Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind

Mark Noll is no stranger to scholars of the humanities. His professional area of expertise is the history of Christianity in the United States, and his intellectual endeavors have been both wide ranging and well received. Noll was named one of America’s most influential evangelicals by Time in 2005, and received the National Humanities Medal in 2006. He succeeded George Marsden as the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame in 2008. Despite these honors, Noll is probably best known among evangelicals for his 1994 work The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, in which he famously lamented that the “scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind”(3).

In Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, Noll reflects on the current state of the evangelical mind and revisits his thesis that fidelity to Christ “demands from evangelicals a more responsible intellectual existence” (Scandal 27). He begins with what he describes as a “place to stand . . . from which to see” (1). Here he outlines various biblical claims about the person of Jesus as understood and clarified by the classical Christian creeds (Apostolic, Nicean, and Chalcedonian). Those who follow “no creed but the Bible” are chastised for ostracizing themselves from key understandings about the nature of divine revelation. Biblical truths—both the Old and New Testaments—are summarized by, and embedded in, the creeds, which offer believers “the stuff needed for engaging minds for Christ” (22). It is, after all, Jesus Christ who is the ultimate revelation of the Father. Noll’s overarching theme is that getting to know Christ is “the most basic possible motive for pursuing the tasks of human learning” (x).
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