Aaron Renn raises this interesting question on Twitter:
Responses range from Tim Keller to Douglas Wilson to CR Wiley to John Piper.
What’s fascinating about this is that I came to dedicate my life to Christ because of Christian intellectuals, and none of them were listed anywhere. In particular, William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland were instrumental in the formation of my worldview and faith.
Then I realized something.
The list of “intellectuals” listed are all Reformed ministers and journalists. There are no non-Reformed guys. There are no philosophers. Renn’s audience is primarily Reformed, though not exclusively, which leads to the easy – though tentative – conclusion that Reformed folks typically don’t really read outside their circle. I’ve noticed this in the past in other contexts, so I have more data than a single tweet. Those of us who reject that theology often read lots of people outside our circle. Given how many Christian authors of the past few centuries were Reformed, that shouldn’t be surprising.
I would nominate either Craig or Moreland as America’s leading Christian intellectual. Both are masterful thinkers with large influence, many written works, and both possess wide-ranging knowledge. They also have the advantage of being analytical philosophers, and I have found over the years that I trust philosophers to handle theology better than theologians, who often can’t think cleanly or clearly about the subject. In fact, I don’t even have a good systematic theology I’d recommend as a result, but look forward to Craig’s Philosophical Theology.
All of this is to get to a few important points:
- If you are Reformed, this post isn’t trying to change your mind (not that I don’t write those sometimes) about your theology. But it is to change your mind about who you read. You have good authors, but there are even better thinkers, in my mind, that you’ve never read. Don’t keep making that mistake.
- Avoid denominational isolation. Sure, reject those groups that themselves reject clear teaching on the heresies of the day (today, mostly sexual and political heresies). But among other faithful Christians, don’t make the mistake of ignoring them because they don’t hold all the same views as you do on doctrines we are free to disagree about.
- When you read good Reformed authors on subjects like masculinity, politics, history, etc, realize that they might have the same blind spot as the readers of Renn’s Twitter feed.
- Read Christian philosophy.