The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

In 1994, the historian Mark Noll published his now famous work, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.  In the very first sentence of the opening chapter, Noll goes right for the jugular: “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”1  Noll’s thesis seems to have been anticipated in some ways by the Anglican cleric and evangelical leader John Stott, who wrote the following in his 1982 book on preaching (although it should be noted that Stott’s purview seems to be much broader than evangelicalism, extending to Western Christendom as a whole):

“The Christian mind (an expression popularized by Harry Blamires in his book of that title) is not a mind which is thinking about specifically Christian or even religious topics, but a mind which is thinking about everything, however, apparently ‘secular’, and doing so ‘Christianly’ or within a Christian frame of reference.  It is not a mind stuffed full with pat answers to every question, all neatly filed as in the memory bank of a computer; it is rather a mind which has absorbed biblical truths and Christian presuppositions so thoroughly that it is able to view every issues from a Christian perspective and so reach a Christian judgement about it.  Mr. Blamires bemoans the almost total loss of a Christian mind among Church leaders today:  ‘The Christian mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness and nervelessness unmatched in Christian history . . . As a thinking being the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization.’”2

  1. Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 1.
  2. John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1982, 170. Internal quotation from Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind (S.P.C.K., 1963), 3.

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