A Waste of Christian Intellect

“Our churches are unfortunately overly populated with people whose minds, as Christians, are going to waste. As Malik observed, they may be spiritually regenerate, but their minds have not been converted; they still think like nonbelievers. Despite their Christian commitment, they remain largely empty selves. What is an empty self? An empty self is a person who is passive, sensate, busy and hurried, incapable of developing an interior life. Such a person is inordinately individualistic, infantile and narcissistic.

“Imagine now a church filled with such people. What will be the theological understanding, the evangelistic courage, the cultural penetration of such a church? If the interior life does not really matter all that much, why should one spend the time trying to develop an intellectual, spiritually mature life?

If someone is basically passive, he will just not make the effort to read, preferring instead to be entertained. If a person is sensate in orientation, then music, magazines filled with pictures, and visual media in general will be more important than mere words on a page or abstract thoughts.

“If one is hurried and distracted, one will have little patience for theoretical knowledge and too short an attention span to stay with an idea while it is being carefully developed.

“And if someone is overly individualistic, infantile and narcissistic, what will that person read, if he reads at all? Books about Christian celebrities, Christian romance novels imitating the worst that the world has to offer, Christian self-help books filled with slogans, simplistic moralizing, lots of stories and pictures, and inadequate diagnoses of the problems facing the reader. What will not be read are books that equip people to develop a well-reasoned, theological understanding of the Christian faith and to assume their role in the broader work of the kingdom of God.

“Such a church will become impotent to stand against the powerful forces of secularism that threaten to wash away Christian ideas in a flood of thoughtless pluralism and misguided scientism. Such a church will be tempted to measure her success largely in terms of numbers—numbers achieved by cultural accommodation to empty selves. In this way, the church will become her own grave digger; for her means of short-term “success” will turn out in the long run to be the very thing that buries her.

“What makes this envisioned scenario so distressing is that we do not have to imagine such a church; rather, this is an apt description of far too many […] evangelical churches today. It is no wonder, then, that despite its resurgence, evangelical Christianity has been thus far so limited in its cultural impact.”

Excerpted from J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (InterVarsity Press, 2009) page 5.


Published by

Jojo Agot

Pastor at Victory. Teacher and writer at Every Nation Leadership Institute (ENLI). MA in Theology and Mission at Every Nation Seminary.

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