Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Where are the Christian Intellectuals?

Having been in the blogosphere for a little while now, I have come across an interesting trend. Engaging in discussion with many evangelicals is roughly akin to getting hit in the head with a brick. Sound argument, reason, and thorough discussion often are jettisoned in place of (insert sarcasm here) a favorite argument of mine, which is absolutely a conversation stopper; "The Bible says what it means and means what it says."

Don't misunderstand; I am a conservative evangelical. I believe the Bible to be inspired by God, completely sufficient, and (gasp) inerrant. Nevertheless, an unintended consequence of the battle for the Bible is a dearth of modern Christian literature. We have invested so much time in determining what the Bible says we have accomplished this to the exclusion of how to respond to what it says. There are many out there who know what the Bible says. However, evangelicals are woefully inadequate at extrapolating what God expects out of us from that same text.

Often, I hear that the Bible is simple. Is it? Conservatives often use this maxim as an intellectual scapegoat. Wed this idea to the equally disturbing notion that the "Bible is all you need" (another fretful argument) and it culminates in a shallow intellectual tradition. Why proclaim that the Bible is simple when it says of itself that it is not?
"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1 Corinthians 2:6-8
No matter your opinion, this faith is an incredibly complex one. Turning it into a simplistic easy reader has invited men such as Bono to step into the obvious vacuum unfulfilled by deep Christian thinkers. Blog friend Streak said this in a month-old post on the same subject:
Simple was the way to avoid tradition, training, intellectual rigor, etc. No need for "book learning" and all you needed was a lay preacher who could read the Bible. Wow, that has really served us well, hasn't it? Given us slavery, segregation, anti-feminist rants, capitalism masked as faith, and even a cottage industry eschatology that has spurred a horrible foreign policy.
Sir Isaac Newton made an important discovery in the 18th century. He noticed that a beam of white sunlight, passing through a glass prism could be split into its constituent colors--red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet. The prism did not impose those colors on the white light; it allowed them to be discerned. What had beforehand been taken to be a simple color--white--was indeed a menagerie of different colors; a complex unity.

The same is true of Christian theology; the message of the cross is a unity; but it is a complex unity. To dissolve it down to some simplistic drivel is an insult to the mighty God who gave it; a failure to pursue God with all one's mind is to be disobedient to the very Scripture some claim to be so simple.
Jesus said to him, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37
The church should not fear raising up intellectuals the likes of Francis Shaeffer, Dietrich Boenhoffer, Helmut Thielicke, and C. S. Lewis. Christians have become insular in their faith--so much so that we do not even read outside of our own tight circle anymore; we settle for some thin aesthetic and call it theology. We chuckle at the shallowness of the mavericks of Christian publishing; Lucado, LaHaye, and upstart Osteen. (Don't get me started on Warren.) Yet, these are what are flying off the shelves at the local Christian bookstore.

Do pastors even ask why? Has our preaching and teaching so mirrored these mavericks that we have unconsciously adopted their style because its what sells? Should we always put the cookies on the bottom shelf, so to speak? I am persuaded differently. God's people are hungry. Who will feed them? Pastor, if you are reading, do not be afraid to use big words. Teach them to the people you serve; cease teaching monosyllabic, watered-down Sunday School lessons about Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, and Joshua and that big wall.

Dan Edelen out at Cerulean Sanctum is blogging an interesting series right now which was the inspiration for this post. In Busting Myths about Christianity, Dan says this:
So whither the Christian intellectual? Do any still exist?

Say what we will about history, but it's loaded with Christians (and people who mentally assented to Christianity) who drove the arts, philosophy, literature, and science—and in large numbers.

But what happened to them all? Where did they go? Sure, you see a Plantinga here, and a…uh, hmm. I'm not coming up with any names for contemporary Christian lit authors. Artists? Nope—no one comes to mind. In fact, I suspect that most Christians, even if their lives depended on it, couldn't name one contemporary Christian intellectual or artist.

Are we so bereft today that all we can remember are those great Christian intellectual luminaries of the past? Christianity nurtured Western civilization into being, yet in the 21st century we Christians gave it all away.

