May 26 Book Reviews

Your Father’s L’Abri

Your Father’s L’Abri

Gregory E. Reynolds

Reviewed by: Jonathan B. Falk

Your Father’s L’Abri: Reflections on the Ministry of Francis Schaeffer, by Gregory E. Reynolds. Monadnock Press, 2023. Paperback, 105 pages, $12.00 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP minister Jonathan B. Falk.

Your Father’s L’Abri is a collection consisting of one article and five book reviews that originally appeared in Ordained Servant over a period of seven years.

D. G. Hart, who wrote the foreword to this book, took a semester off from college to study at L’Abri, the study center in Switzerland founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer. Gregory Reynolds, the author of this slender volume, spent six months in residence at Swiss L’Abri. My wife and I stayed at the newly formed English L’Abri for one month in 1972. Along with many others of our generation, I concur with the author’s summary statement in his preface (12), “Although I do not entirely agree with Schaeffer’s apologetics, these differences pale in comparison with the good I believe he did in the lives of so many of my lost generation.” When I entered Westminster Seminary in 1975, Professor Harvie Conn asked his class the question, “How many of you are here as a result of the influence of Francis Schaeffer?” As I recall, about a third of the class raised their hands.

Since Reynolds lived at Swiss L’Abri from August 1971 to early 1972, his opening chapter is a “first-hand reflection” of his time there. He begins with his memories of living as an architectural student in Boston as a child of the 1960s counterculture and his conversion to Christ in the winter of 1971. When Reynolds moved to L’Abri, he discovered a community “with love,” a community “living out a shared truth” (20). He points out that its weakness was its ecclesiology. There was an absence of “the importance of the confessional Reformed church” (36). I found this same absence of confessional identity to be true at the English L’Abri.

The first chapter and, indeed, the title of Reynolds’s book was prompted by an article in the March 2008 Christianity Today by Molly Worthen entitled “Not Your Father’s L’Abri.” Reynolds responds to the reports of a growing concern with the current ministry of L’Abri. There is evidence of “the presence of an apparently postmodern epistemology among the staff” (27). The statement he cites from John Sandri (one of Schaeffer’s sons-in-law), taken from Worthen’s article, is indeed troubling: “‘I’m not an inerrantist, but I’m not an errantist either’ . . . The modernist agenda is behind them both” (27). Despite the author’s alarm over the apparent drift of the present day Swiss L’Abri, and his regret that Schaeffer failed to consistently employ the presuppositional apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, Reynolds expresses his gratitude “for the shelter provided by L’Abri as it pointed me to the only final shelter found under the wings of the Almighty” (28).

The remaining chapters consist of five reviews of books written about the ministry of Francis Schaeffer and L’Abri. Notable among the reviews is the one on William Edgar’s Schaeffer on the Christian Life, “the best all-around introduction of the life and ministry of Francis Schaeffer.” Reynolds concludes this review, and his book, by acknowledging his debt to Francis Schaeffer. I, too, am in his debt.



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