Bob Godfrey’s Address

This address is entitled “We Don’t Need No Education.” How has anti-intellectualism affected the church?

1 Corinthians 8:1 is a very misused text. It is often used to oppose intellectualism. Jerome wrestled with the question, “How do I relate my learning to my faith?” Augustine said it is possible to have much wisdom without knowledge, and vice versa. So why bother with the knowledge? Some Christians have therefore rejected the pursuit of knowledge. But Paul is talking about knowledge that has been distorted and misused, not true knowledge. God does want us to love Him with all of our minds. Anti-intellectualism became very prominent in the nineteenth century. The democritization of our nation fueled revolts against doctors, lawyers, and therefore ministers. The heart of religion was experience, not knowledge. This made an educated ministry unnecessary. However, Christianity is capable of a vigorous, intellectual defense and propagation, despite what the 19th century attacks on Christianity (and what the second Great Awakening and all its subsidiary theological tenets) would say. The problem with saying that we live in a post-Christian world is that it allows us to have the cop-out “It is so old-fashioned, we don’t even need to think about it.”

Religion is up, but theology is down. We don’t have an absence of theology. We have, rather, lots and lots of bad theology. Many churches are personality-driven, and so are institutionally weak.

Education, as being relative, will not examine the Bible as to its truth value. So, it always relegates the Bible to literature.

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