By Dr. CHARLES MALIK 1980, address at Wheaton College




"If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world,
you will soon discover you have not won the world.
Indeed it may turn out that you have
actually lost the world....
Responsible Christians face two tasks—
that of saving the soul
and that of saving the mind."

—Charles Malik, The Two Tasks




Dr. Malik, outstanding scholar, educator and statesman, held over 50 honorary doctorates and served the University throughout his life. He was President of the United Nations General Assembly and the Secuity Council.

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Malik's speech given at the dedication of the Billy Graham center at Wheaton College:

NOTHING IS AS IMPORTANT IN THE WORLD TODAY AS for the Christians of America to grasp their historic opportunities and prove themselves equal to them. I say "the Christians," but I must add also "the Jews," because what is fatefully at stake today is the highest spiritual values of the Judeo Christian tradition. If the highest Christian values are overturned, so will the highest Jewish values.

Perhaps never since the Twelve Disciples and Saint Paul has any group of Christians been burdened by Providence itself with the responsibilities now devolving upon the Christians of America.

In the nature of case, evangelization is always the most important task to be undertaken by mortal man. For proud and rebellious and self sufficient man--and pride and rebellion and self sufficiency are the same thing-to be brought to his knees and to his tears before the actual majesty and grace and power of Jesus Christ is the greatest event that can happen to any man. Indeed just as every man is ordained to die, so every man is ordained to this event happening in his own life. And those who are engaged in mediating this event, the evangelists, are the supreme heralds of God.

But just as we are not alone with God and the Bible but also with others, so we are not only endowed with a soul and a will to be saved but also with a reason to be sharpened and satisfied. This reason wonders about everything, including God, and we are to seek and love and worship the Lord our God with all our strength and all our mind. And because we are with others, we are arguing and reasoning with one another all the time. Indeed every sentence and every discourse is a product of reason. And so it is neither a shame nor a sin to discipline and cultivate our reason to the utmost; it is a necessity, it is a duty, it is an honor to do so.

Therefore, if evangelization is the most important task, the task that comes immediately after it--not in the tenth place, nor even the third place, but in the second place-is not politics, nor economics, nor the quest of comfort and security and ease, but to find out exactly what is happening to the mind and the spirit in the schools and universities.

The Divorce between Reason and Faith

And once a Christian discovers that there is a total divorce between mind and spirit in the schools and universities, between the perfection of thought and the perfection of soul and character, between intellectual sophistication and the spiritual worth of the individual human person, between reason and faith, between the pride of knowledge and the contrition of heart consequent upon being a mere creature, and once he realizes that Jesus Christ will find Himself less at home on the campuses of the great universities, in Europe and America, than almost anywhere else, he will be profoundly disturbed, and he will inquire what can be done to recapture the great universities for Jesus Christ, the universities which would not have come into being in the first place without Him.

What can the poor church, even at its best, do, what can evangelization, even at its most inspired, do, what can the poor family, even at its purest and noblest, do, if the children spend between fifteen and twenty years of their life, and indeed the most formative period of their life, in school and college in an atmosphere of formal denial of any relevance of God and spirit and soul and faith to the formation of their mind? The enormity of what is happening is beyond words.

The church and the family, each already encumbered with its own strains and ordeals, are fighting a losing battle, so far as the bearing of the university upon the spiritual health and wholeness of youth is concerned. All the preaching in the world, and, all the loving care of even the best parents between whom there are no problems whatever, will amount to little, if not to nothing, so long as what the children are exposed to day in and day out for fifteen to twenty years in the school and university virtually cancels out, morally and spiritually, what they hear and see and learn at home and in the church. Therefore the problem of the school and university is the most critical problem, afflicting Western civilization. And here we meet laughing and relaxing and enjoying ourselves and celebrating as though nothing of this order of gravity were happening!

I assure you, so far as the university is concerned, I have no patience with piety alone--I want the most rigorous intellectual training, I want the perfection of the mind; equally, I have no patience with reason alone--I want the salvation of the soul, I want the fear of the Lord, I want at least neutrality with respect to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

What I crave to see is an institution that will produce as many Nobel Prize winners as saints, an institution in which, while producing in every field the finest works of thought and learning in the world, Jesus Christ will at the same time find Himself perfectly at home in it--in every dormitory and lecture hall and library and laboratory. This is impossible today. Why it is impossible, is the most important question that can be asked.

