Christianity: Intellectual Suicide? (Groothuis)






“Some [people] refuse to give Christianity the time of day because they deem it anti-intellectual – a religion that values ignorance and credulity far above critical intelligence.  In his satirical book, “The Devil’s Dictionary” (1911), Ambrose Bierce defined faith as, ‘Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.’  In a book on how to leave one’s religion behind, Marlene Winell writes of a young man named Sandy who was in her ‘religious recovery support group,’ who lost his faith in college through an encounter with an anti-intellectual pastor.  The young man was experiencing doubts as a result of what he was exposed to in college.  Instead of addressing these questions head-on, the pastor kept changing the subject.  One day, when pressed by the young man, the pastor replied, ‘Sandy, it’s about time we call this what it is – sin.’  The young man left the church and Christianity, being unwilling to follow ‘a religion that made thinking a sin.’”

“No one should be willing to follow a religion that decapitates critical thinking.  Anti-intellectualism has quite a grip in many aspects of American culture, not only in the Christian church.  The reasons for the irrational faith shown in some aspects of American Christianity are numerous and will not concern us here except to say that none of the reasons flow from the Bible itself or from the best and truest elements of the Christian tradition.  While some have pitted faith against reason, the Bible does not endorse blind leaps of faith in the dark but rather speaks of the knowledge of God gained through various rational means.  Instead of a ‘leap’ of faith, it commends a well-informed and volitional ‘step’ of faith. …We find then that Christianity should encourage a robust life of the mind and that many philosophers today are owning and defending Christianity philosophically.  There is therefore no reason to refuse to consider Christianity on the (false) basis that in demands intellectual suicide” (p. 95-96, 98).

Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics (Downers’ Grove, IVP, 2011).

rev shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)
hammond, wi

3 thoughts on “Christianity: Intellectual Suicide? (Groothuis)”

  1. “Christian Apologetics” by Douglas Groothuis quote from pgs.95,96,98 “the Bible does not endorse blind leaps of faith in the dark but rather speaks of the knowledge of God gained through various rational means” I’d like to see that statement qualified; as the natural man cannot obtain a saving knowledge of God through any use of his carnal mind Rom 8:7 The enlightened mind in regeneration is called to reason with God; “Come let us reason together…” Isa 1:18 and is shown the Father by the Son Matt11:27


  2. The fact remains Shane, that it is sin. Unbelief is always sin. Faith is believing what The Lord tells you. That’s called obedience. I’m sure you understand that it’s the Holy Spirit that convicts. In this case, he hasn’t convicted this person – yet. No amount of human persuasion or lack of it will stop the Holy Spirit if He wants to convict the person. I recall RC Sproul saying that he hated a particular bumper sticker. The sticker said “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” What do you think he hated about that sticker?


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  3. Kevin & Sam: This quote from Groothuis was a discussion of epistemology, not soteriology. I know the two are very much related, but here, Groothuis was simply saying in apologetic terms that Christianity has to do with the mind – thinking and reason. To become a Christian doesn’t mean to become an idiot.


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