Read Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind by Mark A. Noll Online


In The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994) Mark Noll offered a bleak, even scathing, assessment of the state of evangelical thinking and scholarship. Now, nearly twenty years later, in a sequel that is more hopeful than despairing — more attuned to possibilities than to problems — Noll updates his assessment and charts a positive way forward for evangelical scholarship.In The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994) Mark Noll offered a bleak, even scathing, assessment of the state of evangelical thinking and scholarship. Now, nearly twenty years later, in a sequel that is more hopeful than despairing — more attuned to possibilities than to problems — Noll updates his assessment and charts a positive way forward for evangelical scholarship. Noll shows how the orthodox Christology confessed in the classic Christian creeds provides an ideal vantage point for viewing the vast domains of human learning and can enhance intellectual engagement in a variety of specific disciplines. In a substantial postscript he candidly addresses the question How fares the “evangelical mind” today?...

Title : Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind
Author :
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ISBN : 9780802866370
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 192 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind Reviews

  • Bob
    2019-03-24 23:19

    Working in university ministry with grad students, I am often asked the question of just how this thing of integration of faith and learning is supposed to work. Mark Noll's new book is a landmark answer to this question. In one sense, his answer is the very simple, Sunday school answer--Jesus. Yet behind this simple answer is some very profound theological thinking. Noll not only sees the life of the mind encouraged through our union with Christ, which unites all things in him, but in careful reflection upon the classic Christian creeds that help us understand the person and work of Christ--as one of the members of the Trinity, as fully God and fully human, and as our atoning sacrifice.In particular, he sees four aspects of Christology as crucial to scholarship. Doubleness, that Jesus is fully God and fully human, helps us to understand other ways the supernatural can intersect the natural world and inquiry into it without conflict. Contingency helps us understand how randomness can yet be a part of divine providence. Particularity, the fact of the Lord of all coming in human flesh as a Jew at a particular time, helps as we face questions of both diversity and unity in the human experience. And the self-denial of Jesus calls us to the proper humility necessary for good scholarship.Noll applies this thinking to three "case studies"--history, science, and theological studies and works out some of the possible implications for these convictions. Most telling to me were his thoughts about science and how "doubleness" permits the affirmation both of God's creative work, and yet also the material explanations of origins that science provides without setting these in irresolvable conflict--where only one can be right.One concluding sample of Noll's writing to give the flavor of his argument:The Jesus Christ who saves sinner is the same Christ who beckons his followers to serious use of their minds for serious explorations of the world. It is part of the deepest foundation of Christian reality--it is an important part of understanding who Jesus is and what he accomplishes--to study the world, the human structures found in the world, the human experience of the world, and the humans who experience the world. Nothing intrinsic in that study should drive a person away from Jesus Christ. Much that is intrinsic in Jesus Christ should drive a person to that study. (p. 41)

  • Neil Coulter
    2019-03-10 22:20

    This was a birthday gift from my beautiful wife, and after too long in the to-read pile, it finally rose to the top. I'd been looking forward to it for quite a while, because of what Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind had meant to me when I read it several years ago. When I read Scandal, I struggled with its many challenges, and discussing it in a reading group with some other very good friends was the beginning of a lot of changes in my intellectual and spiritual life. Since that time, I've felt a renewed freedom in viewing the world and my own faith journey--though at the time it was a difficult process of shedding some long-held and unhelpful perspectives.I came to Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, then, eager for an update from Noll: what has changed in the years since Scandal? The book is in some ways a response to or continuation of Scandal, but it's different in tone. Where Scandal was, I felt, rather too confrontational in its tone--tending to turn off its target audience more than welcoming them into a new way of thinking--Noll's tone in Life of the Mind is gentler, more inviting, and calm. Here, rather than confronting head-on problems he sees in evangelicalism, he warmly shows the way forward by emphasizing Warfield's concept of concursus--the gospel-centered idea that in the world we see both divine action and natural order, together in such a way that there is no either-or, no single "right" answer to whether it was God's special action in the world at that moment, or simply the way the world works in that moment. This way of viewing the world mirrors the gospel message itself: that Jesus was fully human and fully God, in a perfection that is a mystery to us. Noll draws much from Warfield, as well as the creeds of the church (Nicene, Apostles, and Chalcedonian). His discussion is simple, straightforward, and reasoned. It invites the reader to contemplate what he's saying, rather than pushing the reader away with strident challenges. I like that.In the second part of Life of the Mind, Noll looks specifically at three domains: history, science, and Biblical studies (with particular focus on Peter Enns's recent challenges to biblical interpretation). In one chapter on each, he examines what it means for that domain to reflect a Christian intellectual approach. These are (he admits) very brief considerations, but they point general ways forward, and they show Noll's hopes for what Christian scholarship might come to mean, if we were to be truly self-aware, transparent thinkers willing to take time for our studies.Everything here is good, and though it often feels too brief, it's a worthwhile book for any Christian academic's shelf. Very good reminders of why the pursuit of knowledge is a valuable part of the life of any follower of Jesus. The final chapter is a look back at Scandal, in which Noll says that he remains "unrepentant" of what he wrote in that book, though he is sorry to have missed some nuance that was pointed out by critics and friends. I wondered if I should re-read Scandal before picking up Life of the Mind, but it's not necessary; they are related, but separate--though it's still worth reading Scandal at any time.

  • Bill
    2019-03-02 00:08

    Great book. Refreshing to see someone focusing on the life of Jesus and the relevance he has for the mind and theology.Noll, also the author of "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" examines the importance of Christ as the center to Christian thought. He asserts that if Christ is who Evangelicals claim he is, then Christ should be at the very center of our academic pursuits. Noll says,"The message in this book for my fellow evangelicals can be put simply: if what we claim about Jesus Christ is true, then evangelicals should be among the most active, most serious, and most openminded advocates of general human learning" (Kindle location 22).Christ is the Wisdom of God, and all things were created through him. This being true, then Christ will be found in the Arts and Sciences, and will speak to us through our academic pursuits in these fields. Noll also says,"...for serious intellectual efforts, those who look to Christ as their prophet, priest, and king act most faithfully with norms defined by Christ." (loc. 1394)Noll gives a thoughtful and challenging perspective of how we, as Christians, are to approach Scripture. He includes a quote from J.I. Packer's book, "The Bible in Use", (p. 77-78), saying: "The Bible has been given to us, not to define for us the realities of the created order, nor to restrain our interests in them, but to enable us to diagnose, understand, appreciate, and handle them as we meet them, so that we may use and enjoy them to the Creator's praise. (loc.1438) Noll goes on to add,"For a truly biblical view of the Bible, it is important not to treat the Bible as a storehouse of information sufficient in itself for all things but to embrace, rather, the Bible's own perspective that leads its readers to a God-ordained openness to all things."In other words, the Bible is our "how-to manual". It gives instruction on how we are to interpret the world, but it also gives us the freedom to explore the world, as God created it, enjoying the discoveries that wait for us, including the discoveries through the use of our mind.I hope that Noll's work will be discovered by Christian leaders, and that Christ will be honored through his discoveries that have been revealed to us.

  • Luke Evans
    2019-03-17 20:58

    Chapter 6 - 4 starschapter 7 - 1 starRest - 2-3 stars

  • John Newton
    2019-03-18 21:16

    This book has a lot to commend it, although I found myself asking (particularly in the earlier chapters), “Where’s the beef?” I repeatedly found his connection between Christology and the life of the mind tenuous. However, things did get better--particularly in the chapters on literature, history and science, where there are some excellent insights.

