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Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 12:39 AM


As someone who is interested in the intellectual side of Christianity, I was wondering if the members of the group could point me to a few Christian Intellectuals, primarily modern. I was also interested in a general list of them, current or not. I tried googling and didn't come up with much, unless I was using the wrong search terms or something. I could think of a few who have made an impact in their field, such as Gregor Mendel, Georges Lemaître perhaps, Søren Kierkegaard, maybe Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, etc. I can think of others...but was hoping for some kind of general list. I don't expect this thread to be a hotbed of activity concerning modern ones.....

On a related note I'm concerned about a speech that I heard recently. It was given by Charles Malik, a lebanese philosopher and diplomat for the United Nations. Here it is in brief:

"I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in it's 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 enlargening their powers of thinking. The result is that the arena of creative thinking is vacated and abdicated to the enemy.

Who among evangelicals can stand up to the great secular scholars on their own terms of scholarship? Who among evangelical scholars is quoted as a normative source by the greatest secular authorities on history or philosophy or psychology or sociology or politics? Does the evangelical mode of thinking have the slightest chance of becoming the dominant mode in the great universities of Europe and America that stamp our entire civilization with their spirit and ideas?

For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ, as well as for their own sakes, evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence."

R.C. Sproul has called this the most anti-intellectual period in the history of the Church. I would like to help Christians out with this, if I can do it that is, lol. It's kind of hard!

I was also interested in some of the Christian Intellectuals, or otherwise, who have had an impact on your thinking....I can say Plato and Aristotle for starters have had an impact on mine for example.....even thinkers like Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell who are somewhat "hostile" to Christianity have influenced my thinking some. Even though they might not be Christians, they do have penetrating insights sometimes....don't know if I'm the only one interested in this or not, but could use some help in locating these folks if nothing else.

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 12:46 AM

I'm actually reading a book right now, which will probably take me some time to read given my time commitments, called The Soul of the American University which tries to explain to an extent how Christianity went from being something of a dominant intellectual force in the U.S. anyway, to where it is now. I'll let you know how that goes. Here's a link if you want to learn more about it, can't say that this is going to work! lol. :

Jank0614  (Level: 67.1 - Posts: 4597)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 9:07 AM

This will be a horribly simplistic comment.

Christianity is an intensely personal thing, but according to the Bible, the plan of salvation was laid out in simplicity so that it was free for the understanding to all levels of humanity, the rich and the poor, the intellectual and the not so intellectual. It is so much a matter of faith.

I believe one reason there is a dearth of Biblical scholars in modern times may be because the intellectuals spend their time writing ad nauseum about how only the stupid and immature would believe in a God, and most scientists spend their time trying to prove everything works without a God, and the snobbery in both areas is biting and cruel.

A second reason is that in one way, it's like wondering why there aren't great intellectuals devoted to the study of ...Latin. Latin being a dead language, no new words are being added.

Christianity is decidedly not dead, but past biblical scholars and intellectuals have written and debated and studied so much about it, is there really anywhere new to go with it?

I know there are DNA studies now starting work to map humanity and animal evolution.

But for me personally, there is so much out there already written, I have not looked into anything modern day, because sadly, I'm not sure who to trust.

It's like on the show House once, when they faced their weekly task of discovering a hidden disease. Whatever your area of expertise is, that's the kind of disease you start looking for and find. Whether it's true or not. In my opinion, too many of today's scientists, scholars, and intellectuals have already formed their opinion, and they go at their research trying only to find information/proof that backs up what they want to find, rather than the truth being their sole goal.

So sorry that's no help to you whatsoever. I have no modern names.

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 6:36 PM

True Janice, religion is for everyone, but I think that intellectuals are extremely important to the Church. There are some people, like me, who would have never taken an interest without them, and the dearth of them right now means Christians have a hard time reaching people like me. I've even met among many of my athiest/agnostic friends I've made along the way many (who were not that educated on the issue I'll have to admit) who thought modern intellectuals had "somehow" proven in the empirical sense, or perhaps otherwise, that Christianity was not true.

Obviously, if they "think" it's been proven, whether it happens to be true or not, they will never take an interest in it at all. During my agnostic phase I was blessed with many athiest/agnostic professors who were at least more intellectually honest than all that, and were willing to admit there were versions of the religion that were still "academically acceptable", and that nothing of the sort had been proven. I'm not saying of course that you have to be an intellectual to make an impact for God, as I think history at times has proven otherwise, but I still think they are extremely important to the Church.

Janice said: "I believe one reason there is a dearth of Biblical scholars in modern times may be because the intellectuals spend their time writing ad nauseum about how only the stupid and immature would believe in a God, and most scientists spend their time trying to prove everything works without a God, and the snobbery in both areas is biting and cruel."

Succintly, you said the same that one of my favorite philosophers said in another way. I hope you will indulge a few paragraphs from his work, as this is an issue of great importance for me.

