Old Habits Die Hard.
The word anti-intellectualism is nowadays synonymous to Christianity, especially Evangelicals and Pentecostals.
By way of background an anti-intellectual is simply a person who believes that intellect and reason are less important than actions and emotions in solving practical problems and understanding reality.
Anti intellectualism is alien to Judeo-Christian culture or history. In fact as well as others the term ‘Teacher’ was one of Jesus’ titles. Judges, Kings, Priests, Rabbis, Prophets, the disciples, and even Paul were all seasoned intellectuals. We can still see this today in the priority the Jews give to academia, and the position they hold in most professions in leading economies.
Anti intellectualism crept into Christianity by stealth. As churches became elitist, break away faction (who were mostly from the poor and underclass) started reorienting towards the idea of “being led by the spirit”. These poor uneducated well meaning leaders were solely dependent on “signs and wonders” as they lacked basic education, not to mention theological training. Doctrines, exegesis, and interpretation became skewed; and those who dare question them were ostracised from their congregations.
One of these breakaway factions is the Pentecostal movement, which came out of the Methodist movement. As this group attracted the poor and underclass, they found affinity with the oppressed, especially those within Black communities in the West and developing World – owing to their common struggle.
Much later some within the movement saw the need for theological education and training, but by this time habits had been formed which made their way into the curriculum as doctrines. Besides, most people within the movement did not see the need for training or education as all they needed was prayer, fasting and “signs and wonders” to vindicate their activities.
For those who have “eyes to see”, when we fast forward to the 21st century we see the damaging effect of poor theological understanding, epitomised in anti intellectualism. As a result, ignorance and mediocrity prevails.
Jesus challenged Nicodemus,
“Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? – (John 3:10)
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