The Role of the Christian Scholar In An Era of Darkness

A Scholar in his Study. Thomas Wyck

In this awful time, as barbarism is accepted at the highest levels of national leadership and heresy becomes routine in the church, what must the Christian scholar do? Scott Culpepper, a professor of history at Dordt College, has a guest post at the Anxious Bench that deserves to be widely read. He writes:

Christian scholars across the spectrum of theological traditions share a common commitment to fostering intellectual and spiritual maturity, rationality, integrity, and humility in our students, the church and in our cultures.  The Trump presidential campaign and transition phase descended to the level of rejecting in both words and very public deeds each of these fundamental ideals.  Careful consideration of facts, disciplined analysis of sources, and respectful treatment of other human beings assumed the position of secondary considerations as people rushed to express their angst over the perceived failures of the amorphous “establishment” by elevating a man to power who cares for none of these things.  Those of us who invest our lives daily in advocating the alternative stand at best as an inconvenience and at worse as an impediment that must be undermined or removed…

Christian scholars are indeed a subversive influence.  Critics are right in labeling us a subversive influence if what they mean is that we subvert the subordination of facts to falsehoods calculated to sway popular opinion, the substitution of shallow shibboleths for deeper reflection, and the sacrifice of principle on the profane altar of political expediency.  And there will be a greater need for us to keep on subverting these things with all the energy we can muster in the age of Trump.

The times call for renewed conviction, creativity and courage on the part of Christian scholars.  The masses may not know they need us, but they need us.  The endorsement of popular influence as a virtue in the framing of our American republic was predicated on the hope that education and character formation would equip people to exercise their rights intelligently.  No one is better prepared than Christian scholars and the institutions they serve to provide this kind of education infused with serious attention to character formation.

Read the whole thing. And let there be no mistake: fulfilling our calling in this time may mean that we will become exiles from our own communities. Our very existence as people who are both Christians and scholars is a threat to the white nationalist church.

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