|Thomas Aquinas: Christian scholar|
Even when we swim against the stream there’s a deep intellectual benefit to jumping in. Too often we’re tempted to retreat into a restricted world of reliable writers: C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, and others. They are of course good to read, but they’re not sufficient. These figures and others whom we rightly admire and wish to imitate are exemplary not just because they were talented and faithful, but also because they were part of the larger conversation of their time.
A Christian intellectual should never fall victim to “presentism.” It’s wise to spend an hour with an old author for every hour with a new one. That’s a rule of thumb secular intellectuals would do well to adopt as well. The most parochial intellectuals are the ones who know only the latest trends, schools of thought, and ideas. A Christian intellectual should be the opposite. He should be at home with many historical expressions of truth because he is the servant of the truth incarnate.
Another imperative is charity. A genuine intellectual serves truth, a Christian intellectual all the more so. The truth, moreover, is sought by other people as well, which is why the intellectual life means participating in a conversation rather than embarking on a solo voyage. A loving intellect therefore seeks to advance the intellectual lives of others.
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