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Escape from Reason: A Penetrating Analysis of Trends in Modern Thought

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  2,078 ratings  ·  141 reviews
How did we get here? And where do we find a remedy? In this modern classic, Francis A. Schaeffer traces trends in twentieth-century thought and unpacks how key ideas have shaped our society. Wide-ranging in his analysis, Schaeffer examines philosophy, science, art and popular culture to identify dualism, fragmentation and the decline of reason. Schaeffer's work takes on a ...more
Paperback, 123 pages
Published December 6th 2006 by IVP Books (first published 1968)
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Sep 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apologetics, 2010
Schaeffer writes that man's desire for autonomous freedom began with Aquinas's theology which argued that though man fell in Eden, his intellect did not. This created a system in philosophy that argued that man's reason was autonomous--meaning free and independent of any constraint. This opened the door to later philosophers to build philosophic arguments independent of God. But the problem is that man's desire for autonomy cannot be reconciled to the constraining forces in this world. Through r ...more
Alex Szatmary
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: book people, intellectuals, apologists
I love Schaeffer, the person, but I totally disagree with half of what he says. His review of the western intellectual history is quick and accessible, and his great insight in this book is to point to Aquinas' fault of placing reason "upstairs"--assuming that human reason is immune to the fall.

While, factually, Schaeffer, seems to present most thinkers accurately, he does not fully get modern philosophy. Yes, he gets the despair of modernity; however, his defense of Biblical Christianity as a r
Mark Jr.
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I have heard others cast doubt on the particulars of Schaeffer's analysis in sweeping books like these. I haven't read enough Aquinas, de Sade, Camus, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Foucault, Malraux, Heidegger, etc. to say. But Schaeffer's overall synthesis—his many different upper- and lower-story diagrams—seem right to me. If indeed he's right, the overall analysis, the big picture, may be more important than the particulars. It does seem as if Western man has done just what Schaeffer says: we've remov ...more
Christian Barrett
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This short book is a fantastic overview of philosophical thought and how it has changed over the years concerning the area of knowing truth. Schaeffer focuses highly on how God’s truth and natural truth have been separated throughout the years leading up to the point where God’s truth is thrown out all together. Thus, thinkers have abandoned any hope for rational and reason in the world we live in. This book was written in the 20th century, which means the post modern thought we see today is the ...more
Amy Edwards
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a slender volume and in that way a quick overview of the history of philosophy with regard to God and man, grace and nature, freedom and nature, and the non-rational and the rational. First published in 1968 (the edition that I read), many of these ideas are incorporated into Schaffer's How Shall We Then Live? book, which was published later. To read this book now, however, in the context of an American culture that is rapidly aiming its fiercest attacks at Christians, is to read a proph ...more
Ryan Hawkins
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Concerning the trilogy, previously I thought this book was skippable. I even have told many people such. But this time reading through, I wouldn’t say so. I would say it’s another retelling of TGWIT, but he certainly adds details to make his argument even more persuasive.

But even more important that the extra detail is his final chapter in this book. It undoubtedly is the best single chapter summary of the trilogy. He basically gives his second-half of TGWIT in one chapter.

As a result, I’m glad
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Escape from Reason is an easy book to read, which I liked. It was written for the common man or woman. This is the first book that I have read by Schaeffer and I like it for what it tries to do.

Schaeffer spends a majority of the book tracking how societies world view has been changing and who were some of the primary influences/people that caused this. He starts with Aquinas and proceeds from there. He covers, art, music, poetry and more.

The important part of this book is near the end when he ti
Nov 11, 2009 added it
Shelves: religion, philosophy
highly elucidating apologetics through a historical delineation of philosophy, existentialism, and art from Aquinas' time (the beginning of divorce between Grace and Nature) up to nihilism and the absurd.

recommended reading for anyone interested in why the last several generations have been part of a psychology of despair and where a lot of christianity today has gone wrong in representing itself. this is not a watered-down tract like most christian works, nor is it a guidebook to conversion. it
Douglas Wilson
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Excellent. Also read in November 1980.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the Forward by J.P. Moreland:
Escape from Reason brings together a staggering array of academic disciplines, cultural trends and influential thinkers, and provides an integrative, mature analysis and critique of their ideas from within an historic Christian worldview. (p. 9).

