What Christian intellectuals do for a living…

Ironically, it is really hard for Christian intellectuals to answer the question, “What is a Christian intellectual?”  Dr. Anthony Bradley posted this quote on his blog to answer the question:

An intellectual is one who loves ideas, is dedicated to clarifying them, developing them, criticizing them, turning them over and over, seeing their implications, stacking them atop one another, arranging them, sitting silent while new ideas pop up and old ones seem to rearrange themselves, playing with them, punning with their terminology, laughing at them, watching them clash, picking up the pieces, starting over, judging them, withholding judgment about them, changing them, bringing them into contact with their counterparts in other systems of thought, inviting them to dine and have a ball but also suiting them for service in workaday life. A Christian intellectual is all of the above to the glory of God. -James Sire, Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling

8 thoughts on “What Christian intellectuals do for a living…

  1. God has been showing me lately to really watch and guard my “emotions” in dealing with any judgement calls with people and life. While we all have been a part of an emotionally charged event or sermon. It can be dangerous. While there is nothing wrong with emotions(we all have them) I have found it can be a very dangerous thing to base everything on feelings. Will for sure put this definition of intellectuals into my smart phone. No pun intended. 🙂


    1. Stan: That’s true enough one has to keep one’s emotion in check.
      But basing system of thoughts on reason alone has led to some of the worst atrocities in human history.

      I do believe the clarification and popularization of one’s thoughts is an important part of being an intellectual. Ideally, they should be also relevant for the man in the street.

      Do you believe it is okay for a Christian intellectual to reject the very idea that a genocide or the everlasting torment of souls can be a good things?


      Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son



      1. Hey lothars son,
        thanks for the comment. It is pretty simple with emotions, I just run everything by the Lord and He leads me. We frisk everything by the Lord. Have a great weekend.


      2. Lothars Sohn,

        I believe all should reject the idea that genocide or everlasting torment are good things.

        Genocide is a different discussion (not sure what you are referring to?) but the reason I wrestle with what everlasting torment means is not because I think it is good rather because I believe it is real.


  2. Unintended puns are the best ones.

    We should watch our emotions just like we watch every other part of our life. Sometimes they can be destructive and other times constructive. Sometimes the gut ‘feeling’ is the presence of God telling us something and other times not.

    And all this talk of feelings has me thinking about Barbara Streisand.


  3. Hey Chad, genocide is of pivotal importance for the book of Joshua, whereby soldiers are ordered to kill fighting men and babies alike.
    The best explanation for me is that the ancient Israelite attributed to their deity a convenient command.

    If we, as compassionate humans, fail to see that eternal torment is a good thing, how can God believe it?

    I consider the fact that God is infinitely better than we are as a reducio ad adsurbum of the eternal torment doctrines.

    But we’ve probably very different approaches. I see the Bible as the errant reports of human experiences with and thoughts about God, in the same way you view books from C.S. Lewis.

    There are many things I can accept about God, but not that He is less than perfect.

    My sleepy greetings from Germany, where it is 00:40 am.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son



    1. We are getting pretty far away from ideas of post…

      Yes our approaches to Scripture differ making the conversation harder (not impossible just more difficult). One example is the genocide issues in Joshua and other places in the Old Testament. Yet whether or not one thinks they are divine directives or human attributions or even if they are historical or not – the issue is not that one side thinks they are good and the other bad (at least not in my opinion). They are hard texts for all that we must wrestle with together, not use as proof texts against each other.

      However, I agree with you that I cannot accept God as less than perfect. But I am not sure we would agree on the definition of perfect.


  4. Self Forgetfulness

    But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

    -1 Corinthians 3:4

    When [Paul] says that he does not let the Corinthians judge him nor will he judge himself, he is saying that the knows about his sins but he does not connect them to himself and his identity. His sins and his identity are not connected. When he does something wrong or something good, he does not connect it to himself anymore.


    A few day ago I read a short book by Timothy Keller called “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness.”

    I love what Keller says in the quote above, that Paul doesn’t connect anything he does to his identity anymore. Not the good, and not the bad.

    Do you know why Paul is able to do that? Because when the Father see’s us, He see’s Jesus. Our identity is truly “hidden” in Christ. His identity is our identity. I don’t have to fear the judgments of men and women…I don’t even have to fear my own judgments of myself. (which are often extreme one way or the other!)

    Before God, the verdict is in. There is no condemnation for me. There is no condemnation for you. We’re clean. Totally guilty of sin, but declared not guilty because we are covered in the blood, life, and identity of Christ.

    Later Keller talks about how this verdict gives me the freedom to perform. That simply means this, most of us are so busy performing, working hard to get the verdict from others, or from ourselves, or from God that we are good enough. That we are valuable. That we can make the cut.

    But working for that verdict is crippling. Human approval is fleeting and temporary. Trying to gain the approval of God on our own is impossible due to the enormous gravity of our sin.

    The work of Jesus secured your verdict. There is no more need to perform in light of coming judgment for those of us in Christ. He declares us valuable by making us His own. When judged by the Lord, He will see Christ all over us, in us, and through us. That’s good news for us. Now we are free to perform, free to love others, free to become more like Christ, free to grow in holiness because we want to,…because we see the beauty in becoming like Christ…and because we love Him.

    I want to be more like Paul in this way. All the good things and bad things I do…I want to stop attaching those things to my identity. When I attach the “good” things to my identity, I get puffed up in pride. When I attach the “bad” things to my identity, I become deflated and unmotivated.

    I am who God says I am. I am a blood-bought son of God. That will never ever change.

    Living in this verdict, keeping it fresh in our mind, is also what helps us grown in genuine humility. I’ll leave you with a few quotes that help show this.

    Let’s stop living to get the verdict from others, ourselves, and even from the Lord. If we believe in Christ, the verdict is in and we can now rest in it and do truly good works because of it.

    If we were to meet a truly humble person, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble.


    the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.



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