The sciences are flourishing as never before, and may they keep on flourishing and exploding and discovering!

And lest I be misunderstood, let me state at once that I consider Freiburg, the Sorbonne, Harvard, Princeton, and Chicago among the greatest--and some of them the greatest--universities in the world, and, provided my children qualify, I would certainly send them to them. The diversity and quality of the intellectual fare available to the student in these universities is absolutely unprecedented in history. Western civilization can be proud of many things; of nothing it can be more proud than of its great universities.

But I am worried about the humanities--about philosophy, psychology, art, history, literature, sociology, the interpretation of man as to his nature and his destiny. It is in these realms that the spirit, the fundamental attitude, the whole outlook on life, even for the scientist himself, are formed and set. Nor am I unaware and unappreciative of the great advances achieved in the methods, techniques and tools of education, and in the remarkable enlargement of the scope of the curriculum. But in terms of content and substance, what is the dominant philosophy in the humanities today?

We find on the whole and for the most part materialism and hedonism; naturalism and rationalism; relativism and Freudianism; a great deal of cynicism and nihilism; indifferentism and atheism; linguistic analysis and radical obfuscation; immanentism and the absence of any sense of mystery, any sense of' wonder, any sense of tragedy; humanism and self sufficiency; the worship of the future, not of something above and outside and judging past, present, and future; the relative decay of the classics; the uncritical worship of everything new and modern and different; a prevailing false conception of progress; an uncritical and almost childish optimism; an uncritical and morbid pessimism; the will to power and domination. All of which are essentially so many modes of self worship. Any wonder there is so much disorder in the world!

If what I say is true, then as Christians you should not be able to sleep not only tonight but for a whole week. But I know you are going to sleep very soundly tonight, probably because you do not believe me, probably because you do not care!

At the heart of all the problems facing Western civilization-the general nervousness and restlessness, the dearth of grace and beatify and quiet and peace of soul, the manifold blemishes and perversions of personal character; problems of the family and of social relations in general, problems of economics and politics, problems of the media, problems affecting the school itself and the church itself, problems in the international order--at the heart of the crisis in Western civilization lies the state of the mind and the spirit in the universities.

The University--Future World Leaders

It is totally vain, it is indeed childish, to tackle these problems as though all were well, in morals and in the fundamental orientation of the will and mind, in the great halls of learning. Where do the leaders in these realms come from? They all come from universities. What they are fed, intellectually, morally, spiritually, personally, in the fifteen or twenty years they spend in the school and university, is the decisive question. It is there that the foundations of character and mind and outlook and conviction and attitude and spirit are laid, and, to paraphrase a Biblical saying, if the wrong foundations are laid, or if the right foundations are vitiated or undermined, "what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3).

The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world. Indeed it may turn out that you have actually lost the world.

In order to create and excel intellectually, must you sacrifice or neglect Jesus? In order to give all your life to Jesus, must you sacrifice or neglect learning and research? Is your self giving to scholarship and learning partially incompatible with your self giving to Jesus? These are the ultimate questions, and I beg you to beware of thinking that they admit of glib answers. I warn you: the right answers could be most disturbing.

If Christians do not care for the intellectual health of their own children and for the fate of their own civilization, a health and a fate so inextricably bound up with the state of the mind and spirit in the universities, who is going to care? The task is gigantic, and for it to be accomplished as I believe Christ Himself would want it to be accomplished, people must be set on fire for it. It is not enough to be set on fire for evangelization alone.

Developing Creative Thinkers

This is a solemn occasion. I must be frank with you: the greatest danger besetting American Evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti intellectualism. The mind as to its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. This cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit. People are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the Gospel. They have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure in conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, and thereby ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking.

The result is that the arena of creative thinking is abdicated and vacated to the enemy. Who among the Evangelicals can stand up to the great secular or naturalistic or atheistic scholars on their own terms of scholarship and research? Who among the Evangelical scholars is quoted as a normative source by the greatest secular authorities on history or philosophy or psychology or sociology or politics? Does your mode of thinking have the slightest chance of becoming the dominant mode of thinking in the great universities of Europe and America which stamp your entire civilization with their own spirit and ideas?

