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Mark A. Noll wrote Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, to show the relationship between Christology and scholarships of serious learning. Noll is a published author of several books but one of his most know book was The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind which was published in 1994. Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind has been considered to be the sequel to The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.
Noll stated in the introduction of Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind “The book’s evangelical provenance will be evident by the fact that it extends some arguments I first published in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” (Noll X).
Noll is recognized as an evangelical scholar worldwide. According to the back cover of Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind. Noll is Francis A. McAnaney Professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Noll is also an “acclaimed Christocentric theology for the contemporary evangelical intellectual life” (Back cover).
In Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, Noll show a basic framework of the connection between Christology and serious learning. Noll states “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 the most open-minded advocates of general human learning” (Noll X). In the first chapter, Noll explains what classical Christology is and how evangelicals need to know how it and serious learning need to be used together.
In the conclusion of chapter one Noll states “But if evangelicals are to make a genuinely Christian contribution to intellectual life, they must ground faith in the great traditions of classical Christian theology, for these are the traditions that reveal the heights and depths of Jesus Christ” (Noll 22). In chapter one Noll expresses the importance of the early creeds and how it is the foundations of the church. Noll goes into depth about God being the central reason for what motives evangelicals to promote serious learning with in chapter two.
Throughout the chapter, Noll is expressing that if evangelicals are trying to build and strengthen their relationship with God then they should want to expand their knowledge of this world because God made everything. Towards the end of chapter two Noll explains that God sent His Son down to earth in human form so evangelicals should study this reality as well. Noll states “There is simply nothing humanly possible to study in this realm that, in principle, leads us away from Jesus Christ” (Noll, 25). Chapter three, Noll is expressing that the four key principles of classical Christology are doubleness, contingency, particularity, and self-denial. The first principle, doubleness which means that God and Jesus Christ are the same person in one person. The second principle is contingency which Noll explains as God being the evidence for why the world became how it is today. The third principle is particularity that Noll said is one of the four key principles of classical Christology which is particularity. Particularity meaning in this book is the importance of a specific location and time. This principle shows the importance of Jesus birth as the savior.
The last key principle that Noll wrote about was self-denial. Self-denial is described by Noll as “… to glorify the creature instead of the Creator, to display pride instead of gratitude, and to promote a righteousness of works instead of a righteousness by faith” (Noll 61). In chapter four Noll acknowledges atonement and how Jesus saved evangelicals because of his sacrifice on the cross. Chapter four also explains the “the achievement of the cross” (Noll 69). In the conclusion for chapter four Noll states “Whether these six implications hold, or whether I have constructed the nature of the atonement adequately, he main purpose of this exercise is to suggest how doctrine may frame scholarship” (Noll 73). In chapter five Noll expresses why evangelicals need to study History. The first thing Noll says in chapter four is, “For all Christian believers, the stake in history is immense” (Noll 75). Understanding history is important to strengthen our faith because God created the world and everything in it.
Noll explains how evangelical should study science throughout chapter six. In chapter seven Noll clarifies the “… best to understand the Scriptures” (Noll 125). Chapter seven is how evangelicals can strengthen their faith because the chapter is about biblical studies. In chapter 8 Noll concludes the book by giving his meaning to his book. Noll summarize his meaning of the book but stating “Life in Christ is a gift that makes all things new, including the vocations of learning, but it makes things new only because of how the gift is given and who the giver is” (Noll 147). The last part of Noll book is the post script. In this part of the book Noll went back to his earlier work The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Noll expresses that he still believed in his arguments he made in his earlier piece of writing.
Noll writing has shown strengths and weakness as any book would. The first notice strength would be Noll success to clearly answering his thesis throughout the book. Noll clearly stated in the beginning of the book that “the person and work of Jesus Christ” (Noll ix) was the main focus that evangelicals need to have when pursuing serious learning. The end of the first paragraph in the introduction Noll states “Understanding more about Christ and his work not only opens a wide doorway to learning, but also checks tendencies toward idolatry that are as potent among scholars as in the rest of humankind” (Noll ix). Noll uses the ancient creeds to support his thesis in chapter one. Noll states “Yet beyond their historic value for worship, proclamation, catechesis, and theology, the creeds offered – and continue to offer- precisely what is needed as a grounding for Christian learning” (Noll 2).
