Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Are Christians as anti-intellectual as ever?

Today's younger Christians (under-40) are are more educated than ever in history. The vast majority are college educated (many through graduate school), and because of their tech savviness, are more exposed to different philosophies, worldviews, and political and religious thought than any generation past. In fact, most of these younger Christians have come to believe that they are more educated, objective, and intellectually superior to their parents' generation and their grandparents' generation. Particularly in America, many think that they are certainly superior to the generations before the Enlightenment.

Previous generations of Christians have been characterized as anti-intellectual, unwilling to enter the academic arena or read books challenging Christian suppositions. They eschewed serious discussion over competing worldviews and took a dim view of higher education in the liberal arts and sciences. They thought that real spiritual history began with the Pilgrims (slight sarcasm there).

But younger Christians are better now. Why? Because we know so much more, that's why.

But is this true? Even with all these degree letters swirling around our names like some badge of honor, ask most young Christians how well they actually know their own convictions compared to previous generations. Ask how much Scripture they actually read on a regular basis. Ask how many books they have read.

Have they read books by G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon? I could go on ad infinitum, but I'll stop there for brevity's sake.

Most have not. More than most have not. At the end of the day, while we believe that we have more intellectually distinguished knowledge of the world and of faith, I fear that we do not. Most of us can name the companies that have dropped their ads using Tiger Woods (and the ones that haven't). But most of us cannot name the 10 Commandments nor articulate an objective reason why the Christian faith should be believed among religions of the world.

If asked why not, most young people would say that they haven't the time nor the interest. That excuse doesn't sound much different today than it did in yesteryear. So has anything really changed?