Intellectual Heritage of Christianity

The scientific revolution is credited to a 13th century Italian friar named Thomas of Aquinas. William of Ockham, another friar, is the englishman after whom the logic tool “Ockham’s Razor” was named. Chemistry’s founder, Robert Boyle was a man of faith. Perhaps the world’s greatest mathematician, Blaise Pascal, is best known for his theological argument “Pascal’s Wager.” Isaac Newton wrote more volumes on Christian theology than he did science. Many ivy leagues schools such as Harvard were started by Christians for the express purpose of developing clergymen who were classically educated. In fact, the institution of the university itself is a Christian brain child. The first man to publish a mathematical treatise in favour of the Big Bang cosmological model was a Belgian Jesuit priest and astrophysicist named George Lemaitre. The father of modern genetics was an Austrian monk and botanist by the name of Gregor Mendel.

intellectual giants of the Christians faith.

A 2009 Pew Research poll of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the world’s largest international association of professional scientists) showed about half of the scientists in their ranks were religious — with about a third of them belonging to a Christian denomination.

In the 20th century, Nobel Prize winners in the field of science were predominantly Christian.

Nobel Prize Winners who were Christian, 1901-2000:
physics: 64%
medicine: 65%
chemistry: 74%

Pastors of the past were public intellectuals of the highest order. It was not until the last 50 years in the Western world that seminaries sprang up separately from top line universities. As independent institutions these schools focused on training their students in theology alone. Gone were the days of a pastor who was master of science, history, philosophy and theology. We began pumping men into the ministry field that were specialists instead of renaissance thinkers. As a result, the average evangelical pastor is no longer called upon to defend the faith in high profile debates. Famed atheist and intellectual Christopher Hitchens ran roughshod through a plethora of pastors in a series of debates, making a mockery of these clergymen. It was not until he ran into intellectual Christians such as Dinesh D’Souza and William Lane Craig that he was soundly challenged.

It has become commonplace for seminaries to be training centers producing technicians of a handful of doctrines. The very notion that a pastor should be a renaissance thinker will get you looked at sideways. Yet it is only recently that the Church has decided to farm out intellectualism to a very small branch of university graduates who have stepped up to the plate. More concerning is that the average believer receives the majority of their ability to defend the faith from pastors who have not been adequately educated for the task. Instead of stout mental soldiers, most Christians are afraid to speak up at family gatherings or staff parties because they fear they will not be up to the task. This is a new phenomena which breaks from Christianity’s beautiful heritage of intellectual dominance.

It was a series of fiery sermons in the 1700’s that inspired the American Declaration of Independence. A handful of pastors preached the theology of freedom from their pulpits after receiving their education from Harvard. These men received a reward from England’s King George: the death penalty. Many of them subsequently fought in the Revolutionary War. These men were intellectuals who were not afraid of seeing the political implications of their theology. Nor were they afraid to fight and die for their beliefs.

Clergy who railed against King George were dubbed the “Black Robe Regiment” and given the death penalty

A lack of intellectual conviction leads to a lack of courage. Christ is the Logos. The Word. Proverbs says to seek wisdom and understanding above all else. Why so? Because once the mind is cooly tracked on truth, she has courage and steadiness for righteous action under fire. We can no longer say the mind is razor sharp in our congregations. This is why the Western church is addicted to comfort and status quo and has no appetite for political and intellectual warfare against an increasingly hostile culture and government. It may very well spell the pathetic end to the legacy of strength, sacrifice and savvy handed to us by men willing to bleed for faith and freedom.

God help us return to a robust life of the mind and a courageous fire in our bellies.

The Christian and the State PART 5 – Political Correctness

In the first 4 parts of this series we established that the more judeo-christian a political theory is, the smaller the roll of the State seems to become. In short, Christian cultures believe God Himself sets the original blueprint for what rules a society follows and how human relationships are structured. Then the State steps in only to enforce this order:

state vs God 1

If you observe past political theories that were based on atheistic worldviews (e.g.: former USSR, China, etc) you will note that they elevate the State to the role of God-hood. Something has to fill the power vaccuum. If a transcendent Creator does not exist to establish order and meaning, humans will coalesce into an elite leadership that will then play god over society. In short, the State becomes God because somebody has to: Continue reading “The Christian and the State PART 5 – Political Correctness”

The Christian and the State PART 4 – The American Experiment

**this series is based on Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project” with Del Tackett. Click here for original materials.

The King who thinks he is God… soon becomes the devil.

It would be hard to look at history and find reason to disbelieve that statement.

According to Romans chapter 13, the State is God’s servant and will be judged by Him. Hence rulers who take the mantle of leadership in government will undergo a strict judgment and should rule according to justice and not ego or selfish ambition.

This simple but powerful concept rushed into the once barbaric Roman Empire after Constantine legalized Christianity in A.D. 312. The faith quickly “infected” culture and politics and turned the blood lusting Roman world into modern Europe, a hot bed of human flourishing. For nearly a thousand years after Constantine christened Rome, apostles, scholars, priests and bureaucrats yearned to create a legal system that would be deemed just by the God of their bible. Kings were told that they would be judged according to their righteousness and so pressure mounted on them to be just and fair to their subjects. In A.D. 1215 the Magna Carta was born of this urge and the origins of radical concepts of freedom for the common man were born. Unheard of  ideals such as separation of Church and State, the legal system being above the King himself, protection from unlawful imprisonment and unfair taxation were in their embryonic form in “the Great Charter.”
Continue reading “The Christian and the State PART 4 – The American Experiment”

The Christian and the State PART 3 – The State

**this series is based on Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project” with Del Tackett. Click here for original materials.

Webster’s dictionary, in 1828, defined politics as follows:

“Science of government; that part of ethics which consists in the regulation and government of a nation or state, for the preservation of its safety, peace and prosperity… …and the protection of its citizens… …with the preservation and improvement of their morals.” Continue reading “The Christian and the State PART 3 – The State”

The Christian and the State PART 2 – Community

**this series is based on Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project” with Del Tackett. Click here for original materials.

In Part 1 of this series on politics we looked at the importance of studying our history so we can know what has and has not worked in government. Our past also helps us understand who we are and where we are going. Now, in our second part, we will look at the structure of human relationships.

Job 25:2 states “…He establishes order…” and 1 Corinthians 14:33 says “…God is not a God of disorder…” One look at nature and we can see this to be true. A chicken egg, for example, has over 10,000 pores to allow the chick embryo to breath. At 19 days the chick starts pecking downwards towards the air space which contains 6 hours of oxygen. This is enough to allow it to rest and then wrestle the rest of the way through the outer shell and be born. Continue reading “The Christian and the State PART 2 – Community”

The Christian and the State PART 1 – HISTORY

**this series is based on Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project” with Del Tackett. Click here for original materials.

In this series we will be answering two simple questions. First, what is the government supposed to look like in an ideal world? Second, what is the Christian’s relationship to the government? Before we can answer this we have to dust off our tools. One essential tool is history. The past is the key to the present and the future. Everything we have learned we have learned from the past. Our medical knowledge is built on past trial and error. Our airplanes are constructed with the help of past mechanical successes and failures. So why would we build our civilization without referring to the past? It would be disastrous in medicine and aviation, and it would be equally a disaster in politics.

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other…”
– Isaiah 46:9-11 Continue reading “The Christian and the State PART 1 – HISTORY”