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The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  785 ratings  ·  89 reviews
"The scandal of the evangelical mind, " says historian Mark Noll, "is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." This critical yet constructive book explains the decline of evangelical thought in North America and seeks to find, within evangelicalism itself, resources for turning the situation around. According to Noll, evangelical Protestants make up the largest sing ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published October 19th 1995 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
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Steve Sckenda
Jul 21, 2013 Steve Sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Religious Intellectuals
Shelves: religion, scholarly
There have been huge shifts in the American religious landscape away from traditional “mainline” denominations toward evangelical fundamentalism. Not all Christians see this as a good development, despite the political power that came to evangelicals with this shift because the political influence was purchased at the price of almost complete lack of cultural and academic influence.

According to religious historian Mark Noll, “the scandal of the evangelical mind” is that evangelicals failed to d
Ana Mardoll
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind / 0-8028-4180-5

I read about Mark Noll's book through Fred Clark's superb Slactivist blog, and was intrigued. Although I am no longer a Christian myself, I do enjoy the writings of Christian intellectuals and I am sensitive to their pain in belonging to a community that, by and large, defines itself as anti-intellectuals and all others as apostates. I am surprised, therefore, to find myself in a position where I cannot recommend Noll's book.

"The Scandal of the
The Puritans who settled Massachusetts combined heart-felt devotion to Christ with a love of theology. They practiced a vigorous intellectual life centered on the Bible and embraced cutting edge science like inoculation against disease. By the time of the First Great Awakening however, this tradition had degenerated into a formal and lifeless orthodoxy. Noll argues that during the First Great Awakening evangelicals like George Whitfield tried to revive the church with biblical preaching and a th ...more
Douglas Wilson
Great, with some lousy bits.
Melody Cantwell
I had heard of this book for years. Growing up in the evangelical tradition, I have had firsthand experience with anti-intellectualism on a daily basis. Now, as a student at a Christian college, I see the dichotomy even more sharply: some of my professors and classmates are willing to grapple with important questions, while others slap a simple answer on every complicated problem.

Noll's splendid little book was a welcome wake-up call as well as an affirmation of everything I hold dearly.

Scandal is an older book, but one that should be read by Evangelicals even though it's a bit dated. It's written by Mark Noll, a history professor and former professor of my friend who suggested it. The main strength of the book is in its discussion of the rise of Fundamentalism and its effect on the pursuit of Evangelical scholarship. Moreover, Dr. Noll examines the effects on political thought and science with pointed critiques of the Christian right and creation science. I found myself saying ...more
May 29, 2008 Tope rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in better understanding the culture of the religious right
In a sense this is two books: one describing the historical background of evangelicalism and emerging fundamentalism in 19th and early 20th century America, with a special focus on the habits of the mind and intellectual culture that distinguished American evangelicalism in this period, and another outlining the "scandal of the evangelical mind" in the 20th century and speculating on the future of the evangelical mind. In both portions of the book Noll's approach is more of a synthetic one which ...more
Considered a classic history of late twentieth century evangelicalism, this is my second time reading Noll's influential book. Noll has much to say concerning the lasting and problematic impact of fundamentalism upon North American evangelicalism. There's a lot about this book that has had a lasting effect upon my thinking concerning particular areas of thought. However, upon this reread, I was struck with how much fundamentalism has had a lasting influence upon just general patterns of evangeli ...more
Leonardo Alfonseca
The book is a little dry for my taste. It has to do, possibly, to the subject the author is writing and my reaction to it. I am a person who is not very good at history but understands the importance of it, so I decided to read it. The book starts by talking about the current problem with Christian thinking: there is a lack of scholarship and disregard for the natural world within evangelicalism.

