In the March/April issue of Books & Culture: A Christian Review, Os Guinness writes an excoriating review of Frank Schaeffer’s Crazy for God. In summary, Guinness is extremely disappointed in what he regards as an unfair and self-serving treatment by the younger Schaeffer. According to Guinness, Frank regarded his father as lacking intellectual integrity at best and an outright con artist at worst. In writing the review, Guinness brings a high degree of credibility: not only did he live in the L’Abri community with both Francis and Frank Schaeffer for more than three years, he was the best man in Frank’s wedding:
For six years I [Os Guinness] was as close to Frank as anyone outside his own family, and probably closer than many in his family. I was his best man at his wedding. Life has taken us in different directions over the past thirty years, but I counted him my dear friend and went through many of the escapades he recounts and many more that would not bear rehearsing in print. It pains me to say, then, that his portrait is cruel, distorted, and self-serving, but I cannot let it pass unchallenged without a strong insistence on a different way of seeing the story. There is all the difference in the world between flaws and hypocrisy. Francis and Edith Schaeffer were lions for truth. No one could be further from con artists, even unwitting con artists, than the Francis and Edith Schaeffer I knew, lived with, and loved.
Do read the whole thing.
I’ve not read Crazy for God, but anytime a gifted son offers sharp, public criticism of his high profile Christian parents (one of whom, if memory serves, remains alive) something seems amiss. And now, Frank Schaeffer has replied to Guinness, making accusations while not interacting with the substance of Guinness’ objective concerns. Unlike the younger Schaeffer, I find it hard to interpret Guinness’ review as an ad hominem attack. Rather, I read Guinness as strongly, clearly, and unabashedly defending the reputation of the elder Schaeffer by noting specific examples where Frank’s interpretation of historical events and persons seems suspect.
I’m looking forward to the forthcoming Francis Schaeffer biography by Colin Duriez. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life is available for pre-order.