history starts with a known goal. The historian looks back from that goal to see how the goal was reached. So the historical investigation always has guidelines and an intellectual gyroscope directing the content and interpretation of the historian's narrative. That historical intellectual gyroscope, cognitive guideline, is missing for the journalist because the journalist is writing contemporary, instant narrative. So the journalist is excluded from using a historical event or personage from guiding the narrative.
Both the historian and the journalist deal with facts, but the historian can wait for hindsight before fact selections are made. The journalist cannot wait because fact selections are made daily, under the pressure of deadlines and competition. Since the journalist cannot see the final consequences of a reported event, story framing and selection must be guided by the journalist's interpretive framework (i.e., worldview).
It is the journalist's worldview which not only selects some stories and ignores others, but also guides the reporter in which facts and sources to pursue and how to pursue them. This is why a journalist's presuppositions (or worldview) are critical to a story. Worldview governs the selection process.
That's why the Institute teaches Christian worldview to our journalism students - because an understanding of one's worldview is foundational for an honest and courageous performance of one's vocational calling as a journalist.
Francis A. Schaeffer
In Philadelphia in the late 1920's, a young teenage boy decided that he didn't need God. He had tried church, and it didn't give him the answers he was looking for.
After a time of living as a self-proclaimed agnostic, he decided to read the Bible, beginning with Genesis, and see for himself if God exists. Within six months, he was convinced that God is real and that the Bible is His revealed Word to mankind. In 1930, eighteen-year-old Francis August Schaeffer prayed to receive Christ as his Savior.
From that day, for more than fifty years, Schaeffer was passionately committed to the proclamation and rational defense of the Gospel. One of the foremost Christian thinkers and apologists of this century, he wrote twenty-four books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. Schaeffer's basic message is the same - God's Word is the only guide man needs to interpret his past and solve contemporary problems.
When Schaeffer graduated from Faith Theological Seminary in 1938, the United States faced many perplexing new social and religious problems. The evangelical movement was threatened by encroaching liberal ideologies, which argued that the Bible is not a reliable source of truth. He and his wife Edith, whom he had met at a church theology debate, were both eager for opportunities to speak out in defense of conservative doctrine.
As a pastor of several churches throughout Pennsylvania and Missouri, Schaeffer was grieved at the compromise he saw in many mainline Protestant denominations. Then, in the late 1940's, he toured Europe on behalf of the American Council of Christian Churches. To his astonishment, he saw even greater needs there and moved to Switzerland to work with youth.
The Schaeffers founded the Children for Christ ministry in 1948 in Lausanne. With three daughters himself already, Schaeffer was familiar with the challenges of teaching young people. In the meantime, he continued touring, lecturing, and studying history and philosophy.
In 1951, Schaeffer's heart became troubled. He wasn't sure where God was leading him, and he questioned his convictions. He remembers, "I felt a strong burden to stand for the historical Christian position, and for the purity of the visible church. As I rethought my reasons for being a Christian, I saw again that there were totally sufficient reasons to know that the infinite-personal God does exist and Christianity is true."
But what was the best way to reach cultures so closed to God's Word? Schaeffer was convicted to start right where he lived in Switzerland. In 1955, he formally opened his chalet in Huemoz as a "home" for solid Bible teaching, where anyone could come and listen to thought-provoking analysis of Scripture. This haven of spiritual rest and discovery was named L'Abri.
Throughout the remainder of the 1950's, but especially in the 1960's when authority and "the establishment" were most severely questioned, L'Abri drew thousands of visitors. How did it keep going? Edith Schaeffer explains: "We prayed that God would bring the people of His choice...send in the needed financial means to care for us all, and open His plan to us."
Scholar and WJI teacher (2002) Dr. Harold O.J. Brown says, "L'Abri's initial theological impact was not made institutionally...but indirectly, through individuals whom the Schaeffers came to know and whose lives they changed."
In 1968, Schaeffer published his first two books - Escape From Reason and The God Who Is There. In these landmark works he explored ways in which other philosophies have failed to adequately come to terms with real-world problems. Gradually, the work that Schaeffer had been developing for years gained recognition, especially in the United States.
It was largely the U. S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which opened the door to legal abortions on demand, that drew Schaeffer's interest back to America. In the book How Should We Then Live?, Schaeffer addressed the foundational problems which led to this devaluing of human life.
Such a breakdown of values can eventually lead to further violations of human life in the forms of euthanasia and infanticide. With former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and his son Franky, Schaeffer published Whatever Happened To The Human Race?, which tackled these social issues specifically.
Schaeffer was frequently criticized by non-Christians, but more surprisingly by many Christians who were worried by the explicit stand he took for the bold and consistent application of the Bible.
However, Schaeffer continued to proclaim the message of the inerrant Bible. Dr. Gene Veith, Jr. says: "Schaeffer showed that orthodox Christianity, uncompromised and undiluted, is strong enough to challenge secularist thought in its own territory."
When Schaeffer was diagnosed with cancer in 1981 and given only six months to live, he did not cease his labor. He had three more years of active teaching and exhorting. His illness, with its long and sometimes debilitating treatments, gave him fresh opportunities to address nationwide medical concerns.
Schaeffer died in his home on May 15, 1984. As President Ronald Reagan said: "It can rarely be said of an individual that his life touched many others and affected them for the better; it will be said of Dr. Francis Schaeffer that his life touched millions of souls and brought them to the truth of their Creator.
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The King's College
Dr. Udo Middelmann is the 2011 WJI Francis Schaeffer Scholar for Cultural Apologetics. Mr. Middelmann grew up in Germany and became a Christian while studying law at Freiburg University. He began to question why the law is binding: “The only solid, unchanging reality I found was laws of nature ('water always runs downhill') and the Creator, whose character is the law of the universe.” Since that time he has taught courses on worldviews, Christian apologetics, religion, and philosophy at colleges in the United States, Africa, and Switzerland. He has also lectured by invitation in many countries around the world, under circumstances he calls “amazing, surprising, and at times very odd.” He has served as President of the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation for over 20 years, before which he was a trustee and member at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland.