REVIEWSrnSins of Omissionrnby John LoftonrnThe Scandal of the l^vangelical Mindrnby Mark A. NollrnGrand Rapids: Eerdmans;rn288 pp., $19.99rnThe Scandal of the Evangelical Mindrnis that, as Mark Noll puts it, “therernis not much of an evangelical mind”;rnthat, despite all their other virtues,rn”American evangelicals arc not exeinplarrnfor their thinking, and thev havernnot been for several generations”; andrnthat, at a popular level, “modern Americanrnc’angelicals ha’e failed notablv inrnsustaining serious intellectual life.”rnWriting as “a wounded lo’cr,” he adds:rn” r h e general impact of Christian thinkingrnon the evangelicals of North America,rnmuch less on learned culture as arnwhole, has been slight… there is a long,rnlong \’a to go.”rni’his is, alas, true. But the problemrnProfessor Noll identifies is far worse tlianrna scandal: it is a sin. When our L^ord wasrnasked what was the great commandmentrnin the law, lie replied, quotingrnDeuteronomv 6:5: “Thou shalt lovernthe Lord thv God with all thv heart,rnand with all thv soul, and with all thrnmind” (Matthew 22:36-^7). And in 11rnCorinthians 10:5, Paul commandsrnChristians to bring “into captivit cvcrvrnthought to the obedience of Christ.”rnThus, the widespread failure of Christiansrnto think ChristianK—accordingrnto what the Scripture sa”s—is a violationrnof God’s Law, which is sin. And we seernthis sinful failure all around us virtuallyrne’erv time a prominent Christian speaksrnout about anything. In an address lastrnSeptember in Washington, D.C., to thern”Christian Coalition” he founded, PatrnRobertson told his audience (to a reportedrnstanding ovation) that all hisrngroup wants to see is “the kind of governmentrnand values we had during thernEisenhower administration of thern1950’s.” Really? The I .ord Jesus Christrndied a hideous, painful death on thernCross, and millions of Christian martyrsrnhave been subsequently murdered, forrnthe purpose of reestablishing the greatrnChristian Republic of Ike?—the Kisenhowerrnwho, as President, on Decemberrn22, 1952, remarked: “Our form of govermnentrnmakes no sense unless it isrnfounded in a deeply religious faith, andrnI don’t care what it is.” (k’.mphasis mine).rnProfessor Noll says that bv an evangelicalrn”life of the mind” he means “therneffort to think like a Christian—to thinkrnwithin specifically a Christian frameworkrn—across a whole spectrum of modernrnlearning, including economics andrnpolitical science, literary criticism andrnimaginative writing, historical inquirvrnand philosophical studies, linguisticsrnand the history of science, social theoryrnand the fine arts.” He adds: “The scandalrnof the evangelical mind is a scandalrnfrom whichever direction it is viewed. Itrnis a scandal arising from the historicalrnexperience of an entire culture. It is arnscandal to which the shape of evangelicalrninstitutions has contributed. Mostrnof all, it is a scandal because it scornsrnthe gifts of a loving God.” Indeed. AndrnI have seen such scorn exhibited—asrnHoward Coscll used to say—up closernand personal. At a Heritage Foundationrnconference in 1990, at which FredrnBarnes of the New Republic defendedrn”Big Government conservatism” as a viablernnew strategy for the right, I askedrnBarnes (an evangelical Christian) twornsimple questions: What, specifically,rndoes your faith have to do with yourrnviews regarding civil government? And:rnF’rom your Christian perspective, arernthere specific things the federal governmentrnis demanding that ought not to bernrendered to Caesar? Here is Barnes’s answerrnin its entirety: “Well, let’s see. Irnwas a conservative before I was a Christianrnand my views haven’t changed sincernbecoming a Christian. So, uhh, uhh,rnarc there things the government doesrnnow that, well, uhh, uhh, I certainlyrndon’t favor some of the grants by thernNFA—which if Bush has his way willrncontinue. 1 hat’s one example. But, no.rnDo I, in thinking about politics, andrnwhat I’m for or against, get out the Biblernand read it? No.”rnSome answer from a Christian.rnBarnes’s reply was delivered with anrnexpression of utter disgust. I rememberrnwondering as I left this gathering:rnif Barnes, a Christian, doesn’t read thernBible, God’s Word, to learn what he’srnfor and against in politics, what does hernread? The New Republic, I suppose.rnBut things were not always thus. ProfessorrnNoll contrasts the modern, mindlessrnevangelical Christian with the viewsrnof a true Christian thinker, John Calvin,rnwho, he says, in combining a high viewrnof God’s sovereignty with an earnestrnappreciation of the human intellect,rnsought “to bring every aspect of life underrnthe general guidance of Christianrnthinking, to have each question in lifernanswered by a response from a Christianrnperspective.” As a consequence ofrnCalvin’s influence, “Protestants were encouragedrnto labor as scientists so thatrntheir scientific work could rise to thernpraise of God,” each exploration “showingrnforth His glory.” And “at least somernstatesmen and theologians among thernearly Protestants carried on the samernsort of enterprise with respect to government,rnrhcv not only worked to makernpolitical and social organizations reflectrnthe norms of justice thcv found in Scripturernbut also examined the contrastingrnrights of individuals, kings, and parliaments,rnand contributed to theoriesrnabout democracy and the existence ofrnrepublics. In general, they did whatrnthey could to make life in society reflectrnthe goodness of God.” And there are,rnby God’s grace, such men today whorn”stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30) andrncontinue John Calvin’s legacy, men whornare attempting to develop a Christianrnmind and apply God’s Word to everyrnarea of thought and life. But they fail tornreceive the credit they deserve from ProfessorrnNoll. For example, he only says ofrnDr. R.J. Rushdoonv—head of the ChalcedonrnFoundation with which I amrnassociated—and of the late CorneliusrnVan Til, a professor of apologetics at thernWestminster Theological Semmary,rnTo order these books, (24hrs, 365 days)rnplease call (800) 962-6651 (Ext. 5200)rnAPRIL 1995/35rnrnrn