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

Knowledge and Knowing

Written by: on February 9, 2017

From the the first pages of the Introduction to Jesus Christ and the life of the Mind, this book had a different and more positive tone than The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. The words, the topics, the stated goals are positive and are intended to encourage learning and thinking because of the realities of Jesus Christ. This was confirmed when arriving in the Postscript where Dr. Mark Noll wrote, “At the same time, were I to attempt another full-scale historical assessment like The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, it would have a different tone – more hopeful than despairing, more attuned to possibilities than to problems…” [1] (He then lists a number of hopeful signs. Among these signs are advances at Christian colleges – one of which is George Fox!!)

One summary of this book might be that Jesus Christ is the motivation, the foundation, and the framework for the life and use of the mind. Noll says, “For ‘Christian scholarship’ to mean anything, it must mean intellectual labor rooted in Christ, with both the rooting and the laboring essential.” [2]

In the spirit of Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together,” Noll presents that history, science, and theology all find their origins in Christ and all call us to exercise the mind in order to understand His world. To this end Noll quotes the ancient Creeds of the Church a framework and guide to scholastic pursuits across the disciplines.

Evangelical Christians seem to have a deep seated desire not to live in tension: to maintain life in a black-and-white mode. Paradox does not feel user-friendly for many Christians, but the simultaneous dual nature of Christ should encourage us vigorously to study complexities and paradoxes.

Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind is highly motivating to stretch our minds as far as possible, and when it’s impossible to understand more, to then accept mystery, and to live in that place of wonder and awe. This book encourages us not to shy away from mystery, but because Christ is the author and center of all creation, we can enthusiastically stretch our minds to learn and discover.

In this regard, during the reading of Jesus Christ and the life of the Mind I frequently thought of three of the most profound books I’ve ever read: Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves, The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer, and The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. [3] Each of these relatively small books drew my mind into new places of intellectual pursuit of understanding and, in the end, left me filled with both knowledge and wondering awe. These volumes demonstrate that the life of the mind and the life of devotion are not only not mutually exclusive, but rather feed each other and are actually two sides of the same coin. These books filled me with new concepts of God and with worship of the One Whose ways are higher than ours.

Jesus Christ and the life of the Mind connected to my dissertation focus at a key point. Mark Noll addresses the topic of multiculturalism. He indicates that multiculturalism is a negative concept for some people because it is associated with postmodern relativism. In the postmodern thoughts of today there is the notion that there are many truths, and that holding to absolutism is antiquated. However Noll says, “Unlike postmodernism – exemplified at its extreme by radical forms of multiculturalism – biblical religion holds forthrightly to an ideal of universal truth. [4]

We may support and participate in a multicultural milieu (Leadership and Global Perspectives) not because of radical relativism, but because multiculturalism is a real part of the historical record of Scripture and the nature of the Kingdom of God. Revelation 5:9-10 says, “…You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

My dissertation is focused on creating a multicultural space (an international learning community) comprised of the cultures of the Untied States, international students from other nations, and the Kingdom of God. Each of these three groups hold values, customs, and norms. Some of these aspects of culture are common to all, and some are unique to each culture. Part of the scholastic process is to discover what aspects of U. S. and other-nation cultures agree with Kingdom-of-God culture which aspects do not. If each of these three cultural groupings is pictured as a circle, with the three circles intersecting, the space we seek is the point at which all three cultures overlap in one place. Our goal is to create culturally intelligent leadership training in a context that also fosters cultural understanding.

In 1 Corinthians 2:16 the Apostle Paul wrote, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? Is this a tall order, or a great promise?

The gift of a life of the mind immersed in Jesus Christ is that we get to learn to think God’s thoughts with Him. As we study history and science and other academic disciplines, we are not limited to thinking through life without the advantage of God’s perspective. We are not imprisoned to a closed-system world view. Our minds are allowed to tap into the mind of the Eternal Creator. In the drug culture of the 1960s the mantra was to “expand your mind.” Nothing can expand the mind like the life of the mind in Christ.

Finally, I appreciate Noll touching on the reality that there are two ways of knowing: both cognitively and experientially. These two kinds of knowing enhance one another. In Jesus Christ and the life of the mind, the student-follower of Jesus Christ is able to know, and to know. This life of the mind might also be considered the life of the soul, for the knowledge is both a knowledge of mind and of heart. [5]

(If space allowed, I would next write about the wonder of the atonement: Propitiation, Redemption, Justification, and Reconciliation. But alas…)

1. Mark A. Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 2018), Kindle Loc 1685.
2. Ibid., Kindle Loc 1637.
3. Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2012).
A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1961).
Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son (New York, NY: 1992).
4. Noll, Kindle Loc 899.
5. Ibid., Kindle Loc 634, 638.

