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Why Don’t Christians Think?
by Eric Chabot
Within Christian discipleship, scholars, theologians, and philosophers are asking, what ever happened to cultivating the intellectual life of the Christian? There have been several books written on this subject. One book that I recommend is, Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul, by J. P. Moreland.
It is imperative for Christians to understand the history of anti-intellectualism in the church. In this brilliant book, Dr. Moreland traces the history of what has happened in relation to the Christian mind.
Moreland discusses the history of the pilgrims arriving to the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Pilgrims along with other American believers placed a high value on the intellectual life in relation to Christian spirituality. The Puritans were highly educated people (the literacy rate for men in Massachusetts and Connecticut was between 89 and 95 percent) who founded colleges, taught their children to read and write before the age of six, studied art, philosophy, and other fields as well. Evangelical scholars such as Jonathan Edwards were scholarly and well informed about other fields
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other than theology. Christians originally founded several American universities. The minister was regarded as proficient in both spiritual and intellectual matters. (1)
When the first Great Awakening happened in the United States from the 1730′s to 1750′s, Christianity was not prepared for the philosophical thought that began to undermine biblical authority in the late 1800′s. In other words, Christianity was not prepared for the philosophies of David Hume (1711-1776) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), German higher criticism, and Darwinian evolution. During the middle 1800′s, Christianity continued to see an anti-intellectual approach in sermons. Ministers such as Charles Finney who preached during the Laymen’s Prayer Revival ( 1856-1858), delivered simple sermons that were more tailored around emotions in contrast to sermons that were reflective and doctrinally informed. Moreland notes that many positive things did come out of this period. However, the downside was that since thousands of people were converted on the basis of emotion and warm fuzzy feelings, these new converts were not trained to think theologically or doctrinally…
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