Francis August Schaeffer Papers [Early Ministry]

Manuscript Collection # 29

Box# 134

Content Summary: The Francis A. Schaeffer Papers consist mainly of correspondence with leaders of the Bible Presbyterian Church [BPC] denomination and its Midwest Presbytery, during the time that Schaeffer was pastor of the First Bible Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO, and moderator of Midwest Presbytery.
Significant correspondents include J.O. Buswell, Jr., R.H. Cox, Thomas.G. Cross, R.Laird Harris, R. Hastings, G.J. Holdcroft, Robert G. Rayburn, and Peter Stam. The collection also includes a copy of The New Modernism and the Bible, by Francis Schaeffer, an address given at the Second Plenary Congress of the International Council of Christian Churches, Geneva, Switzerland, 1950.

Bibliography of Schaeffer's Published Works, 1968 - 1985

Span Dates: 1943 - 1947

Size: 1 cu. ft.

Access Restrictions: None

Collection Citation: Schaeffer, Francis A., Papers, Box __, Folder __: item description, PCA Historical Center, St. Louis, MO.

Collection Highlights:
  • 1943 - The Fundamentalist Christian and Anti-Semitism
  • 1948 - A Review of a Review [Schaeffer sets out his apologetic method]
  • 1974 - A Step Forward [Schaeffer's observations on the formation of the PCA]
  • 1980 - We Don't Have Forever [on the twin commands to purity and love in the Church]
  • 1982 - A Day of Sober Rejoicing [On the reception of the RPCES into the PCA]

    Biographical Sketch: Francis August Schaeffrer was born January 30, 1912, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, became a Christian in 1930 at the age of eighteen, and graduated magna cum laude from Hampden-Sydney College, VA in June, 1935. He married Edith Seville on July 26, 1935. They had three daughters and one son, born between 1937 and 1951. Schaeffer entered Westminster Theological Seminary in 1935 and transferred to the newly formed Faith Theological Seminary in 1937, graduating from there in 1938.
    Following graduation, he was by some accounts the first person ordained by the Bible Presbyterian Church and became pastor of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Grove City, PA. In 1941 he was elected moderator of the Great Lakes Presbytery [BPC] and began serving as associate pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Chester, PA. From 1943 to 1947, he pastored First Bible Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO, and served as moderator of the Midwest Presbytery [BPC].
    During this time Schaeffer and his wife founded the Children for Christ ministry in St. Louis, which soon became widely adopted by other evangelical churches. In 1947 he traveled throughout Europe as a representative of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and as the American Secretary for the Foreign Relations Department of the American Council of Christian Churches. In 1948 he moved with his family to Lausanne, Switzerland to begin mission work, and moved the following year to Champery, Switzerland, where he wrote Basic Bible Studies.
    In 1953 he returned to the United States on furlough and began an extensive speaking tour. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1954 by Highland College in Long Beach, CA. Later that same year, he returned to Switzerland and moved to Huemoz, Switzerland. By 1955 he had resigned from the mission board and began L'Abri Fellowship, which became the primary focus of his life. In 1971 he received the honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Gordon College, Wenham, MA.
    Work began in 1974 on the book and film versions of one of his more well-known works, How Shall We Then Live?, during which time he also helped to found the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. The film series Whatever Happened to the Human Race? was also underway by 1977. Dr. Schaeffer was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in 1978, which made necessary a move of the American headquarters of L'Abri to Rochester, MN to better allow for the continued conducting of seminars on both film series while undergoing chemotherapy treatments at the Mayo Clinic.
    In 1981 he reedited and pubished The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer. The Simon Greenleaf School of Law awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1983, but he was forced to return in critical condition from Switzerland to the Mayo Clinic. Despite the debilitating illness, he was able in 1984 to complete The Great Evangelical Disaster and a seminar tour. On May 15, 1984, he died at his home in Rochester, MN and was buried at Oakwood Cemetary in Rochester.

    Click here to read the Memorial for Dr. Schaeffer, from the Minutes of Missouri Presbytery (PCA), July 20, 1984
    Click here to read the Memorial for Dr. Schaeffer from the Minutes of Philadelphia Presbytery (PCA), 15 September 1984

Finding Aid is normally located in folder number 1 of each box.

