Today’s L’Abri

There are a couple interesting articles in this recent issue of Christianity Today (March, 2008). One article has to do with L’Abri – a “retreat” established by Francis Schaeffer and his wife in the Alps of Switzerland. Lots of ’60’s – ’80’s young people flocked (relatively speaking) to L’Abri to debate and then sit at the feet of Schaeffer as he discussed and commented on Christian life within the West and within “Modernism.” L’Abri was a haven for those disaffected young people who had a difficult time with the common Evangelicalism and the Christian religion in general.
Schaeffer died during the 1980’s and over the years L’Abri has changed from a strongly Evangelical community within the Modernist approach to knowledge and Truth to a now Post-Modernist community that is very different from the place that Schaeffer established when he was at the helm.
I can remember back as an undergraduate in the early ’80’s dreaming of going to L’Abri. I have to admit that I still want to spend time there even as I have changed and can now feel the inner drive and throb of seeking that many a student deals with (after all, we are always students, are we not?). Frankly, I would love to have such a place here, now, and be part of such a community! It fits well within my notions of “intentional community.” The idea of being about the living of an authentic life in Christ as we strive together to not be bound by cultural convention but to understand the unplumbable depths of God’s Way.
Anyway, here is a couple paragraphs I think are insightful concerning younger folk:

[Thomas Rauchenstein, a youngish Canadian and a current L’Abri worker, commenting on Schaeffer’s presuppositions when making his arguments] “Presuppositionalism can appear to be humble, but actually it’s quite arrogant… It says, ‘You can’t critique my assumptions.’ students today have the despair of having lost that certainty.” The postmodern critique of objectivity has saturated them. “We’re at the transition point, philosophically,” said Peltier. “People talk in the language of postmodernism, but what they want from Christianity is very much modern.”
In other words, when students say they seek authenticity, what they really want it certainly, an inner knowing. Convinced that they won’t find it intellectually, many pursue that feeling of conviction through experience: in the communal life and worship at L’Abri; in the books by emerging church authors that are popular with many students, and in the charismatic worship style that – though Pentecostals have never been a significant presence – is no longer taboo here.”

I might suggest that for a significant segment of the student population, the traditional forms of worship – in the sacramental and liturgical – also enable this population to “experience” God in ways that their former/current church-culture did not provide them.