[...]

That this ignores most of the rest of Scripture, and also makes a fine distorted case for tearing all the wisdom books out of the Bible, eludes far too many people. In the end, Christianity never calls anyone to turn off his mind. To insist it does only results in the kind of brain-dead emotionalism that leads to error. Hoisting godly wisdom by its own petard makes the Church look vacant in the cranium.
And unfortunately, that is how the conservative, evangelical church looks--vacant in the cranium; sinfully inadequate at addressing some of the world's most distressing needs. The Christian world needs some deep Christian thinkers to help her comprehensively address such world needs as poverty, the AIDS pandemic, the environment, and greed. Right now the Christian response is...well, is there one? So, to continue on the present course, proves Dr. Alister McGrath's words in his book about Christian myths, Intellectuals Don't Need God and Other Modern Myths, perfectly true.
Christianity is not a verbal religion; it is experiential. It centers on a transformative encounter of the believer with the risen Christ. From the standpoint of Christian theology, however, that experience comes before the words that generate, evoke, and inform it. Christianity is Christ-centered, not book centered; if it appears to be book-centered it is because it is through the words of Scripture that the believer encounters and feeds upon Jesus Christ. Scripture is a means, not an end; a channel, not what is channeled.
I would by no means consider myself an intellectual, but I am trying desperately to get a foothold in the vastness of this God. Ultimately, the solution does not rest in finding the right words for the most accurate persuasion, but just real, honest-to-goodness, believers in Jesus, convinced that God can and does work in and through them to accomplish His great purposes, and then putting that argument to work. Change will come indeed.

53 comments:

Streak said...

Nice post. The market driven part of this is very interesting--as if the market will always choose depth over simplistic.

Tony said...

Streak,

I thought that aspect of this post might interest you. I guess I should not really hope that conservative Christianity would go outside of the "market" to get their theology, but too much is purchased and absorbed off the Wal-Mart book aisle.

We are just not characterized as reasonably deep thinkers nor really as even having any original thoughts; overcome by the "market driven church" ideology I guess.

Les Puryear said...

Tony,

I would classify John Piper as a Christian intellectual. D. A. Carson is another who comes to mind.

Regards,

Les

Tony said...

Wow, Les. I thought you were outtahere. Good to see you though.

One point I made was that there may be some Christian intellectuals out there but are they widely respected outside of Christian circles? I would hazard to say that Piper and Carson are not widely known outside of theological intellegentsia.

Anonymous said...

Ever read anything by Scott Hahn?

Cameron Cloud said...

Very thought-provoking post, Tony.
One book that has challenged me in this area is "Loving God with All Your Mind" by J.P. Moreland.

You said, "No matter your opinion, this faith is an incredibly complex one. Turning it into a simplistic easy reader has invited men such as Bono to step into the obvious vacuum unfulfilled by deep Christian thinkers." I agree wholeheartedly.

Gordon Cloud said...

Great post, Tony. Could we be in the day of which Paul warned Timothy? People not wanting to endure sound doctrine but having ears that itch, they look for teachers who will "meet their needs"?

Tony said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment. No, I have not read Scott Hahn. I Googled him and if we are talking about the same gentleman, I suspect he is not more widely known than in his own circle, each of the works in his book list possessing a strong Catholic bent.

Cameron,

Thanks for the affirmation and the book recommendation. I have not read Moreland either! A plus about such a post as this, eh? I've generated a new book list! Blessings!

Gordon,

Assuredely, we are in those times. Needs based theology is a bane of the evangelical church's ministry. God bless!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Scott Hahn is Catholic - a convert. He used to be a Protestant pastor.

Tony said...

Anonymous,

No kidding? I'll check out some of his works. Thanks!

Michael said...

Okay, I am not an evangelical, I am a Catholic, but from my perspective as a Catholic, there is no dearth of contemporary Christian intellectuals. On the Catholic side of the aisle I would say that the most prominent contemporary Christian intellectuals would be Joseph Ratzinger (better known as Pope Benedict XVI), Avery Dulles and Christoph Schonborn, as well as Karol Wojtyla (the late Pope John Paul II), who all write very deep and complex works of theology, which sell reasonably well on the open market, or at least well enough that their works are usually in stock at your local Barnes and Noble.

