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The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind [Paperback]

Mark A. Noll
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 19 1995
The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. So begins this award-winning intellectual history and critique of the evangelical movement by one of evangelicalisms most respected historians. Unsparing in his judgment, Mark Noll ask why the largest single group of religious Americans, who enjoy increasing wealth, status, and political influence, have contributed so liutle to rigorous intellectual scholarship in North America. In nourishing believers in the simple truths of the gospel, why have evangelicals failed at sustaining a serious intellectual life and abandoned the universities, the arts, and other realms of high culture? Noll is probing and forthright in his analysis of how this situation came about, but he doesnt end there. Challenging the evangelical community, he sets out to find, within evangelicalism itself, resources for turning the situation around.

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From Amazon

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark Noll, is "an epistle from a wounded lover." Noll loves God and he loves academics, but he is wounded because many of his colleagues deny the possibility of maintaining the integrity of both loves. Noll's epistle is a memoir, a historical study, and a wide-ranging piece of cultural criticism that argues, "The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." Noll considers the effects of evangelical intellectual atrophy on American politics, science, and the arts, and he ultimately offers wise and practical advice for readers who want to explore the full intellectual implications of the incarnation of Christ. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Publishers Weekly

Claiming that "the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind," historian Noll sets out to trace the reasons for what he sees as the great divorce between intellect and piety in North American Evangelical Christianity. In a breathtaking panorama of evangelical history from the Great Awakenings to the present, Noll shows that early Evangelicals like Jonathan Edwards embraced the use of reason as an expression of faith in the Creator of the natural world. The advent of Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, Noll contends, with their emphases on dispensationalism and other-worldliness, fostered anti-intellectualism. Since politics and science, in the form of the religious right and creationism, have been the secular arenas in which the Evangelical mind has most publicly expressed itself, Noll focuses on them to explore ways in which the mindlessness "scandal" has created a lack of adequate Christian thinking about the world. Finally, Noll is hopeful that the work of contemporary Evangelical scholars will recover a respect for intellect. Required reading for those seeking to understand the often peculiar relationship between Evangelical religion and secular culture, this is a brilliant study by--yes--a first-rate Evangelical mind.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minding the Mind March 16 2001
There's a good reason why the media, in general, view and portray evangelical Christians as a bunch of uneducated, reactionary rubes who can't think, but can only force their out-dated opinions on others. This view of evangelicals pervades the mainstream culture. In any discipline or field of inquiry, Christians are marginalized and ridiculed, be it in law, science, politics or education. The reason why this is so is very well explained in Noll's book. The absence of deep thought and deep thinkers in evangelical Christianity has led to the demise of respect for the same. This was not always the case. For much of the last two thousand years many of the greatest thinkers were Christians, names such as Aquinas, Newton, Luther, Dostoyevsky, Lebiniz, Lord Kelvin, Faraday. The list is long. But in the twentieth century, evangelicalism has failed to duplicate the intellectual and thoughtful output previously forwarded by Christians. The book focuses mainly on the failure of American evangelicalism (with a few brief mots about Canada). "Despite dynamic success at a popular level, modern American evangelicals have failed notably in sustaining serious intellectual life. They have nourished millions of believers in the simple verities of the gospel but have largely abandoned the universities, the arts, and other realms of "high" culture." Universities originally started by Christians are anything but today, either in thought or in practice.
Noll outlines the rise and fall of evangelical thought in America by noting the pivot point of the ministry of Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was an intellectual giant, but his work produced an ironic situation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "The scandal of the evangelical mind is..." July 12 2004
"that there is not much of an evangelical mind." That is the first sentence of this book by Mark Noll who is an evangelical himself, professor at Wheaton College, alma mater of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham.
So what's the problem, Mark Noll asks? Doesn't Christ command us to love Him with all our mind, and how have evangelicals in this country failed in this respect? That's the aim of Noll in this book to show the historical reasons for that failure but also to show that there is hope and signs that some evangelicals are back on the right track. I think his main point is that research is key to developing the mind, that Christians should venture to explore all "topics under the sun" as Solomon says, and that we can do so in a way that glorifies God without compromising basic Christian beliefs.
