In understanding the draw of young evangelicals toward Rome, the proper place to start is where most conversions begin: in the soul.
Twenty-four years ago, at the opening of his classic work The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll acidly remarked that “the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Since that time, there have been plenty of signs of hope and improvement.
With Protestantism celebrating her 500th birthday this year, what should be a celebration has become for many instead an occasion for worried introspection. How much life does she really have left in her? Has Protestantism run its course? Does it really have the resources to cope with the challenges that modernity—and now postmodernity—are throwing at the church? After all, aren’t the individualism and secularism that we see all around us the product of the Reformation itself, with its determination to empower individual conscience and to roll back the reach of church authority? Many have made this argument.
And certainly a look around at the landscape of American evangelicalism in particular does not inspire much confidence. The “scandal of the evangelical mind” that Mark Noll wrote about 25 years ago is still there, despite real improvement: we are still reflexively anti-intellectual, much better at marketing than scholarship, and afflicted by a seemingly unshakeable addiction to personality cults and movements more interested in advancing their own brand than in asking and answering hard questions. Read more…