The Maturing of the Evangelical Mind

brain exercising (300x286)Almost 20 years ago, Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind critiqued evangelicalism, quite simply, for not having much of a mind. In this short video, three leading evangelical, all presidents of key evangelical institutions, discuss whether we can now talk about “the maturing of the evangelical mind.” Al Mohler (Southern Seminar), Phil Ryken (Wheaton College), and Michael Lindsey (Gordon College) all argue that we’ve come a long way in the last two decades.

In the video, they specifically highlight the following as evidence of evangelicalism’s increased intellectual vigor:

  • The quality of people applying for teaching jobs at evangelical institutions
  • A new sense that we’re no long “trying to prove ourselves” intellectually
  • Evangelical students interacting and researching with students for secular institutions
  • Younger evangelicals being “acculturated into the life of the mind” in ways that were not true of prior generations
  • The rise of Christian higher education globally
  • Increased freedom on Christian campuses to pursue the life of the mind

At the same time, they identified a few key challenges for evangelical intellectual growth in the future:

  • Rampant biblical illiteracy
  • Christian scholars in some fields who have not been cultivated as deeply in Christian theology as they will need to be for long-term growth and leadership in those fields
  • Lack of leadership in law, particularly a lack of Christian law professors
  • Shortage of explicitly evangelical minds in the humanities and the arts

Watch the video below, and let us know what you think. Do you think there’s been as much intellectual growth in evangelicalism as these three men argue? Do you see any other challenging areas that we’ll need to address moving forward?





3 Responses to “The Maturing of the Evangelical Mind”

  1. Eric Messelt October 10, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    I thought the comment on lack of Christians in the law was interesting. It reflects a general lack of respect for lawyers, not just in general society, but especially in the church. When it comes out in conversation that I’m a lawyer, invariably the first response is, “Did you hear the joke about the dead lawyer?” or some other equally offensive response. All very funny, but, “When you are in trouble, be sure to call a comedian.” The church in general and Christians in particular do not value their brothers and sisters who work in difficult environments (law, public schools, entertainment, et al.), with many of those lawyers attempting to protect their very rights to exercise the faith, ‘once for all delivered.’

  2. Paul Bruggink October 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Re your question: Do you think there’s been as much intellectual growth in evangelicalism as these three men argue?

    Keeping in mind that I’m just a layman with an interest in certain theological topics, I am curious as to how Dr. Philip Ryken can say (in the video):

    “Whereas I think historically people looked at Christian campuses as a place that was very restrictive of the life of the mind, I think that just the opposite is the case at the present moment.”

    How does this square with the dismissals of Peter Enns (Westminster Theological Seminary), John Schneider (Calvin College), Michael Pahl (Cederville University), Anthony LeDonne (Lincoln Christian University), Michael Licona (Southern Evangelical ASemoinary, etc.?

    Or did Peter Enns portray a more accurate view of the current state of the life of the mind in Christian higher education when he stated at the end of a recently rerun blog, “It is, rather, an indication of the inadequacy of the Evangelical system, where the best Evangelical minds trained in the best research institutions have to make believe they don’t know what they know.”?

    Who is presenting the more accurate portrayal of the current situation?

  3. Paul Bruggink October 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Re your question: Do you see any other challenging areas that we’ll need to address moving forward?

    I believe that Evangelical Christian higher education must address the young earth-old earth, creation-evolution and historical Adam issues realistically and work out how they are going to affect Christian teachings like original sin, biblical inspiration and inerrancy, theodicy, etc. I would contend that the impact does not have to be negative, but these issues must be dealt with and a new generation of theologians and pastors must become informed of the alternative ways of looking at these issues before we start losing entire generations of young people.

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