ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM: The Trojan Horse Within the Church

EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY:

ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM

Anti-intellectualism: The Trojan Horse Within the Church

by Paul Gould

trojan horseWe are in trouble. We no longer possess, as a culture, the ability to think well about the things that matter most. When it comes to thinking about the nature or existence of God, the purpose of life, or the morality of war, homosexuality, or abortion, we are guided more by our feelings than reason. When we want to find knowledge, largely, as a culture we look to scientists and not philosophers or theologians. As a result, our culture is fixated on image, celebrities, experience, slogans, and thirty-second sound bites. We no longer possess the ability to think well about things that matter most. And the church is no different than the broader culture it finds itself within.

But this is not how it is supposed to be. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus spelled out how His community of followers was to understand themselves:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13)

The world has lost its saltiness. It is in decay. It is everywhere cracked. Further, Christianity and the church have largely been marginalized, existing on the edges of a now secular society without a public voice. And the Christian witness and conscious is muted, because our lives are as fragmented as our neighbors.

According to J.P. Moreland, this decline all began with the emergence of anti-intellectualism in the church beginning in the middle 1800s.[1] As Christians began to become intellectually shallow and theologically illiterate, we lost our voice and withdrew from culture, carving out space for faith as a private, subjective experience.

But, this anti-intellectualism is a scandal. It is a sin. It is unbiblical. And it is, according to Moreland, the “Trojan horse”[2] within the walls of the church.

We must change. We must begin to cultivate a Christian mind once again. We must reject false-dichotomies (faith or reason; sacred or secular; head or heart) and seek Christian wholeness as apprentices of Jesus. In doing so, we will love God will all of our being, as God intended (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”- Matthew 22:37) and we will re-establish our Christian voice and conscious in a world that desperately needs a Savior that can satisfy both head and heart.

To see how I think philosophers can be of service to the church in helping us to love God with our minds, see my essay posted at The Gospel Coalition on “Why The Church Needs Philosophers and Philospohers Need the Church.”

For more, listen to my talk on Loving God with Your Mind.

 


[1] J.P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2012 ed.), chap. 1. See also, Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1994).

[2] Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind, 35.

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