Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Quotes on Anti-Intellectualism

Anti-Intellectualism in the Western World

Anti-intellectualism is a disposition to discount the importance of truth and the life of the mind.

—Os Guinness[1]

We live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization. . . . We must have passion—indeed hearts on fire for the things of God. But that passion must resist with intensity the anti-intellectual spirit of the world.

—R. C. Sproul[2]

The result of all this is that Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world.[3]

—Neil Postman

Anti-Intellectualism in Evangelicalism

I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough.[4]

—Charles Malik

Former President of the United Nations General Assembly

The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.[5]

—Mark Noll

We speak of “the modern mind” and of “the scientific mind,” using that word mind of a collectively accepted set of notions and attitudes. On the pattern of such usage I have positied a Christian Mind, chiefly for the purpose of showing it does not exist. . . . There is no Christian mind. . . . the Christian Mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness unmatched in Christian History.[6]

—Harry Blamires

The contemporary Christian mind is starved, and as a result we have small, impoverished souls.[7]

—J. P. Moreland

Anti-Intellectualism No Virtue

God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers.[8]

—C. S. Lewis

At root, evangelical anti-intellectualism is both a scandal and a sin. It is a scandal in the sense of being an offense and a stumbling block that needlessly hinders serious people from considering the Christian faith and coming to Christ. It is a sin because it is a refusal, contrary to Jesus’ two great commandments, to love the Lord our God with our minds.[9]

—Os Guinness

Anti-intellectualism is quite simply a sin. Evangelicals must address it as such, beyond all excuses, evasions, or rationalizations of false piety.[10]

—Os Guinness

Anti-Intellectualism as a Hindrance to the Gospel

False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel.[11]

—J. Gresham Machen

Towards a Solution

The Christian religion flourishes not in the darkness but in the light. Intellectual slothfulness is but a quack remedy for unbelief; the true remedy is consecration of intellectual power to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.[12]

—J. Gresham Machen

[1] Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do about It (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994), p. 9.

[2] R. C. Sproul, “Burning Hearts Are Not Nourished by Empty Heads,” Christianity Today 26 (September 3, 1982), p. 100.

[3] Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin Books, 1985), p. 106.

[4] Charles Malik, “The Other Side of Evangelism,” Christianity Today (November 7, 1980), p. 40.

[5] Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), p. 3.

[6] Henry Blamires, The Christian Mind (London: SPCK, 1963), pp. vii, 3.

[7] J. P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1997), p. 80.

[8] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), p. 61.

[9] Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do about It (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994), pp. 10-11.

[10] Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do about It (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994), pp. 18-19.

[11] J. Gresham Machen, What Is Christianity? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1951), p. 162.

[12] J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State: Essays by J. Gresham Machen, ed. John W. Robbins (Jefferson, MD: Trinity Foundation, 1987), p. 34.