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Our Anti-Intellectual Heritage

The history and beliefs of the Pentecostal movement, often shared by evangelicals, hold the seeds of a bias against the life of the mind.

Though our movement has aided millions in their search for spiritual health, latent within her genius are characteristics that make her especially vulnerable to the dangers of anti-intellectualism. Of course, one scant article cannot deal adequately with each of these in depth; this task would command a volume of its own. Because some will insist on misunderstanding the aim of this piece, let me say it one more time: I do not view these factors as fundamentally anti-intellectual. Rather, they are only prone to being misjudged in relationship to the life of the mind; especially when not balanced out by other important building blocks, they stunt one's desire and/or ability to use his or her intellect for the advancement of the kingdom and the glory of God.

(1) Many of the early Pentecostal leaders lacked education. This, of course, did not disqualify them from laboring for the Master. It did, however, set the standard for those who became their followers, for seldom will a student rise above his or her tutor. Several early Pentecostal leaders spoke openly of their disdain for education. It shouldn't come as a surprise to us that most of these had little formal education themselves. It seems to be our nature (no matter how saintly we are) to place little value on what we do not possess.

What's more, the schools that were deemed "colleges," which some of these attended, were frequently little more than tiny institutions that offered courses only up to secondary school level. Sometimes the curriculum was merely a loosely-knit program of indoctrination with proof texts. Pentecostal educator William Menzies states that one reason for the lack of general educational was the fact that these schools were more interested in "spiritual ...

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Our Anti-Intellectual Heritage
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