Another strength shown in Noll’s book is his break down of the four aspects of Christology. These four aspect are doubleness, contingency, particularity, and self-denial. Noll states in the beginning of chapter three “Care is required to spell out how such stances derive from basic orthodox Christology and how they can guide expectations for learning…” (Noll 44). The first of the four aspects is doubleness which is the idea of “…a particular two-in-one-ness about the Lord…” (Noll 45). The second aspect is contingency which is explained as the way that something has worked out to be today. The third aspect is particularity is the exact time and location something happened and the events importance. Noll stats that “The implication can be stated succinctly: because God revealed himself most clearly in a particular set of circumstances and a particular time and place, every other particular set of cultural circumstances takes a fresh potential importance” (Noll 55). The last aspect Noll explains is self-denial. Self-denial is the idea of abusing the God given gift to praise someone or something else.
The third strengthen present in Noll’s book is the books organization. Noll broke the book up into parts. The first four chapters of the book are giving the basic knowledge of the relationship between Christology and scholarships of serious learning. Chapters five through seven are specific scholarships which are history, science, and biblical studies. The last chapter of the book goes into the closing arguments Noll needs to answer. The postscript of Noll book reflects on the ideas he had written about in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. In the beginning and of each chapter Noll clearly states why he is writing this chapter. Noll also concludes the chapters clearly and he reiterated his reasoning behind writing the chapter.
Noll clearly stated in his introduction that he is not perfect and his book will not be prefect and he does not know everything.
I felt that this could be considered one of Noll weakness not that he isn’t perfect but that he did not have extensive knowledge over some chapters of the book. In chapter six when Noll is expanding on the ideas of Christology and how the impact science scholarships the chapter was a very complex concept to write about. Even to introduce Noll’s book he states “For all the arguments attempted in this book, I am acutely aware of my amateur status and many mistakes I am bound to make. But especially in chapters 4 through 7, where there is pontification on a number of highly complex academic issues…” (Noll xi).
The second weakness in Noll’s book was throughout the book were numerous collections of essays from other publications. Throughout chapters five through seven is where the most publications were used. In chapter six there was numerus different collections some from St. Augustine, Galileo, and a case study from B.B. Warfield. Having some additional sources is a good way to strengthen a piece but Noll used more than he should have. The additional publications take away from Noll’s opinion. Reading the chapters also seemed plain in a way like Noll was not addressing the audience because it was not him writing but a lot of different publications. The publications also seem to be used as a way to show that Noll knew more about a certain scholarship.
The last weakness about Noll’s book is Noll clearly stated focus of the evangelical scholars. Numerous times throughout the book Noll stated his bias to the evangelical mind. In the introduction of Noll’s book, he states “…since I have experienced the Christians faith personally as an evangelical Protestant, my understanding of Christ and his work will be colored by the evangelical experiences and convictions” (Noll x). Noll dedicates the whole postscript of this book to the “How fares the “Evangelical Mind”?” (Noll 151). In the postscript Noll explains his work on the book he wrote seventeen years early, Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Throughout the whole book you know he is writing this book for the evangelical scholars in mind.
After reading Noll’s Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, I can say that overall I fought the book extremely beneficial. Noll’s book made me think about my future profession as a teacher.
I will have to teach students about history, science and all other core subjects so it’s important to know where my heart is and if it rooted in Christ. My main take away from Noll’s book, Jesus Christ and the life of the Mind was that whatever I am passionate to study I should. I should also understand that God is the creator of everything and He gave me the gift to study these topics. Going into public education can be difficult to do as a Christians because we can’t express our faith through saying I am Christians but I can still be a Godly woman through my actions around my students. Noll passion about how evangelicals should want to continue their studies was impactful to me because as a teacher I will always be continuing my education and studying.
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