I want to leave you with something that appeared as an op-ed piece in The New York Times in 2011. It was written by two professors at a college calling itself Christian–Eastern Nazarene College. I want you to hear the hiss of the serpent. I want you to hear the scorn in their voices. This is what I am talking about when I say many deceivers…going around in the world who are preaching science falsely…doing the work of the devil from within the church. They’re everywhere. The Lord said they were going to be. The apostles said they were going to be. The epistles they wrote to the churches warned of them in the very day of the early church.
Adam Laats: I think we found another one.
But I can’t help but agree with Kidd’s review. Is The New York Times the best place for evangelicals to decry evangelical anti-intellectualism? Indeed, anti-intellectualism is a problem in the evangelical community. But I wonder, to quote Kidd, if the New York Times op-ed page is “the most promising way to start addressing that failure?”
To be completely honest, I also wonder if a book published by Harvard University Press is going to have any impact on rank and file evangelicals. It seems to me that two kinds of people will read The Anointed: 1). Non-evangelicals who want ammunition to bash evangelical intellectual backwardness and 2). Evangelical intellectuals who already agree with Giberson and Stephens. I wonder if ordinary evangelicals–the folks who actually listen to Barton and Ham and Dobson–will read the book or even know that the book exists.
In the end, I agree with Kidd. The anti-intellectual problem in American evangelicalism needs to be addressed in our churches. It is going to require evangelical thinkers to engage congregations in a more purposeful way and give some serious thought to how their vocations as scholars might serve the church. As I have learned over the years, this will require building trust and listening to and empathizing with the concerns of those whom we want to challenge to think more deeply about the relationship between their faith and the larger culture.