The Church and Anti-Intellectualism

April 6, 2018

The church today has become increasingly anti-intellectual. It's a sad fact of reality, something that continues to be a burden on my heart. The only solution for this dilemma is for Christians to seriously reevaluate why they believe what they believe, and earnestly seek to find themselves in the examples set forth by ancient Christian intellectuals of the past, because all of them were classical scholars. Why? Because the Christian faith encourages intellectual rigor, since the Christian God took on the title "Logos".

 

Those ancient Christians had their schooling in Homer, Virgil, Isocrates, Cicero, Euripides, Herodotus, Plutarch, Thucydides, and other Greek and Latin masters of philosophy, rhetoric, drama, and history. They valued effective use of words, and when they interpreted the bible, they did so using the tools of their classical education. Hence, early Christians took a very different attitude towards the body of the classical learning that preceded their rise to cultural dominance than did early Muslims, since the majority of the population was composed of polytheistic, mostly semi-nomadic Arabs, and this religious environment was known as al-Jahiliyyah, the time of ignorance.

 

For example, Origen appreciated a great deal of Plato and the Greek philosophical tradition. He argued that these works anticipated the fullness of truth that was to be found in divine revelation (believing that the Christian faith itself was a kind of divine philosophy surpassing and superseding all other philosophies). Thus, Christians may profitably study Greek philosophy or other pagan learning, borrowing truth from these sources in order to explain the Christian faith.

 

To quote Michael Heiser himself:

 

Biblical illiteracy is increasing. The results of a recent survey about the role of religious faiths in America, conducted by the Barna Research Group, are disturbing. Half of the adult Americans interviewed agreed that “Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith.” By a three-to-one margin adults noted that they are “more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church.” The margin was only slightly less among evangelicals (61%). What this means is that a growing number of people are essentially their own theologian or pastor. It is therefore no surprise that many Americans, even evangelical Christians, are embracing a motley and contradictory body of beliefs. Barna notes: “With people spending less time reading the Bible, and becoming less engaged in activities that deepen their biblical literacy, faith views are more often adopted on the basis of dialogue, self-reflection, and observation than teaching.”

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