Anti-intellectualism

“It appears that nuance is the latest concept to come under fire by political and theological conservatives.”

"To some, this is seen simply as a lack of moral courage, an unwillingness to take a stand for Jesus. They want an unequivocal judgment of right or wrong. Anything less, and you’re just a 'nuance bro.'" - Kainos

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Symposium: ‘Scandal of the Evangelical Mind’ 30 Years Later

"With the publication of an anniversary edition, containing a new preface and afterword by Noll, I asked various scholars across institutions to reflect on the book’s significance and ongoing relevance for the church today." - TGC

577 reads

Book Review of Logic and the Way of Jesus: Thinking Critically and Christianly, by Travis Dickinson

Catastrophic Consequences

Something has changed. Christianity no longer shapes society. Culture-shifting Christian thinkers, artists, musicians, and writers have all but disappeared. The church is no longer able to meet the intellectual challenges it now faces. Why has this happened and what can be done about it? These are the questions Travis Dickinson, professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University, seeks to answer in his new book, Logic and the Way of Jesus: Thinking Critically and Christianly (B&H Academic, 2022).

Dickinson begins his book by asserting that the Christian faith has become less reflective and intellectual and more emotional and experience-based. Instead of valuing a Christian intellect, many Christians have detached their faith from reason and have embraced a growing anti-intellectualism within the church. Because of this intellectual decay, the church has become irrelevant and impotent in shaping the culture for Christ. To reverse this intellectual famine in the church, Christians must once again obey Jesus’ command to pursue God intellectually (Matt. 22:36–38). This intellectual pursuit involves learning to think critically and think Christianly about all of life (p. 8).

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“...sometimes we lose sight of this principle and become irrationally suspicious of the scientific community.”

"My point here is not to say that we must believe everything that the scientific community says about masks and social distancing and recommended shutdowns and vaccines. It is possible that there are some very terrible mistakes being made. But if so, they are just that: mistakes. The medical/scientific community at large are trying to bring the pandemic to a swift end; there is no logical reason why they would be collectively trying to dupe us all." - Snoeberger

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Is the Bible Anti-Intellectual?

Viewed in isolation, some passages of Scripture seem to convey that there is a special danger in the human intellect—danger that is greater than the hazards of, for example, “the heart.” Sadly, these passages are often viewed “in isolation” in churches strongly influenced by revivalism, romanticism (see also IEP), or both.

Used as slogans, passages like the following seem solidly anti-intellectual:

Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. (1 Cor. 8:1)
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. (1 Cor. 1:27)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit. (Col. 2:8)
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim. 3:7)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov. 3:5-6)

Based on passages like these, anti-intellectuals teach that Christians should focus more energy on “matters of the heart” in contrast to the intellect. Study and analysis should be viewed with greater suspicion than impression and intuition (supposedly, the special domain of the Holy Spirit). The quality of worship should be gauged by what’s felt more than by what’s thought or learned.

But these are errors, and we can correct or avoid them by looking more comprehensively at what Scripture reveals about the inner man. What follows is intended as a start.

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