Is Christianity anti-intellectual?
“Become a Christian and kiss your mind goodbye!” “Believing in Jesus damages your brain cells.” These are the normal assessment of the academy when you bring up the subject of salvation through Jesus Christ. Our sophisticated culture holds the erroneous view that to become a Christian means that we should surrender our intellect to an irrational authority and seek mind-numbing mystical experiences.
Certainly, the experience of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ does transcend reason, intellect, and emotions. But we are quick to point out that the rational mind is an important aspect of the Christian life. Knowing Jesus as your personal Savior makes you smarter, not dumber. We are not committing intellectual suicide when we believe that His death on the cross atones for our sins. Rather we are affirming a cosmic reality that is based on the very character of God, which can be apprehended and appreciated intellectually as well as experientially.
God created us as rational creatures. He is not only interested in how we feel, He is very interested in how we think and what we think. God knows that thinking lies at the base of feeling, doctrine comes before duty, beliefs determine behavior.
The Christian faith calls for a strong intellectual response to the message given in the Bible. Is the Bible true? Is Jesus the only way to God? Are your sins really forgiven when you call on his name? Christianity can involve a great deal of thought and deliberation. It is an over-arching worldview that corresponds to reality, the way things really are.
Once our intellects are engaged, we must also engaged our wills and our emotions. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37)
He wanted us to sharpen our intellects as a demonstration of our love for God so he could use our Christian minds to influence the world and confront the irrational assumptions that are at the bottom of the world’s thinking. God’s prescription for transformation is always “the renewing of our minds”, thinking the thoughts of God, constructing in us the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23).