John Fea describes Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind as continuing to serve as a guiding light, an intellectual road map, and a source of inspiration decades later for many of Noll’s readers. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind convinced Fea that the life of the mind was a legitimate calling despite his childhood Catholic upbringing and the conservative pietistic pastors and spiritual mentors of his adolescence. Ultimately, Noll’s siren’s song compelled Fea to become a professor of American history and chair of the History Department at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Within his context, Fea teaches and mentors students in the necessity of Christian thinking about the world, striving to contribute to overcoming the “scandal.”
Randall Stephens describes Noll’s return to the subject (more than fifteen years after his former influential book published in 1994) with Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind. Noll focuses in on the biblical, Christological, and creedal foundations for intellectual engagement. In his final chapter, Noll sums up some of the intellectual gains made since he published The Scandal. He points to hopeful signs in evangelical higher education; the prominence of philanthropic organizations that aid the work of Christian academics; and the serious academic volumes that roll off the presses of Eerdmans, Baker, and InterVarsity Press. Finally, he concludes with a list of goals he thinks will further the life of the mind in evangelical circles.
Dr. Kyle Chalko, DMin, was a member of the LGP8 cohort, and his dissertation research focused on the role of seminary-level education within Pentecostal movements. With a common AG background, I was most interested in his take on Noll’s book(s). Kyle, in general, viewed Pentecostal movements as traditionally lagging behind the evangelical world in producing theological leaders along with strong foundations of thought. Therefore, Noll’s The Scandal Of The Evangelical Mind provoked much tension for Chalko in that it validated his perceptions about the AG but also highlighted the other side of the pendulum, and that is an overvaluation of academic studies.
My first interaction with Noll was his Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. This volume was the source for an online non-accredited church history course I was taking as part of the Vineyard Leadership Insitute. Noll has always been very helpful to me as he is extremely accessible while also stretching me beyond information into formation. This fulcrum of tension coalesces for me around his question of, “ the distinction between evangelical thinking and Christian thinking done by evangelicals – that is, between thought guided by the distinctives of evangelicalism itself and thought inspired by other Christian traditions that take root among evangelicals.” That is, am I am willing to overcome the hindrances of my evangelical heritage to learn from and incorporate ways to think and process thinking from others outside of my evangelical family tree?
The cultural context of my evangelical family tree was in the rural small towns of southwest Louisiana. Whether Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, or Church of Christ, the consistent message was,” we (alone) are right (or more right) than others and you do not need more education to understand, you only need more faith to accept/engage with (our) Bible (that is, our perspective)!” Therefore, arguments were just that, arguments, to commandeer proselytes into a certain perspectives or streams of understanding. Even in a major city like Houston, where I gave my life to Jesus and experienced the empowering or baptism of the Holy Spirit in an Assemblies of God church, the clarion call was “these things can only be understood by the Spirit, not man’s wisdom.” While respecting and honoring my family tree, frankly, I was often embarrassed at our lack of learning and development. In pursuing a call to ministry, I read everything I could find to gain understanding and development as an aspiring Christian leader, that is, the development of the “spiritual” man but not necessarily the mind.
One of the attractions of the Vineyard movement was a saner (i.e., naturally supernatural) approach to Holy Spirit engagement along with an admonition to develop the mind and learning. The Mark Noll interaction mentioned above with church history was part of an intensive two year Vineyard Leadership Insitute training curriculum. I accomplished this among a cohort of participants where we read, discussed reviewed cassette lectures (remember this was 2000-2001), completed practicum projects and intensive (or so I thought) exams. What is curious and telling about my experience is I did this while pastoring a neighboring Assemblies of God church. I was so hungry to learn and grow.
This hunger in me grew to the point that I started back to Fuller seminary in 2017 at the age of 61. Noll states that his objective for Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind “is to urge others into action. For “Christian scholarship” to mean anything, it must mean intellectual labor rooted in Christ, with both the rooting and the labor essential (emphasis mine).” This urging others to action personifies my stage of ministry, my life, and my calling. My son-in-law who is a great lover of theology, is now attending Fuller seminary to develop what God has planted within him. He has a graduate degree in structural engineering and is a registered civil engineer with the state of Texas. He also is a fantastic husband, father, and friend to his father-in-law. What will he do with a master of theology, only God knows. Noll is excellent because he is a stellar scholar, especially accessible to non-scholars such as I, and not only provides content but compels his readers to action. I have taken his words to heart and incorporate them within my research focus and my coaching practice. God has afforded us the amazing gifts of our minds, let us continue to apply the labor to develop them, rather than wasting these precious gifts.
 Fea, John. “What Is the State of the Evangelical Mind on Christian College Campuses?” Christian Scholar’s Review 47, no. 4 (2018): 341-344.
 Stephens, Randall J. “Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind.(Book Review).” Church History 82, no. 2 (2013): 507-508.
Chalko, Kyle on February 22, 2019 https://blogs.georgefox.edu/dminlgp/cohort/lgp8/page/10/
 Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1994) 212.
 Mark Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2011) 147.