The video is 40 minutes long.
The full transcript is available here on the Reasonable Faith web site. (H/T Think Apologetics)
No one has issued a more forceful challenge to Christians to become intellectually engaged than did Charles Malik, former Lebanese ambassador to the United States, in his address at the dedication of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. Malik emphasized that as Christians we face two tasks in our evangelism: saving the soul and saving the mind, that is to say, not only converting people spiritually, but converting them intellectually as well. And the Church is lagging dangerously behind with regard to this second task. Our churches are filled with people who are spiritually born again, but who still think like non-Christians. Mark his words well:
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. But intellectual nurture cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit. People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking. The result is that the arena of creative thinking is vacated and abdicated to the enemy.
Malik went on to say:
It will take a different spirit altogether to overcome this great danger of anti-intellectualism. For example, I say this different spirit, so far as philosophy alone—the most important domain for thought and intellect—is concerned, must see the tremendous value of spending an entire year doing nothing but poring intensely over the Republic or the Sophist of Plato, or two years over the Metaphysics or the Ethics of Aristotle, or three years over the City of God of Augustine. But if a start is made now on a crash program in this and other domains, it will take at least a century to catch up with the Harvards and Tübingens and the Sorbonnes—and by then where will these universities be?
What Malik clearly saw is the strategic position occupied by the university in shaping Western thought and culture. Indeed, the single most important institution shaping Western society is the university. It is at the university that our future political leaders, our journalists, our lawyers, our teachers, our scientists, our business executives, our artists, will be trained. It is at the university that they will formulate or, more likely, simply absorb the worldview that will shape their lives. And since these are the opinion-makers and leaders who shape our culture, the worldview that they imbibe at the university will be the one that shapes our culture.
The great Princeton theologian J. Gresham Machen warned on the eve of the Fundamentalist Controversy that if the Church loses the intellectual battle in one generation, then evangelism would become immeasurably more difficult in the next:
False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root.
The root of the obstacle is to be found in the university, and it is there that it must be attacked. Unfortunately, Machen’s warning went unheeded, and biblical Christianity retreated into the intellectual closets of Fundamentalism, from which it has only recently begun to re-emerge. The war is not yet lost, and it is one which we must not lose: souls of men and women hang in the balance.
This lecture is an excellent opportunity for us all to ask ourselves: what are we doing to influence the university? Do you have a plan?
Many of the strongest people who are now opposed to Christianity raised in two-parent Christian homes, and went to church for a decade before going off to the university. I’m thinking especially of people like Tim Gill, in Colorado. At university (and even increasingly in high school) they turned away from Christianity. All their peers and the adults could not answer their questions. As adults, they were able to get money, power and influence. Many of them are using it against Christ and his kingdom – kicking away the ladder that they climbed to success on. Why is this? Unfortunately, many of us are not willing to do what works – pick up the Lee Strobel books and read them. Especially “The Case for a Creator”.
5 thoughts on “William Lane Craig: Christians are idling in intellectual neutral”
Just last night I came across this in R.C. Sproul’s commentary on 1-2 Peter, along these same lines:
“We are living in a period of church history that may be classified as mindless. It is an anti-intellectual period of Christian history – not anti-scientific, or anti-technological, or even anti-educational, but anti-mind. While teaching in a seminary classroom I would sometimes ask a student what he thought about a particular proposition. The student would sometimes respond, “I feel that the statement is incorrect.” I would stop him and say, “I didn’t ask you how you felt. I wasn’t inquiring into your emotional response. I was asking you what you think about it.”
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I remember when he wrote the article on this topic. He has tried to push Christians in more intellectual directions, but with admonitions and with his own example, but there’s still far too much anti-intellectualism in the church.
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I posted to Twitter and the post was given a election fraud claim notice. I do not know why.
Great pull quote WK.
So, my non-snarky question is am I part of the problem because I want to see women pursue serving and wifing. I agree with you WK about the need for women to sharpen their minds biblically, and I went through it in science in college and agree women could have a sharpened mind by getting a STEM degree, but I think it is still a harmful path in whole, so if development of the mind ever includes encouraging women to go to college, then I won’t be on board. I suppose going to a Christian college for an Mrs degree is okay, but I haven’t heard of a college that is currently trustworthy.
I am familiar with university churches and the Christians will sometimes be part of bible studies twice a month, that is the extent of their willingness to change or fight the paradigm.
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You are correct!!!!!!!!