Excellent piece. One quibble is that I don't think the mainline Protestant meltdown started in the 60's. Your reference to J. Gresham Machen is a clue to when the divergence began.

Many have noted that the distinction that arose between fundamentalism and evangelicalism is that fundamentalists retreat from the world while evangelicals are trying to convert the world. The evangelical pitfall is trying too hard to reach the world, and selling out. Every time an evangelical leader sells out (e.g. Francis Collins), then we hear that he was no true Scotsman, anyway. Fundamentalists are unlikely to produce intellectual leaders, and evangelicals are predisposed to be sellouts.

As to the definitional problem, starting with the Machen era, we had the divide of mainline Protestants, evangelicals, and fundamentalists. We can refute the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind only by citing the counterexamples that are definitely not from the more liberal view of scriptures that we see in mainline Protestantism. Such lists have been made in previous articles by Aaron.

I suspect the real issue that triggered Noll was not the absence of an elite cadre of thinkers, but the emotionalism and anti-intellectualism that permeates evangelicalism right down to the man and woman in the pews.

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Free proofreading: Something is off with the Noll quote at the beginning of the conclusion.

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Thank you for the review, but something about it is making it a tough read for me. You're covering a lot of ground very quickly and not really spending enough time on any given point to drive it home and properly refute Noll. I think this essay would read better if you either narrowed and tightened its focus or more patiently expanded upon your points, while preserving a clear organizational structure.

I also think Noll's diagnosis of a problem deserves more respect here -- anti-intellectualism is an actual problem in many Evangelical circles, and Catholicism and Orthodoxy continue to draw many intellectual converts away, in part because many broadly curious intellectuals don't feel at home within Evangelicalism. As I understand it, this is partly what American Reformer exists to address. Perhaps Noll tried to steer the conversation towards cures that are worse than the disease -- perhaps, we might even say, cures that could have worked in Positive World but not Negative World and maybe not even Neutral World -- but I think it would be good to spend a little more time on what Noll got right.

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Well said!

As I argued recently regarding the American Medical Associations “scientific” pro-abortion studies, don’t buy into the neutrality myth. Don’t leave your faith at the door. Pace C.S. Lewis, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.”

More here, on Spartan science:


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