"Leo Tolstoy's Confession is possibly the most important document of the last two centuries for understanding our current plight. The dogmas of unbelief had captured his elite circle of Russian intellectuals, artists, and members of the social upper crust, and the implications of it slowly destroyed the basis of his life. On those dogmas only two things are real: particles and progress. "Why do I live?" he asked. And the answer he got was, "In infinite space, in infinite time, infinitely small particles change their forms in infinite complexity, and when you have understood the laws of those mutations of form you will understand why you live on the earth."

"You are an accidently united little lump of something," the story continues. "That little lump ferments. The little lump calls that fermenting its "life". The lump will disintegrate and there will be an end of the fermenting and of all the questions". But the lump dreams of progress: "The faith of the majority of the educated people of our day", Tolstoy observes, "was expressed by the word "progress". It then appeared to me that this word meant something. I did not yet understand that, being tormented (like every vital man) by the question how it is best for me to live, in my answer, "Live in conformity with progress", I was like a man in a boat who when carried along by wind and waves should reply to him what for him is the only chief and only question, "Whither to steer", by saying, "We are being carried somewhere".

There has been no advance beyond this position since Tolstoy's day. If you look into the content of the most highly regarded video presentations or books on "reality" or the cosmos, by people such as Carl Sagan or Stephen Hawking, you will see that it is all particles and progress. The very best presentation in recent years is a PBS series called A Glorious Accident. The only difference from Tolstoy's time is, as already indicated, that the faith that passes as "scientific" is available to all without effort.

And this does make a great difference. Tolstoy began to recover himself at the point where he realized that "I and a few hundred similar people are not the whole of mankind, and that I did not yet know the life of mankind" He could observe the mass of persons, the peasants, who in the most miserable of conditions found life deeply meaningful and even sweet. They had not heard about "particles and progress". But this is no longer possible. The peasants now watch TV and constantly consume the media. There are no peasants now."

I think that really what my friends were picking up on was mere political reality, and an important one at that. If Christians are ever going to make the biggest dent possible in the modern athiesm/agnosticism/whatever of our times, we will not be able to do so without reversing this situation "politically" somewhat, with the help of our intellectuals.

At any rate, a website, anything that could lead me to the type of people who could help ME intellectually with the religion would be greatly appreciated. It doesn't have to be a Christian "Darwin", changing the way we think about everything, any capable Phds with some intelligence who write on the topic would be appreciated for a start, even if I end up not agreeing with them at all. Despite what you said, your comments did help Janice.

Jank0614  (Level: 67.1 - Posts: 4597)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 9:33 PM

I have a friend who has a doctorate in Engineering who teaches - but he's back and forth between Texas and Europe a lot these days.

Would you be interested in talking with him? He's much more learned than I and maybe he could give you a start on his own studies and then give you leads on the next step of intellectuals you might enjoy reading.

If you would like to do that, please PM me an email address I could send him and I'll e-introduce you guys!

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 9:40 PM

Thanks Janice, I will PM you! Appreciate the help...

Bookworm483554  (Level: 172.9 - Posts: 25)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 9:58 PM

I don't have a lot of help to give you but two names spring to mind when I think of Christian intellectuals and thinkers. The names are Francis Schaeffer and CSLewis. I am not sure about the spelling of the first but I know he had a retreat centre in Switzerland called L'abris so you might try looking under that. CS Lewis was a great British scholar before he became a Christian and wrote of his own journey in a book called Mere Christianity which I am sure you would find interesting. You didnt mention his name though forgive me if you are already familiar and are seeking other worlds to conquer. Right now he is known as they make films of his childrens books the Narnia Series but he wrote a lot of other very intellectual stuff which I am sure you would enjoy. I am not so much interested in intellectual stuff myself at the moment. I have a Master's in Theology but never got into the Hebrew or Greek. I did it because I did want to find an intellectual and theological base for some of the experiences I had heard talked about in charismatic circles. One of my professors was a Dr. Rodman Williams and he wrote a series of books which are considered definitive. They provide and intellectual foundation for the charismatic movement . I consider myself to be tremendously blessed to have been his student. he was already 80 when I met him but played tennis everyday with his wife, wrote and taught like a much younger man. He has since passed on. Well there is some stuff to be going on with. God bless your search and may it be fruitful, intellectually stimulating but also spiritually invigorating.

I guess while I am posting I will also respond to your query about God speaking to people today. There has been so much confusion about this and as others have said the Bible is clear that nothing should be added to it. The Bible is unique and simply reading it puts you in touch with God because it is divinely inspired. Nevertheless as others mentioned God said in his word that in the last days He would pour out his spirit and people would dream dreams and see visions and prophesy. It is almost impossible to explain how if these incidents occur and if they are God talking this would not equate to the talking God did in the past in order to produce the Bible. The only thing I can think of is that the messages given today are much more limited in scope, they are more immediate and for much smaller audiences. The word of God is for all time but today's visions are more messages of comfort and help even sometimes information or warning for present situations and then they fade away.
I haven't experienced much in the way of visions or dreams but prophecy is gift that has been given to me and I constantly hear God speaking to me messages for our church, for myself and for people in need .
Look forward to your response to any or all of these two.