  • Christopher Rush
    2019-03-26 16:02

    This was supposed to be the year I focused on reading good books, books that I knew I was going to enjoy, the high-quality books I haven't gotten around to yet that would make my life much better. Yet here we are, 1 Eldredge book and 1 Noll book later (plus some other things that have been better, I suppose). This really isn't that good of a book, no offense to Mr. Noll or his family or friends or publishing team. Diction-wise, I have no clue for what audience this is addressed: even for a book that's supposed to be a tier or two above the usual common level, it's such an ungainly use of language reading it is too difficult to either enjoy or be challenged by it. Most of the book feels like Mr. Noll is trying not to say "here are three books I've read recently, so I'm working my book reviews into a sort of analytical book" or something to that effect. It suffers from an absence of cohesion and unity, despite the purported attempt to apply "Christian-minded scholarly enthusiasm" (not his term) to various branches of human intellectual endeavor. In one section, we are led to believe the hero is classical Creeds and Confessions (nothing wrong with that), in another B.B. Warfield (nothing wrong with that, either), and in another the hero is Peter Enns (no one is sure why). Despite the generally fine subject matter upon which Noll treats, the absence of coherent and meaningful (and useful) interaction makes the work as a whole unhelpful and unnecessary. As usual, Noll refers us constantly to other things he has written, as if his oeuvre is the only one worth exploring. Yes, he has a decent suggested reading list at the end, but that only underscores the frustration of "why am I reading this book when I could be reading them instead?" For no clear reason, Noll wants us to shove Theology over to make room for post-Darwinian evolutionary schema. He doesn't want us to understand one in light of the other (though he pretends to say that sporadically) - no, we are to make sure Theology moves out of the way for whatever Science has to say, ensuring we interpret the Bible to accommodate science. Hmm. Likewise, especially almost 5 years later, we can quite easily dismiss his apologetic for Peter Enns (again, no offense to the Enns family and circle of friends) based on what all involved have done recently. Finally, Noll rides his 1-trick pony of "the state of Evangelicalism" with a half-hearted attempt to show "well, you know, when I wrote that book 20 years ago I guess I didn't do any significant research about what Evangelical schools, churches, magazines, or enterprises were actually doing, since most of my book was based on observations of people I met one Thursday night at a Bible study." Again, that is not a direct quotation, but that is the impression we get from his epilogue (which was also not a wholly new creation for this book, but a twice- or thrice-warmed over reworking of an earlier article recycled every 5 or 10 years). I don't know what purpose this book serves for any portion of the Christian community. If any facet of contemporary Christian still things "we shouldn't think or use our brains for Jesus," this book certainly won't address that problem. Nor is it a helpful "here's what to do next now that you've embraced thinking as an avocation." Skip it.

  • Luke Paulsen
    2019-02-28 22:55

    Two opposite misperceptions about theology dominate modern American thought: first, that it is a dry, dense, scholastic discipline with no meaningful connection to reality; and second, that it is a loose, irresponsible hotbed of mysticism that runs contrary to "scientific facts". Mark Noll's energetic and serious theological arguments in Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind are a bracing antidote to both misperceptions. Furthermore, the arguments themselves provide the foundation for a positive intellectual engagement thjat would replace these misperceptions-- with theology, appropriately enough, as its foundation.Noll's principal thesis is that "Christology"-- the doctrinal understanding of Jesus Christ's identity as both God and man-- is a crucial foundation for Christian scholarship. (By "foundation" I mean both a framework for understanding the world and a motivation for doing so; Noll tends to switch freely between the two, probably out of a correct sense that they're closely related.) Noll's key insight is that Jesus's incarnation in the created world is what establishes that world as reliably knowable and worth knowing, since it expresses an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God's involvement in the created world's particulars. Along these lines Noll makes much of early doctrinal disputes and the creeds that resolved them. For examle, Gnosticism-- which sees the created world as evil and therefore shies away from accepting the Incarnation-- could not be the foundation for serious intellectuallism.In the second half of the book, Noll dives into the application of his thesis to specific fields of scholarship: history, science, and the study of the Bible itself. In each case he leverages analogies to the paradoxical, two-in-one nature of the Incarnation to propose a middle way between secularism on the one hand and fundamentalism on the other-- a way that Noll hopes can be the basis for a serious tradition of Evangelical Christian scholarship. His positions here are more contentious, but also more valuable, as he gives some concrete indication how Christian scholars might actually practice what Noll is preaching.If only Noll's preaching were a bit more coherent. His arguments are thorough and careful throughout-- with abundant citations of the Bible, creeds, and other theologians-- but he tends to get bogged down in details and doesn't do a great job of showing how it all fits together. There are certainly flashes of illuminating and inspiring insight. However, these would be a lot more meaningful if Noll tied them together with a clear thread of argument. Maybe this is just me being out of practice reading works of theology, or trying to apply the standards of popular writing to theology as a genre. But it seems like there's plenty of room for Noll to make his own writing more exciting and engaging at a non-academic level.

