Author Tim Barnett
Published on 11/18/2019

Anti-Intellectualism in the Church

In this third part of the “Why Apologetics?” series, Tim talks about the value of developing the mind through apologetics as a way of pushing back against anti-intellectualism in the church.


If you walked into most churches in North America and asked what they teach on apologetics, they would probably look at you like you have two heads. This is because apologetics is treated as if it’s an extra at best or an error at worst. And whether it’s apathy or animosity towards apologetics, both are fuelled by anti-intellectualism in the church.

In his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll writes this: “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Ouch! Many Christians don’t think very deeply anymore.

[In his book Reasonable Faith,] Philosopher William Lane Craig states this:

Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith. People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith.

Writing four decades ago in Christianity Today, 1980, academic Charles Malik says this:

I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough.

Caring for the life of the mind is the job of apologetics. Unsurprisingly, it’s the uncared for Christian mind that leads to the undoing of Christian faith.

So the real danger isn’t apologetics—nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, apologetics is pushing back against the real threat: anti-intellectualism.

Let me say it as plainly as I can: If you want to know the mind of God, you need to learn to use your own.