Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Zeta Tau's Common Reader for 2009/2010
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll
This year, as a Sigma Tau chapter, we will be reading Noll's analysis of the contemporary state of evangelical intellectualism as well as a call for renewal and his arguments about how this renewal can be achieved. Following is a blurb from the book's publisher, promoting the book:
"The scandal of the evangelical mind," says historian Mark Noll, "is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." This critical yet constructive book explains the decline of evangelical thought in North America and seeks to find, within evangelicalism itself, resources for turning the situation around. According to Noll, evangelical Protestants make up the largest single group of religious Americans; they also enjoy increasing wealth, status, political influence, and educational achievement. Yet, despite its size and considerable intellectual potential, evangelical Protestantism makes only a slight contribution to first-order public discourse in North America: it neither sponsors a single research university, nor cultivates attitudes that treat the worlds of science, the arts, politics, and social analysis with the seriousness that God intends. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind explains how this situation developed by tracing the history of evangelical thinking in America. Noll's analysis shows how Protestants successfully aligned themselves with national ideals and with the particular expressions of an American Enlightenment in the decades before the Civil War; explains how the fundamentalists at the start of the twentieth century preserved essential elements of the faith, but only by grievously damaging the life of the mind; gives specific attention to evangelical thought on politics and science; and discusses what some have called an 'evangelical intellectual renaissance' in recent decades and shows why it is more apparent than real. Written to encourage reform as well as to inform, this book ends with an outline of some preliminary steps by which evangelicals might yet come to love the Lord more thoroughly with the mind.
You can also find more information, including the entire first chapter, at barnesandnoble.com.
Won't you please purchase this book and read through it with us this semester--so we can promote community and intellectual discourse over the year? This common-reader series will culminate in a full-chapter discussion at April's STD meeting mediated by Professor Steve Bell.
You may purchase the book from a number of venues, including barnesandnoble.com. But, for those of you that like a bargain (which I do!), you should check out ways to purchase the book used. Amazon has about 50 used copies available starting at $5.50. Half.com is another great place for getting bargain books; it has about 38 copies available starting at $7.00.