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Mark Noll

Stranger in a Strange Land

Greatly love the intellect

As Books & Culture finishes its fifth year, it is time to take stock. The existence of one more magazine is not of earth-shaking consequence, although for a word-heavy, content-intensive journal to make it this far in an era dominated by the image, the slogan, and the byte must mean something. Considered in this light, the survival of a journal where a diverse range of self-defined evangelicals have been joined for specifically intellectual purposes by a wide array of other Christians and a few sympathetic non-Christians is a noteworthy occurrence.

Books & Culture exists, in the first instance, because two generations of religion officers at the Pew Charitable Trusts joined the officers and board members of Christianity Today, International, in providing money, physical space, and corporate commitment to make it happen. (Strategic support from the Lilly Foundation has helped as well.) But it also exists because of a growing willingness among at least some evangelical Christians to consider seriously—as part of their Christian vocation—the domains of science, art, psychology, history, world affairs, social forces, literature, politics, and more.

I am sometimes asked whether I still hold to the dire indictment of evangelical Christian thinking set out in my 1994 book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind The answer is a resolute "sort of." My charge in the book was that evangelicals, though excelling at many tasks, were failing in the use of the mind as God had made it possible for the mind to be used. The existence of Books & Culture may be considered partial refutation of that charge, especially since one of the magazine's greatest practical problems has been finding enough column inches fast enough to get the thought-provoking prose of authors on to the page before they either forget they have written or they grow irritated at the long delay between submission of manuscripts and appearance ...

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