Subject Box File
Abbott, Rev. Paul R., Jr., 1945 - 1947, Correspondence 134 1
Allen, Rev. Stanley P., 1944 - 1945, Correspondence 134 2
American Council of Christian Churches, n.d., Tract 134 3
Anderson, Rev. Herbert J., 1944, Correspondence 134 4
Barrow, Robert, 1947, Correspondence 134 5
Bateman, Irb C., 1946, Correspondence 134 6
Bible Presbyterian Church, 1938, Form of Government 134 7
Bible Presbyterian Church of Chester, PA, 1945, Correspondence 134 8
Bible Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, TX, 1946, Organizational Meeting 134 9
Bible Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC, 1944, Ordination Statement 134 10
Bible Presbyterian Church of Valley Park, MO, 1944 - 1946, Organization 134 11
Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, MO, 1946, Organization 134 12
Biographical Articles, 1984 - 1985 134 13
Blackie, Rev. Donald K., 1947, Correspondence 134 14
Brown, Rev. G.A., 1946, Correspondence 134 15
Buswell, Dr. J. Oliver, Jr., 1946, Correspondence 134 16
Collins, Win, 1947, Correspondence 134 17
Covenant Bible Presbyterian Church of Grove City, PA, 1943, Bulletin 134 18
Cox, Rev. Robert H., 1945 - 1946, Correspondence 134 19
Cross, Rev. Thomas G., 1947, Correspondence 134 20
Cunningham, Rev. Thomas D., 1944 - 1945, Correspondence 134 21
Dieffenbacher, Junia, 1946, Correspondence 134 22
Drescher, Wesley, 1946, Correspondence 134 23
Edmunson, Rev. V.R., 1946 - 1947, Correspondence 134 24
Ellis, James W., 1946, Correspondence 134 25
Enlow, Rev. F. Baird, 1945 - 1946, Correspondence 134 26
Farquhar, Supplee Ellwood, Jr., 1946, Correspondence 134 27
Fawcett, Rev. Franklin, 1944, Correspondence 134 28
Federal Communications Committee, 1945, Correspondence 134 29
First Bible Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, IN, 1945, Doctrinal Statement 134 30
First Bible Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, IN, n.d., Tract 134 31
Harris, Rev. R. Laird, 1943 - 1947, Correspondence 134 32
Hastings, Rev. Robert, 1944 - 1946, Correspondence 134 33
Henry, Hayes, 1946, Correspondence 134 34
Hofmann, Rev. E.L., 1946, Correspondence 134 35
Holdcroft, Rev. Gordon J., 1945 - 1946, Correspondence 134 36
Iaggi, H.H., 1946, Correspondence 134 37
Irving, Rev. William, 1944 - 1947, Correspondence 134 38
Jones, Rev. Clyde L., Correspondence, 1946 134 39
Kerr, Maxwell A., 1944 - 1945, Correspondence 134 40
Killen, Rev. Allan R., 1943 - 1946, Correspondence 134 41
Knauss, Elizabeth, 1945 - 1946, Correspondence 134 42
Kutz, Rev. Robert, 1944 - 1946, Correspondence 134 43
Lenk, Rev. Frederick J., 1946, Correspondence 134 44
MacRae, Dr. Allan A., 1946, Correspondence 134 45
Mayle, Rev. Warren W., 1945 - 1946, Correspondence 134 46
McIntire, Rev. Carl, 1946, Correspondence 134 47
Meadows, Wilfred J., 1946 - 1947, Correspondence 134 48
Meyers, Rev. David K., 1947, Correspondence 134 49
Miller, Rev. Ira, 1944 - 1946, Correspondence 134 50
Miscellaneous Notes, 1945 134 51
Moffitt, J.R., 1947, Correspondence 134 52
Murray, Rev. Jack, 1944 - 1946, Correspondence 134 53
New Modernism and the Bible, The, 1950, [published address] 134 54
Olney, Rev. G.W., 1944 - 1945, Correspondence 134 55
Pearson, Rev. M.A., 1945 -1946, Correspondence 134 56
Pont, Rev. Charles E., 1947, Correspondence 134 57
Presbytery of the Midwest (BPC), 1944 - 1946, Correspondence 134 58
Rayburn, Rev. Robert G., 1946 - 1947, Correspondence 134 59
Reeder, Warren A., Jr., 1946, Correspondence 134 60
Richter, Rev. Charles E., 1946 - 1947, Correspondence 134 61
Roll, Rev. P.E., 1945, Correspondence 134 62
Roper, Ed, 1946, Correspondence 134 63
Rose, R.S., 1946, Correspondence 134 64
Rural Bible Crusade, 1944 - 1945, Report 134 65
Saye, Rev. Samuel W., 1944 - 1945, Correspondence 134 66
Stam, Peter, Jr., 1943 - 1944, Correspondence 134 67
Stam, Peter, Jr., 1945, Correspondence 134 68
Stam, Peter, Jr., 1946, Correspondence 134 69
Stam, Peter, Jr., 1947, Correspondence 134 70
Stickle, Rev. Harry F., 1946, Correspondence 134 71
Stigers, Rev. Harold, 1947, Correspondence 134 72
Stitt, Dr. David L., 1944, Correspondence 134 73
Van Tassel, Beltram, 1946 - 1947, Correspondence 134 74
Wall, Rev. Peter F., 1944 - 1945, Correspondence 134 75
Wortman, Chap. V.V., 1945 - 1946, Correspondence 134 76
Young, Rev. G. Douglas, 1946, Correspondence 134 77

