The son of the L’abri founder Francis, when he was an angry young man, went by “Franky” but now that he is an angry old man, he goes by “Frank.” So in the following brief introduction, be sure to distinguish references to “Francis,” which always refer to the patriarch, from the son’s shorter forms.
What we can see in the you-tubes, when they are lined up in sequence, is the gradual dissolution of an unbelieving “PK” into the jaws of hell that are open and waiting for him to drop in. For those that are confused about this journey, I offer these notes to give some orientation.
A quick footnote on his peculiar accent. A frequently-occurring example is his saying for Christianity, “Kris chan’ ih tee,” i.e. four syllables rather than five (say: Chris Hannity, then replace the ‘h’ with ‘ch’; then, give it just the tiniest faux-touch of british sophistication by pursing the lips slightly and arching the tongue toward the roof of the mouth, and you have it), which gives him the sound of being a little illiterate, but it should be overlooked on account of his having been raised in a foreign land.
When he goes on a tirade against Protestantism for multi-fracturing, it needs to be remembered that his own father was the quintessence of the “split P.” He was part of the group that, after splitting from the PCUSA to join the OPC, split from the OPC to follow nutcase Carl McIntyre to form a denomination that required confessing premillennialism and being purified of alcohol and tobacco. Not long after that he was with a group that split again. Then, that group reversed its natural splitting tendency by making a merger that formed the RPCES. However, Schaeffer in Europe soon split from that group to form his own “International” Presbyterian church. There are very few ordained men in the history of Christendom that have split as many times as Francis. So Frank’s hostility to Protestant “splits” should be seen as part of his more general Oedipal complex, killing not only his father but everything his father typified.
McIntire was a dispensational premillennialist. Schaeffer himself kept eschatology under cover, but if this wasn’t his motive for the second split then it had to be the drinking or smoking. The point of mentioning all this is that when Franky goes off about the “insanity” of the dispensationalists, we need to remember that this is again part of his Oedipal complex. If he wanted strong criticism of dispensationalism, he could have come back to the OPC. No trek eastward would have been necessary at all. Moreover, there is no split in our history. We were kicked out of the PCUSA for orthodoxy.
Frank is a man that has always been angry, humorless, self-righteous, self-promoting, and self-important. What makes it troubling when we think about the state of his soul, is that all those ugly qualities are becoming only more intense with the passage of time, not less.
His scoffing at all the “dangerous” Christians in America which, as he preposterously states over and over again, might at any moment pack a gun and start shooting people, fits his own angry and vindictive profile more than any Christian he could point to.
In his rhetoric, there has never ever been an articulation of repentance unto life through Christ alone. I mean never — even when he was allegedly a right-winger. There is, therefore, no evidence, nor has there ever been, that Frank is a regenerate man. Now that he has resorted to outright scoffing at many parts of the Bible, this is confirmed. I wonder how much longer he will last even in the EO. They celebrated his “conversion” at the time, but I can’t help but suspect there is a great deal of discomfort setting in with having such a wild unbeliever as a de facto spokesman.
If we attempt a psycho-analysis of the man, I would offer this. His father Francis was a blue-collar Philly tough-guy that made it big, while his mother was aristocracy. The mother thus “married down,” though her proletariat husband became famous. Such a parental chemistry leads to psychological difficulties for a boy. The father is then something of ranting tyrant, with the mother pleading and restraining. The boy gets launched into a professional world in which he is no more at home than the father was. But the anger and suspicion of the alienated worker takes many generations, apparently, to thin out. Moreover, there are “shortcuts” the intelligent prole is ever inclined to make. Father Francis was not a very deep thinker. He wore a long face, and pretended to like art, learned a little philosophical jargon, and wore knickerbockers. But fundamentally he was just a street-tough-become-philosophical-journalist. His knowledge of philosophy was exactly that of a man that would pretend to literary sophistication, who has actually only read, and memorized, Bartlett’s Book of Quotes. The son Frank is then thrown into a world of professionals and academics but with even less acumen than his father — for what are the odds of two favorable mutations occurring back-to-back? He is in it, but not of it. Hence the fear and anger, the lashing out. His is the mind that Hegel analyzed as one stuck at the primal level of pure negation, which asserts itself in either the resignation of Hindusim or the violence of the French Revolution. He both venerates and wants to murder his father at the same time, because he is both trying to find a non-existent origin and wanting to expunge the inadequacies thereof.
There was a fundamental dishonesty in Francis, in never giving credit to van Til in the formation of his thought. However, if Frank’s “development” is indicative, then that disowning indicated a fundamental disconnect that is real. For Frank now owns the “facts” of evolution and any latest deliverance of “science” as basic and beyond question, against which the Bible must be weighed and judged. Presuppositionalism is turned upside down. There is no fundamental critique of induction or of the ultimate faith-commitments of secular science, nor any defense of the necessity of revelation as the foundation for the very possibility of predication by the finite creature. Poof — it is gone. Secular science and the reigning establishment are seeking truth and well-intended, and rightly stand in judgment over Christianity. A craven, “me-too” faux-Christianity that “seeks a place at the table,” (and which should perhaps be granted a minor seat at the table, provided it evidences its subservience to the current order), is all that is left.
Frank was not a very important man, even in the 1970’s/1980’s movement of the “Christian Right” he lays claim to; not even very important to the film series that made his father famous. Franky (as he was then known) was basically a cameraman. He was a pretty good cameraman, as amateurs go. But his claims today are just as preposterous as if the cinematographer of Godfather was going around the speaking circuit claiming credit for the greatness of Godfather. Yes, the cinematography of Godfather was great; but there are many mediocre films with great cinematography. A lot more that that is needed to achieve greatness.
Why, then, does the Left so love the remade Frank? To ask it is to answer it. They love anything that gives the appearance of discomfiting Christians and Christianity. But real Christians simply shake their heads in sadness at the spectacle of an angry young man that never grew up.
He claims he was faking it back in the day of his Religious Right-hood, but why should we believe him now? He’s a self-proclaimed liar. Sounds like a narcissist.
Edith the Magnificent passed away on March 30.
I will comment on Frank’s “eulogy” anon, but first let us observe a moment of respectful silence.
Thank you for these insights. Coming to Reformed thought via the ‘back door’ of the 1980’s, I voraciously read Schaeffer while trying to grasp the far deeper insights of Rushdoony at the same time. I liked Edith’s few books, and daughter(?) Susan’s book on homeschooling, and liked Franky’s book(s) then.
When he ‘converted’ to Orthodoxy, his “Dancing Alone” said some very truthful things. But the very reason for becoming a ‘catholic christian’ is to gain a wider, more ‘catholic’ Weltanschauung. All I read of Franky since, has been a narrowing, a lockstep Assachusetts GOA liberalism, that is about as “Orthodox” as last week’s baklava.
Pity the man, and pray for him. He’s further from grace now, than when he was a young man. Truly, a scary thought.