Christian Scholarship Versus Intellectualism -- By: Alfred Martin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:470 (Apr 1961)
Article: Christian Scholarship Versus Intellectualism
Author: Alfred Martin

Christian Scholarship Versus Intellectualism

Alfred Martin


[Alfred Martin is Dean of the Faculty, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois.]

A Christian today who seeks to maintain a level of competent scholarship is confronted, as other Christians have been confronted in other periods of history, with a dilemma.

He is sometimes told, on one hand, that spirituality and scholarship are incompatible. Some sincere and well-meaning people who know nothing of intellectual discipline and who therefore view all forms of learning with suspicion, seemingly, perhaps without meaning to do so, put a premium on ignorance as though only an unlearned person could be a spiritual Christian.

On the other hand, some Christians have become so enamored of the “scholarship” of this world that they take a supercilious attitude toward those who accept the Bible in simple childlike faith, and who seek to maintain a high standard of spirituality, as though this were something that belonged only to the hoi polloi, not to the elite. In some respects this is almost a modern form of Gnosticism.

That this is a dilemma is evident from many of the current writings of Christian scholars.2 That it is largely an artificially manufactured dilemma is not so evident, but is demonstrable from the Scriptures.

God has already shown the fallacy of both of the attitudes just described. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the most prominent persons in the Bible are Moses and Paul. Moses was God’s chosen servant to give God’s law to the nation of Israel. The closing chapter of Deuteronomy states that nobody has been like Moses with whom God talked face to face (Deut 34:10–12). Paul is presented in the New Testament as a pattern of all Christians (see, e.g., 1 Tim 1:11; 1 Cor 4:16; 11:1 ).

These two men stand out as among the best educated men in their respective times. Moses was “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Paul surpassed his contemporaries in Judaism (Gal 1:14), having been trained in the school of Gamaliel.

That which marks out these men as men of God is that all their learning—their genuine intellectuality, their sound mental discipline, their wide range of kn...

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