  • W. Littlejohn
    2019-02-24 19:59

    A solid primer on "Christian worldview thinking," for lack of a better term (though Noll does not, to my recollection, describe it this way). Noll's objective is to offer an introductory survey of the ways in which evangelical Christian commitment—and particularly, dedicated reflection on the revelation of Jesus Christ—can offer great resources for intellectual reflection in a wide range of disciplines—history, hermeneutics, science, etc.—invigorating Christian scholarship and hopefully providing a way around impasses created by secular thinking. Noll admits up front that this is merely a sketchy introductory set of reflections, and that much more needs to be said on all the subjects he covers, and to be honest, most who have been trained in an atmosphere of "Christian worldview thinking" will find little that is new here. So I confess there were few exciting revelations in this book, but it was solid and helpful throughout, with the possible exception of the chapter on Biblical hermeneutics. There, he sympathetically surveys Peter Enns' Inspiration and Incarnation, and although I'm quite ready to give Enns a sympathetic hearing, and I think he raises some important issues, Noll's summary of the book, at least, didn't leave me with the impression that his answers are particularly cogent or useful.The concluding chapter, and the postcript ("How Fares the Evangelical Mind") were especially valuable, providing an optimistic picture of the future possibilities of evangelical scholarship.

  • Catherine Gillespie
    2019-03-25 19:52

    I read Noll's book on the heels of reading John Piper's "Think." Although the books are similar, there are a few differences in focus. While it seemed Piper’s book was addressed to Christians broadly, exhorting believers not to disdain scholarship, Noll’s book is more narrowly written to Christians who are already engaged in intellectual pursuits, exhorting them to keep their faith central to their scholarship, and describing how to do so in a pluralistic culture.Having established that framework, Noll’s book provides a valuable outline for the ways that various disciplines could be approached by Christian scholars, areas of inquiry that Christians are particularly well-equipped to study, and exhortation for Christians to lead in intellectual work. I found Noll’s goals for Christian scholarship helpful and insightful. Also helpful was the list of additional resources and books on related topics.Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind is an interesting and thought-provoking book and I’d recommend it if you are interested in scholarship, or are currently a student. If you have time to read both Noll’s book and Piper’s, I think they dovetail nicely together.{Read my complete review on A Spirited Mind}

  • Tim
    2019-02-26 20:53

    Noll's Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind is full of his finely written prose and thoughtful reflection on Christian faith and the intellectual life (though narrowly defined in academic terms), including a short chapter on the current state of the evangelical mind. The early chapters did not overwhelm with their ideas and arguments though, in part because they felt like way more convincing than I really needed (I believe in the need for evangelicals to engage the life of the mind and the centrality of Jesus to that thinking). He brings to bear Scripture and the creeds to form an intellectual foundation and provides three chapters about history, science and Biblical studies as case studies. Those chapters felt a bit disembodied to me, not certain how the history chapter helps me substantially in pursuing my discipline, in actually researching, writing, and teaching history. So I liked this book, its premise and its general argument, but at times it gave me more than I wanted and at others less.

  • Hank Pharis
    2019-02-23 19:20

    I always appreciate Mark Noll's works. However there wasn't much here that I didn't already assume. On the other hand this is a good call to and model for Christian scholarship.

  • Joel Wentz
    2019-03-01 23:16

    Mark Noll is a stalwart defender of the great traditions within Evangelicalism, and 'Life of the Mind' is yet another fantastic piece by him. By centering all academic pursuits squarely around a high Christology (and I especially loved the importance of the incarnation to this Christology), he is able to mount a rousing call-to-learning within the Evangelical movement. As someone who loves academic pursuits, and finds myself at odds with Evangelicals frequently, I found this refreshing and motivating.The last few chapters focus on "case studies" or examples for Christian scholarship in various fields. While there were helpful things within these chapters, the first 3-4 are really the 'meat' of the book. Anyone who is interested in more robust Christology in general should read this, and maybe you will find yourself even more motivated to learn afterwards. :)

