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Matthew Lee Anderson on Being Intellectual Heirs

Fitzgerald’s framing of the developments obscures the fact that a generation of evangelical Christians paved the way for younger evangelicals like us to value the life of the mind. Noll’s book was published in 1994, well after the renaissance in philosophy was underway (which was based on the work of Alvin Plantinga and others). While this renaissance has yet to be replicated in every discipline, as someone close to the world of evangelical higher education, it is clear to me that we younger evangelicals are the heirs, and not the founders, of a renewed tradition of evangelical intellectualism.

… Anti-intellectualism only goes “all the way down” if we discard the witness of those evangelicals, both now and throughout history, who wholeheartedly engaged the life of the mind while keeping the experiential character of their faith. Our man Wesley, we should remember, was an Oxford man. ¶ What I would propose is not that the experience-based aspect of evangelicalism recede, but rather that it mature — and that we properly locate it in the context of sound doctrine, a robust ecclesial life, and the practices of the spiritual disciplines. ¶ Let every heart be warmed, as they were for Wesley, and then let them go read as many books as Wesley read and pray like Wesley prayed. There is nothing intrinsic to evangelical theology or culture that suggests a properly evangelical intellectualism is impossible.