It will take a different spirit altogether to overcome this great danger of anti intellectualism. As an example only, I say this different spirit, so far as the domain of philosophy alone is concerned, which is the most important domain so far as thought and intellect are concerned, must see the tremendous value of spending a whole year doing nothing except poring intensely over the Republic or the Sophist of Plato, or two years over the Metaphysics or the Ethics of Aristotle, or three years over the City of God of Augustine. For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ Himself, as well as for their own sakes, the Evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence.

Save the University--Save the World

Responsible Christians face two tasks--that of saving the soul and that of saving the mind. I am using soul and mind here without definition, but I can define them in precise, philosophical theological terms. The mind is desperately disordered today. I am pleading that a tiny fraction of Christian care be extended to the mind too.

If it is the will of the Holy Ghost that we attend to the soul, certainly it is not His will that we neglect the mind. No civilization can endure with its mind being as confused and disordered as ours is today. All our ills stem proximately from the false philosophies that have been let loose in the world and that are now being taught in the universities, and ultimately of course, as President Armerding observes in his book Leadership in another context, from the devil, whether or not the human agents knew it. Save the university and you save Western civilization and therewith the world.

These two things are absolutely impossible, and because they are at the same time absolutely needed, God can make them absolutely possible.

Every self defeating attitude stems originally from the devil, because he is the adversary, the arch nihilist par excellence--it cannot be willed by the Holy Ghost. Anti intellectualism is an absolutely self defeating attitude.

Wake up, my friends, wake up: the great universities control the mind of the world. Therefore how can evangelism consider its task accomplished if it leaves the university unevangelized. And how can evangelism evangelize the university if it cannot speak to the university? And how can it speak to the university if it is not itself already intellectualized? Therefore evangelism must first intellectualize itself to be able to speak to the university and therefore to be able to evangelize the university and therefore to save the world. This is the great task, the historic task, the most needed task, the task required loud and clear by the Holy Ghost Himself.

And if this should happen, then think of the infinite joy that would overflow our hearts. Future generations will bless your name and sing your praises for centuries to come. Who, then, would not join with David in singing: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. . . . I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being." (Psalm 103:1-2; and 104:33).

A Brief Introduction to Charles Malik:

Few people can match Dr. Charles Malik's credentials to critique "the mind and spirit of the university." He was an outstanding scholar with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard, under Alfred North Whitehead, and over fifty honorary doctorates from such universities as Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Notre Dame, and Freiburg. Throughout his career he published articles and books on philosophical, diplomatic, and international matters in America, Europe, and the Middle East. Dr. Malik also served universities throughout his life. In his own country, he was a founding member of the Lebanese Academy. He was chairman of the philosophy department at the American University, Beirut, then Dean of Graduate Studies; from 1962 to 1976 he was Distinguished Professor of Philosophy.

The authority with which Dr. Malik declaims against the university comes also from a larger sphere, that of an international diplomat. He was a signatory for Lebanon of the United Nations Charter in 1945. He served the U.N. for fourteen years, at various times as President of the General Assembly and of the Security Council. More than twelve countries decorated him for his contributions to human rights and international peace.

The Two Tasks speech was given by Dr. Malik at the dedication of the Billy Graham Center in the fall of 1980, the same year Christian Leadership Ministries was founded. Dr. Clint Shaffer, professor of German at Wheaton College, was there: "Sharing the platform with Dr. Graham and President Hudson Amerding was the keynote speaker, Charles Malik, a Lebanese educator and statesman whose words profoundly changed my attitudes toward learning and the gospel. Malik's central argument was that Christians in general and North American evangelicals in particular stood little chance of having a deep impact upon their society unless they proved able to know and influence the intellectual life of the world. We are, he contended, admonished to save both the soul and the mind" (Wheaton Magazine, 13:4 Summer 2000).

Christianity Today first published the Two Tasks speech on November 7, 1980. The Two Tasks is available in booklet form from the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187. at


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