Escape from Reason is a must-read Christian classic that is a short introduction to the history of philosophy and how it has affected our culture and general thought processes. It starts with Thomas Aquinas and his intr
Joey Kaching
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. 4.5/5.0.

This book has become widely known as something of a classic in certain evangelical circles, evidenced by its recent republishing within the 'IVP Classics' series. However, I have not been a part of those circles for the large part of my life and have only come into contact with this household name in recent months. Schaeffer's thought largely revolves around what might well fall within the category of Christian apologetics. As he demonstrates within this book, he spent hi
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely recommended for every Believer! This was very helpful in learning to evaluate past and modern culture with precision and clarity, in order to both see the flaws of man’s attempts at wisdom apart from God, and seeking to engage others knowledgeably and bringing real hope and answers to the existentialist/ relativistic atmosphere our current generation is drowning in. I will definitely be reading more Schaefer in the future!
Nikhil Gupta
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Check Visit:

Francis Schaeffer has been widely recognized as one of the twentieth century’s greatest Christian apologists. Francis August Schaeffer (1912-1984) was an American Christian theologian, philosopher, apologist, and Presbyterian pastor, as well as the founder of the L'Abri community in Switzerland.
In this book Schaeffer has two noble aims; first to analyze the evolution of philosophy from the Christian Middle-Ages up to the Atheist existentialism
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Challenge

Schaeffer identifies an ongoing challenge in the Foreword:

"Every generation of Christians has this problem of learning how to speak meaningfully to its own age."

The original universe consisted of two simple yet distinct realms, which Schaeffer diagrams by writing two words separated by a horizontal line. Grace on top; Nature on bottom. Grace is the universal and Nature is the particulars. The upper level contains the higher things: God; heaven and heavenly things; the unseen and its
Jacob Aitken
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apologetics
In Schaeffer’s other works he shows you step by step on how to “take the roof off” of a stoned-up hippie. He doesn’t do that in this one. This is more of a Dooyeweerdian (though he never acknowledges it) deconstruction of the nature-grace dualisms. I think he succeeds, though there are a few howlers. Along the way he gives brilliant insights, but the frustrating thing is that they are all in passing and are never developed.

Most of the book is a summary of He is there and He is Not Silent and The
Tim Ponygroom
People tend to love this book or hate it. There are fans of every philosophy, and many fans not only cheer for their team, they boo the other teams. Instead of being for or against, I hope the reader sees this as a tour through some powerful ideas that have been important to Western cultural development. Any understanding we gain from this book improves our perspective. If nothing else, perspective is what this book is all about.

I read this while taking a college course in Psychology, but it wa
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Read this a few years back, and it was SUCH an eye-opener in terms of how (atheistic) philosophical assumptions have changed over time, and how society has moved from the 'upper room'. (I think that was the term he used) Yep, this was a really thought-provoking read but only in the sense that it gave me even more reasons to back up my belief in how atheism, as a way of life and world-view, does not work, and has not over centuries in which it has changed and evolved at the same time that society ...more
Elisha Lawrence
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Every Schaeffer book I read, I start to understand him a little bit more. He is brilliant and has studied in a number of areas where I know very little, particularly philosophy and art. So Schaeffer speaks to those areas with such familiarity that it's hard to follow his arguments for me at times. However, the overall point he was trying to make in this book really shined through even with my lack of experience in the areas where he gave illustrations.

I've basically read his books in order and
Ty Lukasiewicz
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Escape from reason is the second book in Francis Schaeffer's trilogy. It is basically his lectures to his students and an elaboration/continuation on his first book The God who is there.

Its really enjoyable. however I think I enjoyed his first book better. Probably because in a way this second book felt very much like a repeat of the first. FS once again speaks over subjects such as existentialism, mysticism, determinism, and rationalism. however, in this book he brings new concepts into light
Well...'Escape from Reason' lived up to its name. If the book was not fifty or sixty years old I would be inclined to write book against all the garbage it spouts. The entire book is predicated on the 'fact' that the bible is a single unit, as if there was never a council of Nicaea, as if the Gnostics never existed, as if the Nag Hammadi scriptures never existed...As if there were no Apocryphal books of the bible. Whilst there were certain philosophers whom I had little experience in and reading ...more
David  Williamson
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tough read but well worth it as ever with Schaeffer.

