Why are not more Christians intellectuals?

Why are not more intellectuals Christians?

I certainly appreciate your question and actually agree to some extent with the premise of it. For far too long the church of Jesus Christ has been content to sit on the intellectual sidelines, clutching our pithy cliches and greeting every argument and attack against the truth of the Gospel with slogans such as, “His ways are just above our ways.” While this statement is true (it’s actually straight Word), many believers today have abused this passage from Isaiah 55, using it as a shield to protect their theologically weak and Biblically illiterate minds. Christians have a difficult time defending the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) because Christians, often times, don’t have a rock solid understanding of that faith. The church on a broad scale is  perceived to be full of intellectual idiots who blindly embrace audacious and even absurd claims. It is true, that while believers have been proclaiming that “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship,” the sacred dogmas of true Christianity, as well as the secondary truths that substantiate these doctrines, have been ignored on the dusty shelves of theologica. I completely agree that many followers of Jesus Christ need to put down their pacifiers, strip off their pampers, and crawl out of the daycare that is modern Christianity.

However, all of this does not excuse or adequately answer the query that you have raised. To answer this question I must confront it head on: Why are not more intellectuals Christians? The reasons many Christ-followers are perceived as mentally frail in our day are many. First, much of modern, American Christianity is not true Christianity. I realize that I will have many antagonists on this point, but one of the foremost reasons that “believers” are so surface and cavalier in their knowledge of our Sovereign is that they don’t actually know Jesus. Now, I am not saying that all Christians who are not theologically savvy are pseudo; but rather that one of the sure signs of apostasy in the church is that people will be led to false gospels that tickle their ears and imprison their hearts (2 Timothy 4:3). The distortion of Jesus and the butchering of His Gospel is one of the foremost reasons why “Christians” today are anything but Biblically accurate and authentically passionate in their application and defense of the faith.

This was not always the case in Christianity. Down through the centuries some of the most notable scientists, philosophers, and scholars were lovers of Jesus and zealous defenders of His faith. Up until the mid 19th century the followers of Jesus were, on a large scale, very theologically and intellectually astute. However, with the rise of men such as John Darby and Charles Finney, the message of the Gospel was polluted, as the faith was manipulated and humanized. Today we have very surface doctrine (I hesitate to even use that word) that has watered the ground of evangelicalism, spilling over into our pulpits, music, and writing. Believers look a lot like a band of “walkers” off the AMC who stupidly traipse after emotionally charged speakers or bands that get the pulse racing while the heart remains unchanged. Surely, men like Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Isaac Newton, John Calvin, St. Augustine, Polycarp and countless other intellectual heavy weights would look upon modern Christianity as you and I do – with disdain.

However, the blame cannot be solely leveled upon churches, ministers, and modern believers. This indictment must also fall on the shoulders of secularism and the manipulative tactics of higher education. As was pointed out in the article you sent me, Christianity is preached as so disgraceful and archaic throughout the universities of our day, that it is little wonder why so many who claim to be intellectuals refuse to acknowledge the existed of a higher power, let alone the legitimacy of the Christian faith. It does not matter what creation, conscience, and cognitive reasoning press upon them, because the educational system of our day – all the way down to elementary classes now – beats God out of the minds of children, and ridicules them mercilessly if they dare even ask such questions as to His existence and rule. What I see is a nation of young people rising up with the claim that they are different, unique, and free-thinkers, all the while thinking and believing exactly how/what their culture, teachers, and authors pour into them. Therefore, what I see today (both in Christian and un-Christian sub-cultures) are idiots claiming to be intellectuals because they can pitifully regurgitate the concepts of someone with a higher IQ than their own.

Which brings me to the much more pressing matter, in my opinion, that must be addressed. In fact, it is so glaring that I wonder how it has not been dealt with more frequently. The issue is simple: who/what defines who is and is not an intellectual? If I fail to place a question mark at the end of this sentence am I considered an imbecile? If I go with the cultural flow, denying the Divine and embracing the claims of relativistic thought (though they are contradictory in essence) am I labeled wise? If I hold to an intimate, personal, magnificent Sovereign, who spoke everything from nothing, holds science in place by the word of His mouth, reveals a small portion of Himself in the pages of ancient literature, and loves His created people so much that He would choose to show them His love and rescue them from themselves through the sacrifice of Himself am I automatically deemed an idiot? Who exactly determines who is and is not an “intellectual?” Furthermore, doesn’t the term itself fall apart in the face of relativism which would declare that there is no absolute truth, and therefore, the very idea of intellectualism is a relative concept? That is the extrapolation of the views of men such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Hawking, Nielsen, or Singer. I deal with disciples of these men on a routine basis, and every single young punk that I dialogue with believes that he is an intellectual because he has bought into a system of belief that tells him there is nothing to believe. Simply put, that is not brilliance.

There are several other reasons as to why Christianity is perceived as mindless in our day, not the least of which would be the hypocrisy or love-less legalism that is so prevalent in many branches of evangelicalism. There is little I can do, apart from a profound work of the Spirit of God, to change the minds of the atheistic, humanistic, relativistic “thinkers” of our day – for after all, they won’t listen to me: the arrogant idiot who believes in intelligent design, absolute truth, an eternal God, and a scandalous grace that reaches the murderer and the moralist.

However, there is a message that I can proclaim boldly to believers. Repent. Repent of our theological inadequacy and our apathetic complacency. Repent that we don’t actually know the faith we are called to defend. Repent that we would rather ignore or demean our critics, remaining in our holy huddles of ignorant self-righteousness that ever actually answer the questions that may rock our faith and drive us to a deeper dependance on God. Repent of listening to wolves masquerading in wool. Repent of saturating our minds with music that claims to be Christian but communicates a lower view of God than does the comic strip. Repent of blindly embracing the faith of our parents. Repent for all these things and many more. And then, embrace the challenge to study to show ourselves approved to God, workmen that do not have any reason to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Embrace the call, to then take that truth to our neighborhood and the nations in love, compassion, and mercy. That’s what I want to see from my brothers and sisters. Prayer. Love. Truth. Mission. For His Glory.

I don’t know what you were exactly looking for when you ask this question, but I’m certainly glad you did, because this has eaten at me for years and it is about time that Christians be held accountable for leading people nowhere in their arrogant, emotional ignorance. Hope that gives you something to chew on.

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