Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Though Noll wrote the book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind regarding the neglect of Evangelicals to intellectual discipline, I have lived it. Sitting around the table hearing statements that I knew were not logically, historically, or possibly not even scripturally sound. I questioned. I was quickly put in my place. I was told that I was not an apostle just a pastor and therefore I could not see with the same spiritual eyes. The other apostle in the room was esteemed and noted as having that higher spiritual knowledge. Later that same “apostle” would leave his wife and three kids, end up with AIDS, and die at a young age. Yet I was the one, the mere pastor, who should not question the intellectual moribundity that I saw around me. It was made clear in that setting that my going away to higher education was somehow a negative aspect to my ministry and ability to provide sound judgment.
I wish I could say that this was a secluded event in which my education was frowned upon. Unfortunately, as an Evangelical and even more as a Pentecostal, there has been many events similar to this where my education was looked upon as being something of a hindrances rather than a help. I have seen first hand the scandal of the evangelical mind which as Noll states, is the failure to exercise the mind for Christ in areas that are outside the church. Education and searching out knowledge has often been viewed as being beyond the individualism and immediatism of receiving faith. So, the Evangelical thought process goes, what is the need for higher education? Thus my religion has been hindered in moving beyond being defined by revivalist and therefore the question of personal salvation was and continues to be uppermost. Though this focus has been beneficial in the increase numbers of Evangelicals in America, it has limited the progress of the depth of the Christian mind to move beyond the question of personal salvation. If therefore, the point of the matter is to gather and convert the masses, thus expanding the church, then all that is need is utilitarian apologetics and functional theology. Thus the theologian-thinking man is reduced to being a marketing specialist crafting his message that is “seeker friendly,” “seeker sensitive” and appealing to the masses in order to create the greatest impact and further increase the church. If that is the main purpose than why think outside of this box?
Though I found myself agreeing with Noll throughout his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind it was a discouraging agreement. I so much appreciated Noll’s second book Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind where he begins by stating his message as: if what we [Evangelicals] claim about Jesus Christ is true, then evangelicals should be among the most active, most serious, and most open minded advocates of general human learning.” Thus my experiences of been snubbed as a “college boy,” “book worm” or as a “book smart but not street smart kid (i.e., local real church)” is antithetical to the Christ-centered basis of evangelical faith.
Much like Ross Douthat in his book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Noll acknowledges the fact that Evangelicals were successful in the early United States because they successfully adapted their Christian convictions to American ideals. I believe that Noll did eventually recognize and acquiesced to the fact that the problem with the lack of Evangelical thinking was not an isolated phenomenon. Unfortunately this malady is a broader description of the fully orbed American mindset and as Douthat recognized was, and continues to be the pavement to which our nation walks down in becoming a nation of heretics.
One of the things I learned early in the ministry was that if a Christian leader studies only the Bible he will not be as great a leader as he could be. The pursuit of wisdom in all areas listed by Noll as “the nature and workings of the physical world, the character of human social structures like government and the economy, the meaning of the past, the nature of artistic creation, and the circumstances attending our perception of the world outside ourselves” have the Divine in them and therefore should have representation of Christian thought. So, my resolve as “college boy” and “book worm” has only been strengthened with Noll’s two books for I shall be, as Proverbs say, a Happy Man – Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. Onward my intellectual book worms!
 Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994), 7.
 Ibid., 62.
 Ibid., 66–67.
 Mark A. Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011), x.
 Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, 67.
 Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, 151.
 Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, 7.