In short — Schaeffer’s intent is to show that man, in attempting to maintain his rationalism, has given up on rationality. He traces how the thinking of man has changed from pre-Renaissance times to the present. In doing so he paints a picture of man determined to view nature (the physical creation) autonomously and thus destroying meaning, purpose, man himself, and God. He then reveals how the Bible allows a person to maintain rationality — as
May 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book may be better than my 2 star rating, but I just really struggled to get into it. It started off strong, but by the end I just wanted it to be over.
My goal in reading this was to see how society went from an almost purely mystical and somewhat unified paradigm of reality to our current rational, post modern existentialism. I guess it sort of did that, but certainly took the scenic route. I spent a lot of time googling to try and make sense of things that once I did understand them I di
Rafael Monchez
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
"The Reformation had some tremendous results, and made possible the culture which many of us love- even though our generation is now throwing it away.
The Reformation confronts us with an Adam who was, using twentieth-century thought-forms, an unprogrammed man- he was not set up as a punch-card in a computer system. One thing that marks twentieth-century man is that he cannot visualize this, because modern man is infiltrated by a concept of determinism. But the biblical position is clear - man c
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I will read it again.

Overlap with The God who is There, but I appreciated reading them back to back so as to get a better picture.

I especially appreciated how he showed how Christianity is the only religion or philosophy which allows the individual to start with themselves and work outward. He goes on to explain that even though we can start with our own selves, we are finite and so much look to the Infinite to find meaning. But we can start with ourselves. This is helpful in conversing with ind
Francis Schaeffer traces this history of thought from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. The book was written in 1968 and it was interesting to think about how far thought has progressed since that time. Schaeffer can sometimes be difficult to read, but I found this one to be a fairly easy read. Some of the topics he touches on are philosophy, history, art, science, literature, film and television. It really helps in understanding why many in our culture think the way they do, as well as remin ...more
Daniel Nelms
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
His idea of the line is spot on. However, it is very jarring to see him summarize some of the most influential and complex philosophers of the west in just a few paragraphs. And I'm almost certain that he got Aquinas wrong, as well as Kierkegaard. But I can only be so critical.

Nevertheless, this is a must read for understanding the despair we see around us that still lingers on into the 21st century.
David Sarkies
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians & Philosophers
Recommended to David by: My Dad
Shelves: christian
A rehash of Schaeffer's Earlier Works
11 August 2013

but test everything: hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil: 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Wow, it took me a grand total of four hours to read this book, which must be a record for me, or more probably it has got to do something with it being a short book covering much of the same ground that Schaeffer covered in his book The God Who is There, and also with me having read it before. However, the other thing is that now that I have
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good beginners book on philosophy. It's easy to read and short, yet still covers a good bit of material. The book was written to emphasize the existentialist thought now prevalent in our culture and how we need to understand this in order to share the absolute truth of God in a relativistic world.
Wes F
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short/dense & excellent expose by Schaeffer on the emptiness of modern philosophies and where they all end up logically arriving if you follow them. Shows where you end up when you veer off the historical written revelations we have about God & His character in the Bible--records recorded in real time & space. Cogent reasonings. ...more
Andy Treece
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing this book was written in 1968. Remove some of the dated references to the pop culture of his day, and this book could have been written yesterday. It took me over 20 years to read Schaeffer's trilogy (and out of order to boot - read Book 1 in 1996, Book 3 in 2006 and Book 2 now) but they are all well worth the read.
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Francis August Schaeffer was an American Evangelical Christian theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor. He is most famous for his writings and his establishment of the L'Abri community in Switzerland. Opposed to theological modernism, Schaeffer promoted a more historic Protestant faith and a presuppositional approach to Christian apologetics which he believed would answer the questions of ...more

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“People today are trying to hang on to the dignity of man, but they do not know how to, because they have lost the truth that man is made in the image of God. . . . We are watching our culture put into effect the fact that when you tell men long enough that they are machines, it soon begins to show in their actions. You see it in our whole culture -- in the theater of cruelty, in the violence in the streets, in the death of man in art and life.” 29 likes
“Evangelical Christians need to notice..., that the Reformation said 'Scripture Alone' and not 'the Revelation of God in Christ Alone'. If you do not have the view of the Scriptures that the Reformers had, you really have no content in the word 'Christ' - and this is the modern drift in theology. Modern theology uses the word without content because 'Christ' is cut away from the Scriptures. The Reformation followed the teaching of Christ Himself in linking the revelation Christ gave of God to the revelation of the written Scriptures.” 11 likes
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