Conference Background

American Evangelical Protestants, both in popular American media and even in their own minds, are often reputed for anything and everything but intellectualism. However, this perception fails to account for the development of an increasingly sophisticated, self-assured, and productive class of intellectuals — an emerging “evangelical intelligentsia.” These evangelicals, engaged in intellectual pursuits in a way that is motivated by and informed by their faith, are exercising a growing influence on American academics, culture, law, and public policy.

This conference, under the auspices of Boston University’s Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA), aims to illuminate the development, contributions, and cultural consequences of this new and emerging generation of American evangelical intellectuals. The conference is the formal launch of a two-year research project directed by Timothy S. Shah and Peter L. Berger. Prominent evangelical intellectuals in history, philosophy, sociology and law will join in panel discussions addressing the following central questions:

  1. How has their evangelical faith contributed to their intellectual pursuits?
  2. How have their intellectual pursuits deepened and challenged their evangelical faith?
  3. How are their intellectual contributions influenced by their academic discipline and/or domain in public and cultural life?
  4. What is the nature and value of evangelical Protestantism’s intellectual consequences for American life today?

An invited group of evangelical and non-evangelical scholars from across New England, a select group of younger evangelical intellectuals, representatives of evangelical organizations, as well as scholars from Boston University and CURA will also significantly contribute to the discussion. The conference will conclude with a large public event for approximately 500 faculty and students from across New England and the greater Boston area.

The aim of this conference is to inspire and inform further research on the subject, to sustain this evangelical intellectual renaissance, and to generate an intergenerational network among evangelical intellectuals in America.

The conference is made possible by a grant from the Cecil B. Day Foundation. The Emerging Evangelical Intelligentsia Research Project is funded by grants from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the William E. Simon Foundation.