Additional Resources on the Ministry of Dr. Schaeffer in the PCA Historical Center:

Covenant Theological Seminary Records:
Schaeffer Awards 4 53
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1965 - 1977, Correspondence 4 54
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1975 - 1981, Correspondence 4 55
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1971 - 1974, Exams from Courses taught at Covenant 4 56
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1973, Course Lectures 4 57

Robert G. Rayburn Papers:
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1959 - 1961, Correspondence 8 27

Mission to the World Records:
Gospel Films, Inc, 1975 - 1977, Correspondence re: How Should We Then Live? 96 20

Edward T. Noe Papers [Bible Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia Presbytery]:
Schaeffer, Francis A., n.d., Correspondence 127 118

J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. Papers
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1940, Correspondence 286 73
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1950 - 1951, Correspondence 286 74
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1952, Correspondence re: Children for Christ, Inc. 286 75
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1953 - 1956, Correspondence 286 76

The Covenant Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1943, Call to the Pastorate 316 45
Schaeffer, Francis A.,1940 - 1949, Photographs, newsclippings 316 46
Schaeffer, Francis A., Leaving the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions 316 2
Schaeffer, Francis A. and Edith, L'Abri Newsletters 316 3-14
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1943, Call to First Bible Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO; 1945, Call to Europe 316 33

Edward Steele Papers:
Schaeffer, Edith, Letters, 1973 - 1974 333 63

Children for Christ, Inc.
Schaeffer, Francis A. and Edith, God's History of Ancient Times 349 11
Schaeffer, Francis A. and Edith, Studies in Luke 349 11
Schaeffer, Francis A., Empire Builders for Boys 349 4
Schaeffer, Mrs, Francis A. (Edith), The Door of Salvation 349 3
Bible Studies and miscellaneous training materials, tracts, brochures, etc. 350 1 - 21

PCA Stated Clerk:
Covenant College, Endorsement by Francis A. Schaeffer 353 107
PCA Archives, Details on Francis Schaeffer and collections of personal papers to be processed 357 61
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1984, Obituary 383 23
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1977, Correspondence 384 10

Emily Russel Collection:
Schaeffer, Francis A. and Edith, L'Abri Newsletters, 1956 - 1959 454 15

George P. Hutchinson Papers:
Schaeffer, Francis A., 1954 - 1955, Correspondence with Carl McIntire 460 22

National Presbyterian Missions:

General Synod (BPC), 1955 (18th), Report: Letter from Francis A. Schaeffer 498 16

"We Don't Have Forever," by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer:
The following transcript was recently provided by the courtesy of Jeff Lawrence of Montgomery, AL. It originally was printed in the PCA Messenger in 1980:

(Francis A. Schaeffer, founder of the L'Abri Fellowship, author of 21 books, and principal in the "How Should We Then Live?" and "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?" film-seminar series, was the featured speaker at the 1980 "Consultation on Presbyterian Alternatives" sponsored by the Presbyterian Church in America. His counsel, excerpted here from the full transcript of his Pittsburgh messages, was heard by participants from several Presbyterian communions.)

Two biblical principles must be practiced simultaneously, at each step of the way, if we are to be really Bible-believing Christians.  One is the principle of the practice of the purity of the visible church.  The other is the principle of an observable love among all true Christians.

Those of us who left the old Presbyterian Church USA (the "Northern" Church) 44 years ago made mistakes which marked the movement for years to come.  The second principle often was not practiced. In particular we often failed to manifest an observable love for the fellow believers who stayed in that denomination when others of us left.

Things were said which are very difficult to forget even more than 40 years later.  The periodicals of those who left tended to spend more time attacking the real Christians who stayed in the old denomination than in dealing with the liberals.  Those who came out at times refused to pray with those who had not come out.  Many who left totally broke off all forms of fellowship with true brothers in Christ who did not come out.

What was destroyed was Christ's command to love each other.  And what was left was often a turning inward, a self-righteousness, a hardness, and, too often, a feeling that withdrawal had made those who came out so right that anything they did could be excused.

Further, having learned these bad habits, they later treated each other badly when the new groups had minor differences among themselves.