Tony said...

Michael,

Thanks for a Catholic perspective, not one we are accustomed to at this blog. I am appreciative!

Unfortunately, I would not consider the Popes you mention in this tradition, simply because well, they are Popes (no offense intended!). They are expected to write those kinds of works and if history did not record them as influencing thought and culture at least somewhat, then they have not accomplished what the world expects of them. Nevertheless, do they affect thought outside of Catholicism? Not much.

What I am looking for are men and women who are influencing Christian thought outside of their faith traditions so that they can engage on a national stage beyond mere academics. You just do not hear about Christian men and women who engage such hard topics as the environment, the economy, captialism, and other toughies in a repectable way.

They are typically singular in their purpose and can only critique the culture rather than effectively engage it. Toeing the denominational line seems to trump any effort at engaging culture. Most of the time, when a scholar does, he is seen as defecting or simply weak-minded, unfairly stereotyped before he can even be effective.

I do have deep respect for Peter Kreeft and I find it telling that Mark Noll and Alvin Plantinga, once evangelical scholars, are now professors at Notre Dame.

But the best evangelicals can do right now are Rick Warren and Bono. So, you are a leg up on us.

Anonymous said...

There are quite a few Christian intellectuals who are doing outstanding work. Here are some names that come to mind offhand:

Alasdair MacIntyre
George Marsden
Robert Adams
Marilyn Adams
Peter van Inwagen
Robert George
John Finnis
Michael Behe
James Davidson Hunter
George Weigel
Robert Bork (as well as certain sitting Supreme Court justices)
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and the gang at First Things

There are plenty of other Christian intellectuals who are well respected within their academic disciplines, but who aren't well known to the broader educated public. You can't spit these days at an APA meeting (American Philosophical Association) without hitting a Christian philosopher. Take almost any good philosophy faculty, and you'll find at least one Christian, and often more. Sometimes several more. (I mean at secular schools.) In fact, philosophers who keep up with the profession at all no longer feel quite free to mock Christians openly, because so many of the best philosophers working today are Christians. It's quite embarassing to the secularists.

Also, the claim that folks like the current Holy Father and his predecessor don't much influence the non-Catholic world would come as rather a shock to the folks who used to run things in the old Soviet Union/Eastern Europe. :-)

Tony said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for the comment as well as proving my point for me.

There are plenty of other Christian intellectuals who are well respected within their academic disciplines, but who aren't well known to the broader educated public.

Blessings!

Tony said...

Anonymous,

I apologize for a second comment, you said, the claim that folks like the current Holy Father and his predecessor don't much influence the non-Catholic world would come as rather a shock to the folks who used to run things in the old Soviet Union/Eastern Europe, I agree. You are dead on.

But I stand by my aforementioned comment--with an additional qualification--they make little impact here, in America.

Anonymous said...

Well, the long list I gave you includes many people who are having an influence outside academia. It was only after giving that list that I said there are many _other_ Christian intellectuals who are well regarded in the more insular world of their discipline. So if your "point" is that there aren't any Christian intellectuals making an impact outside academia, I'm afraid my post doesn't really help you out at all, other than by correcting you.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll have to register skepticism about your claim that JPII has had little impact here in the US. He's had quite an impact, even on Evangelicals, especially on all those who work in the pro-life movement.

Tony said...

Anonymous,

I appreciate the comments, but your condescension is unnecessary.

I cast no aspersions at the Catholic tradition. Feelings are typically not comunicated well over a monitor, so I apologize if I have offended you. Nevertheless, I agree with you on several points, as I have made clear to you as well as the other Catholic commenter in this thread.

I do not think you can escape the fact that Protestants do not regard the Pope as authoritative, not to mention that non-Christians ignore the Christian intellect.

