Scholarship and the Global Church—Why the Church Needs Scholars

Thesis: The calling to scholarship and academic work is crucial for the health and advancement of the global Church.

1. Excuses given for anti-intellectualism
2. Legitimate reasons for suspicion of education
3. Acknowledging the limitations of education
4. Ways scholars serve the Church and magnify the work of Christ
A. God created the mind and commands us to seek both knowledge and wisdom.
B. The Bible shows the importance of engaging the academy.
C. Lives and destinies are transformed in the classroom, for good or for ill.
D. Ideas have consequences.
E. Christian scholars help the Church understand the Bible better.
F. Christian scholars help fellow believers learn how to think critically.
G. Christian scholars help fellow believers know how to effectively communicate the Gospel.
H. Christian scholars help fellow believers know how to defend biblical truth.
I. Christian scholars help fellow believers develop and live out a Christian worldview.
J. Christian scholars are better able to reach the secular world of education with the Gospel.

As academics we mistakenly assume that most believers understand the necessary role we play in God’s work and thus many believers fail to understand why the Church needs education and scholarship. This failure often leads to skepticism if not outright anti-intellectualism among Christians.

Tragically, usually anti-intellectualism leads to a Gnostic dichotomy between sacred and secular and fails to acknowledge that Christ’s lordship is cosmic and comprehensive and is not limited to the spiritual realm. Such a dichotomy, an intrinsic part of anti-intellectualism, refuses to declare Christ’s lordship over the life of the mind and the world of knowledge. Consequently, if we are serious about saving souls, we must also be serious about ideas and education at all levels, because ideas have consequences. Precisely because evangelism and missions are indeed crucial, scholarship is strategic.

The Church desperately needs scholars who are called by God, and the lost world needs scholars who are called by God as well. This is why the Church must make the scholarship a priority today.

This paper will help evangelical academics explain why our scholarly work is significant and that our work in the academy is indeed a holy calling—a ministry. It will motivate scholars to make sure their work is serving the mission of both the global Church and the local church.

This paper will draw from Christian worldview literature, as well as research in apologetics, missiology, and education.

By better understanding our calling as well as the reasons and excuses for suspicion of scholarship, we as academics can respond humbly, cogently, and patiently to fellow-believers who are skeptical about higher education.