The Gospel and The Mind 12-14 Jan 2023
What does the gospel have to do with the intellectual life? This question is not so much asked, as it is tragically ignored. There is today a common and widespread belief that the Gospel is an experience and positive feeling, mainly practical in its benefits.
This is a huge departure from the past, where, for much of the history of Christianity, it has been a given that “Wherever the gospel is planted, the academy follows."
As the Bible itself reveals, Christianity's effect on the individual and society is at the very least intellectual, since even regeneration and conversion are described not least in terms of the renewal of the mind (compare Eph 2.3 vs 4.23). The Bible's view of the Christian life, everywhere presumes, expects and explains a conversion and continued transformation of one's intellectual life at the very heart.
The loss of clarity and this sad state of Christianity has rippled through the very halls of civilisation that it gave rise to, including higher education. Phillip Jensen speaking more than two decades ago, bemoaned the turning of universities into merely vocational schools for getting jobs. C. John Sommerville, in his book The Decline of the Secular University, observes, “Universities are not giving us much practice at formulating worldviews, in [their] haste to fit us for our jobs." Reflecting on all of this Dr. Brad Green speaks of the 'troubling reality among my contemporaries marked by a genuine ignorance of the past, a lack of grounding in the cultural and intellectual inheritance of the West, and perhaps most sadly, no sort of remorse or recognition that this situation might be a bad thing.'.
But more is expected of us Christians here. In Asia we are neither free of what has taken place in the West, and neither can we sustain a Christian life that is God-pleasing if we have only an experience-centric Christian life. Even now, younger generations in the church brought up on a diet of activity and hype, struggle with meaning, including in everyday life. But as Dr. Green will explain, the life of the mind is a gracious gift, is a part of the whole life of the person, and must always serve larger purposes than simply the acquisition of facts. This is part of a rich, deep, and accurate understanding of the Gospel, as seen in 'Jesus’ command to love God with our minds, in Paul’s teaching that Christians are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and in Augustine’s and Anselm’s teaching of “faith seeking understanding,” which holds that true understanding is always rooted in a previous faith commitment to the Mind behind all knowledge.'
This Fellow Workers' Conference promises to be a much needed time of appreciating the relationship between the atonement and the life of the mind. It is God's gift of the Gospel, of the knowledge of Him and us in His world, that provides the very framework for all understanding, and for it to be meaningful according to His glorious good purpose. Nothing lies outside the good and providential workings of God. Psalms 36.9, “In Thy light we shall see light.” Referring to Matthew 11:27, Origen speaks of Christ as “the image by which we come to the knowledge of the Father, whom no one knows save the Son, and he to whom the Son is pleased to reveal Him.” Origen continues, “The method of revealing Him is through the understanding.”
As in the West, and especially where the Gospel has yet to take root, for us here in Asia, the fact that the church in the West is now experiencing the effects of the gospel ceasing to permeate and influence their culture such that the possibility of knowledge and even meaning is itself confused, serves as a warning for us to take very seriously the Gospel and the Mind. In our largely experience-centric Christianity, we easily and unwittingly dichotomise intellectual activity from the Christian life to our own loss and debilitation in the church. Not only does our Christian understanding and ministry directly suffer, but the way in which we pursue even the things of daily life will fail to be God-pleasing.
The Gospel is about receiving knowledge, the knowledge of God that explains and directs us to be able to give glory to Him in all aspects, including the life of the mind.
Let us then be educated or be taught anew the Gospel in its capacity to make sense of our lives, and thus our capacity to live for Him, with renewed minds. Nothing less than a recovery of Christ and the gospel then is at stake this FWC 2023. Let us make every effort to be with each other as Fellow Workers of the Gospel in this fifteenth FWC.
(all quotes of Dr. Bradley G. Green are taken from his book 'The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life')
Dr. Bradley G. Green
Dr. Bradley G. Green is Professor of Theological Studies at Union University as well as Professor of Philosophy and Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has a B.A. from Northeast Louisiana University, an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Th.M. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D from Baylor University.
He is the author of several books:
- The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life (Crossway)
- Colin Gunton and the Failure of Augustine: The Theology of Colin Gunton in Light of Augustine (Wipf and Stock)
- Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy: Engaging with Early and Medieval Theologians (IVP; editor and contributor)
- Covenant and Commandment: Works, Obedience, and Faithfulness in the Christian Life (New Studies in Biblical Theology, IVP)
He has also contributed essays and reviews to International Journal of Systematic Theology, Chronicles, First Things, Touchstone, and The Churchman.
Brad and his wife Dianne have three children — Caleb, Daniel, and Victoria. Brad and Dianne also helped co-found Augustine School, a Christian liberal arts school in Jackson, Tennessee.
Find out more at his website, www.thegospelandthemind.com.
1 out of 8 strands may be chosen for the conference. Strands are designed to help you apply what you learn within your specific context. Hence, you are highly encouraged to join a strand that is most relevant to your ministry.
Please note that gender-specific strands are not open to people of the opposite gender, and the church leader strand is only open to pastors and those in full-time paid ministry.
A separate form will be e-mailed to participants after registration has been confirmed.