I write out of my own faith tradition, which isn't Catholic, so a little grace is in order, wouldn't you think? I appreciate that all who comment show me the same latitude of grace I also show. Would you mind reading the comment I left for Michael?

Francis Shaeffer engaged the culture brilliantly as did C.S. Lewis and they were well-respected outside of their faith tradition as well as by the unbelieving world.

That is really the point of this post, not to decry one faith tradition over the other.

Nevertheless, thank you for engaging in discussion.

Anonymous said...

Tony,

It would be a shame if this discussion got ugly. I was a bit snippy with you in one of my posts, which was unnecessary. I'm sorry. Let's try this again, if we can.

I'm not sure I understand why you have the sense that I'm engaging in some kind of denominational one-upmanship here. But I don't see anywhere that I've conveyed the idea that I'm criticizing your faith tradition. What I'm criticizing is your claim that there aren't any prominent Chrstian intellectuals making any kind of impact on the culture at large. That claim is false. (I don't say that to be meanspirited, and I don't intend it to sound harsh. I'm just saying what's so.) I've given several examples of prominent Christian intellectuals (both Protestant and Catholic, as you noticed, I'm sure). These examples undermine your contention.

The discussion about the impact of the Holy Father is really a side issue, not immediately relevant to the main point I was making. I think you're being rather too cavalier in saying that JPII didn't make any significant impact. That's a claim that is, I think, false. This has nothing to do with whether Protestants recognize the authority of the Petrine office. I understand that you don't. There's no denominational issues that arise here at all.

Let me also add a new wrinkle to the discussion, if I may. You wrote: "What I am looking for are men and women who are influencing Christian thought outside of their faith traditions so that they can engage on a national stage beyond mere academics."

I assume by saying "mere academics," you didn't mean to demean academia: the point was more that you were looking for influence beyond academia, not that you think academia itself is unworthy to engage. Still, even reading the post in that light, it seems to sort of blank out on the kind of influence that academics really have. It's a very hard thing to be a public intellectual of national stature. Most people don't achieve that stature, whether they're Christian or not. However, academics have the opportunity to influence the culture in another way: by teaching. I taught almost 50 students last semester. I'll have about 70 this semester. I teach philosophy at a secular university, where I have the chance to really reach out to a lot of kids. I am not a nationally known figure, of course, but between me and all the other Christian philosophers who remain restricted to mere academia, we can make a huge difference in our culture, by influencing our students one at a time. You shouldn't overlook all us second rate Christian intellectuals. We may not be famous, but we're out here, and we're winning hearts and minds through the intercession of the angels and saints, and our Lady, Seat of Wisdom.

Tony said...

Anonymous,

Again, I appreciate the discussion. Perhaps I have been a bit off base making too sweeping an assertion. Perhaps if I narrow the playing field just a bit and confine my assertion to evagelicalism, that would help matters. I can speak with a bit more authority in my own tradition. As I commented back to Michael, the best evangelicalism has produced is Rick Warren and Bono.

I certainly would not classify Warren as an academic, just a good business man. And Bono, well, he is just a rebel with a cause.

In no way do I mean to debase academia; in my post and on my blog as a whole (see my latest post on Saddam and SB's reaction) I am hypercritical of evangelical thought, especially some of the "great minds" of the SBC.

I know you are unfamiliar with my writings but, if it helps, that is where I am coming from.

I agree that the classroom is the most industrious enterprise in order to enagage with culture and address those needs; poverty, the environment, greed and capitalism, and so on.

Though academics is the appropriate place to begin, I am persuaded it begins there, but it should not end there, as is too often the case. The discipline of the mind must be wedded with the disciplines of the heart and hands.

I retract my statements about Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI; they have had significant influence in the pro-life arena.

You shouldn't overlook all us second rate Christian intellectuals.

Ha! A great sentiment; I would not even consider myself a second-rate intellectual. I am simply a pastor of a rural church in VA; unlike you, I have very little opportunity to be heard and will make a much less significant impact than you will in the lives of people.

Thank you for talking and bearing with me. May God bless you as you influence those young hearts and minds, sir.

Anonymous said...

