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Schaeffer here probably gives his most extensive exposition of his concept of the balance of Truth & Love. Schaeffer explains the dual role of the church. Explaining that the church must learn to both maintain doctrinal purity (truth) as well as display a genuine love for each other and the watching world, which is the true mark of a Christian.
According to James Sire at InterVarsity, Schaeffer wanted it published by itself first, but as his editor he advised that it would not work well by itself. So they first added it to the The Church At The End Of The Twentieth Century as an appendix. Later Schaeffer asked to print it again and this time they printed it by itself.
The importance of the book to Schaeffer is evidenced by the amount of times Schaeffer had it published. It was first published as an appendix to The Church At The End Of The Twentieth Century (InterVarsity, also 1970), then by itself through (InterVarsity, 1970). It was published at another time in essay form for Christianity Today (September 11, 1970) of that same year. Then, it is also in included as an appendix to The Great Evangelical Disaster (Crossway, 1984), which was Schaeffer's final work. Lastly, it is of course in the fourth volume of his Complete Works.
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"It is possible to be a Christian without showing the mark, but if we expect non-Christians to know that we are Christians, we must show the mark."
Christians have not always presented an inviting picture to the world. Too often we have failed to show the beauty of authentic Christian love. And the world has disregarded Christianity as a result.
In our era of global violence and sectarian intolerance, the church needs to hear anew the challenge of this book. Decades ago Francis Schaeffer exhorted, "Love--and the unity it attests to--is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father."
More than ever, the church needs to respond compassionately to a needy world. More than ever, we need to show the Mark.