What Do Anti-?Anti-Intellectualism?ists Want?

I don’t like the term “Anti-Intellectual”. It seems to say that whoever
is “anti-intellectual” embraces being dumb. I wonder if the term
should be anti-scholarship…since that seems to be the mindset. Be that
as it may, some have raised concerns about Biblical anti-intellectualism…but
why?  What do they want?

I’m a pretty good art director. After inherited talent, four years
of actual training to be a designer, and a work internship I got into a
decent design shop. I’ve since come to realize that there are unskilled
people in this field because of whom they know.

I didn’t become part of the Church by any skill or training or how
much people have told me about the Church, but I became part of it by
who I knew…Jesus Christ. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t matter
how good I am to God because I’m dead in Christ and living in Him. So
somehow, when God looks at me, He’s really looking at His Son.

Paul has no problem painting a picture of our standing before God:
“Neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female.” ({[Gal 3:28}}) We stand
before God as sinners who have died and now live in Christ. Peter would
look at every believer and call us living stones being fit together as
God’s house. Better yet, Peter would call every believer a royal priest
({{1 Pet 2}})!

Yet it is an equality with marked differences. Paul would talk about
the body of Christ having many members and many different duties ({[1
Cor 12 -14}}). Paul would also speak to us of Christ becoming victor
and giving gifts to people, each with different roles ({{Eph 4}}). Luke
records the praise of the Bereans for their studious mindset. These
people devoted their time to Scripture and drew some serious
conclusions about what Paul preached. The Bereans reaction was
considered honorable as the reaction of those in Thessalonica were
considered…well, not ({{Acts 17}}). The twelve, after one interruption
too many, wound up having to tell the people to pick men of worth to
help them…but they personally had to devote their time to doctrine and
to prayer. They did their work and those that ministered to the
people’s material need did their work and there was a general consensus
({{Acts 6}}).

After some time, we took all these differences and made more out of
it. Titles were created and a strata of study officiated. The “cleric”
minimalized and marginalized the “layperson” keeping Scriptures out of
their reach…that is, until knowledge was disseminated to the masses.
Probably the biggest step towards bridging the open gap was the
invention of the Gutenberg press ushering in a veritable Age of
Enlightenment. Reading became a requirement and knowledge flourished.

Pause on that. Real Estate brokers have been selling their own homes
for years while simultaneously warning the masses of the error of
entering into such a venture unguided. It was common knowledge that
they got a percentage off sales and as such they would always sell your
home for the best possible price. After all, Agents had the knowledge
and the time.

This is from Freakonomics; agents make about 6% off the sale of your
$300,000 home. The buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent divide that 6%.
Those agents then have to give half their percentage to their company.
In the end, the Agent makes 1.5%—$4500 in this case. If the agent were
to sell your home for $320,000, giving you the best deal, he would only
be making an extra 300 dollars. When the quicker sale verses the longer
wait is put on the Agents scale and the difference to his pocket is 300
measly bucks, what do you think he’s going to focus on?

People caught on. Information was disseminated and those dealing in
hoarding knowledge wound up resorting to scare tactics like “the real
estate bubble is going to burst!” and the like. Now do we see the Bible
as information that has finally gotten into our hands and we don’t want
to let it go? Is Scholarship viewing the Bible as information that has
leaked? No, I don’t think so.

I think that Scholars have been looked on as a) trying to recreate
that clerical/lay barrier and b) make the non-scholar’s opinion void.
Matters of opinion have been elevated to that of information…kind of
like the blogosphere we have here. Indeed, this fluffiness of opinion
may even be entrenched in places of Scholarship. So the
anti-anti-intellectual may
have a valid point. The masses might be free to opinions but are their
opinions equal to that of the person who has spent years studying the
dika family?

Now, some anti-anti-intellectuals fiercely defend themselves using
illustrations that both entrench the masses and rely heavily on the
natural. I’ve heard some say, “if you have a problem, you go to a
doctor…you don’t think up your own treatment. And if you have engine
troubles, you go to a mechanic.” Dangerous illustrations because what
they do is make vulgarize the Bible, which is unique.

A person may not be a mechanic now, but give them time…they could
be. Either to make money by faking engine problems or to prove you
wrong. A person may not be a doctor, but give them time…they could be
either to bolster their own position or to save lives. The reasons vary
and the potential is accessible to the common and natural man. If the
study of the Bible is equivalent to any of those fields then it can be
learned by anyone, rejected at need and refuted in light of better

Careful with what I’m saying here. When we’re dealing with the
Scriptures we are not dealing with the Common. There are people who
have gone to dedicated institutions and have understood the original
languages while studying the literary structure of the Scriptures…who
don’t believe it. This isn’t to disprove Scholarly pursuits but to
state that because it is done in no way implies that what is being done
is proving effective. Just because a man can study to become a good
doctor does not mean he will be a good student of the Word.

The Scriptures are supernatural. That being the case any study of
the Word must consist of a person having the Spirit of God that is
teaching the mind of God, a regenerated heart and a heart given in
prayer. To proclaim the Word to others it would necessitate a willing
spirit, a heart given in prayer and the Spirit working as well. There
is also the matter of the Spirit’s gifts given to each person and in a
different measure.

I don’t want to sound charismatic…don’t read into what I’m
saying in that sense. I’m saying that there is a huge component of what
we do that is summed up in {{1 Cor 3}} as not relying on men. 

Why then make the ability to devote hours of study to a gift of the
Spirit and then illustrate the point by pointing at a natural talent?
“I can’t play the piano. Mozart can. You don’t study. I do.” As if Christ gave gifts to men
and He made some evangelists and some teachers and some singers and
some piano players and some got the gift of a chance to study and
others did not get that gift.

So what do anti-Bible-anti-intellectualism-ists want? What do they want to
see differently? Do they want a hierarchy re-established? Do they want
respect? What do they want to see happen in the Church…and what are the plans to get there?


Some reading: A letter of discontentMike (here too), Blake here and his site (a whole bunch), A Discussion Board, anti-intellectual charismatic quote’s site and an essay.

[Update: Awesome!  A list of Christian Scholars online (HT: Real Clear Theology Blog)]

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