Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Entrenched Intellectuallist - J.I. Packer Part 2

Now we move on to the entrenched intellectualist.

“Think now of the entrenched intellectualists in the evangelical world: a second familiar breed, though not as common as the previous type. Some of them seem to be victims of an insecure temperament and inferiority feelings, others to be reacting out of pride or pain against the zaniness of experientialism as they perceived it, but whatever the source of their syndrome the behavior-pattern in which they express it is distinctive and characteristic. Constantly they present themselves as rigid, argumentative, critical Christians, champions of God’s truth for whom orthodoxy is all. Upholding and defending their own view of that truth. Whether Calvinist or Arminian, dispensational or Pentecostal, national church reformist or Free Church separatist, or whatever it might be, is their leading interest, and they invest themselves unstintingly in this task. There is little warmth about them; relationally they are remote; experiences do not mean much to them; winning the battle for mental correctness is their one great purpose. They see, truly enough, that in our anti-rational, feeling-oriented, instant-gratification culture conceptual knowledge of divine things is undervalued, and they seek with passion to right the balance at this point. They understand the priority of the intellect well; the trouble is that intellectualism, expressing itself in endless campaigns for their own brand of right thinking, is almost if not quite all that they can offer, for it is almost if not quite all they have.”

J.I. Packer – A Quest for Godliness

In an effort to make sure Packer is not misrepresented here, let me say that packer is not against being “bubbly” or ‘intellectual’ they simply are not the ends in themselves for which Christ called us.


P.S. Just so no one has to make a comment regarding it, yes I know I have shown these characteristics from time to time. (Even though I lack the intellect needed.) May God give me grace to resist this.


At Thursday, February 02, 2006 12:57:00 AM, Blogger missmellifluous said...

Wow. Packer is insightful. It is indeed hard find a balance between fighting or struggling to understand the truth of scripture while expressing love for eachother - whatever our theological positions may be. Sometimes I am saddened by the intellectualism of churches (mine included), yet I seek one that is scripturally solid. Sometimes I feel like we are more passionate about getting our theology right than seeking God for who he is and worshiping him. It's so complex. We sure do need to feel and think about our faith. I'd like to hear how others try to balance the two...

At Thursday, February 02, 2006 4:02:00 AM, Blogger Michael Pendleton said...

Well, I have decided that I am not an entrenched intellectuallist either although I believe I too may show "these characteristics from time to time."
I can be bubbly when I'm driving along and He Reigns from the Newsboys is blasting! Hands up, druming on the stearing wheel.
Not sure what the balance is. I read everyone's views since I don't believe ignorance is bliss. I'm about half way through the Quran now but I'm not going to run out and start a debat with a Muslim about why they are wrong.
I think the most excited bubbly moments I have is when God presents a new truth to me that challenges my intellect.

At Thursday, February 02, 2006 5:17:00 AM, Blogger One of Freedom said...

It is interesting that the Puritans, Moravians, Pietists, Quakers, etc. all grew up in response to the Enlightenment. Not that the poles didn't exist earlier, but really it is in response to the void left by throwing all of our hopes on the faculty of reason that started a great pendulum swinging. In Christiandom we've had numerous successive swings from the reasonable Unitarianism of Newton to the ecstatic faith of Fox. Both capture essential elements of a healthy faith to the exclusion of the other pole. I think it is very healthy to note the poles and move toward the middle - then maybe we can envision smaller swings in that pendulum that has far too often split Christ's Church.

I haven't read Packer in quite a while, I might just pull Quest down off my shelf and give er a gander again.

At Thursday, February 02, 2006 6:17:00 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Hmmmm. This one hits close to home for me. Of course, I'm not cold or unrelational but I need to watch out for this nonetheless.

At Thursday, February 02, 2006 7:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all can be more into being Scripturally and doctrinanlly correct, without much love. However, if we keep our focus on Jesus and the cross we will not forget to love, and enjoy the doctrines which we hold dear. I fall into the category of desiring doctrinal integrity and forgetting the love and joy of it at times too. The Lord always has a way of reminding me of His love.

At Thursday, February 02, 2006 8:55:00 AM, Blogger Radical One said...

i wonder if thru God's sense of humor, if He doesn't allow us different characteristics and has a deep chuckle when we start trying to point fingers, all the while knowing we're never going to be exactly alike.

on the other hand, perhaps He created us different also to let us work as a team, and accomplish more. the game of fast pitch softball comes to mind (since my girls play). one's a pitcher, one's a catcher. when the pitcher throws a 60mph fast ball, she needs the catcher to be there to frame it for a strike. and of course they also need the other 7 players to cover the field when the ball is hit.

at the same time, i do feel it's healthy for us to realize our strengths and weaknesses, just as your posts are doing so well. in fact, i wish that more people would put time and effort into learning more so that we can be a more effective team for Jesus!

thanks for all you're doing.


At Thursday, February 02, 2006 9:09:00 AM, Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Packer declares:
"Constantly they [Evangelical Intellectualists] present themselves as rigid, argumentative, critical Christians, champions of God’s truth for whom orthodoxy is all."

and . . .

"There is little warmth about them; relationally they are remote; experiences do not mean much to them; winning the battle for mental correctness is their one great purpose."

This sounds like a whole host of evangelicals that I know of. Packer is very insightful here, especially since he has been personally attacked by many of these types of evangelicals for various reasons.

At Thursday, February 02, 2006 9:20:00 AM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

There are two problems with both extremes. One is the sense of pride and sometimes arrogance that comes from being convinced that one is right. The second is that it tends to make us close-minded and unwilling to listen and learn.

It is possible to both "taste and see" that God is good.

At Thursday, February 02, 2006 10:40:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

We've have a deep bunch of comments here. This is why I like the comment feature on the blog. I can gain insight from you all.


At Thursday, February 02, 2006 11:45:00 AM, Blogger Jada's Gigi said...

Intellectualism and emotionalism both stem from the soul and are therefore unreliable. God is Spirit and must be known and worshiped in Gordon says, let us "taste and see" that teh Lord is good.

At Friday, February 03, 2006 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

that raises an interesting question. I can only perceive my intellect and my emotions, I cannot perceive my 'spirit'. So how do I try to live by my 'spirit'?

That sounds far more unreliable than living by intellect. At least intellect (when applied well) is more objective than anything else at our disposal.

My intellect can tell me what emotions are valid or not. It can tell me which actions, thoughts, and attitudes are righteous. It was Packer's intellect that told him to avoid entrenched intellectualism.

At Monday, February 06, 2006 9:12:00 AM, Blogger Joshua Ritchie said...

It was Packer's intellect that told him to avoid entrenched intellectualism.

That's sounds pretty funny, although you may not have intended it to be.

I used to think that living by the Spirit was hard to understand as well. I mean, how do you know if what you're doing is your own idea/leading or the leading of God's Spirit?

I thought Unger's book, The Baptist And Gifts of the Holy Spirit, was quite helpful. In it he teaches that walking by the Spirit is simply knowing what the scripture says and then yielding to it intellectually, emotionally, in action, etc. Obviously, it is the Holy Spirit that helps us to know and obey the word of the Lord. In doing so, I think that we then think rightly, feel rightly and act rightly.

I may be oversimplifying things here for sake of conversation & comment length.

At Monday, February 06, 2006 9:23:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...


You bring up a good point with which I agree.



That is the way I understand walking in the Spirit too. I'll have to check out that book.

Thanks for your insight.


At Monday, February 06, 2006 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Joshua Ritchie said...


It is "The Baptism and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit"....not Baptist. My bad.


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