Friend of the show, Chris E. commented on our recent show:
Half way through the podcast and would like to make a few comments and push back a little: A comment on the book itself; I believe this was originally part of a trio of books commissioned at the same time, with the others to be written by Daryl Hart and George Marsden - so it would have been interesting to hear the book discussed in that context. I found much of the political discussion flawed as it centred on an American axis of what left and right constitute[*] - though at least Derick was a good dissenting voice at times (the only alternative to communism in the 80s was libertarian free-marketism? really?). On the dispensationalist point, I think your conspiracy episode got this right. Dispensationalism wasn't all, or even mostly, George Eldon Ladd, at the popular level it was basically the 80s version of infowars ('99 reasons why Christ will return by 1999', apache helicopters are the locusts of revelation and so on). So in that sense it was a profoundly anti-intellectual movement, even when there was a large amount of effort put into making it internally coherent. On Evangelicals voting for Trump - is this not simply a continuation of the politics of the Republicans during the Obama-era ? Where opposition on all points was the order of the day, and plenty of Evangelicals joined groups like the Tea Party. Finally - so far! - a point about the lack of Evangelicals on the bench of the Supreme Court. This was discussed at a level of political influence and legislated morality - but it wasn't pointed out that this illustrated the thesis of the book - Evangelicalism stopped producing the kinds of intellects likely to be promoted to the bench. * This is one of the flaws to me of the City of Man podcast - the 'left' isn't truly represented as such, instead there's a concilatory left of centre (in the American sense) voice opposite a more take-no-prisoners conservative. Reaching parody in the last episode where one side basically said that the subject under discussion didn't interest them at all!
I leave it to Coyle and Ed of the City of Man Podcast to respond to Chris's side note, but I do want to elaborate on his point about dispensationalism's relationship to the intellect.
At one point in the show, it was claimed that there is a great deal of intellectual work involved in End-Timesey thinking and publishing. To a degree, I suppose this is true. However it is not the kind of intellectual work that Noll prizes and laments the absence of in Evangelicalism. It is, as Chris suggests, of the sort found in Alex Jones' imagination. Conspiracy theorists (and do check out our show on that subject) put an amazing amount of thought in constructing their analyses, and the intellectual products they make are elaborate and often bound together with intricate logic. However, their theories are too often inwardly focused and divorced from an engagement with the actually existing material world.
This is how I see End Times prophecy as well. It isn't as though no thought or research goes into piecing together its elaborate structures, but rather that it is a house of cards built upon itself, not a deep engagement with the natural world.
I reached out to my co-hosts for the episode for their responses to Chris's email and Derek Varn took me up. I leave you with his words:
I'll bite Danny, "I vaguely remember the trio of books when I first read "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" in the early Bush years in college, and I have read Marsden's "Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism." I actually agree with the comment on the frustrations about left and right, and would have insisted a larger split between left-liberals and leftists, which is a fundamentally different thing. I am often more frustrated with what represents the left on podcasts like City of Man and thus is why I actually asked for Coyle to be on. In many ways, I would rather engage in conservatives who took fundamental problems of economics seriously, but the binary is frustrating. As I actually agree more with Coyle on some questions than I do the side that "represents me.." My point about Dispensationalism and the conspiracy mongering and Puritans should have been explicated more and that is my fault. Emblematic thinking in the Puritan context LED a very rich intellectual tradition down a contradictory path of paranoia and hollowed out the tradition in such a way that it made Unitarianism and Deism MUCH more appealing to New Englanders, even if some of that Puritanism remains in the US secular culture.' This was true in the degeneration of Dispensational thought to infowars style Hal Lindsey-ism.
The Sectarian Review Podcast is hosted by Danny Anderson, who is an Assistant Professor of English at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, PA.