It’s a sad indictment on Fundamentalism that we have come to be known as anti-intellectuals. But you can hardly blame people for getting that impression when we regularly refer to seminary as “cemetery” and many of our leading educators mock education from the pulpit.
But that is not what this post is about. This post is about the dangers of non anti-intellectualism. It would be easier to say “intellectualism,” but that term has way too much baggage, so “non anti-intellectualism” will have to do.
Non anti-intellectualism is the desire to know and understand, not just what the Bible says, but why it says it. It’s the desire to learn and to keep on learning until the day we die.
Non anti-intellectualism reads a lot because it knows there is much to learn. It also reads widely because it knows it can learn even from those who see things differently. Non anti-intellectualism views education not as a barrier to ministry, but as a catalyst to ministry.
So for those of us who promote non anti-intellectualism, there are three mouse traps we need to watch out for.
Mouse trap #1: Pride
Do you have intellectual ability or credentials? “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Mouse trap #2: Autonomy
Autonomy is the idea that we are the ultimate and final judge of all things. We are independent of any external rule.
Autonomy insists on understanding something before it will believe it. Sometimes there’s a fine line between the legitimate desire to know and the rebellious desire to be autonomous.
Autonomy gets frustrated and angry with God when it does not understand the reason why. Autonomy cannot rest and trust because it does not want to depend.
Mouse trap #3: Mere understanding
It’s not about understanding. It’s about obedience. God doesn’t teach us so we can know. He teaches us so we can obey out of a heart of love. In this day of vast resources, it is so easy to know far more of God’s will than we actually obey.
God gave us minds and we are responsible to use them diligently, but God is still God and his thoughts are still higher than our thoughts. We need to discipline our intellect to humbly serve the one who gave it to us.
Lots happening in the blogosphere his week.
- Peter Masters, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle (yes, the same one Spurgeon pastored) wrote on The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness this week.
- Russell Moore recently let the blogosphere sit in on his ethics class discussion. Well worth the read.
“I know the sex change surgery was wrong. I know that my life is twisted. I’m willing to do whatever Jesus would have me to do to make it right,” she says. “But what would Jesus have me to do?”
- Al Mohler has some profound thoughts on the need for silence. Where Do All the Colours Go at Night?
- Mohler has joined Piper in defense (and criticism) of Tweeting.
There are more but I’ll save them for another day.
Ever feel like the load’s just too heavy? Hang in there…