What about Ravi Zacharias? Am I wrong to think he is a Christian intellectual who does impact the secular world?

Tony said...

Anonymous,

FINALLY!!!!

I have been waiting breathlessly for someone from evangelicalism to mention Ravi Zacharias. He is one of the only ones who has successfully engaged the secular and non-believing world and maintains respect on both sides of the divide.

The only caveat is that he is not a household name; but as other commenters have pointed out in this thread, that kind of success outside of acadmecia is extremely difficult. And it must be noted, Zacharias' greatest achievements are in the academic world, his primary ministry.

But right now, there really is not another evangelical scholar/philosopher that attracts the crowds as he does at secular universities.

Thanks and blessings!

Anonymous said...

What about writers like Gary Wills and Chris Hedges?

Wisdom Hunter said...

Here are a couple more Christian intellectuals that I am aware of :

James W. Sire - check out
http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/author.pl/author_id=137

Dinesh D'Souza - check out
www.tothesource.org

Good discussion - God bless

Malaika said...

Hi, I cannot thank you enough for posting this blog. I was driven to the internet to look for discussion on this very issue because it is something I so lack in my interactions with Christian friends and acquiantances. Up until recently, I was attending a church where an exercise in intellectualism, or mere rationalism, can be seen as antithetical to faith, and no one read anything other than some of the current Christian staples you find on the aforementioned Walmart isle.

I happen to think this crisis in Christian intellectualism is a reflection of a broader trend in American culture away from rigorous intellectual discourse, but I feel it most profoundly when I cannot find even one book of serious literature written by a Christian. How am I supposed to deepen my own thinking at the same time as my spiritual growth! I am an aspiring writer without contemporary role models. If anyone has any recommendations for any books, please help!

Anonymous said...

I realize this is an old discussion, but I just found it today. As a Christian academic, I find this issue of particular interest.

At any rate, here's a new effort at Dartmouth that I also found today and thought worth sharing:

http://www.dartmouthapologia.org/

Neal R said...

Could it be that within today's anti-Christian establishment, people are automatically excluded from the ranks of "intellectuals" simply because they believe in Jesus? They may reason, "How intelligent can he be if he believes in the god-man who rose from the grave?" Hugh Ross, for example, is a brilliant astronomer, but the scientific in-crowd won't give him the time of day because he believes God made the universe.

Clint said...

True thinkers (Christian or otherwise) in our age generally do not attain the sort of influence or notoriety you’re looking for. Unless a rock star happens to be a Christian and an intellectual, you are unlikely to find a Christian intellectual achieve “rock star “ status. In fact, most musicians do not achieve star status. Neither secular nor religious popular cultures have much use for deep thinkers, particularly if their deep thoughts cannot be condensed and printed on bumper stickers or sung in under 4 minutes. It may be that those of us who are “frustrated” intellectuals are those who feel any frustration about it. Francis Schaeffer’s son wrote a book “Addicted to Mediocrity” which echoes some of these sentiments. Nonetheless, if God has gifted a person among us with the sort of mind we find in C. S. Lewis or Francis Schaeffer, then let him or her pursue and extol God with it and honor Him in its use as much as He affords opportunity. I suppose blogging is a start. Some answers and prophecies come through our mystics and some through our intellectuals and it is probably a small matter that recognition and the influencing of thousands may not be the effect. I simply trust that all gifts are, in some way, for the edification of His body.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone has mentioned him already, but what about Francis Collins? He is the brilliant, Christian geneticist who headed the Human Genome Project. He wrote "The Language of God." I disagree with him on the point that the Genesis account of the Creation is not literal, but he I think he has done a service to Christianity by being so outspoken about his faith.

I believe there are a number of Christian intellectuals, but I think you will note that most of them are men. Where are the women? Has anyone looked at the "women's section" of a Christian bookstore or anything, for that matter, that is directed at evangelical women? In the bubble of stay-at-home mothers that I live in, the majority of women would rather scrapbook than read. Where is the thirst for knowledge? For a challenge? Why is thinking considered a chore? When the women in my church (which I do love dearly) get together to read a book, be assured that the cover will have pictures of soft-focus butterflies, waterfalls, and tea cups...and don't me started on the writing style. The title will have the words "heart" or "mom" or "love" in it. I can't get anyone interested in even a basic apologetics book. We need more female authors like Nancy Pearcey.

