Podcast S3, Ep. 3 – How Should We Then Live? (TV Series) by Francis A. Schaeffer

J.R. Waller, MBA


In this episode of The Greater Heritage podcast we review the Francis Schaeffer TV series How Should We Then Live? The show is available at Vision Video and Amazon Prime.

Francis A. Schaeffer was one evangelical Christianity’s foremost philosophers and theologians of the 20th century.

He was also a committed apologist for the Christian faith, and frequent author.

In 1955, he and his wife Edith establish the L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland as a place for people to ask honest questions about life and Christianity.“Francis A. Schaeffer was one evangelical Christianity’s foremost philosophers and theologians of the 20th century.”

The organization is still around today, as are Schaeffer’s over 20 books.

In 1977, Schaeffer broke into the world of television with the series How Should We Then Live? based on his book of the same name.

He developed the series as a response to Kenneth Clark’s 1969 art and world history series Civilisation.

Clark’s series was one of the first shows to do televised on location visits to art museums and historical sites around the world.

However, while exceptional in its own right, Civilisation’s view of world history was entirely humanistic.

So, Schaeffer set out to do a series that got to heart of the meaning of history, namely that it is first and foremost God’s story.

Francis Schaeffer TV Series Review

Across the series’ 10 episodes, he takes viewers on a journey through the Roman era, Middle Ages and Renaissance, and the age of non-reason, until finally stopping in the contemporary world.

The primary thesis for the show, is that God is the only source of absolutes.

He then explains, in a clear and profound manner throughout the show, how mankind is inherently rebellious against God.“God is the only source of absolutes.”

Nevertheless, the creator God is personal, infinite and has revealed Himself through the Bible and creation.

Therefore, when man follows God and starts with Him as the source of meaning and purpose he finds peace, salvation, strength, meaning, law, order and answers to his deepest questions and needs.

However, when man follows himself, and starts from within to find meaning and purpose, instead of by starting with God, it only leads him to apathy, and despair.

It is within this tension that history has found itself since the fall in the Garden of Eden.

How Should We Then Live? is nothing short of spectacular.

Throughout the show Schaeffer goes to great lengths to demonstrate that God’s word must be read as it is, and that it is truth, the only absolute and that without it there is only chaos.

Of particular interest to 21st century viewers are episodes 9 (The Age of Personal Peace & Affluence) and 10 (Final Choices).

In these episodes Schaeffer takes a powerfully prophetic turn as he describes how nations that do not establish themselves on God’s laws and absolutes fall.

He notes the United States’ growing reliance on arbitrary and sociological law instead of law related to God’s standards.

Moreover, he warns about man’s increasing desire to formulate his own rights and wrongs, which ultimately only gives way to a humanistic elite that dictates the rule of law.


In the end, Schaeffer demonstrates how man’s designs for life are nothing more than circles in the sand.

One decade the rules are represented by one man-made circle, then in another man crosses that circle out and forms a new one.

History, without God, is a never ending series of futile attempts for man to be his own measure, until finally the ocean of God’s return washes it all away.“History, without God, is a never ending series of futile attempts for man to be his own measure.”

Schaeffer also touches upon topics as varied as abortion, gene editing, drugs, and technocracy, putting them all through a Biblical lens and vividly illuminating their flaws.

Francis A. Schaeffer was one of the leading Christian thinkers of the 20th century, and How Should We Then Live? is just as sound, profound and stirring as the man himself.

Highest recommendation!

Intro and outro music provided by Five Minute Plan. Be sure to check them out!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the reviewer. They do not represent any endorsement.

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