In a presidential address at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's annual conference in 1972, evangelical luminary John Stott admitted that he found himself "wondering how the apostle [Paul] would react if he were to visit Western Christendom today. I think he would deplore … the contemporary lack of a Christian mind" (from Your Mind Matters). Quoting Anglican theologian Harry Blamires, Stott continued: "The Christian mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness and nervelessness unmatched in Christian history. It is difficult to do justice in words to the complete loss of intellectual morale in the twentieth-century church."
Are things any different nearly 40 years later?
New Humanist magazine recently co-hosted a debate at London's Royal Society for the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce on the question, "Where is the God debate going?" Panelists included novelist Marilynne Robinson, philosopher Roger Scruton, and historian Jonathan Rée. According to The Guardian's Mark Vernon, the debate mostly turned into a critique of the New Atheism, with some questioners in the audience proposing reasons for why "people of faith never question their beliefs (unlike scientists)."
Vernon hints that while the New Atheism may be slipping out of fashion, the God debate is not. Indeed, religious questions are still on the public's agenda. But it's not just atheists and agnostics who are lobbing objections at Christianity and theism in general, and bemoan a perceived anti-intellectualism among people of faith. Some within the church are grappling with the problem of evil, religious pluralism, and the origins debate, to name a few issues, wondering if their faith is intellectually robust enough to face into these ...1
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