Yes and No, states Dr. Fred Sanders on Middlebrow. Once theologians (scholarly or layman) get going on the questions of the atonement, incarnation, or the Trinity, the discussion gets deeply complex quickly.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. If intellectual Christians care about simply trusting in Jesus why are they in a hurry to go beyond simply trusting in Jesus?

    When Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself, a Jewish intellectual was quick to ask, ‘Who is my neighbor?’.

    Perhaps the Jewish teacher might have said, “Once we intellectuals (scholarly or layman) get going on this question of who is one’s neighbor the discussion gets deeply complex quickly.”

    Jesus’ reponse is not to make the command more complex. He makes the command totally simple.

    He tells a parable and then asks: “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

    That is to say, what we need to know, we already know.


  2. Your point is well taken, but if you look at Sanders’ post, you will find he is not talking about the skeptical intellectual. Rather, he refers to the one who earnestly desires to know more about God.

    When you say, “what we need to know, we already know,” I must distinguish. If we know Jesus is the Son of God, He died on the cross for our sins and rose again, in a sense we know enough. But the human mind is capable of far more complexity than that. The Bible pushes us to think hard about what it means for Jesus to be the Son of God (and fully man), for Him to die for our sins, and how God raised Him from the dead.

    One of my mentors asks his students: “If I tell everyone I love my wife, but after years of marriage I can’t tell you the color of her eyes, would you not suspect my claim?” His point is that if we love God, we should get very serious about finding out who He is. We must – and get to – know Him more.

    I think you are rightly pointing out that many “intellectuals” would rather put debates between themselves and the penetrating issue, e.g. the Good Samaritan story and context. But let us not heep them all together. Instead, let us not only allow room for genuine inquiry, but also encourage such inquiry and even demand it of our fellow Christians to the maximum capability God has given them.

    I’m going to make this into a post as well because it’s an important issue. My students need to think about this. Let me know what you think, MakeLoveHappen.


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