"The scandal of the evangelical mind," historian Mark Noll famously wrote in 1994, "is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." A half-dozen years later, there's apparently enough of one for the cover of The Atlantic Monthly. Alan Wolfe's "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind" is one of the year's must-read articles, and is certainly becoming one of the most widely discussed around the Christianity Today hallways and the surrounding area (Wheaton College, thoroughly examined in the article, is down the street). "Conservative Christians have enlivened and enriched the humanities, political and social theory, and even empirical social science," Wolfe writes. "At the same time, their success is uneven. There are not, and in all likelihood there never will be, similar developments in the natural sciences, and whereas there may be such a thing as Christian economists, there is no serious effort to create a Christian economics. Still, since the early 1960s … conservative Christians with roots in American fundamentalism have indeed created a life of the mind broader and more imaginative than anything previously found in their tradition. The big question is whether they can maintain it." Speaking of uneven success, the article itself has its problems. Wolfe doesn't quite understand evangelical higher education's call for an integration of faith and learning and why Christian colleges have statements of faith. He too easily dismisses the assertion that the mainstream academy is often hostile to Christianity. And there are enough minor errors, (conflating Wheaton's statement of faith and conduct code, for example) to frustrate readers familiar with "evangelical mind" issues. ...1
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