Monday, January 4, 2010

(anti) intellectualism and evangelicals

From Jonathan Fitzgerald in the WSJ...

Fitzgerald opens with a relatively famous quote from Charles Malik: "The greatest danger besetting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism." He then points to a book that had a tremendous influence on a lot of people, including me: historian Mark A. Noll's 1994 The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

The "scandal" of the title, he said, was "that there is not much of an evangelical mind," despite what he sees as a biblical mandate to better understand creation. Mr. Noll asserts that this lack is reinforced by the historical experience of evangelicals in America, whose churches and ministries have gained more adherents at the cost of fostering anti-intellectualism and bad theology.

In the years after Mr. Noll's book was published, however, things had begun to change, as Alan Wolfe noted in "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind" (October 2000) in The Atlantic Monthly....

Christine Smallwood was less certain that such a creature could exist. She asked: "Is there something anti-intellectual at the root of an experience-based movement?"

The answer is yes, and that must determine the course of evangelicals' progression from decidedly anti-intellectual to intellectualist to intellectual. And, as this movement evolves from self-examination and moves into the public square, it may be that to fully achieve a robust intellectual culture, the "experienced-based movement" that is contemporary evangelicalism must recede, thus making way for Christendom.

2 Comments:

At January 6, 2010 at 11:17 AM , Blogger PianoMom said...

Interesting post. Movements based on feelings do not last.

An obvious related point in our entertainment-addicted culture (which has affected the Church at some level) is that generally speaking, people/kids spend entirely too much of their life watching TV, playing video games, texting friends, Facebooking. This does not leave much space for deep contemplation on the meaning of life, the existence of God, etc, and also ultimately results in "anti-intellectualism".

 
At January 8, 2010 at 9:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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