By Kenneth R. Samples
There is a growing crisis in evangelical churches today. However, most evangelicals are unaware of the nature of the emergency or of its looming repercussions. The problem is that many intellectually oriented Christian adults increasingly feel out of place in evangelical churches. They often say that as intellectuals, the typical evangelical church has little to offer them in terms of the life of the mind. Some even feel that their insatiable hunger for thinking and learning has caused them to be viewed as unwelcome within their local church congregations.
I know this “mind/faith” or “intellect/church” tension exists based on concerns expressed by leading evangelical scholars over the last forty years about the problem of anti-intellectualism in the church.1 But I also know of the growing problem from my own interaction with many Christian intellectuals through my years of college teaching and working in the field of apologetics. Cerebrally oriented believers often say to me that they feel frustrated with the lack of intellectual rigor that is reflected in their churches. This problem is also evidenced by the fact that my two previous articles on this topic have received more attention on social media than any other topic I have ever addressed.
One of the major consequences of this crisis is that these Christian intellectuals are desperately needed by their churches to help convince Christian young people that Christianity is indeed a rationally based faith system and one worth sticking with. Studies indicate that college-age evangelicals are leaving the church and the faith at an unprecedented rate.2 Unfortunately, the discomfort of the intellectually inclined adults and the exodus on the part of the college-aged students is largely one and the same. That is, the form of Christianity expressed by many evangelical churches seems to have little place for the life of the mind.
So exactly what is it about mind-faith issues that makes intellectually oriented Christian adults feel so out of place...
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