An Emerging Evangelical Intelligentsia?

How the Evangelical Mind is Opening and Why it Matters

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.

The Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs (CURA) undertook a two-year research project on evangelical intellectuals, primarily in the secular academy, but also as public intellectuals. The project was directed by Timothy S. Shah and Peter L. Berger. Dr. Shah is a Senior Research Scholar with CURA and a Senior Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. Formerly, he was a Senior Fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Dr. Berger is University Professor Emeritus at Boston University and was Director of CURA. They are being assisted by Dr. James C. Wallace, a Senior Researcher with CURA.

The formal launch of the research project was a two-day conference held at Boston University on December 7 – 8, 2007. Prominent evangelical intellectuals in history, philosophy, sociology and law  joined in panel discussions. 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 contributed to the discussion. The conference  concluded with a large public event for approximately 500 faculty and students from across New England and the greater Boston area.

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. The research effort will conclude with a book written on the topic which will summarize the research and draw conclusions about the emergence of the evangelical intelligentsia.