I will have to confess that I stand guilty when it comes to the area of anti-intellectualism. It’s not that I am anti-intellectual, if that were the case I would not have pursued three different degrees. What I am saying is that I have not made a conscience effort to be anti-intellectual, but I have not actively pursued it as well. I believe that some of what we have been taught in our religious upbringing has been wrong. We have been taught that all we need to do is to accept Jesus, be baptized, attend church, remember some scripture, tithe, and serve every now and then and everything is going to be fine.
In J.P. Moreland’s book, “Love God With All Your Mind”, he outlines anti-intellectualism’s impact on the church. These impacts include a misunderstanding of faith’s relationship to reason. He says, “First, while few would actually put it in these terms, faith is now understood as a blind act of will, a decision to believe something that is either dependent of reason or that is a simple choice to believe while ignoring the paltry evidence for what is believed. By contrast with this modern misunderstanding, biblically, faith is a power or skill to act in accordance with the nature of the kingdom of God, a trust in what we have reason to believe is true.” I have always been taught that the definition of faith is how Moreland initially defines faith, to “walk by faith and not by sight.” I have taught and taken Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God, which in essence he defines faith very similarly to Moreland. I was introduced to this concept of seeing where God is at work and then joining Him in that work through Blackaby’s book. I hate to admit it, but we have been taught in the churches regarding certain doctrines and theology that are not correct. My belief has been strengthened that we need to unlearn some of the things we have been taught and begin to look at God and our theology in a different intellectual context.
The anti-intellectual state has had a mushrooming effect on the church today. This attitude has affected the church in it’s evangelism strategy, it’s discipling strategy, and it’s worship. This lack of using one’s mind in the spiritual realm, I believe has in part happened because society has not emphasized the using of one’s mind. Of course the secular and spiritual world are two totally different arenas, but we have allowed the thought processes and the mind of the world to mingle in with the church. We are raising a society of mindless “zombies” who can surf the television and the Internet and really don’t know how to use their minds. This lifestyle has infiltrated their spiritual lives and the church as well. This has just not happened in the past five or ten years, but has been building over the past thirty to forty years. It is critical that pastors and leaders of churches begin the process of teaching or maybe I should say re-teaching our congregations regarding the spiritual depths of God and His word. It is sad to say, but many pastors need to be re-taught or at least introduced to the idea of deeper probing into God’s word.