Thanks for letting me air my frustrations.

Word Woman said...

Very interesting read and I hope to read more on this subject as it is reflective of a broader trend in the culture to re-connect to the deeper dimensions of spiritual existence (i.e. more intellectual aspects of existence). I will add a link to your blog on my own at www.huldahsgate.blogspot.com

Alexis said...

The challenge was to name one Christian intellectual, so I will name Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He was a Russian author who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970 and a Christian intellectual.

Anonymous said...

I would say that at least in my evangelical circle Ravi Zacharias IS quickly becoming a household name, especially amongst the 20-something crowd. John Lennox, Michael Ramsden and Stuart McAllister are also amazing Christian intellectuals and part of Zacharias' RZIM foundation, as well as professors at Oxford and Cambridge.

But I agree, we don't need any more self help, feel good, Osteen material. We need strong theology and apologetics a la C.S Lewis. Let's ignite a fire under the evangelical community!

lattyl said...

I am glad someone posted Ravi Z. because I have been challenged by listening to his tape to do something significant for God so I find your roll call quite interesting.

These individuals might have had catered to specific audiences but their works are quite accessible and influential. Doug Jacoby (douglasjacoby.com) travels an international circuit, engages in public debates/discourses with skeptics, Jews and Muslims. Moreover he balances his doctrine with his life (1 Tim 4:16)Doug continues to do professional double duty as a minister and an independent scholar.

Here are two public intellectuals with their roots in a protestant tradition: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson (http://www.answers.com/topic/michael-dyson) and Dr. Cornel West.

Remember these individuals tend to have protégés also.

lattyl said...

Dr. Walter Brueggemann addresses a number of contemporary issues in his discourses (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfkyUApXPoM&feature=related)

Also, consider presenters at the upcoming conference (http://www.pointloma.edu/Prophetic_Imagination.htm)and don't be shy to submit your paper.

McDozer said...

Nice post. I would consider the Franciscan Richard Rohr a recommendable source to stimulate the intellect not solely of Catholics and Christians.

The Problem with the lack of intellectual (if not to say intelligent) Christians might stem from the fact that most of them are busy filling their minds with the shallow input from the media, and are satisfied with a sermon a week for Christian input.

The reason some believe the Bible is simple, is because they obviously don't read much of it.

The Psalms say, "The entrance of Thy Word giveth light and understanding to the simple." Since most of what enters people's minds is other input than that which is based on what God has to say to the world, hence the desired light and understanding remains wanting...

See also "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America."

Xspur said...

I cam across this discussion through a google search for "list of intellectuals that are christians", and I must say, i have gotten my search worth. After reading through it all, I was surprised to not find Dave Ramsey mentioned in any of the discussion. True, in his simple title he is a "financial adviser". However, he reaches a massive audience on a daily basis, and though not necessarily a theology intellectual with the highest merit on what book worms might consider "intellectual", I think he is one that exemplifies the true art of "being smart". Anyways, I just wanted to throw him into the discussion. He is very successful, reaches a huge audience, and inspires christian values in more than just finances.

Xspur said...

Wow, I didn't realize how old this post was.....

Mindy said...

unbelievable post. thanks for the brain candy! (just happened upon this in a crazy google search...!)

ScubaSteve36 said...

I loved this post. I am an atheist, but it's comforting to see a Christian promoting intellectualism and rational thought. Theological differences aside, we are in agreement on the issue of the importance of education. Our society cannot thrive when the majority group is also the most uneducated. Kudos to you, sir.

Buster said...

I'm excited to have read this post and be introduce to some people whose thinking and writing i'll now want to investigate; I was led here by the same search terms and curiosity that motivated other posters.

While i'm here, let me add author, scholar, and Princeton professor Elaine Pagels to the list.

