I have been swept away. This article by Allen Guelzo (whose dissertation benefited my own, and whose work on Lincoln and the Civil War is waiting for me on my Kindle) is a must-read for every Christian academic. If there’s anything in the world wrong with it, I can’t discern it in my current emotional state of utter persuasion.
How can a self-described (sometimes, to the right people, like you I guess) “fundamentalist” not swoon to hear, quoting Roger Olson no less,
“It’s been a long time since I heard the word ‘worldly’ uttered in an evangelical church. The line between us and the secular world and its forms of entertainment has just about disappeared.” And again: “evangelical Christians knew their Bibles forward and backward. … All that has gone away. The vast majority of evangelicals, in my experience, know very little about the Bible and never memorize any portion of it. Evangelical sermons are as likely to quote Dr. Seuss as Paul the Apostle.”
Amen and amen. And Guelzo’s call for Christian academics to stand with Christ rather than “swim[ming] unknowingly in a sea of secular assumptions and drown[ing] in a warm bath of secular approbation” is, is… I’m speechless.
But the most affecting portion of the article for me was the precious anecdote at the beginning:
It is very nearly four decades since, as a terribly callow graduate student with an interest in philosophy, I made a pilgrimage with a friend to the home of a professor of Christian apologetics. I was looking for direction, and even though Cornelius Van Til had been retired for many years, he was known to welcome inquirers—whom he often greeted on his front porch with a rake in hand, suggesting that perhaps they could pile-up his leaves for him before they talked.
I was hoping to hear an intimidating, intellectually-convoluted, scholastic, metaphysical strategy for blowing the philosopher’s version of Gideon’s trumpet. So I asked Van Til, then pushing eighty but with still the hard white comb of hair brushed back from his cliff-like Dutch brow, and the smile of an old Dutch dairy farmer (which his father had been), “Dr. Van Til, why did you decide to devote your life to the study of philosophy and the teaching of apologetics?”
And I then sat back to allow the metaphysics free room to roll. Kees Van Til never blinked.
“Why,” he said, “to protect Christ’s little ones.”
That is precisely why I and my team of friends at BJU Press wrote Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and wrote it along Van Tillian lines. That is all our heart. The best protection for Christ’s little ones—be they 18 as my readers will be when the book hits schools next year—is a thorough and rigorous faith in God’s Word. There are plenty of wolves out there who profess faith in Christ and then, in a thousand ways overt and implicit, say, “Yea, hath God said?” Christ’s little ones need a lot of protection in this Internet-savvy world. They need armament; swords (Eph. 6:17) designed to battle wolves.
HT: Justin Taylor
Finally got around to reading this. Two quotes in particular struck me:
First, “But the revivalists’ resistance faded, eroded by the pressure to re-package evangelical Christianity as refined and tasteful.”
I think it is popular today to dismiss revivalism. What is tragic is that the evangelicals and fundamentalists who do fail to realize their own place in the world was won by the ministry and sacrifices of revivalist forerunners. They may have had their flaws, who doesn’t? But their contribution was great and their philosophy, by and large, is sorely missed today.
Second, “Until it has occurred to us that we don’t care whether the eyes of anyone are upon us, exile will not become a viable alternative.”
We need to be pilgrims and strangers again.
Great article, Mark. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.