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Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America
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Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America


Eerdmans 2008

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Francis Schaeffer was probably the single greatest intellectual influence on young evangelicals of the 1960s and 1970s. He was cultural critic, popular mentor, political activist, Christian apologist, founder of L’Abri, author of over 20 books, and creator of two important films. It’s impossible to understand the intellectual world of contemporary evangelicalism apart from Francis Schaeffer.

Barry Hankins has written a critical but appreciative biography that explains how Schaeffer was shaped by the contexts of his life—from young fundamentalist pastor in America, to greatly admired mentor, to lecturer and activist who encouraged world-wary evangelicals to engage the culture around them. Drawing extensively from primary sources, including personal interviews, Hankins paints a picture of a complex, sometimes flawed, but ultimately prophetic figure in American evangelicalism and beyond.

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Key Features

  • Considers Francis Schaeffer’s early years
  • Discusses the founding of L’Abri
  • Explains how Schaeffer was shaped by the contexts of his life


  • The Making of an American Fundamentalist
  • The Making of a European Evangelical
  • L’Abri
  • An American Evangelical Star: The Trilogy
  • Progressive Prophet of Culture
  • The Battle for the Bible
  • Filmmaker
  • A Manifesto for Christian Right Activism

Praise for the Print Edition

A skillful biography written with both fondness and a keen eye that discerns the underlying consistency of Schaeffer’s outlook.

Christianity Today

In a book of thorough research and sympathetic analysis, Barry Hankins shows how Francis Schaeffer was more responsible than any other individual for turning American evangelicalism from introspection to looking outward, from suspicion of the intellect to engagement with culture.

David Bebbington, professor of history, University of Stirling

Amid the growing literature on Francis Schaeffer’s legacy, this book by historian Barry Hankins offers a fresh look at the man and his times. While covering a wide range of issues, Hankins is particularly concerned to understand Schaeffer’s relation to American fundamentalism. Brilliant, fascinating, provocative, critical, the volume will leave no reader indifferent. I recommend it highly as an important contribution to understanding these defining years in American religious history.

William Edgar, professor of apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary

Significant lives are rarely straightforward or simple, a fact fully documented by Barry Hankins’ absorbing account of Francis Schaeffer’s steady transformation from working-class schoolboy and fundamentalist warrior to internationally famous evangelical author and lecturer, the founder of L’Abri, and an incalculable influence over a generation of young Christians trying to make sense of the 1960s. Schaeffer’s books and films—as well as that famous beard and Swiss knickers—are an essential piece of late-twentieth-century American evangelicalism and its complex passage into a movement out to wage war against the forces of secularism. Hankins’ deft treatment of Schaeffer’s life is a must-read for anyone interested in probing the human stories beneath the popular stereotypes.

—Margaret Lamberts Bendroth, professor of history, Calvin College

With other biographies of the late Francis Schaeffer functioning more as hagiographies, the historian Barry Hankins skillfully places the life and work of this extraordinarily complex figure in the historical and cultural contexts in which he lived . . . an excellent work on a very complex, important figure.

Journal of American History

Product Details

  • Title: Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America
  • Author: Barry Hankins
  • Series: Library of Religious Biography
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 288

About Barry Hankins

Barry Hankins is professor of history at Baylor University. His other books include The Second Great Awakening and the Transcendentalists and American Evangelicals: A Recent History of a Mainstream Religious Movement.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition