Last night I drove up Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga, TN, where I will begin speaking today over the next several days for the annual Neal Lectures on True Spirituality at Covenant College.
I go to a lot of places in the course of a year, and almost always they are settings that intrigue me for a host of complex reasons. But when I was asked to do this, I smiled, deeply, remembering my life. One of the first serious books I read was True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer– and I read it, and read it again, so often in fact that my copy is taped and retaped, holding its pages together for as a long as they need to be.
To be invited into the place where Schaeffer first spoke on the questions that became the book, is a gift– specially so of course because of the way that the book has formed me. In the heart of my heart, I see life and the world differently, learning everything he could teach me on the nature and meaning of “true spirituality.”
There was nothing romantic about his wrestling with this, as there cannot be. Rather he argued that what we believe has to have consequence for how we live, moment by moment. And in the straining reality of everyone’s life, living in the now-but-not-yet of history, we have to find our way into the hope of substantial healing, where true healing is possible even if all healing is not. Schaeffer pressed that vision across life, from psychological wounds to ecological degradation, and that he did mattered to me, as I was only interested in a faith that could speak to all of life.
Substantial healing gives a way to live, freeing us from the all-or-nothing syndrome, which is a danger lurking around the corner of everyone’s heart. I have lived my life believing this, yearning for this, praying for this, working for this. So to be here, speaking into that hope a generation later, is one of the invitations I am most glad to take up.
Please feel free to watch my address at 10:55 AM EST Here.
(Photo from the campus of Covenant College.)