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Mark Noll: Critiques in Scandal still valid, though much has changed

Mark Noll: Critiques in Scandal still valid, though much has changed
It hasn't sold as many copies as Left Behind, The Prayer of Jabez, or The Purpose-Driven Life, but historian Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind has arguably shaped the evangelical world (or at least its institutions) more than any other book published in the last decade.

In the October issue of First Things, Noll looks at what has changed and what remains in his critique: "The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." (First Things has devoted much space to discussing the book over the years.)

"I remain largely unrepentant about the book's historical arguments, its assessment of evangelical strengths and weaknesses, and its indictment of evangelical intellectual efforts, though I have changed my mind on a few matters," Noll writes. If he were to write the book today, he says, "It would have a different tone—more hopeful than despairing, more attuned to possibilities than to problems, more concerned with theological resources than theological deficiencies. The major reason for this alteration in perspective is itself theological; a secondary reason is that many developments on the ground now also seem auspicious."

Among those developments: "increasing engagement between evangelicals and Roman Catholics," an "ongoing renascence of Christian philosophy," evangelical colleges "season[ing] their sectarian certitudes with commitment to 'mere Christianity,'" breakthroughs in engagement with the sciences, "multiplying Christian presence in the nation's pluralistic universities," and serious efforts in Christian publishing.

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