on wednesday night, as i was leafing through neil lanctot’s excellent historical survey negro league baseball: the rise and ruin of a black institution, my eyes drifted over to one of our bookshelves. resting somewhat conspicuously on the bookshelf was james sire’s the universe next door. for some reason, the sight of this book got me thinking.
i thought about how books like the universe next door, the scandal of the evangelical mind and worldviews in conflict have challenged young evangelicals, including myself, to pursue academic studies with rigor and fully apply our intellect to the Christian faith. i thought about how the desire of evangelicals to attain intellectual credibility has intentionally or unintentionally resulted in a lot of the progressive and innovative thought that we see in circles such as emergent.
i feel like we were taught to study rigorously and expand our experience of life, but then quickly return to the assumptions of our evangelical forbears. for instance, in seminary i felt like they handed us the tools of textual criticism, which exposed the rich layers of tradition and compilation in the Pentateuch, and then expected us to faithfully affirm and fight to the death for the assumption of mosaic authorship. moreover, the uncompromising evangelical commitment to mission has introduced many of us us to, and encouraged us to invest in, cultures throughout the world, yet when we returned home we were expected to leave our cultural assumptions unchallenged and our methodologies unchanged.
i hope that no one hears me hammering on our evangelical tradition here or scoffing at those who have trained and invested so fully in our lives. this is not an attack of any sort. i just find it interesting how initiatives such as the evangelical scramble for intellectual credibility give birth to such unintended consequences.