We cannot stress both of the principles simultaneously in the flesh.  Sometimes we stress purity without love.  Or we can stress love without purity.  In order to stress both simultaneously we must look moment to moment to the work of Christ and to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Without this, a stress on purity becomes hard, proud, and legalistic.  Without this, a stress on love becomes compromise. Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our lives as we begin to exhibit (and the emphasis here is on exhibit, not just talk) simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.  Without our exhibition of both, our marvelous God and Lord is not set forth.  Rather, a caricature is set forth and He is dishonored.

We paid a terrible price for what happened in those early days.  As some of you now come out of your denominations, please do learn from our mistakes.  Each pastor, each congregation must be led by the Holy Spirit.  If some disappoint you, do not turn bitter.

One of the joys of my life occurred at the Lausanne Congress (the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland). Some men from the newly formed Presbyterian Church in America asked me to attend a meeting they and others had called there. When I arrived I found that it was made up of Southern men who had just left the Presbyterian Church US to form the PCA and some Christians who were still in the PCUS. Someone from each side spoke. Both said to me that the meeting was possible because of my voice and especially my little book, The Church Before the Watching World (published by InterVarsity Press). I must say I could have wept, and perhaps I did. It is possible for us to do better than we would naturally do. It is not possible if we ignore the fleshly dangers and fail to look to our living Lord for his strength and grace.

Those of us who left our old denomination in the Thirties had another great problem, as I see it. It was confusion over where to place the basic chasm which marks off who we are. Does that chasm mark us as those who are building Bible-believing churches and that on this side of the chasm we hold the distinctives of being Presbyterian and Reformed? Or is the primary chasm that we are Presbyterian and Reformed and that we are divided from all who are not? The answer makes a great deal of difference.

When we go to a town to start a church, are we going there with the primary motivation to build a church which is loyal to Presbyterians and the Reformed faith, or are we going there to build a church which will preach the Gospel which historic, Bible-believing Christianity holds, and then on this side of that chasm teach that which we believe is true to the Bible in regard to church government and doctrine? The difference makes a difference to our mentality, to our motivation, and to the breadth of our outreach. I must say, to me one view is catholic, biblical and gives good promise of success; the other is introverted and self-limiting, yes, and sectarian. I spoke of a good promise of success. I mean on two levels: First in church growth and a healthy outlook among those we reach; second, in providing leadership in the whole church of Christ.

We alone do not face this problem of putting the chasm at the wrong place, of course. A too zealous mentality on the Lutheran view of the sacraments is the same. A too sectarian mentality in regard to the mode of baptism is another. The zeal of the Plymouth Brethren for an unpaid ministry is often the same. No, it is not just our problem. But it is our problem. To put the chasm in the wrong place is to fail to fulfill our calling, and I am convinced that when we do so we displease our Lord.

Those who remain in the old-line churches have their own set of problems. In contrast to the problem of hardness to which those who withdraw are prone, those who remain are likely to develop a general latitudinarianism. One who accepts ecclesiastical latitudinarianism easily steps into a cooperative latitudinarianism which can become a doctrinal latitudinarianism and especially a letdown on a clear view of Scripture.

This is what happened in certain segments of what I would call the evangelical establishment. Out of the evangelical latitudinarianism of the Thirties and Forties grew the letdown in regard to the Scripture in certain areas of the evangelical structure in the Seventies. Large sections of evangelicalism today put all they can into acting as though it makes no real difference as to whether we hold the historic view of Scripture or the existential view. The existential methodology says that the Bible is authoritative when it teaches "religious'' things but not when it touches that which is historic, scientific, or such things as the male/female relationship.

Not all who have stayed in the liberal denominations have done this, by any means, but it is hard to escape.  I don't see how those who have chosen to stay in (no matter what occurs) can escape a latitudinarian mentality which will struggle to paper over the differences on Scripture in order to keep an external veneer of unity.  That veneer in fact obscures a real lack of unity on the crucial point of Scripture.  And when the doctrinal latitudinarianism sets in we can be sure from all of church history and from observation in our own period of church history that in just a generation or two the line between evangelical and liberal will be lost.

This is already observable in that the liberals largely have shifted to the existential methodology and have expressed great approval that the "moderate evangelicals" have done so.  The trend will surely continue.  Unless we see the new liberalism with its existential methodology as a whole, and reject it as a whole, we will, to the extent to which we tolerate it, be confused in our thinking.  Failure to reject it will also involve us in the general relativism of our day and compromising in our actions.

