I think one of the greatest apologetic challenges facing Christianity today is the anti-intellectualism present in many evangelical churches.
Unfortunately, many churches seem to provide spiritual justification for this perspective. This happens when God’s good gift of reason (via the imago Dei) is devalued, and inner subjective spiritual experiences are allowed to reign supreme without passing through the necessary filter of Scripture and reason (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Some church leaders even devalue education in college and seminary (often referred to as “cemetery”) by creating a false dichotomy between the so-called cerebral and spiritual spheres of life. It is often the case that “head-knowledge” is pitted against “heart-faith.”
But is this seemingly mindless approach to Christianity even remotely biblical? The answer, of course, is a resounding no! The Bible nowhere points to this false dichotomy between reason and experience, or between being intellectual or spiritual. In fact, we are commanded by the Lord himself to love God with our entire being (Matthew 22:37). It should be noted that Christianity is not just an inner relational spiritual experience, but it fully involves one’s intellect, mind, and will. Moreover, the Christian faith encompasses a comprehensive world-and-life view with a coherent system of beliefs.
If our churches are going to be effective in the apologetic and evangelistic enterprise as God commands, then believers must regain the “life of the mind.” Many nonbelievers today view Christians as “feelers,” not “thinkers.” Our churches can reverse this unhealthy trend by embracing reason and rationality as the good gift of an infinitely wise God and by practicing the important intellectual virtues mandated in Scripture—such as discernment, reflection, testing, and intellectual renewal (Acts 17:11; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 14:29; Colossians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
For more on how Christians can develop healthy habits of the mind, see Kenneth Samples’ new book A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test.
|Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3|