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Posts Tagged ‘evangelical’

One of the many joys of having children is that when they are allowed to ask questions of their parents, quite often, those questions bring significant learning experiences for all involved. My oldest son has found an article in Relevant magazine titled, “Is Christianity Anti-Intellectual” by Andrew Byers, which is an expansion of some material that Byers has written in a book, entitled, Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint. These are very provocative ideas with catchy titles. (actually, this title provokes a desire in this author to explore the question of whether or not a Saint may be cynical – I digress, perhaps another time)
The premise is that the modern church seems to have a disdain for those individuals who would seek to study the great theological ideas of man and somehow this is worsened when our academics disconnect us from the first and second great commandments of our Lord. One responder
highlights this idea when they note that highly educated congregations tend to desire highly educated pastoral leadership in the form of the doctoral degree, where the evangelically swayed congregations seem to shun the educated pastoral leadership for those who would simply rely upon the simplicity of scripture and leadership of the Holy Spirit for their guidance in the pulpit.
One should be reminded that in 1 Corinthians 2:14 we are told, “But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually.” This passage not only lets one know the direction the information regarding God will come from, but also provides a minor test to help one see where biblical cynicism is rooted in the life of the individual.
Moving to our title, what really is an “intellectual Christian”? Intellectual (n.) is defined in Merriam Webster’s dictionary to be “given to study, reflection, and speculation”. Christian (n.) by biblical definition as described in Romans 10:9-10: “if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.”
One may recall that the first commandment is to love God and the second is to love man. Certainly, an order is given to establish priority. One will find in Romans 1:22a, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…” Clearly, God provides a caution for those who would place their intellect before His worship. Well then, how does one love God and pursue an intellectual approach? The first aspect to this is to acknowledge that in ALL things loving God must come first. In 2 Peter 1:5 one finds, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge,…”
One must begin with faith. No surprise, here. Faith is established on the fact that God is, and for no other reason. It all begins with God, the ultimate independent function. Truth exists because God exists. Truth then becomes a dependent function. Intellect, being that which studies, reflects, and speculates can only properly focus its work upon the things of God. God, once again, shows that intellect is a dependent function established upon the premise of His truth. Otherwise, intellect establishes its own truth apart from God. This is a rather dangerous place to be when contending with the creator of everything.
There cannot be two truths regarding the same concept of God. This would suggest that two dependent variables may be located by the same independent variable, which, mathematically becomes and vertical line and is undefined.
Have no doubt that our approach agrees with Byers in premise that there can be “intellectual Christians”, however, we diverge in thought as application demonstrates that if we presume to be Christian then, by definition, we are contained within the domain of God, thus evangelical exclusion does not make sense. Otherwise, we become gods unto ourselves, and, well….good luck with that. fpb

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