The "entrenched intellectualists"2
The second group to which Packer draws our attention in The Quest for Godliness are called “entrenched intellectualists.” I readily acknowledged the accuracy of his portrayal of this sort of “evangelical,” insofar as I used to be one!
“Constantly they present themselves as rigid, argumentative, critical Christians, champions of God’s truth for whom orthodoxy is all. Upholding and defending their own veiw 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 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 that they have” (31-32).
So what does Puritanism offer against arrid intellectualism?
“First, true religion claims the affections as well as the intellect; . . . Second, theological truth is for practice. . . . Third, conceptual knowledge kills if one does not move on from knowing notions to knowing the realities to which they refer – in this case, from knowing about God to a relational acquaintance with God himelf. Fourth, faith and repentance, issuing in a life of love and holiness, that is, of gratitude expressed in goodwill and good works, are explicitly called for in the gospel. Fifth, the Spirit is given to lead us into close companionship with others in Christ. Sixth, the discpline of discursive meditation is meant to keep us ardent and adoring in our love affair with God. Seventh, it is ungodly and scandalous to become a firebrand and cause division in the church, and it is ordinarily nothing more reputable than spiritual pride in its intellectual form that leads men to create parties and splits” (32).
To be continued . . .