Much ink has been spilt over the question of what it might mean to be a Christian intellectual. Often such books are either laments concerning the anti-intellectualism in the church or apologetic pleas to the church that intellectualism, or “the life of the mind” be viewed as a valid Christian practice. Whatever the book or article, there is generally always some sort of perceived gap between the church and the academy.
This, I would suggest is primarily, if not exclusively the fault of the academy. The academy, at least in its modern incarnation (and this point is key) sequesters the intellectual life from the church, and then academic theologians are flabbergasted when the church ceases to be intellectual!
I don’t think there is a “solution” to this problem other than to insist that the academy must undergo a massive change if it is to properly serve the church. The nature of this change is not easily synthesizable. However, I would suggest that some thoughts in this direction can be gleaned from monasticism. It has been monastic orders throughout the ages who have found ways of integrating service, communal life, contemplative spirituality, and academic study into an integrated form of life which serves the church and the world. If the academy is going to again become an ecclesially based reality, and thereby stimulate a vibrantly Christian intellectual life that is profoundly ecclesial, I think that it must become more monastic in shape and practice.