20 June 2009

processing: Mark Noll- The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

This historical survey's brilliance lies in its relevance for our present and future. We must understand where we've been to fully appreciate (/deprecate) where we are and to give us insight into what courses we chart. Noll's writing is both polemical against grievous mistakes the evangelical community has made and pastoral and hopeful of the recourse available. Here is an excerpt that gives insight into his conclusions and advice:

"If God devoted so much of himself to the created realm-in order to purchase the redemption of sinners- is it imaginable that sinners who enjoy the salvation won in that realm might seek more diligently to fathom the realities of that realm- in order to worship their Redeemer?

That possibility is more than just a play on words. Redemption, which evangelicals often consider a means for God to rescue us from this world, was carried out (and is being carried out) in this world.

That reality should not diminish the larger reality of heavenly or eternal existence. Neither should that reality lead to the mistake at the other end of the spectrum, where eagerness to understand the workings of the world becomes an end in itself. John Calvin pit it well when he said that “the human mind is…a perpetual forge of idols.” The solution to idolatry, however, is not to destroy all the material from which idols are made. The solution is to treat the material from which we construct idols appropriate to its reality. The wood and stone from which idols are made do not deserve to be worshiped; because God made them, however, they deserve to be studied as wood or stone.

Once again it is worth stating the central point. The life of the mind is not necessarily superior to any other legitimate human pursuit. But it is a legitimate human pursuit (242)."

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