The author traces the origins of this problem and explains why the mind is important for the Christi
Extremely interesting book. Written by an evangelical as a challenge his fellow brothers and sisters. He addresses the lack of intellectualism in evangelical circles head on, and is brilliant in his reasoning. A must read for any Christian who thinks "blind faith" means "dumb faith".
Illuminating read but quite the polemic. Written by a devout Evangelical historian and professor at Wheaton College this books takes the movement to task for its anti-intellectual, anti-science stance. The author presents a very detailed history of his coreligionists and their descent inward, turning away from the outside world. The book is 20 years old but clearly resonates today. Evangelicals used to produce intellectuals in all fields but they have been overcome by populist fundamentalists. T ...more
Enoch Kuo
A brief overview of the major trends in American and evangelical history that have encouraged anti-intellectual habits among American evangelicals and why that is a tragedy.
a great book explaining the history of evangelicalism in america and the problems that evangelicals have created for themselves.
Jan 05, 2009 Justin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Justin by: Steve
Shelves: religion
Essential reading for all evangelical intellectuals, and a great book in general.
Ever since I first heard JP Moreland speak in 1992, I have been aware of the concept that that the faith tradition I had been exposed to my whole life were, to some extent, anti-intellectual. As much as I identified with Dr. Moreland's message, and as much as I wanted to pursue "Loving God with my mind" circumstances and perhaps my own weakness of character prevented that pursuit from happening.
Now that it is 22 years later and next week I receive my MA from Biola in Science and Religion. I star
Alex Stroshine
"The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" has become a landmark publication in Christian circles. In it, the distinguished historian Mark A. Noll offers a critique of evangelicalism's attitude towards the life of the mind.

The book deals primarily with the state of American evangelicalism, although Noll sometimes notes the contributions and goings-on of Canadian and British evangelicals. According to Noll, the decline of the evangelical mind in America had much to do with the Revivals and the rise o
A. Carroll
While I agree with Mark Noll's general conclusions, I felt that this book had several major flaws. First of all, since he is essentially talking about evangelicals' failure to either be educated or to use their education, his book would have been better if he would have defined his own philosophy of education. The book also had a very negative feel to it. The negativity made some sense, since this book is, at root, a condemnation; but, by the end, I was left wondering why anyone would want to be ...more
Noll adresses Evangelicalism's "scandal": The absence of deep thinking and the engagement of the arts and sciences from a deep theological perspective.

Noll first gives an historical perspective of how the scandal came about, and then moves on to speak of what the results have been in light of the scandal. He asserts that the church has lost voice in the field of science because of the scandal. He also addresses the political system today, and how it reflects the scandal.

Noll is hopeful for the f
Christopher Rush
Noll's overall premise is true: the nineteenth-twentieth centuries did not see much of an "evangelical mind" in the areas in which Noll's desires (politics, science, philosophy, and general culture). His conclusions also provide some positive directions and suggestions for ameliorating the scandalized lack of an evangelical mind, primarily with his incarnational focus. Also, his mildly self-effacing remarks that even his book should not be dwelt on too much but should instead be viewed as a brie ...more
An excellent and much need critique of the anti-intellectual trend that dominates contemporary Evangelicalism. Noll beings by showing that so long as Evangelicals fail to engage with fields other than theology, the mind of Christ will never have any serious impact on the mind of the culture. We have some good thinkers in theological fields, but nearly none in the hard or social sciences, philosophy, or any other "intellectual" field. Increasingly, in fact, Noll shows that efforts made by Evangel ...more
After reading a number of other books citing this source I determined to real Noll's "Scandal." Initially impressed by the author's initial thesis -- the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind -- I became less enamored by not only his writing style but also the flesh he put on to the skeleton. That is, the book is academically written at a level that borders on elitism and self congratulation. Moreover, after a number of chapters the observant reader beg ...more
With terms like crucicentric, christocentric, and bibliocentric, Noll characterizes the Evangelical tradition, showing the limitation that comes from looking at the Gospel simply in terms of recent history (the last 150 years or so). He argues that while Evangelicals have honored these things (they've focused on the crucifixion, Christ, and the Bible to name three), they've marginalized themselves in the process. Instead of embracing the mandate to think comprehensively about Scripture and the G ...more
A key book not only for critique of (the lack of) evangelical thinking, but also for understanding the mindset of evangelicals. As such, this book is as important for a public school teacher who will encounter evangelical students in the classroom as it is for a minister, congregant, or evangelical scholar. There is no one for whom this book will not provide important insight into a significant subset of American culture.

