Mark Noll wrote this book in 1994, at a time when the global landscape had quite a different appearance, tone, and structure. But, he presents a timeless thesis in this book which is still relevant and challenging for readers today. This book is centered on what the author considers the scandalous “life of the mind” of American evangelicals. For evangelicals the life of the mind means “to think within a Christian framework across the whole spectrum of modern learning, including economics, political science, literary criticism, historical inquiry, philosophical studies, linguistics, history of science, social theory and the arts.”  Noll claims, “Failure to exercise the mind for Christ in these areas has become acute in the twentieth century. That failure is the scandal of the evangelical mind.”  This appears to have serious ramifications. No wonder our Dminlgp academic program is so diligent in incorporating a wide, multi-discipline approach in our readings.
Luther and Calvin were staunch proponents of the necessity of higher education to combat anti-intellectual movements that attacked all education along with Roman Catholic dogma. Seventeen-century Puritans instrumental in planting Protestantism in North America also insisted upon a comprehensive engagement with learning. But, as the revival tradition took a foothold in America, it subdued the life of the mind and eventually led to the decline of active theological pursuits concerning God, Christian life and the world.
Most evangelicals believe “Scripture reveals God as the author of nature, as the sustainer of human institutions, and as the source of harmony, creativity, and beauty.”  Modern evangelicals received this legacy from earlier evangelical leaders and movements that were distinguished by their rigorous intellectual activity as a way of glorifying God. According to Noll, modern American evangelicals have failed to sustain a robust intellectual presence; they have denounced high culture, the universities, and the arts. Unlike their predecessors, modern evangelicals are not diligently pursuing ways of thinking about God or the world. Noll feels that isolated acts of compassion, social justice, and altruism do not compensate for this failure.
Noll recognizes three dimensions associated with the scandal of the evangelical mind: cultural, institutional, and theological. The “cultural dimension” is pragmatic and utilitarian, propelled by urgencies, not deep intellectual thought. For some twentieth-century evangelicals that translated into apocalyptic fears of fulfilled biblical prophecy and the imminence of the world’s end. The “institutional dimension” relating to evangelical higher education does not encourage Christian reflection on the nature of the world, society, and the arts. Some evangelical institutions of higher learning are governed by non-Christian or anti-Christian agendas. The “theological dimension” of the scandal is the long-term neglect by the Christian community of the multi-faceted world created and sustained by God for His own glory, especially with respect to the mind, nature, society, and the arts.
Jonathan Edwards understood the ultimate reason for exercising our intelligence, is to gain a better understanding about God and the world He created. Edward asks, “Who, after all, made the world of nature, and then made possible the development of sciences through which we find out more about nature? Who formed the universe of human interactions, and so provided the raw material of politics, economics, sociology, and history? Who is the source of harmony, form, and narrative pattern, and so lies behind all artistic and literary possibilities? Who created the human mind in such a way that it could grasp the realities of nature, of human interactions, of beauty, and so made possible the theories on such matters by philosophers and psychologists? Who moment by moment, maintains the natural world, the world of human interactions, and the harmonies of existence? Who, moment by moment, maintains the connections between what is in our minds and what is in the world beyond our minds?” 
When one pauses and contemplates the significance of the above phrases, it becomes clear why we have the Divine directive in Matthew 22:37, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” This is the way we can conceptualize God as a supernatural, living, Divine Being; have intimate fellowship with Him; and experience an inner witness of His presence, power, and reality. Noll informs us that the primary purpose of Christian scholarship is to praise God with the mind and value what He has created. When we acknowledge His sovereignty over His creation and seek a mind that thinks like a Christian, we find God in the process.
- Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 7.
- Ibid., 4.
- Ibid., 51.