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About the Author

mm

Marc Andresen

I have a B. A. in Music from San Diego State University and received an M. Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977. July 1 2015 I retired after 38 years in pastoral ministry. The passion and calling that developed in the last 20 years is leadership training in cross-cultural contexts, as my wife and I have had many opportunities to teach in Eastern Europe and Africa. I have been married for 38 years and have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and a beautiful granddaughter. My hobbies are photography and British sports cars.

9 responses to “Knowledge and Knowing”

  1. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Marc,
    Interesting blog, I like the way you have interwoven your dissertation in the reading blog.
    Since you will be training leaders from various cultures, are you developing a conceptual frameworks that specify what types of individual are most likely to learn and benefit the most from international assignments? Will your dissertation investigates whether cultural competence, defined as a person’s ability to interact effectively with others from a different cultural background or in a cross-cultural setting, predicts expatriate adjustment and job performance more effectively than other individual-level predictors such as personality and local language proficiency. It seem that you have chosen a interesting topic for a dissertation study.
    I enjoyed reading your blog; it added a new perspective to Noll’s book and gave me few ideas about my dissertation topic. Thanks! Rose Maria

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Rose,

      If I understand your question, our first focus groups are Chinese and Latino peoples. This choice is, in part, by virtue of availability of prospective students. But the primary reason, with Chinese students is because when they return home there will be little training available for ministry.

      We have not considered or observed abilities to interact with other cultures. The focus groups are based more on need within the population. We do think all leadership training should increase cultural intelligence. There is a growing movement in China to take the Gospel along the Silk Road to Iran, so cross-cultural skills will be useful.

      • mm Rose Anding says:

        Thanks Marc, I understand now, you are full-filling a need within those cultures. That is wonderful. May God bless you in this endeavor.
        Rose Maria

  2. Really good summary and reflection Marc. I like how you pointed out how Noll challenges the reader to not fear mystery. Only in the kingdom of God can seeking knowledge about things actually lead to the God who is mysterious. This gets me thinking. Keep going for it! Really looking forward to seeing your final project.

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Aaron,

      Thank you.

      The longer I walk with the Lord, it seems, the more prominent mystery becomes. I feel like I know Him better and yet at times encounter more that I don’t understand. I hope that means I’m being drawn in.

      I am enthralled with the reality that Christianity is polar opposite from turning off your brain and jumping off the faith-cliff. I’ve never encountered anything more mentally challenging and stimulating than theology and seeking to understand the things of God.

  3. Hey Mark,

    Your blog is simply

    “hello world”

    I don’t know if someone hacked you or if you simply boiled the book down to two words! I will go with the latter!!

    Check it out.

    Kevin

  4. Pablo Morales says:

    Marc,
    A book like this one is so packed with so many insights that it is hard to write a short blog (I never succeed even though I aim for it). I also found the section on multiculturalism insightful and highlighted a few things regarding Pentecost and multilingualism, which are all related concepts to what you described in your blog. Noll asserts, “Later in Acts the linguistic diversity of Pentecost is matched by an acceptance of cultural diversity.”
    One thing I’ve noticed through my reading, is that different authors interpret the event of the tower of Babel differently. Some see it as a disciplinarian action of God, as if the ideal is to go back to a monolingual state, while others see it as God pushing people to accomplish what he wanted from the beginning, which was to have a multilingual world. I am not sure where Noll stands on this topic, as his choice of words is rather ambiguous. He simply says, “Thus, as commentators have frequently pointed out, the Day of Pentecost reversed the linguistic disorder caused by the hubris on display at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11).” (Kindle Locations 678-679). What I find intriguing is that from the very beginning, the church was described as multilingual, and even in the eschatological future God’s people are still depicted as multilingual.

    I am glad to know that you have found some content in this book that will expand your research for your dissertation.
    (Kindle Locations 681-682).

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Pablo,

      I would view the outcomes from the Tower of Babel as being God’s Merciful discipline – blocking human attempts to reach God on our own terms. Parallel (but different) would be the Lord blocking the way to the Tree of Life while humankind is in an unredeemed state, so that we don’t enter into life which lasts forever without relationship with God.

      As our insights through our reading increase, I will say that my appreciation and awareness of the multicultural aspect of Scripture and the Kingdom have increased. In fact, I now cannot fathom how any serious follower of the Lord of lords would not welcome and seek out the multicultural and multi-lingual aspects of God’s Kingdom and its work. Power to Ethnos Bible Church.

      Yet unknown (mystery) is what our mode of communication will be when in God’s presence.

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