I read this book as an evangelical academic, and found it both refreshing a
Apr 25, 2009 Christine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Christine by: Grant
Shelves: 2009, christian, history
This book is a must read for anyone interested in loving God with his or her mind. Mark Noll examines the intellectual history of evangelicalism in the United States, and the strands in evangelical thinking that have led to the scandal of the evangelical mind.

I enjoyed learning about the intellectual life of Jonathan Edwards, and understanding the profound effect that the Enlightenment had on evangelical thought. I found the chapters on politics and science to be especially helpful.

This is also
Grant Robertson
A very brief summary as to why evangelical Christians have abandoned the mind through anti-intellectualism. Mark Noll shows how the reformers, the puritans and the revivalists all were committed to showing God's truth in nature in addition to revelation. Once science turned from Baconian to Darwinian, evangelicals turned to fundamentalism, embracing an unhealthy literalism and gnosticism. Products of this fundamentalism include the holiness movement, dispensationalism and Pentecostalism.
Scandal is a thought-provoking read that rings true with my experience as an evangelical. Particularly, his analysis of the contributions of early Fundamentalism to a literal hermeneutic and to the tendency to "toe the party line" on social issues is insightful and helpful.

That said, Noll is a historian and writes like a historian. I would have liked to see a greater analysis of the evangelical mind in contemporary America, not just in 1750-1950 America (the area that Noll concentrates on). Wh
Benjamin Thompson
An amazing critique of the evangelical tradition. Noll points out that evangelicals share the enlightenment idolization of human reason as being "common sense". Evangelicals see lengthy discourses on theology as speculative and suspicious. At the same time we are activists, desiring to impact society on a deeper level. As Noll points out, this cannot be done without a systematic establishment of well credentialed Christian scholars and scientists doing cutting edge work in their respective field ...more
Scott Korljan
Good book, some very interesting history. Particularly interesting and relevant was his chapter on evangelical thinking and Science. He gives an overview of the rise of the "Creation Science" (defined as belief in a 6-10 thousand year old earth and a worldwide flood which resulted in the apparent age of the earth) movement which I found fascinating
Nov 23, 2008 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: College bound Christians and thoughtful church goers everywhere.
Recommended to Eric by: Jan Stump
This was an important book for me that I read after my first year of college at the suggestion of my aunt, Jan Stump. It was important because it is a call to intellectual sophistication and depth to Christians This call is contextualized in an intellectual history of evangelical Protestants in N. America. I found that they causes of the "scandal" (that there is no evangelical mind) actually effected me and had shaped who I was intellectually up to that point.
Mark Noll is one of the foremost h

It explains a little (the evangelical mind); it explains a lot (the scandal).

Writing: Clear but occasionally clunky if not cumbersome. Could be way more particular (as in the "scandal of particularity")... Should have read this academic survey of evangelical thought a decade ago during college.

Can "evangelical" and "intellectual" coexist? Or come together, congeal, for that fade-to-grey matter?

Evangelicals: Conversations and dialogues with other older and wiser Christian traditions
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Mark A. Noll (born 1946), Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, is a progressive evangelical Christian scholar. In 2005, Noll was named by Time Magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America. Noll is a prolific author and many of his books have earned considerable acclaim within the academic community. The Scandal of the Evangelical ...more
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“The point of Christian scholarship is not recognition by standards established in the wider culture. The point is to praise God with the mind. Such efforts will lead to the kind of intellectual integrity that sometimes receives recognition. But for the Christian that recognition is only a fairly inconsequential by-product. The real point is valuing what God has made, believing that the creation is as "good" as he said it was, and exploring the fullest dimensions of what it meant for the Son of God to "become flesh and dwell among us." Ultimately, intellectual work of this sort is its own reward, because it is focused on the only One whose recognition is important, the One before whom all hearts are open.” 5 likes
“The Gospel of John tells us that the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of glorious grace and truth, was also the Word through whom all things- all phenomena in nature, all capacities for fruitful interaction, all the kinds of beauty- were made. To honor that Word as he deserves to be honored,evangelicals must know both Christ and what he has made.” 4 likes
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