Sunday, September 22, 2013

Why Aren't There More Christian Intellectuals?

Relevant Magazine raises the question.

We must stop pretending that Christianity doesn’t make any claims beyond our personal experiences with God. The it’s-not-a-religion-it’s-a-relationship rhetoric sells short what Christianity is—a series of significant truth claims.

Yes, if accepted as true, these claims are simply the jumping off point for a profoundly intimate relationship with a powerful, loving creator. But when we discourage members of the body of Christ from challenging the status quo or even the fundamentals of our faith, we limit their own discovery of truth. By testing the claims of Christianity, we substantiate them in our own hearts.

I will give another theory as to why there are not many (Protestant) intellectuals.

Because Protestantism completely chucked a philosophical apparatus that upholds the Christian worldview during the Reformation.

Catholicism holds that there are objective philosophical principles knowable through reason, and that reason can lead to many truths.

Protestantism was founded on the belief that our reason is rotten to the core, that it can't be relied upon and that if we don't have Christ guiding us, we're in profound intellectual darkness.

How does a Catholic reason? A Catholic reasons in a hellenistic manner, based on ideas of absolute truth, reason, logic and such basic ideas.

Without a philosophical background, Protestants are subject to the philosophical whims of the culture. How do you approach secular subject if you have no grounds for secular reasoning? If you're Christian, and you don't believe in reason, your whole approach will be "Bible-based". There's nothing wrong with the Bible. The Bible contains Truth. But it's not a guidebook to reason. It won't show you the principles of how to construct an argument.

And such an approach will no doubt make one bias one's answers to fit a theological conclusion instead of dispassionately examining the question at hand based on the methods of one's field. So, for instance, in Church history, instead of letting the evidence speak about the early Church, theological conclusions are superimposed on the evidence because of course, the conclusions must be "biblical".

I have seen it time and again with Christians regarding history.

It explains why many Christian approaches to various fields of learning have zero credibility. Creationism is a laughing stock. Many Christian historical narratives are patently ridiculous and clearly based on preconceived theological ideas.

If you don't have a solid reasoning which underpins Christianity, then you won't do well in intellectual fields.

The alternative is that, bereft of any philosophical tradition, intelligent Christians are prisoners of the intellectual zeitgeist of their age. If you're a Christian who's studying literature, for instance, you will be very "post-modern".  Post-modernism is anti-thetical to Christianity. If you start thinking in a post-modern way, you will eventually reject Christianity, in substance if not in name.

That's why there aren't many Christian intellectuals.
 I don't wish to suggest that ALL Christians are like this, because you can find now and then some Christians who are not intellectually bible-centered, to coin a phrase. They're able to navigate their field by looking at the evidence. But unfortunately, many Christians, having no solid liberal arts background, think that if they're honest, they will be betraying their faith. So they'd rather devise ridiculous, baseless "knowledge" rather than betray their faith-- which I find understandable, but bull manure is bull manure whether it's done in the name of faith or atheism.