At the moment, Southeastern Seminary is the custodian of the Francis Schaeffer collection. Dr. Bruce Little, Professor of Philosophy and Directory of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, said, “The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation retains ownership, and that ownership will be transferred to Southeastern upon the dissolution of the Foundation.”
The Schaeffer collection in Southeastern’s Library is composed of personal correspondences, books, videos, manuscripts, and audiotapes. Additionally, said Little, the collection includes some of Schaeffer’s personal library, and one of the most valuable assets of this collection is Schaeffer’s personal Bible, which has his own notes scripted in the margins. The entire Schaeffer collection – composed of approximately 50,000 entries in inventory – is in the process of being archived and digitized by library employees, Dr. Bill Youngmark and Craig Freeman.
Little befriended Udo Middelmann, son-in-law of Schaeffer and president of the Francis Schaeffer Foundation, in 2008. Little later invited Middelmann to come to Southeastern’s Center for Faith and Culture the following fall (2009) to give a couple lectures at the Center. Little said, “It was while he was here with Deborah [Schaeffer’s daughter] that they approached me with regards to assuming responsibility for the Schaeffer papers.”
Speaking about the character and thinking of Schaeffer, Larry Lyon, Southeastern M.Div. graduate and current Southeastern Ph.D. student, said, “Schaeffer was genuinely hospitable. Whether he was addressing a crowd from a pulpit or a podium, was in his home, or later in life in the hospital, Schaeffer’s message carried such weight because he engaged people in a hospitable manner.
“Schaeffer’s theology was also very practical. He would always engage others and make them think out the logical conclusions of their beliefs. So, he would ask them, ‘If you can’t live this particular way in the world, then is it a system worth living?’”
At certain times, Schaeffer was made out to be the grandfather of the Religious Right and also, he is often labeled as a hard presuppositionalist. Speaking about both of these labels, Little said that Evangelicals must be more careful in their perception of Schaeffer. As for being a grandfather of the Religious Right, said Little, “this is simply not true to history and yes he was a presuppositionalist, but Schaeffer defined the term much differently than the way it is used today.”
I was getting out of SBC circles with a move to insurance, representing Ministers Life in Eastern NC. I first noted his presence in the office of Paige Patterson as I visited and photographed "things SEBTS" in the late 80's as things changed from Lolley to Drummond to Patterson. His plaques honoring Patterson were prominent on the "boast wall" of Patterson's office.
I am still not that conversant with Schaeffer, but am troubled by anyone drawing the attention and furvor of men like Patterson---not content with just being "conservative" but longing to be "controlling consevatives."
I am posting this to draw further insights and comment about how things moved and shaked conservative from 1979 on in the SBC and wider circles. It did not take place without ground being prepared some 20 years prior.
Please fill in the blanks for me as you can.