I spent the weekend in the beautiful beach town of Ocean City, NJ where I was the guest of St. Peter’s United Methodist Church. I spoke in all three Sunday morning services (including an 8am communion service on the boardwalk!) and gave a public lecture on how liberal arts education, especially the study of history, contributes to a more democratic and civil society.
I have been doing a lot of this kind of thing lately. In the course of my visits to churches like St. Peter’s I have learned that there are a lot of congregations whose members are hungry for intellectual resources to help them think deeply about how to engage the world. While the purpose of the church, of course, is to bring people into a closer relationship with God and others, it is also important that Christians understand the culture in which they hope to live out their faith.
What might it take to strengthen the Christian mind? Seventeen years ago historian Mark Noll diagnosed “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” Since the appearance of his book, an increasing number of Christian intellectuals have entered graduate schools, created venues, publications, and websites for the exchange of ideas, and pursued careers in the public sphere informed by thoughtful Christian engagement.
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