About Us

This blog has been several years in the making. Our experiences within Christianity have been ones of incredible blessing and growth. God is living and active in His church! However, both of us (High and Low) come at things a bit differently then most Christians we have met. We are both active participants in the life of the mind. This has not always been easy, and our time in the church has often been one of romantic tragedy. Mark Noll, an evangelical historian and author describes poignantly what I mean in his book,The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

 

“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. An extraordinary range of virtues is found among the sprawling throngs of evangelical Protestants in North America, including great sacrifice in spreading the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, open-hearted generosity to the needy, heroic personal exertion on behalf of troubled individuals, and the unheralded sustenance of countless church and parachurch communities. Notwithstanding all their other virtues, however, American evangelicals are not exemplary for their thinking, and they have not been so for several generations.” The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, p. 3

 

 This blog is a laymen’s effort to rectify this situation in some way. Christianity has a long and fruitful history within the life of the mind. Our goal is to assist the church in returning to these roots.

 

Specifically, we will be attempting to provide our readers with information that will enable  them to further investigate the topics on their own. We have provided a book list tab, which will grow considerably as we read more ourselves. We will also be attempting to respond to specific questions you may have.

 

Our ultimate purpose is to glorify God through the rigorous use of our minds and to help others do the same. Christianity is not a religion of blind allegiance to some metaphysical fantasy. It is a intimate and real relationship with the Creator of all things, including our minds. We were meant to use them to further our trust and dependence upon Him!

 

~High and Low

9 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Nemo March 13, 2013 at 3:20 am Reply

    Just out of curiosity, did Mark Noll cite any evidence to support the claim that “american evangelicals are not exemplary for their thinking”?

    • Low March 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm Reply

      Nemo,

      Your questions are quite valid. Unfortunately, they would also take a long time to answer in detail. I hope that a brief summary will suffice? Please understand that I recently moved as well, and do not currently have access to Mr. Noll’s book, making responses difficult.

      In his book, Mr. Noll traces American Evangelicalism from roughly the founding of America through modern day, focusing on pivotal events that have shaped Evangelical expression. Among these would include the First and Second Great Awakenings, the Democritization of American culture, the rise of Liberal theology in the schools, and the subsequent Liberal/Fundamentalist debates.

      In short, Mr. Noll argues that with the failure of Fundamentalists to retain Academic credentials within American culture, they in large part withdrew from cultural and Academic engagement. Granted there has been a shift in focus in this regards in recent years, but I, like Mr. Noll, remain unconvinced that this has been accompanied by a deepening of Evangelical thought.

      I agree with much, though not all, of Mr. Noll’s analysis. One of the problems I find concerning this topic is trying to pin down the definition of “Evangelical”. Other lesser problems arise when you look at increasing Biblical illiteracy and a severe lack of understanding concerning the nature of Logical Absolutes and Laws.

      This will sound much like a cop out, but I would highly recommend reading his book to see for yourself. It has been out for a while so should be fairly inexpensive and is quite accessible while remaining scholarly. I plan on doing more posts addressing this issue, but there is obviously much here that could be said. Numerous books have been written, so I doubt I will be adding anything new to the discussion. One of our goals here is to just make people aware of the major conversations that are out there. I grew up in a Christian community that, for one reason or another, could not or would not engage in the broader dialogue of Christian thought. My personal goal is to provide resources to others that may be in the same position.

      I would like to add at the end here that not all “evangelicals” lack a mind. I think of Dr. Tim Keller in New York, for example, who is doing a fabulous job of showing how one can be Biblically faithful and intellectually engaged with the culture. There are always exceptions. I hope this helps Nemo and again, I plan on exploring this issue further in the future. Hopefully I will have all my books by then!

      ~Low

      • Nemo March 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm

        Hi Low (High and Low),

        Frankly I’m less interested in Noll’s book than in your personal opinion. Are you suggesting that a) the evangelicals are not as well educated or Biblically literate as they could or should be, and b) they are not actively engaged in dialogues with the culture?

      • Low March 16, 2013 at 12:56 am

        Nemo,

        Depending on your definition of “evangelical” I would say that on the whole, we are not as well educated or Biblically literate as we could or should be. I would not say, per your second question, that they have stopped all active dialogue with the culture. However, with that being said, I agree with High in that if we are not basing our personal orientation on the historical Gospel revealed in Scripture, then I am not sure how well dialogue will go. Let me use an illustration at the risk of being reductionistic.

        The Evangelical church has done a, quite frankly, amazing job in trying to live out the dictates of the Great Commission, at least here in America. We have Missions, Missionaries, and Missionary councils everywhere it seems. Unfortunately, when it comes to Gospel-centered discipleship, we have done a poor job in that area. I believe this is in part due to the fact that we have maximized some portions of Scripture over others. We focus on individual conversion in the West often to the detriment of developing a community of faith within which one may be discipled.

