The Loneliness of the Christian Thinker

by Tom Gilson

It shouldn’t be this way. But the fact is, it’s a lonely world for the Christian thinker, the one who cares to think deeply and well about the faith.

I’ve just returned from a terrific week of fellowship at the annual Defend conference at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. It’s an apologetics conference, which means its purpose was to share and to study the many reasons for confidence in the Christian faith.

Speakers’ topics ranged from the resurrection to the problem of evil. But even though I was one of those speakers, the talks weren’t the real highlight of the week. It was the conversations instead.

Three nights in a row, my friend and team-teaching partner, Dr. Timothy McGrew, and I invited conferees for coffee and conversation. It was about 9 pm when we gathered each evening, but dozens came anyway — so many that we had to move over to a nearby dorm lounge. We stayed as long as the dorm rules allowed.

And one of the main topics of discussion was how refreshing it was to be able to have the kinds of conversations we were having there.

The Loneliness of the Christian Thinker

During a couple of breakout sessions I asked a question I’ve asked many times before at other conferences. “Obviously you’re interested in the thinking aspect of Christianity, otherwise you wouldn’t be here,” my question begins. “So, how many of you find yourself feeling very alone in that interest, back at home in your church and community?”

Every time I ask that question, every hand goes up. Just about the only exceptions are students and faculty members at colleges and seminaries.

Thinking Christians feel lonely. There’s a sense that it’s weird for believers to care about matters of the mind…

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