I'll also posit that theologians or anyone unapologetically associated with a faith tradition are probably unfairly excluded from status as intellectuals, as opposed to philosophers

Anonymous said...

J.I. Packer is still alive, although very old and hardly a cultural icon. I heard him speak a few years ago and though, like the Apostle Paul, his person is unimpressive, his message is not.

Only when and if Christians begin to reject the shallow, market-driven pap that passes for Christian teaching today will there be hope for Christian thinkers to be influential. I still read Calvin, Matthew Henry, Packer and the Puritan writers and I'm not going to be appearing on Oprah any time soon.

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6a5135d2-59b5-11e0-984a-000bcdcb5194 said...

I'm about to begin reading "Mortification Of Sin In Believers" by John Owen. Something tells me that this will not be an easy read, but easy has never gotten me anywhere. I believe this is the kind of reading you (Tony) would suggest the modern day disciple of Christ read. It was suggested by my associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church Memphis, TN

LOCK-SMIF said...

For a 'christian intellectual' leaning blog, try
http://studythebiblenotthesermon.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Your opening statement and thesis points to generalizing thus portraying a prejudical out come. "Talking to Evangelicals..." you then continue with the shaky foundation to build your argument. You are not an intellect nor does your writing hold any validity. Dr Rick Blanton.

Tim Nelson said...

I read an article (I forget where, possibly the newspaper "The Australian") which claimed that public intellectuals, in general, were gone, replaced with subject-specific intellectuals.

The other thing that makes things difficult is that, with the socialists occupying the media, the only intellectuals who tend to get mentioned are the socialist ones; thus, the Christian ones are only mentioned in the Christian media.

Anonymous said...

What about John Lennox?

Anonymous said...

PERSONAL ANECDOTES: I am only an undergrad, but I'd call myself a Christian intellectual wannabe. I've read more philosophy than most secular people I know; my household has 4 PhD's (two of which are in science) - and have been taught the value of intellectual rigor from an early age. That being said, I almost never discuss my religious opinions with non-Christians because I view most of THEM as non-intellectual. I echo the sentiments of others on this blog that philistinism is an unfortunate characteristic of the contemporary American cultrescape. It is difficult to find honest/smart/educated people to discuss almost any topic in this country.

I am sure others on this blog share my frustration in realizing that some people brand themselves "atheists" in the hope that such a brand is an automatic admission to the club of the intelligentsia. I've encountered such pretension, and found it to be thinly veiled. One example that comes to mind is a friend who is studying anthropology & philosophy with the explicit purpose of becoming an atheist apologetic. While discussing anything with her it becomes pretty clear that a) most of her knowledge comes from Wikipedia and b) that intellectually strenuous work scares her. Caveat: this is not to say that SOME atheists/non-Christians don't know what they are talking about. Indeed, a close friend of mine studied at a Seminary for 4 years before declaring himself an atheist.

Anonymous said...

http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/ comes to mind. This guy tries to bring experimental psychology and Christian theology together.

Anonymous said...

George Rutler (Catholicism) and Gerald Mann (Protestantism) are two people I consider to be Christian intellectuals.

Personally, the main obstacle I have to fully embracing the faith is the extent to which much of it has been taken over by the snake handler/ultra-conservative first aand Christian 2nd (or further down the list)/Biblical literalist crowd. This era cries out for a CS Lewis.

McDozer said...

I like Wayne Jacobsen, author of books such as "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore" and original publisher of "The Shack," who runs a podcast with partner Brad Cummings on "TheGodJourney.com". While perhaps not to be labeled purely "intellectual," he's got a lot of brilliant thought to offer on the key factor in true faith, namely, a living relationship with God, as opposed to the boxes organized religion tries to put believers in.
In fact, he has broken his ties to organized religion to the extent that he doesn't even subscribe to the label "Christian" anymore, while, in my opinion, hitting the nail of what Christ taught much more on the head than the majority of mainstreamers I've come in touch with.

Mark Sisson said...

T.S Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Soren Kierkegaard, G.K. Chesterton, Blaise Pascal,

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