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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind, especially mind…

Written by: on February 22, 2019

Mark Noll gives a scathing review of Evangelical intellectualism in his 1994 book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. The first sentence give the reader the tone, ” The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” [1] He goes on to discuss the lack of intellectual integrity within not only evangelical church members but all of their centers of higher learning. When Noll says there is not much of an evangelical mind he is not talking about theological issues. In fact, he writes, “North American evangelicals enjoy a rich theological harvest.” [2] He means “the effort to think like a Christian.” [3] The problem is within all other disciplines, such as science, economics, political science, history and the arts. 

When I was in seminary I took a class on Christians in the culture. We mainly discussed the idea of Christians in the arts and how they were influencing the world around them. The one topic that interested me the most was the discussions of Christian artists versus artists that were Christian. His favorite band was U2, the question was, is Bono influencing the world for Christ better than say, the biggest Christian band at the time, Casting Crowns or Toby Mac [4], not that I remember succinctly who was the most popular at the time. We all agreed that a band like U2 and Bono could do much more because they appealed to the main stream audience with a message of influence for Christ. In 2016 Bono said in an interview, ““I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautiful… gospel songs, write a song about their bad marriage. Write a song about how they’re pissed off at the government. Because that’s what God wants from you,” Bono said. “Why I am suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism.”[5] While there is obviously always a place for songs of worship, what Bono is asking is for artists to let the Christian mind inform their art. 

I have had discussions with people about Christian movies like Facing the Giants and God’s Not Dead and while they have a good message and a positive view of God they are not always done well. Take for example the Left Behind series of movies, they look like they were made by a high school A/V class and not by a studio. There is a problem with this, you cannot be taken seriously if your product does not have the value it needs to be seen. For too long, Christians have abdicated the public market place to those who are not Christian and then complain about a lack of morals in society. Noll asks the question “Who will be our tutors, the ones who teach us and our children about life?”[6] If we leave the institutions of higher learning to make our own colleges we have left behind the ability to affect society for Christ. To me it is akin to cloistering ones self away from the world to meditate solely on God, then one day emerging and finding out God has been removed from societal life. If there is no one to tell of Christ, then who is to blame. There is nothing wrong to meditating on God, but to remove ourselves from the world is to remove our influence. In John 17:14 Jesus says “they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (ESV) and follows it up in verse 18 with “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. ” (ESV). As Christians, we do a good job most of the time of not of the world, but I fear we may have missed being in the world. This does not just mean being a missionary, but in all walks of life, being the light and mind of Christ.

In his review of Noll’s work, Martin Marty states,

“For all the attacks Noll makes, this is a positive book. In evangelical terms, it is a call for mindless sinners to repent, to recover the mind for God and their movement. They are to delight in the world which God will take action to end, and from which Christ saves sinners, but also the cosmos which God created good and in which God is incarnate in Christ. Noll is a more incarnational thinker than most evangelical leaders have been. He uses his view of God’s love of the earth and involvement in its travail and as it moves toward its destiny to inspire fellow evangelicals. They are to contemplate the wonders of creation, science, human invention, politics, the academy, letters, arts, and more.” [7]

I agree that calling for those who identify as Evangelical do need to be a part of the whole of society. To think like a Christian, not as just one who wants to complain but as one who loves those who God has created. In the postscript to his book Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, Noll sees hope for the evangelical mind. Written fifteen years later, his hope is laid out as stirrings at Christian colleges and universities to strive towards being better, not only that but a growing Christian presence in secular universities as well. He lines out several others but the ending is what brings me hope as well “To steal Charles Dicken’s oft-borrowed line: when considering all the impediments that evangelicals bring to intellectual life, once can conclude that it must be the worst of times; but when considering positive developments in recent decades, and even more the unmatched treasures in Jesus Christ, one might conclude that it is also the best of times.”[8] 

 

[1] Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994. 3.

[2] Ibid. 7.

[3] Ibid. 7.

[4] Top Hits Of The 1980’s. Accessed February 22, 2019. http://www.topchristianhits.org/top_christian_music_hits_2007.html.

[5] Zauzmer, Julie. “Bonos Advice to Christian Musicians: Get Real.” The Washington Post. April 27, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/04/27/bonos-advice-to-christian-musicians-get-real/?utm_term=.066870b575fb.