The second major problem of those who stay in the liberally controlled denominations is the natural tendency to constantly move back the line at which the final stand will be taken.  For example, can you imagine Clarence Macartney, Donald Grey Barnhouse or T. Roland Phillips being in a denomination in which the baffle line was the ordination of women?  Can you imagine these great evangelical preachers of the Twenties and Thirties (who stayed in the Presbyterian Church USA) now being in a denomination which refuses to ordain a young man whose only fault was that while he said he would not preach against the ordination of women yet he would not say he had changed his mind that it was unbiblical? Can you imagine that these leaders of the conservative cause in an earlier era would have considered it a victory to have stalled the ordination of practicing homosexuals and practicing lesbians?  What do you think Macartney, Barnhouse, and Phillips would have said about these recent developments?  Such a situation in their denomination would never have been in their minds as in the realm of conceivable.

The line does move back.  In what presbytery of the Northern Presbyterian Church can you bring an ordained man under biblical discipline for holding false views of doctrine and expect him to be disciplined?

Beware of false victories.  Even if a conservative man is elected moderator of the general assembly (as Macartney was in 1924), it would amount to absolutely nothing.  Despite the jubilation among conservatives at Macartney's election, the bureaucracy simply rolled on, and not too many years later conservative leader J. Gresham Machen could be unfrocked.  Nelson Bell was elected moderator of the Southern Church later (in 1972), and nothing changed.  The power centers of the bureaucracy and the liberally-controlled seminaries were unmoved.

There are always those who say, "don't break up our ranks ... wait a while longer ... wait for this ... wait for that." It is always wait.  Never act. But 40 years is a long time to wait when things are always and consistently getting worse.  And (with my present health problem) I tell you soberly, we do not have forever to take that courageous and costly stand for Christ that we sometimes talk about. We do not have forever for that. We hear many coaxing words, but watch for the power structure to strike out when it is threatened. If the liberals' power is really in danger or if they fear the loss of property, watch out!

What of the future? We live in a day that is fast-moving.  The United States is moving at great speed toward totally humanistic orientation in society and state.  Do you think this will leave our own little projects, our own church, and our own lives untouched?  Don't be silly. The warnings are on every side. When a San Francisco Orthodox Presbyterian congregation can be dragged into court for breaking the law of discrimination because it dismissed an avowed, practicing homosexual as an organist, can we be so blind as to not hear all the warning bells go off?  When by a ruling of a federal court the will of Congress can be overturned concerning the limitation on the willful killing of unborn children, should not the warning bells go off as to the kind of pressures ahead of us?

Who supports these things?  The liberal denominations do, publicly, formally, and financially.  And it puts into a vise those of us who stand for biblical morality, let alone doctrine.  Beyond the denominations, it is their councils of churches that support not only these things but also terrorist groups. They give moral support and money.  Should we support this by our denominational affiliation? We may seem isolated from the results for a time but that is only because we are too blind to see.

I don't think we have a lot of time.  The hour is very late, but I don't think it is too late in this country. This is not a day of retreat and despair.  In America it is still possible to turn things around.  But we don't have forever.

Reprinted from the PCA Messenger
© 1980, Christian Education Committee, PCA
P.O. Box 39, Decatur, Georgia 30031

Memorial for Dr. Schaeffer, from the Minutes of Missouri Presbytery (PCA), July 20, 1984:


Whereas the Lord in His great wisdom and mercy has seen fit to take our beloved brother, Francis A. Schaeffer to Himself on May 15th, 1984, after a rather lengthy illness, and

Whereas Dr. Schaeffer has been a member of this Presbytery longer than any other member, and

Whereas his ministry of evangelism and church building, together with his defence of the historic Christian faith, and his unceasing efforts to strengthen and preserve the biblical foundations of our culture have not only resulted in the salvation of many souls, but have been an inestimable blessing to multitudes of men and women and have earned him a world-wide reputation as a valiant and effective Christian philosopher and theologian, and

Whereas he has unstintingly given of himself in the latter part of his life to the fight against the monstrous evils of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, so much as that many have been emboldened to join the battle for the sanctity of life, and

Whereas his many books have left behind him a rich treasure of teaching which will be a part of the permanent heritage of the Christian Church,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Presbytery of Missouri, meeting at Covenant Presbyterian Church of St. Louis on July 20, 1984, express its profound gratitude to God for the life and ministry of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this memorial resolution be spread upon the Minutes of the Presbytery of Missouri as a reminder to all members of the Presbytery to remember to continue to thank God for the inspiration and blessing we have received from Dr. Schaeffer's life and work.

-Robert G. Rayburn
Minutes of Missouri Presbytery (PCA), July 20, 1984
[pages 99-100]








Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer
1912 - 1984