Editor’s Introduction -- By: John H. Armstrong
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Christianity is an intellectual religion. If Christians bypass the intellect they will distort the truth of the Bible immediately. Christianity simply cannot survive in a nonthinking environment, no matter how much zeal is sprinkled on its practice by well-meaning adherents.
Christianity is not a faith simply for the formally educated, or even for those philosophers who consider that they alone engage in genuine intellectual activity and profound thought. It is not a faith just for the university or the academy. It is a faith for the man who sweeps streets and the woman who cleans and mends. It is a faith for the keenest mind and the school dropout.
The word intellectual, often an antonym for the word spiritual, has come to mean something quite negative for many Western Christians at the end of the twentieth century. In reality, the word intellectual refers, simply, to engaging the mind, especially as over against the emotions.
R. C. Sproul wrote some years ago in Christianity Today, “We live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization.” I believe he is correct in his observation. We still desire the status of academic approval, we are highly technological, yet not in a helpful sense, and we have a continual love affair for scientism and the scientific method, so-called. Yet in all of this, as Sproul observes, “The accent is against the intellect itself. Secular culture has embraced a kind of impressionism that threatens to turn all our brains into mush, and the evangelical world has followed suit, developing an allergy to things intellectual.”
Allan Bloom’s best-selling work, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), set forth the thesis, quite amazingly from within the ivory towers of academia (the highly regarded University of Chicago), that a massive upheaval has occurred in the American worldview itself. We have trained a whole generation against real
RAR 3:3 (Summer 1994) p. 10
thinking, argues Professor Bloom. The result will be the destruction of imagination, serious philosophical thought, and genuine good. Our era’s one absolute doctrine is that nothing is absolute! This is relativism, and as Dr. Bloom shows it is the dominant philosophical direction of the modern university.
The contemporary evangelical Christian church has not escaped these trends. Indeed, we are a major contributor to the problem. We hear popular Christian writers and ministers urging people to think less and feel more. Experience is in, the mind is out. The thinking person with an argument is almost always pe...
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