by Dr. Stan Hudson, who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference
For many, that question might have the same impact as Jesus’ words about the difficulty of rich people being saved. It was “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,” He said. He even added “with man, it is impossible.”
We might think of intellectuals as “rich in knowledge.” And what better thing to be rich in? A lack of knowledge is dangerous. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you…,” says the Lord in Hosea 4:6.
However, the record of salvation for intellectuals is relatively short. In the New Testament there was Paul with his “much learning,” and then there was, uh, …? Fishermen were more likely saved. And why is that? Aren’t the truths of the Gospel and the Infinite God of creation begging for students with three-digit IQs?
In my current fields of study in origins there is this world of intellectuals called “science” (which is from the Latin “Scientia,” meaning knowledge!) is almost entirely run by what the Bible calls “fools!” “A fool has said in their heart there is no God.” Psalms 14:1. More than that, Romans 1:20 suggests that these observers of nature miss what is obvious: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen.” Pardon my French on this, but the Bible suggests that those in charge of science are both “stupid and crummy scientists!”
But operating from an atheistic worldview, it’s all they can do. The things of God are foolish to them, not able to discern spiritual things. But is science the only place where sophomores live? “Sophomores” is a word that literally means “wise fools!”
I Corinthians 8:1 says that knowledge has the tendency to “puff up” people (compared to love which “builds up”). I love that description. Sophomores! How many of us have met puffy people! But puffiness is pride, which I frankly think is most difficult of all barriers for God to encounter in people. It is the opposite of humility, which God loves. And humility about the things of God is logical, given the greatness of God and the comparative puniness of man. My own puffiness, which is sizable, diminishes quickly in the presence of Infinity.
But this intellectual puffiness I have seen in others besides myself, mostly from our universities. At various ministerial retreats we sometimes have guest speakers whose expertise in an area apparently qualifies them to spiritualize portions of scripture to mean something other than their obvious meaning. And to be knowledgeable means to be a skeptic. I have heard a well-meaning theologian comment on a non-Adventist theologian colleague that he no longer believes in God, but that he is otherwise “brilliant.” Not according to the Bible!
We need not cower to the great intellects in this world, as they often work counter to the purposes of God. Can intellectuals be saved? “With God all things are possible.”