The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

I have never met Mark A. Noll; but, if we
ever do have a conversation together, I expect I would find myself very much
agreeing with him. He is the sort of intellectual writer who is unafraid to
turn over all of the stones and search for every seed of truth. He desires to take
each gem of enlightenment captive to Christ. His most widely read book, The
Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
contains many great insights on the way in which mainstream Evangelicalism
strayed so far from truth. He says,

. . . in their defense of
the supernatural, fundamentalists and their evangelical heirs resemble some
cancer patients. In facing a drastic disease, they are willing to undertake a
drastic remedy. The treatment of fundamentalism may be said to have succeeded;
the patient survived. But at least for the life of the mind, what survived was
a patient horribly disfigured by the cure itself.[1]
The disfiguring to which Noll refers is the
loss of a critical mind that exhibits a measure of skepticism regarding the
miraculous and a healthy measure of skepticism appropriate to the scientific
method. He is desirous that all Christians might live within the tension of
belief and uncertainty. He further explains.
“I was brought
up in a Christian environment where, because God had to be given pre-eminence,
nothing else was allowed to be important. I have broken through to the position
that because God exists, everything has significance.”[2]
Still more clearly he says,
Who formed the world of nature (which
provides the raw material for physical sciences)? Who formed the universe of
human interactions (which is the raw material of politics, economics,
sociology, and history)? Who is the source of all harmony, form, and narrative
pattern (which is the raw material for art)? Who is the source of the human
mind (which is the raw material for philosophy and psychology)? And who, moment
by moment, maintains the connection between our minds and the world beyond our
minds? God did, and God does.
These words are extremely helpful as we
each consider the relationship between faith and science, belief and
agnosticism, and spirituality and materialism. May those who have comprehending
minds meditate upon these thoughts.

Works Cited

Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the
Evangelical Mind.
Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1995.

[1] (Noll 1995)
[2] (Noll 1995)
[3] (Noll 1995)

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