“The church is anti-intellectual.” If you’re a church leader—and especially if you’re an evangelical—you’ve probably heard that claim a thousand times before. (Heck, we’ve even made it.) But while the prophetic shadow of Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind may still loom large over the landscape of American Christianity, a growing number of bright lights are giving an increasingly thoughtful church reason to hope. One of those lights is Matthew Lee Anderson.
You probably know Anderson as the founder and erstwhile regular contributor to the blog Mere Orthodoxy, where he’s written lengthy essays on everything from Trump’s implications for evangelicals to sexual ethics to why “deep reading” is vital for a robust faith. His most recent book, The End of Our Exploring (Moody, 2013), argues for the importance of question-asking to the Christian faith, urging a dogged pursuit of intellectual integrity that, as he says in this week’s episode of The Calling, has implications for local church ministry:
The way to reach the broadest swath of people is not by setting the intellectual bar low, but by setting it high and by persuading everyone that they can rise to it—not by being an intellectualist, but by presenting your sermons in a way that is challenging for everyone in the room, and maybe particularly challenging for the most intellectually inclined people in the room, but still aesthetically compelling enough that those who are not ordered that way or don’t dispose themselves that way will still be interested in what you’re saying. I think that’s the hardest challenge that pastors have.One of the main frustrations ...1