The Scandal Of The Evangelical Mind by Mark A Noll was an interesting read for me. Mark A. Noll takes the positions that the evangelicals have not been doing enough to lead the way in progressive thought for the world. They have lagged behind the secular and catholic worlds and have rarely produced thought leaders. Noll takes a couple chapters and discusses some of the history of Christian evangelical universities, as well as the separate Seminaries. In this explanation he says the Christian universities have slacked off in producing thought leaders, but have simply avoided major questions by producing their own flavor of academics. It was simply the same as secular education but plus God, or secular education but minus the world evolution. Because of this, the world has progressed without them and the new leaders that became the influencers in the world have not tended to come from these bible colleges.
This is significant for me because my dissertation takes a serious look at the sake of Christian higher education and Pentecostal higher education. In it, I attest that the Pentecostals have lagged behind the evangelical world as a whole in reproducing theological leaders and strong foundations of thought. But Noll says that even the mainline evangelical selection of denominations have lagged behind their secular counterpart. This only highlights how much more behind Pentecostals and my own tribe, the assemblies of God must be from the rest of the world.
Noll writes a book that inspires me to do something different than the rest of Christian universities. A few times while reading the book I felt I should put it down and just start doing the things he was talking about. I wanted to start working towards creating systems where these thought leaders could be raised up.
The scandal of the evangelical mind dove into some of the history of the Christian universities and also the decline in trust that the American public had in clergy and all authority in the 20th century, but it missed some of the initial history of the seminary and I thought it was interesting to share with you here. The seeds of seminary started much earlier, but it’s actualy inception can be pointed back to the Council of Trent which met from 1545 to 1563. This council met over the long period of 18 years to address many church issues, one major issue being the continued immorality of the clergy and clergy students. The council blamed two things for the cause of this corruption in the clergy students and came up with two solutions to purify the church. Their first solution was to send out a militia of men armed with plaster and covered up all of the naked statues. The second solution was to move all the clergy universities students into a “watchable place.” (The word Chancellor means “one who peeks through the lattice.”) It was out of a demand for purity that they decided to separate the ministerial students from the “worldly” students and place them in a setting of their own. They called it seminary. Not only did the idea of a theological degree start outside of Scripture’s guidance, but so did the idea that the clergy should be separated and taught in their own microcosm. Gene Edwards summarizes this: “Fig leaves for naked statues and separate schools for priests! These were the birth of today’s seminary.”
From here, things only got worse as the modern university system started from the University of Halle in 1694 and educational priorities in the university and seminary became infatuated by enlightenment values. Seminary became more intellectual and less spiritual and has more or less stayed there for the last three hundred years.
To lay out a theological foundation for the idea presented in this dissertation is impossible without also pointing out the huge theological fracture that seminary has had in its own existence. To our shame, these questions were never asked: “What is the New Testament theological education?” and “How would Jesus train new pastors?” Seminary began with the Catholic church wanting to control doctrine, and it quickly grew into needing these liturgically trained priests to stop sleeping around. Beyond this, there was no theological foundation to explain why “seminary” even exists, let alone why a theological studies bachelor’s degree is the way it is.
The scandal of the evangelical mind presents a tension for me. In some ways, it validates what I’ve been trying to say about the AG. But it also highlights the other side of the pendulum, and that is an overvaluation of the academic studies. In my mind, the AG was lacking and the evangelical world was more or less balanced. Noll is saying, however, the evangelical needs a lot more depth of thought and critical thinking. I’m not sure if I fully agree with this. I think this would error to heavily to being overly academic and falling into the ivory tower. However, I know that my own filter is heavily influencing me, and it’s no surprise that an AG guy here is saying something is too academic and not practical enough.
 Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994.
 Sarah Bond, “Medieval Censorship, Nudity And The Revealing History Of The Fig Leaf.” Forbes. Last modified October 27, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/drsarahbond/2017/10/27/medieval-censorship-nudity-and-the-revealing-history-of-the-fig-leaf/.
 Gene Edwards, Paul’s Way of Training Workers Or the Seminary’s Way (Jacksonville: Seedsowers Publishing, 2007), 48.
 Edwards, Paul’s Way of Training Workers Or the Seminary’s Way, 48.
 Dockery and Morgan, Christian Higher Education, 22.