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I read The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark A. Noll around

Review: ★★★★

The great scandal of the evangelical mind is that there isn’t one.

That hot take from the introduction sets the stage for some discourse that I desperately needed.

I remembering becoming a Christian in high school. I was warmly welcomed into the evangelical church, and I quickly learned what beliefs had to be checked at the door. To be fair, we must distinguish between what we do and do not believe, because words and ideas have to mean things, and humans want to organize information.

The comfort this book provided was understanding evangelicalism as a particular expression of Christianity within a much richer history of Christian thought. You can be faithful to Jesus without accepting all the distinctives that are tied up in celebrity pastors gathering their followers through the charisma of presentation rather than the thouroughness of contemplation.

It’s interesting to weigh the tradeoffs of the reformation. Most presentations of the reformation lack a nuance of tradeoffs, preferring a narrative of only positive. But when anybody is allowed to pick up a Bible and gather a following… anbybody is able to pick up a Bible a gather a following. The substance of belief is replaced with the ability to gather a crowd, because it’s an easier question to answer. There was a certain guarantee in having an established church that vetted the leadership for you. Like anything, the availability of choice puts the burden on the individual to do the research. But the established church is itself an abstraction, and the theme of the year continues: abstractions are not free.


Details

Title
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
Author
Mark A. Noll
ISBN
9780802841803 (find it on Bookshop, IndieBound, WorldCat, or Open Library)