Spacecat  (Level: 157.2 - Posts: 667)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 10:51 PM

Two men who I considered intellectuals (although they were more apologists) were Walter Martin and Gleason Archer. Too bad they are no longer with us.

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Fri, 16th Jan '09 11:10 PM

Book: Yes, I didn't mention them, but I am familiar with them, but appreciate the remind at any rate! I own the complete works of Francis Schaeffer and have read probably 3/4ths of the works of C.S. Lewis, but they could use a re-read, its been awhile. Dr. Rodman Williams, him I will have to look up, and appreciate you pointing to his works. Thank you so much!

Interesting, someone with the gift of prophecy. Perhaps as time goes on I will learn more about that from you....I'm intensely curious, as I am with all posts regarding personal communications with God posted in the group so far, but respect your privacy. I do want to state that I wasn't trying to argue that Christians should write their own Bible, was just curious as to why not, and all of you with your varying perspectives did a wonderful job in addressing the issue. Thank you so much, I feel I have a better understanding of the issue now.

Richard: Welcome to the group! Walter Martin and Gleason Archer, never heard of them, I will have to look them up. Thanks for the contribution! Hope to see you around....

Lettermanfan1  (Level: 88.3 - Posts: 486)
Sat, 17th Jan '09 10:03 AM

I don't know how to define intellectual when it comes to spiritual matters.. I do have an author I would highly recommend to you: Max Lucado. A deeply spiritual man who brings God's word home in a very personal way. My favorite is "He Chose the Nails", but ALL of his books are good.

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 17th Jan '09 12:37 PM

Good point Leah, perhaps I should be more clear regarding what "kind" of intellectuals I happen to be looking for. The first kind, which was pointed out in the speech I quoted from earlier would be someone who is accepted as normative within their field. Examples of this kind might be intellectual superheroes such as Leo Tolstoy who is required reading in Colleges, or the Protestant William James who happens to be included in psychology textbooks, or Gregor Mendel who has made his way into biology textbooks, etc.

The second type of intellectual I am looking for, would be folks who have advanced degrees who are currently attempting to apply their faith to their field, or at least talking about the "mingling" of the two in some context, even if it is only in popular works. Examples of this kind might be the physicist John Polkinghorne, who wrote the book Faith of a Physicist, or the philosopher William Dembski who is involved in the Intelligent Design debate, or the Biochemist Michael Behe who is working on the same issue, or someone "like" Harvard graduate and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck who was trying to integrate psychology and Christianity. Someone who is applying their faith to their field in profound ways...for example in the field of psychology a "Christian" psychology would have to include concepts regarding meaning and "the soul" in order for it to begin to qualify as Christian at all. I imagine if their are Christians working on this type of integration, they would be labeled as Transpersonal Psychologists. Any field where there is an attempt to apply it....

The third type, which is the type most people are probably familiar with, would be the apologists. These aren't hard and fast distinctions between the three types. C.S. Lewis, for example, was an apologist and he applied his faith to his field when he integrated literature with the Christian perspective. Some have already been listed on this thread, others like G.K. Chesterton have not.

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 17th Jan '09 5:52 PM

I would like to say that the mere mention of an intellectual in the preceding paragraph does not mean I agree with their perspectives, but merely that I am pointing them out. Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

Bookworm483554  (Level: 172.9 - Posts: 25)
Sun, 18th Jan '09 6:44 PM

I think this must be old news again but read some of the works of Josh Mc Dowell if you haven't already.

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 18th Jan '09 10:11 PM

Josh McDowell sounds familiar, but I'll be sure to look into the fellow. Thanks for the heads up Book!

Jank0614  (Level: 67.1 - Posts: 4597)
Sat, 24th Jan '09 2:13 PM

Jeremy - update on my friend. He's supposed to return from Europe today. Maybe I'll hear something from him this week. Sorry it's taking so long.

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 25th Jan '09 12:37 PM

I've got plenty of time! Thanks for looking into that for me!

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 31st Jan '09 6:05 AM

Just a quick update to this thread, in case anyone was interested, I did find an online list of "some" current Christian Scholars/Intellectuals in a blog maintained by some fellow out there that was of some help. Another somewhat useful resource to me regarding "older" intellectuals was a couple of books written by Richard J. Foster called Devotional Classics and Spritual Classics. Some of them are interspersed throughout these books.......These resources should keep me busy for a little while.....

Nanpaulhus  (Level: 138.2 - Posts: 338)
Mon, 27th Apr '09 8:38 PM

One Christian intellectual that I have met is Talmadge French. He is an American and a Bible School Instructor, and author. David Bernard has authored several books and is a lawyer. Also, Kenneth Haney, Jerry Jones.

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