Meet Mark Noll

Mark Noll Posted 5/99

Dr. Mark Noll is professor of history and Christian thought, and director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Recently, he has been on special assignment, teaching at Harvard University as the inaugural holder of a newly endowed professorship in evangelical theological studies. He acknowledges, "It has been some years since Harvard made explicit room for an evangelical voice." In fact, he expounds, there has been no such voice since the 1740s when Harvard faculty were enraged by evangelist George Whitefield’s publishing of a pamphlet accusing the college of being in spiritual darkness. (The Sacramento Bee)

Dr. Noll has an undergraduate degree from Wheaton, a master’s degree from the University of Iowa, and a doctorate from Vanderbilt University. He is the author or editor of nine books, including A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada; Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity; Christian Faith and Practice in the Modern World, co-edited with David Wells; and a book of poetry, Seasons of Grace, personal reflections on life and faith.

His book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994) was named Book of the Year in 1996 by Christianity Today. In the preface, he laments that the "scandal" of the evangelical mind is that there is, in fact, not much of an evangelical mind. "Notwithstanding all their other virtues . . . American evangelicals are not exemplary for their thinking, and they have not been so for several generations . . . [they] have failed notably in sustaining serious intellectual life. They have nourished millions of believers in the simple verities of the gospel but have largely abandoned the universities, the arts, and other realms of ‘high’ culture."

While stirring up more questions than he answers, Noll is able to combine his Christian faith with his vocation as a scholar, remaining critical, reflective, questioning, and fair. Scandal is concise and elegantly written, and ends on a message of hope. "The search for a Christian perspective on life . . . is not just an academic exercise. The effort to think like a Christian is rather an effort to take seriously the sovereignty of God over the world he created, the lordship of Christ over the world he died to redeem, and the power of the Holy Spirit over the world he sustains . . . the search for a Christian mind is not, in the end, a search for mind but a search for God."

Noll and his wife,Maggie, a reference librarian at Wheaton College, make their home in Wheaton, Illinois.

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