The foundation for Francis Schaeffer’s basic approach to apologetics is simply to recognize that man is an image-bearer. Man even in his sin has personality, significance, and worth. Therefore, the apologist should approach him in those terms.
The decisive result of falling below the line of despair is a pitting of rationality against faith. Schaeffer sees this as an enormous problem and details four consequences in his book, Escape From Reason.
Pitting Rationality Against Faith
First, when rationality contends against faith, one is not able to establish a system of morality. It is simply impossible to have an “upstairs morality” that is unrelated to matters of everyday living.
Second, when rationality and faith are dichotomized, there is no adequate basis for law. “The whole Reformation system of law was built on the fact that God had revealed something real down into the common things of life” (Escape From Reason, 261). But when rationality and faith are pitted against one another, all hope of maintaining any semblance of law is obliterated.
The third consequence is that this scheme throws away the answer to the problem of evil. Christianity’s answer rests in the historic, space-time, real and complete Fall of man who rebelled and made a choice against God. “Once the historic Christian answer is put away, all we can do is to leap upstairs and say that against all reason God is good” (Escape From Reason, 262).
Finally, when one accepts this unbiblical dichotomy he loses the opportunity to evangelize people at their real point of despair. Schaeffer makes it clear that modern man longs for answers. “He did not accept the line of despair and the dichotomy because he wanted to. He accepted it because, on the basis of the natural development of his rationalistic presuppositions, he had to. He may talk bravely at times, but in the end it is despair” (Escape From Reason, 262). It is at this point that Schaeffer believes the Christian apologist has a golden opportunity to make an impact. “Christianity has the opportunity, therefore, to say clearly that its answer has the very thing modern man has despaired of – the unity of thought. It provides a unified answer for the whole of life. True, man has to renounce his rationalism; but then, on the basis of what can be discussed, he has the possibility of recovering his rationality” (Escape From Reason, 262).