"The scandal of the evangelical mind," historian Mark Noll famously wrote in 1994, "is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." A half-dozen years later, there's apparently enough of one for the cover of The Atlantic Monthly. Alan Wolfe's "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind" is one of the year's must-read articles, and is certainly becoming one of the most widely discussed around the Christianity Today hallways and the surrounding area (Wheaton College, thoroughly examined in the article, is down the street). "Conservative Christians have enlivened and enriched the humanities, political and social theory, and even empirical social science," Wolfe writes. "At the same time, their success is uneven. There are not, and in all likelihood there never will be, similar developments in the natural sciences, and whereas there may be such a thing as Christian economists, there is no serious effort to create a Christian economics. Still, since the early 1960s … conservative Christians with roots in American fundamentalism have indeed created a life of the mind broader and more imaginative than anything previously found in their tradition. The big question is whether they can maintain it." Speaking of uneven success, the article itself has its problems. Wolfe doesn't quite understand evangelical higher education's call for an integration of faith and learning and why Christian colleges have statements of faith. He too easily dismisses the assertion that the mainstream academy is often hostile to Christianity. And there are enough minor errors, (conflating Wheaton's statement of faith and conduct code, for example) to frustrate readers familiar with "evangelical mind" issues. But it's still an important article. Reading it online is even better than reading it in print, as The Atlantic has loaded the article with hyperlinks, discussion boards, links to relevant past Atlantic articles, and (best of all) Web-only e-mail interviews with Mark Noll, Richard Mouw, Alan Jacobs, and George Marsden. Warning: In print, the article is 17 pages long. Reading it, the interviews, and any relevant links you want to follow may take you the rest of the day.
Last week, the Family Research Council (FRC) got press for criticizing the U.S. House of Representatives for inviting a Hindu to give the invocation. (Click here for Weblog's coverage of the invocation.) "Our founders expected that Christianity—and no other religion—would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples' consciences and their right to worship," noted the FRC's Culture Facts Web publication. "They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference. … As for our Hindu priest friend, the United States is a nation that has historically honored the One True God. Woe be to us on that day when we relegate Him to being merely one among countless other deities in the pantheon of theologies." A day later, the FRC "clarified" its statement. "It is the position of the Family Research Council that governments must respect freedom of conscience for all people in religious matters," says a press release posted on the FRC Web site. "We affirm the truth of Christianity, but it is not our position that America's Constitution forbids representatives of religions other than Christianity from praying before Congress. We recognize that decisions on this matter are the prerogative of each house of Congress." (If anyone can find a link to the original Culture Facts article, please e-mail Weblog here and it will be added later today.)
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