Friday, May 05, 2006

An (Evangelical) Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

In a passage that challenges evangelical readers on several levels, Dr. Frank Gaebelein, then-Headmaster of the Stony Brook School and a former Co-editor of Christianity Today wrote these words in 1954:

"...But, there are those who tell us, Peter and John were 'unlearned and ignorant men.' So they were, and God by His grace mightily used them. There was, however, another apostle who, instead of being 'unlearned and ignorant,' was one of the finest scholoars of his age. And the influence of Paul, the greatest of all missionaries and the most intellectual of inspired writers, outruns them all.

Nor is Paul the only instance of God's use of consecrated intellect. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley -- all were men of high education who loved learning and used their minds until their work was done. Study the great turning points of Christian history, and in every case you will find behind them solid learning used to the glory of God. With all due honor to Moody and Spurgeon, who lacked formal education but who valued it so highly that they both founded schools, we must acknowledge that Christian history has in the main been made by men of the highest intellectual attainment.

This fact points to the meaning and purpose of Christian education in our own day. It is not a mass movement and never will be. Now as always its raison d'etre is the training of Christian leadership in the whole wide realm of God's truth. The reproach of Christ is one thing, and evangelicalism will always have to bear it; the reproach of obscurantism is another thing, and evangelicalism must make up its mind to stop bearing it. The call today is for a renaissance of evangelical scholarship....

Let us stop being on the defensive. Ours is a view of Scripture, of theology, and of life that is in the mainstream of Christian history. It demands not apology but bold presentation. Our task is not only to outlive and outserve those who do not stand for God's truth; it is also by God's grace to outthink them."

Frank C. Gaebelein in The Pattern of God's Truth (originally published in 1954 by Oxford Press)