        Another example I could raise is the lack of Christian influence within the Academy. This is reflected, I believe, in the type of culture that is being formed in the West, which is increasingly pluralistic and hostile to exclusive truth claims of any sort. That is a much broader topic, so I will avoid it here in the comment section.

        Let me conclude by asking your personal take on this issue. What is your impression of evangelical thoughtfulness and cultural engagement? What has been your experience?

        ~Low

      • Nemo March 17, 2013 at 8:23 pm

        Low,

        I have very limited experience of the American evangelicals. My very first impression of them was that they were very loving and kindhearted but not well-equipped in theology or rational thinking. However, my experience also tells me that there is no direct correlation between the level of education and the aptitude for rational thinking.

        The educated and Biblically literate of Jesus’ time were the Pharisees and scribes, and yet very few of them were converted compared to those who did not know the law. One cannot argue that Jesus and Paul didn’t have dialogue with them in their own language and in their own area of expertise.

        Having said that, I do agree that Biblical illiteracy is a pressing issue. What do you think is the root cause? Is it a lack of ability or desire on the part of the churchgoers or the leaders of the church?

      • High March 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

        As I said further down Nemo (I didn’t realize we were replying lol) I would ascribe a good amount of this to an over-reliance on our pastors/priests, as well as a lack of Hermeneutics training in the common lay person. So the blame can really be laid at both ends of the spectrum, the churchgoers because of their reliance and the priests/pastors because of their lack of educating their parish.

        We hope here at High and Low to bridge some of that gap. Academically addressing ideas, but hopefully keeping it accessible enough to the common person that they might read it and understand it. Please continue to let us know how we are doing with this, as both of us struggle at times to keep things brief and simple sometimes.

        I’m curious though Nemo what do you consider the root cause?

  2. High March 14, 2013 at 1:00 am Reply

    Well, this is just a knee-jerk reaction, and Low will have to weigh in as he’s more a Noll scholar then myself, but I’m struggling with coming up with some ways in which American evangelicals have been exemplary. It really depends on what you consider “Evangelical” I would say. The word is somewhat dead in the modern day due to it’s over-use in our culture.

    However, going with a traditional understanding of the word, as Noll would have, how have we been exemplary? I mean most evangelicals rehash what past theologians have said, such as: Calvin, Luther, Aquinas, Simms, etc. While they may be addressing these people in a new light, this isn’t really original or exemplary, it’s just a rehash of what they said.

    Another question I would raise is the longevity of their thinking. The guys i mentioned above are timeless, and will last for generations to come, but what of American authors? The material their dealing with will be around for a long time, but what about their writing? Allow me an example, one of the biggest Christian books of our day was Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”. Warren sold millions of copies, but will this book span the ages like St. Augustine’s “Confessions”? I would say probably not, Warren’s book was written for American’s, at this time, with their spiritual needs in mind, and he address’ them. 200 years from now, i don’t see this book as being applicable like it was when it came out. This is of course, just idle speculation, but I believe it to be true.

    Finally Nemo, I would have to ask for some examples of how you feel American Evangelicals have been exemplary in their thinking. As i said, and I’m sure you can tell, I’m struggling to come up with ways we have been. If you know of some though, I’d love to discuss them. Also, anyone else reading this, who knows of any, comment here, let me know. It’ll be easier to answer when I have an example to work with.

    Looking forward to hearing from you. Submitted Respectfully,

    ~High

    P.S. As a final thought…. We have been exemplary as Americans in our liberal theology, but I don’t think Noll was addressing that. So his comments wouldn’t apply to people in those situations.

  3. Nemo March 14, 2013 at 3:21 am Reply

    The reason I’m asking is I’m curious what would qualify as “exemplary thinking” or “rigorous use of our minds”. What standard would you use?

    If it has to be “original”, not “just a rehash”. Many ideas in Augustine’s Confessions are not original either, he was profoundly influenced by the Greek philosophers Plato and Plotinus for instance.

    “Purpose Driven Life” may not have the depth of Confessions, but it is exemplary in “rightly dividing the word of truth”. I’m not sure the same can be said of American liberal theology though.

  4. High March 16, 2013 at 12:15 am Reply

    Nemo, I’ll give you my personal opinion on both parts of your question.

    As to part A. I would say yes, that with some exceptions, many lay people in churches today are Biblically illiterate, and do not so much understand the Word of God for themselves. This may be attributed to several different things, but I would ascribe a good amount of it to an over-reliance on our Pastors/Priests. As well as a lack of training in Hermeneutics for the common church goer.

    Due to this lack of depth in Biblical understanding, we as Christian’s often times fail to communicate with the culture around us. Not understanding our own doctrine or ideas, leads to us being incapable of interacting with those of different faiths or backgrounds.

    It’s important to us here at High and Low, to not only open up these lanes of communication, but also to help educate the average person in Christian doctrine and theology. Hopefully we can help aid some of this problem, and help build the City of God. I hope this helps Nemo.

    ~High

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Authentic Grace for Life

A take on theology and history for all.