Sermon quotes on anti-intellectualism

Dallas Willard

Feelings are, with a few exceptions, good servants. But they are disastrous masters.

The Renovation of the Heart (NavPress, 2002)

Dallas Willard

Stupidity and ignorance, even if chosen in response to warnings against pride of intellect, do not guarantee love or spirituality. 

“The Call to Think for God” (1989)

Dallas Willard

But disdain – even mere lack – of intelligence, of thought, of knowledge, proves itself to be capable of as great a pride, and of as great a lovelessness or hatred, as does the greatest scholarship or intellectual ability. There is no advantage to spiritual life from mere ignorance or intellectual dimness.

“The Call to Think for God” (1989)

Dallas Willard

It is, after all, not intellect that is a threat to spirituality, but pride of intellect, a reliance on, a trust in, a worship of intellect. 

“The Call to Think for God” (1989)


Mark Noll

The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Eerdmans, 1995)


Isaac Asimov

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

“A Cult of Ignorance” Newsweek, January 21, 1980,


Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

Letters and Papers from Prison (Fortress Press, 2010)

Cotton Mather

Ignorance is the mother not of devotion but of heresy.

Charles Malik

I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. But intellectual nurture cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit. People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking. The result is that the arena of creative thinking is vacated and abdicated to the enemy… It will take a different spirit altogether to overcome this great danger of anti-intellectualism. For example, I say this different spirit, so far as philosophy alone — the most important domain for thought and intellect — is concerned, must see the tremendous value of spending an entire year doing nothing but poring intensely over the Republic or the Sophist of Plato, or two years over the Metaphysics or the Ethics of Aristotle, or three years over the City of God of Augustine.

“The Other Side of Evangelism”, Christianity Today, 7 November 1980.


C. S. Lewis

God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers.

Mere Christianity (MacMillan, 1977)

J. Gresham Machen

Intellectual slothfulness is but a quack remedy for unbelief; the true remedy is consecration of intellectual powers to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Education, Christianity & the State (Trinity Foundation, 2004)

Os Guiness

At root, evangelical anti-intellectualism is both a scandal and a sin. It is a scandal in the sense of being an offense and a stumbling block that needlessly hinders serious people from considering the Christian faith and coming to Christ. It is a sin because it is a refusal, contrary to the first of Jesus’ two great commandments, to love the Lord our God with our minds. 

Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do about It (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994)

Michael Scott (Steve Carrell)

I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.

The Office

Benjamin Franklin (apocryphal)

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

Caroline Leaf

A large part of the problem is that we’ve lost much of our ability to think deeply. We’ve forgotten the art of deep and focused mind-management. We want things fast, quick, now. We often don’t want to put in the hard work that leads to true change, or we’ve never been taught what this kind of work looks like.

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking (Baker Publishing Group, 2021).

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

To love God intellectually is to become a student of God—a student who really takes an interest in God. Have you ever noticed that a fair number of Christians are not particularly interested in God? Some of them are ministers. These are people who don’t ask about God, don’t talk about God, and maybe don’t even think about God unless they really have to. Their interest in God seems merely professional.

Isn’t this strange? Shouldn’t we be somewhat preoccupied with God? Isn’t that what lovers do? They get preoccupied with their beloved. They notice things about the one they love.

“Intellectual Love of God” Pro Rege (2016)

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