Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christian Intellectuals

A common stereotype of religious people among certain types of atheists is that they are all uneducated ignoramuses. That seems to be the view of one recent commenter on this blog who sent me this gem:

you pretend to know what you are talking about with enough rhetorical chum to bait in the ignoramuses. This tells a lot about your position: you go to uneducated and poor people to spread your “message.” If “the message” were worthy, you’d think you could go to any U.S. college campus and have converts. But no, it’s only for those who [have] no critical thought. Pat yourself on the back.

I'm not actually sure where this individual got his facts from on what my "position" is, but it's completely false. I can only presume he's just projecting his stereotype of what a missionary is or does. In fact, as readers of my blog should know, I've taught and ministered in Hungary. The Hungarian educational system is very rigorous, much more so than the increasingly dumbed-down American public education system. So I certainly can't be accused of going to "uneducated" people. It's true that Hungarians are not as wealthy as Americans, but it's not a third-world country, either. But it's hard to know what to say about someone who is so bigoted as to think that people who live in a poorer country than he does are all uneducated ignoramuses. It just shows the shocking bigotry of some anti-religious people. Apparently in his mind the only people dumb enough to believe in religion are poor and uneducated. That just doesn't fit the facts.

I was involved in campus ministry at Western Michigan University while I was doing graduate studies in philosophy there. And there I found a thriving campus ministry led by InterVarsity. I'm also currently involved in campus ministry at another U.S. college. Critical thinking is certainly a valuable skill. It prevents people from making false assumptions based on prejudice and stereotypes. I would encourage this atheist commenter to try developing some.

Normally I wouldn't bother even publishing comments like the one above seeing as it's an insult to every Christian reading this blog (and I happen to know that several of my Christian readers are college educated and some have done graduate and post-graduate studies), but it does serve to make a point. First, it points out the growing anti-religious bigotry that I fear is spreading in the U.S. and Europe, fueled by demagogues like Richard Dawkins and others. Second, it's an opportunity for me to point out that the Gospel message is alive and well on college campuses not only in the U.S. but also in Europe. Spiritually and intellectually vibrant faith movements are growing in these supposedly unlikely places. A good starting place for those who want to learn more about this is two books by Kelly Monroe Kullberg: Finding God at Harvard and Finding God Beyond Harvard.

Finding God at Harvard includes an essay by that poor, uneducated ignoramus Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970 (please note my use of irony - Solzhenitsyn was a brilliant thinker and highly influential Christian intellectual). Solzhenitsyn brought the world's attention to the Soviet gulags. He diagnosed the cause of the inhuman and oppressive Soviet system as the "calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious human consciousness". He also criticized the West for being beholden to consumerism and commercialism. He decried the moral poverty of the West and saw the rising tide of humanism here and where it would lead. He said, "this carefree life cannot continue in your country or in ours. The fates of our two countries are going to be extremely difficult, and it is better to prepare for this beforehand." These words sound ominious. Rather than causing fear, however, they should serve as an exhortation to believers in the West. We have been guilty of spiritual laziness and worldliness. It's time to wake up to what has happened and is happening around us.

You can find out more about the Veritas Forum which was founded by Kullberg and their ministry on college campuses in the U.S. and Europe by visiting their website. One of the purposes of my blog is to discuss issues in Christian apologetics and expose my readers to the thought of some leading Christian intellectuals as well as more popular works. I'll continue to present readers with substantive apologetics along with updates on our ministry here in the States and abroad.


stpetric said...

"A common stereotype of religious people among certain types of atheists is that they are all uneducated ignoramuses." I'm always bemused by that line of thinking. I've studied at Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins, with graduate degrees from the last two. I say that, not to toot my own horn, but to point out that I met plenty of orthodox Christians (not to mention observant Jews and Muslims) at all three. Whatever else those people are, they are neither uneducated nor ignoramuses!

John Fraser said...


Thanks for your comment! I see from your profile that you have an interest in Solzhenitsyn. Finding God at Harvard was really my introduction to him, but from what I've seen he had a lot of penetrating and very pertinent insights into the condition of society in both the east and the west. I told my wife yesterday that I'm going to have to read more of him.

About me

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My ministry in Hungary involved teaching theology and training Hungarian church planters. I have a great interest in apologetics as well as missions.