Evangelical leader to speak on Bible

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

The Presidential Symposium Series will conclude Saturday with a lecture by Dr. Mark Noll, the Francis A. McAnaney professor of history at Notre Dame University.

Noll’s lecture, “The Place of the Bible in the Modern Christian University,” will begin at 4 p.m. in the Paul Powell Chapel of George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Dr. David Jeffrey, distinguished professor of literature and the humanities in the Honors College, described Noll as a “thoughtful, soft spoken, very precise and penetrating intellect whose scholarship has extraordinary breadth as well as a famous accuracy in detail.”

In 2005, Noll was called one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America by Time magazine. He has also published many books on Christianity, such as “The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith” and “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.”

“Mark Noll is one of the most pre-eminent religious historians of America at present,” said Jeffrey, who is also distinguished senior fellow and director of manuscript research in scripture and tradition in the Institute for Studies in Religion. “[Noll] is particularly well attuned to the role of religion in American political life and cultural life, generally.”

Because the Bible is the source of authority in evangelical Christianity, it must be a part of the curriculum at a Christian institution, making this lecture’s focus a relevant topic for the Baylor family, Jeffrey said.

“[It is important] because for evangelical Christians, as distinct from Catholic Christians, the highest authority in thinking about the practice of faith in the world is the Bible,” Jeffrey said, “and it follows from that, I think Noll will say, that you cannot have a Christian system or a Christian curriculum which excludes the Bible, but that it is very important that the Bible be integrated in the curriculum in ways which are appropriate to a university setting.”

Dr. Thomas Kidd, associate professor of history, said the topic relates to both professors and students, and the university’s efforts to define its role as a Christian institution.

“I think that Baylor is constantly wrestling with what it means for us to be a Christian university,” Kidd said. “This is a live issue for us not only in professors’ research but in what students study.”

The lecture will also provide insights on the Bible’s place in both the university and broader culture, Dr. Michael Beaty, chair and professor of philosophy, said.

“He has a terrific reputation as a teacher, someone who really is articulate and able to communicate ideas very effectively,” Beaty said. “Anyone who goes is going to find his lecture compelling because he is such a good teacher and conveyor of ideas, and I think the lecture will be full of important insights.”