[6] Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994. 33.

[7] Marty, Martin. “A Shot across the Brow — The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark A. Noll.” Commonweal 121, no. 19 (1994): 22.

[8] Noll, Mark A. Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind. Grand Rapids, MI, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013. 167.

About the Author

mm

Jason Turbeville

A pastor, husband and father who loves to be around others. These are the things that describe me. I was a youth minister for 15 years but God changed the calling on my life. I love to travel and see where God takes me in my life.

10 responses to “Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind, especially mind…”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Jason,
    Hi friend. How are you? Thanks for summarizing Noll’s problem, that evangelicals do not “think like a Christian.” I like your sermonizing message about “being in the world” and reflecting the light and mind of Christ to others. Amen!
    I am glad that we are both seeking the “treasures in Jesus Christ” that you mention in closing. Yes, for us, in our brief glimpse of eternity, these are the best of times until Christ returns. I am excited for the return, because I know what we do here and now matters for our eternal assignments. I hope flying continues to be one of my many heavenly vocations awaiting me. What do you see your vocation being in Heaven?
    Great post!
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Mic,
      I actually have never thought about what my vocation would be, man, now I have to think on that. I really don’t know, I am not skilled in flying or anything but speaking, maybe that…great now I am not gonna be able to sleep tonight. 😉

      Jason

  2. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Jason!

    I showed a Bono video clip once during my sermon, unfortunately a few people walked out and never came back. Bono actually has some amazing points to make about the church. He has challenged me in good ways. Thanks for including him in your Blog this week.

    Here is the Bono clip I showed which was from the Willow Creed Leadership Summit that I attended.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGNZRLs6WTA

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Jay,
      I think a lot of American Christianity is so self centered that we cannot even think a guy like Bono has something good to say. It is a shame.

      Jason

  3. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Jason I really appreciate how you have taken this topic and applied to the world of Christian art. I have never heard the argument articulated like this but i think you are right. This is why I have rarely ever been excited about seeing a christian movie, but thought of it as more of an obligation.

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Kyle,
      You are right, really the only one I was excited to see was Passion of Christ, and that was made by a very flawed human being. We need more believers in the arts making art that can speak to the world.

      Jason

  4. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jason,

    Christianity has always been a religion of the marketplace. Since Jesus was not an ascetic neither should be his followers. Meditation and solitude are necessary to prepare us to re-engage with those who have yet to see God in their surroundings. Christians need to be found in all those places that intellectual pursuits are encouraged to offer a perspective based on the understanding of God as creator of all of these pursuits.

  5. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jason,
    Great insight in your blog! What I didn’t sense in your writing is your personal thoughts on evangelical academics? Important? Slightly important? Clearly, you see the value since you are in a DMin program, but how do evangelicals overall rate in your mind?

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Jean,
      I personally think academic endeavors are very important, that being said, the culture around secular universities today seem hostile to any discussion that does not fall into lockstep with what they believe. I have a father who is a physician and a mother who has her Ph.D. in counseling so they always impressed upon me the importance of education. What I find disheartening is the lack of dialogue from all people no matter what side of the argument they fall on. The art of rhetoric is a lost art I fear.

      Jason

  6. Shawn Hart says:

    With or Without you lyrics by U2:

    I have climbed highest mountains
    I have run through the fields
    Only to be with you
    Only to be with you
    I have run
    I have crawled
    I have scaled these city walls
    These city walls
    Only to be with you
    Related

    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

    I have kissed honey lips
    Felt the healing in her fingertips
    Burning like a fire
    This burning desire

    I have spoke with the tongue of angels
    I have held the hand of a devil
    It was warm in the night
    I was cold as a stone

    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

    I believe in the kingdom come
    Then all the colors will bleed into one
    Bleed into one
    But yes I’m still running
    Photos

    hhU2 – artist photos
    hhU2 – artist photos
    hhU2 – artist photos
    hhU2 – artist photos

    You broke the bonds
    And you loosed the chains
    Carried the cross
    Of my shame
    Oh my shame
    You know I believe it
    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

    Song Discussions is protected by U.S. Patent 9401941. Other patents pending.

    All I can say…that man needs Jesus! LOL.

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