“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an Evangelical mind.”  Ouch! With that statement, Noll argues that though the evangelical church has grown on many fronts, it lacks when it comes to the “life of the mind.” He states:
“By an evangelical “life of the mind” I mean the effort to think like a Christian—to think within a specifically Christian framework—across the whole spectrum of modern learning, including economics and political science, literary criticism and imaginative writing, historical inquiry and philosophical studies, linguistics and the history of social science theory and the arts.” 
According to Noll, the scandal has three faultlines: cultural, institutional and theological. Along the cultural faultline, Noll gives a geopolitical example. He notes that instead of approaching the problems in the Middle East from an analytical framework that considers the various multilayered and complex political and cultural components, evangelicals turn to a biblical interpretation that in many ways places America at the center of a prophetic stage. He states bluntly that in this case, evangelicals are “bereft of self-criticism, intellectual subtility, or awareness of complexity.” 
Along the institutional faultline, Noll argues that the educational institutions within the evangelical movements, though very successful in reaching their purposed goals of Bible training and world evangelism have not been able to move toward programs that foster, “thorough Christian reflection on the nature of the world, society, and the arts. It is little wonder they miss so badly that for which they do not aim.” 
Finally, along the theological faultline Noll posits that there is a disconnect in the evangelical mind between, “theology and other forms of learning.”  The deeper integration and application of the arts, and sciences, he says, is left for the seminary degree, toward which most do not aspire. He considers this a missed opportunity that impacts the whole evangelical world. [20-21] He further notes that evangelicals have done well in simple discipleship, but have “largely abandoned the universities, the arts and other realms of ‘high’ culture.” 
Okay, so I agree, and I don’t agree. First, though Noll’s criticism along these fault lines has validity, he tends to paint his views of evangelicals with a rather wide and all-inclusive brush. His words can seem harsh and critical, especially if one were to compare his verbiage with that of, for instance, Luhrmann who in researching another Evangelical dilemma shied away from using Noll’s style of vitriol in her critique of evangelicalism.  Even Noll himself has pulled back from his harsh criticism of the evangelical church.  It’s true that the evangelical movement has come a long way since the 1995 publication of Noll’s book, but the truth is the evangelical life of the mind might not have been as dire as Noll may have argued in the first place.
One must consider that evangelicalism did not just sprout up out of nothing, its influences are far and wide. The “life of the mind” it is not an either/or proposition it is a both/and. Evangelicals have been working to engage with the larger world from its formation as a movement. Some or maybe many would disagree with that. However, it is the case the “larger world” for some is same “larger world” that others see. The fact is, the evangelical church has from its beginning initiated engagement with the greater world for the cause of world evangelism. This has brought evangelical to the far corners of the earth. (Donald Lewis) That does not sound like a movement that has buried its head in the sand intellectually or socially. Though it may not have been engagement as defined by some, it has always been, full engagement— full on!
I do find it interesting that Noll implies that Pentecostals are somehow within the evangelical world, yet a subgroup. He argues that the expression of the gifts of the spirit and speaking in tounges are clear lines that define Pentecostalism within the broader Christian community.  Many of my Pentecostal and Charismatic colleagues feel that they are neither evangelical nor do they have evangelical leanings. For them, the term evangelicalism is firmly attached to a political agenda that does not necessarily represent the broad spectrum of people who call themselves Pentecostal. Also, within evangelicalism itself, there are those who are anti-Pentecostal/Charismatic, even to the point of exclusion. Pentecostals and Charismatics are not always recipients of that warm fuzzy feeling when they are in the larger evangelical setting. They have found themselves defending themselves from both within and without. I wonder if this has enabled them to push through certain barriers that have opened doors of engagement across sectors that include the arts, linguistics, the sciences as well powerful social engagement around the world. You don’t scare us!
An Assemblies of God missionary colleague of mine states it in this manner. “Let me state it bluntly: Possessing full hearts with vacant heads or burning spirits with sluggish minds makes for mediocrity at best and disaster at worst.”  This is true for Pentecostals and Charismatics and the entire evangelical world. We need both the life of the mind and life in the Spirit.
- Mark A. Noll. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1995, 1.
- Ibid., 7.
- Ibid., 14.
- Ibid., 16.
- Ibid., 19.
- Ibid., 3.
- T. M. Luhrmann. When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God. Reprint ed. New York, NY: Vintage, 2012.
- Ted Olsen. “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, 10 Years Later.” Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/octoberweb-only/10-18-50.0.html (accessed Feb 21, 2018).
- Donald M. Lewis, and Richard V. Pierard. Global Evangelicalism: Theology, History & Culture in Regional Perspective. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2014.
- Noll, 8.
- Rick M. Nañez. Full Gospel, Fractured Minds?: A Call to Use God’s Gift of the Intellect. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.