Intellectual Leadership in the 21st Century Kingdom
Leadership is influence. The people that have the most influence in the church are thus the leaders. Perhaps someone sits in the church pew and is very quiet at church, but that person is very active behind the scenes, having a dynamic influence on the congregation. Such an unsung Christian is a leader. Unfortunately, influence can be of an evil nature. One primary reason that evil influence takes hold in the church is due to apathetic souls, unwilling to crave and fill the intellect with wisdom and knowledge.
J. P. Moreland speaks to the lack of intellectual endeavors among modern Christians in his book Love Your God With All Your Mind. Therein he states, “Whoever controls the thinking leadership of the church, in a culture, will eventually control the church itself,” (Moreland 24). Consider this in light of those who were leading the parties in Corinth. The Corinthian leadership elevated human wisdom over the wisdom of God. A corrupt church was the result, the fruit of a corrupt intellect. In response to this Moreland would respond, “If we are going to be a wise, spiritual people prepared to meet the crises of our age, we must be a studying, learning community that values the life of the mind,” (40).
The leadership of the church must have the same mission as Jesus Chris: seek, save the lost, and increase the disciple’s faith (Luke 17:5, 19:10). Jesus gave a Great Commission to do just that. He told his disciples to baptize and teach said disciples to observe all things He commanded (Mt. 28). However, just because a man stands in a pulpit offering emotional rhetoric, even advocating virtue, does not mean the church is being intellectually stimulated, and their faith (grounded in evidence) being built.
Knowledge is power, and leaders should have this power. “We give surgeons and not carpenters the right to cut us open precisely because surgeons have the relevant knowledge not possessed by carpenters,” (Moreland 28). Knowledge makes one bold and strengthens them in their conviction. And while that boldness can be wielded inappropriately to produce pride and condescension, society has relegated humans to the idea that any claim to spiritual knowledge whatsoever, is an automatic vice and show of pride.
Contrary to modern views of knowledge, “The spiritually mature person is a wise person. And a wise person has the savvy, and skill necessary to lead an exemplary life and to address the issues of the day in a responsible, attractive way that brings honor to God,” (Moreland 40). If our spiritual leaders sought the intellectual knowledge of God, while utilizing it with the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs, this end could be reasonably achieved amidst those who would regardless doubt. Knowledge is valuable, knowledge in God’s will is the highest value, and to reason towards that knowledge should be the foundation for those who would be the church’s leaders.
In concluding these thoughts on intellectual leadership, consider one last quip from J. P. Moreland. “God is certainly not a cultural elitist, and He does not love intellectuals more than anyone else. But it needs to be said in the same breath that ignorance is not a Christian virtue if those virtues mirror the perfection of God’s own character,” (46). Realizing this truth makes it clear why Israel was destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). So will the leaders and constituents of the 21st century church be laid to destruction if the apathetic intellect of American culture persists within this blood bought institution.
Moreland, J. P. Love Your God With All Your Mind, 2nd ed., NAVPRESS, 2012, pp. 24, 28, 40, 46.