  • Josiah
    2019-03-08 21:00

    This was a pretty good look on the intersection of Christianity and academic scholarship and had a lot of unique things to bring to the table in terms of how they should interact. I really appreciated the way that Noll unpacked the historical Christian creeds and showed their relevance to different issues of scholarship. I also appreciated how Noll didn't just work in theories, but also moved to making concrete applications of what this should mean in terms of Christian scholarship. The applications Noll made were more liberal than I would have liked, and I think he went too far in certain areas. However, overall, this is book has a lot of good ideas about how Christian scholarship should be conducted and definitely provided me with some good food for thought.Rating: 3.5 Stars (Good).

  • Steve
    2019-02-25 22:51

    I am very definitely not an evangelical, and much of what I see and hear (via TV and politics--not the best sources, of course) from that flavor of Christianity strikes me as a deliberate embrace of ignorance and superstition. However, in order to better understand, I do try to sometimes read serious evangelical offerings. In this book, Mark Noll an evangelical and an academic (first Wheaton and now Notre Dame), and has written a thoughtful work demonstrating that a Christ-focused religion, grounded in the historic creeds of the Church, "...can supply the motives, guidance, and framework for learning." Much of the book went over my head, but I did discover some useful insights and lost some (though not all) stereotypes about evangelicals. This book is probably not for most readers, but if you want a serious book about religion and learning, this is recommended.

  • Diane
    2019-03-25 16:15

    As a graduate student in the sciences, I found the chapters on Christ-centred attitudes towards serious learning (chapter 4) and the chapter on the sciences (chapter 6) particularly relevant. In particular, Noll highlights a numbers of assumptions embedded in modern thinking which frame much of the science-religion debates today, and later encourages reflection on the philosophical assumptions with which we approach our research. Taken together, these are two challenging points of reflection for any Christian student of the sciences!

  • Dave
    2019-03-03 20:16

    Noll begins his conclusion, "For 'Christian scholarship' to mean anything, it must mean intellectual labor rooted in Christ, with both the rooting and laboring essential." With grace that sometimes chastens, he points out that evangelicals often root their labor, not in Christ, but in fears of or else concurrence with modernity. Why not find a deeper more faithful root in the creeds? This is an inspiring book that should challenge Christian scholars to consider their work with fresh piety.

  • Curtis
    2019-03-26 17:17

    This was a brief, yet excellent volume on the integration of Christian faith and scholarship. Even though I am not an evangelical Christian, I share Noll's faith in Christ as well as his strong belief in the need to not compartmentalize our faith with respect to our scholarly pursuits. I found many things of great value in this book that I can apply in my endless quest to pursue learning by study and also by faith.

  • Seth Pierce
    2019-03-02 21:16

    A challenging paradigm for the Christian academic roots din the Chalcedonian Creed. While the author makes numerous good points, at times it flounders into the generic or devotional. I wish I could give it 3.5 stars as it does present several solid academic frameworks, however I feel like the writing in places has trouble painting what these frameworks might look like in a real life setting using debates between the sciences and faith.A good book, but not the best.

  • Jamie
    2019-03-15 19:14

    I was a little disappointed with this, but I think my expectations were a little too high. There were a few things that I just flat-out disagree with him about, but for the most part it was good. I really enjoyed how he used the creeds in the first few chapters.

  • Charlene
    2019-03-25 19:55

    It only took me four and a half years from when Dusty gave me this book for me to actually make it all the way through. Some of the subject matter was over my head, but I remain firmly convinced that Mark Noll is one of the best people writing on Christian intellectualism today.

  • Ryan Linkous
    2019-02-28 00:07

    Some helpful ideas, but Noll sometimes speaks to areas he doesn't have a strong command of (like Biblical studies).

  • Paul D.Miller
    2019-03-01 23:14

  • Jacob
    2019-03-20 16:05

    A good discussion of how the core credal Christian beliefs provide a firm foundation for scholarship in every field.

  • Brandy
    2019-03-10 19:04

    Had some really good points. Kind of like reading a series of academic articles not a book. Author spends too much time justifying why and how he is writing it.