On vacation this weekend, I’ve been reading Mark Noll’s “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” He’s a Wheaton professor and mainly uses a historical lens to critique the current lack of evangelical intellectual acumen. Anyone else read this who has comments or thoughts on it? I read bits of Sider’s “Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience” this summer as well, where Sider takes ths premise Noll fought for and uses it to provide an entry point to critiquing the lack of Christian living that Sider, Barna, and others comment on.
Overall, Noll seems to be pointing out a truth that I have witnessed, and sometimes embody myself, from my church tradition – that is, unless something can be summarized in a pithy quote, explained in a three-point allegorical way, or sung to a short tune with drums, its hard to always keep the attention of evangelicals on intellectual matters. I can say this because I am one…. (and because I embrace my ADD tendancies). It also reminds me of some of the funny questions I have run into at each stage of my academic journey – the deeper I have gone into study and academia, the more some people have thought I was crazy to care about this area of life, or to think it might have a relationship to topics that I care about (like living out authentic faith, how race matters, fighting poverty in practical ways, strengthening communities and congregations, etc.) I do think evangelical culture has largely abandoned aspects of intellectual thought in favor of our focus on the experience and evangelism of the “soul” as separate from other parts of life – something that the Pietists used to renew the church in their time. I am still working through the book, but its good food for thought – and brings up the fun question of, what/who is evangelical, anyway?