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The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark A. Noll
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Aug 08, 12

Read from July 23 to August 08, 2012

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 Evangelicals to engage in such fields has consistently resulted in further retreats into the Evangelical ghetto. Noll starts with the roots of American Protestant thinking in the methods of the Scottish Enlightenment as it took root in Colonial America, showing how the ideas of self-evidence and "common sense" were imported in the Church and gradually became part of the Protestant mind. Noll then shows the influence of the Keswick/Holiness Movement, early Pentecostalism, and 19th Century Revivalism, three movements that were utterly disastrous and left Evangelicals with virtually no intellectual faculties with which to engage theological modernism. With no intellectual faculties, Evangelicals retreated in Fundamentalism. While Fundamentalism perserved the core essentials of the faith, the movement also served to cement anti-intellectualism in Evangelicalism. Noll concludes with two chapters that examine how Evangelicals might recover our intellectual heritage. Sadly, he points out that nearly all improvements seen in the last several decades have been the result of Christians from other traditions moving into Evangelicalism. The book is nearly twenty years old. In 1994 Noll saw some faint signs of hope, but incidents such as the Waltke-Biologos flap in 2010 shows that little, if anything, has changed in the intervening years. This is an excellent call to Christians to worship Christ not only with all our heart, but with all our mind.

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