This author was recommended to me and others from the evangelical church I attend. I loved this book; it's one of the more substantive Jesus books that are out there. It's well-researched and thought provoking. Evangelicalism is new to me, although maybe I was one before I knew what the word meant! In the first chapter, evangelicalism is described as having "the key ingredients of: conversionism/new birth, biblicism/the bible as ultimate religious authority, activism/sharing your faith, crucicentrism/significance of Christ's saving work on the cross." Fundamentalism is not necessarily evangelicalism.
Here are some excerpts I loved:
"In each of these instances (pro-life/abortion, creationism/creation science/evolution debates), the point at issue for a historian of the intellectual life is not whether the new ideas were right or wrong.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, but ultimately dangerous? April 9 2004
Noll has written a very compelling book, which I only recently discovered in the last year. I have my own view of the questions in this work. At the time of publication in 1994, I had already become a post-fundamentalist, post-evangelical believer. Due to the unique nature of my own history and learning since then, I have become a religiously interested agnostic. So, a caveat on my review: I have moved from being a very committed, born-again evangelical Christian waiting with great expectation for the "revelation of Christ" in the final days to my present status which entails a metaphorical interpretation of Scripture as non-literal historical myth-making that speaks deeper truths about what it is to be human in our cosmos, seeking the divine in life. At this time, I find it very difficult to accept the unlikely prospect of a personal, conscious being referred to as 'God'. This response is less of a review (there are already fine ones here), but an attempt to respond with my own probing questions. If you're open-minded (as Noll seems to extol) I urge you to not prejudice this review and automatically label in 'unhelpful'.
Noll states several times (obviously not picked up by at least one reviewer) that his book is not a deep intellectual treatise on evangelicalism, but a historical review of the development of its ideas, beliefs, and present status. I found it a probing and accurate summary of the current state of American evangelicalism. I have family members who are evangelicals and committed dispensationalists and I'm very aware of their beliefs and perspectives on the world. I found this book to speak accurately about my own past experiences with evangelicalism and the contemporary experiences of evangelicals close to me.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Christian Reading
Evangelicals need to read, study and discuss this book. If we are to have a real Christian experience, we need to learn how to think in a world where our minds have been really... Read more
Published 4 months ago by George Parker
4.0 out of 5 stars Appropriately thought-provoking
Noll has written a fascinating and thought-provoking history of the scandal of the evangelical mind. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Rodge
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for Evangelicals
As an auto-anathemised Roman Catholic (courtesy of the Counicl of Trent!), I tended towards the Evangelical of the type Noll expertly analyses. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2003 by a reader
4.0 out of 5 stars For all who don't want to be part of the Christian Ghetto...
No other book establishes beyond a doubt that there is a serious problem within evangelical Christianity called the Christian Ghetto. Read more
Published on April 30 2003 by Ken Archer
5.0 out of 5 stars Permission to Think Again
As a committed Christian of many years and a former Jesus Freak from the seventies, I saw myself on too many pages of Noll's excellent book. Read more
Published on March 31 2003 by D. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars writing about thinking in a faith where reasonis depreciated
The author is a good historian, the book reflects not only talent in research and comprehension of the big picture of historical theology, but a heart felt grasp of evangelicalism... Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2003 by R. M. Williams
1.0 out of 5 stars The emporers new mind
I had high hopes for this book after reading David Wells No Place for Truth, but I'm afraid it falls woefully short of fulfilling any promise of accurately defining or offering... Read more
Published on March 1 2002 by s
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, sad, sad
A good analysis of the intellectual situation of the evangelical movement.
Here in germany the situation is no different. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2001 by ""
1.0 out of 5 stars A scandalous book!
This book is meant to be an indictment of evangelical thought and intellectualism, with the idea of inciting evangelicals to act and correct their intellectual shortcomings. Read more
Published on July 11 2001 by Andrew Kulikovsky
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scandal Indeed
Mark Noll, professor of Christian history and author of other books such as "Turning Points", has written an accurate and careful analysis of the American evangelical... Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2001 by K.H.
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