Islam in the Christian College?

(The conference mentioned below in this previous post has been funded and will take place on the campus of Gordon College on September 21, 2015. For more information, write to cfi@gordon.edu or go to http://www.gordon.edu/islamintheclassroom)In a post 9/11 world, engaging Islam in the college classroom is more important than ever. Unfortunately, too many evangelical schools are ill-equipped to meet the challenge. For that reason, I am working on a grant application presently titled “Islam … [Read More...]

The Book of Mormon, Revisited

No, that’s not a reference to the musical.In recent weeks, I have posted several items concerning the historicity or literal veracity of the Book of Mormon, and have had some exchanges with Dr. Bill Hamblin at his blog (a debate that he suggested and initiated). You can see my latest (lengthy) contribution here:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/enigmaticmirror/2015/07/03/jenkins-16-argument-turned-upside-down/Once again, you will observe Dr. Hamblin's scholarly approach in that he is not o … [Read More...]

Pseudo-Prophets and Real Kings

The independent Jewish kingdom of the second and first centuries BC – the Hasmonean state - had a turbulent and bloody history. That story is extensively commemorated in various pseudo-scriptures, although we can’t be exactly sure about the correspondence between historical events and literary rep … [Read More...]

The Quick Triumph of Same-Sex Marriage

From the 2013 Anxious Bench archives...About a decade ago, the historian David Chappell wrote a thoughtful book about religion and the civil rights movement, titled A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow. Among other ideas, Chappell presents the argument that the … [Read More...]

Looking Back to Think Ahead: Baptists and Obergefell v. Hodges

A committed evangelical, today I write out of and to my narrower ecclesiastical tradition (Baptist) as I address the Supreme Court's recent ruling.  All others are welcome to listen in or ignore me as they see fit. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last Friday (June 26, 2015) should surprise no o … [Read More...]

Yes, Remove the Confederate Flag. But What Then?

I have a pretty strong personal history of wrestling with the memory of the Confederacy. Having lived all over the South, I grew up hearing stories from relatives about the Lost Cause and how the Yankees took everything we had during Reconstruction. There was little mention of the role of slavery in … [Read More...]

Blows Against the Empire

People in the modern West are properly critical of the whole idea of imperialism, and suspicious of its rhetoric. That approach naturally influences religious thinkers, and there is no shortage of Bible scholars who apply strictly contemporary views to the New Testament world. We acknowledge the … [Read More...]

#CharlestonSyllabus

Bloggers and professors at the African American Intellectual History Society have put together a timely project titled #CharlestonSyllabus that offers a comprehensive reading list of African American history and literature, with special attention to South Carolina and Charleston. Here's the section … [Read More...]

Parties at War

Reading Josephus’s history of the Jewish people in the century or so before the Common Era offers surprising insights into the era of Jesus and his first followers. It must for instance change our view of the factions that we think we know so well from the New Testament, groups like the Pharisees, S … [Read More...]

The Biblical Heavens

What do you think of when you think of heaven?Is your first thought God and Jesus, or is it your loved ones (spouse, parents, children, and pets)?Over the past few years, I've dipped into Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang's endlessly fascinating Heaven: A History, and I recently had the … [Read More...]

The Thee Decade: The 1970s Was More Than Bad Hair

The decade of the Seventies has a rather dismal reputation. In his creatively titled book The Seventies, Bruce Schulman chronicles the horrors: bad hair, vapid dance music, a rootless youth culture, Ford’s mysteriously exploding compact car called the Pinto, hostages in Iran, defeat in Vietnam, d … [Read More...]

How Can Southern Baptists Get Their Groove Back?

Last week at The Washington Post, Barry Hankins and I offered three reasons why Southern Baptists are on the decline, and three ways to address it. They include getting serious about evangelism, defeating "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism," and making politics secondary.One of the most interesting … [Read More...]

Napoleon and Christianity

The 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s well-known defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 has recently been marked in Europe and elsewhere. In addition to commentary on the battle itself, much attention has focused on Napoleon’s politics, diplomacy, and military skills. It is for his actions in th … [Read More...]

Paul the Covert

I have to share this.One of the classic works on Judaism and early Christianity is Alan Segal’s Rebecca’s Children (1986). Through the centuries, debate has raged over exactly what St. Paul was doing when he took the Jesus Movement on its new directions. I am struck, therefore, to find that the H … [Read More...]

The Age of Tyrants

Josephus recorded the history of the Jewish people in the last two centuries before the Christian Era. Reading that story today must many of our assumptions about the world we know from the New Testament.I think I am accurately reflecting common ideas when I imagine that history something like … [Read More...]

Child Preachers, Then and Now

The New York Times recently published a fascinating report on Brazilian Pentecostal "child preachers," which it suggests is a major phenomenon. Without corroboration, Samantha Shapiro quotes a pastor who "estimates there are thousands" of evangelists and healers ages five to eighteen.This is the … [Read More...]

Southern Baptists: Cooperative Autonomy?

In my first outing as an official representative of Hannibal-LaGrange University, I have spent the past few days at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center attending the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In the past, controversy stalked each meeting as Southern Baptists both … [Read More...]

Benjamin Franklin, Skepticism, and The Enlightenment

As I have written previously at the Anxious Bench, I am skeptical about "The Enlightenment." This ideologically-freighted term implies the inexorable progress of scientific humanist thought. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the theory goes, such enlightened thinking triumphed over "dark" … [Read More...]

Reading Josephus

I have been working on the two or three centuries before the start of the Christian era, a time of epochal transformations in the Jewish world, and the essential prehistory of the early Church. One of the major sources for that time, obviously, is the work of Josephus, with which I have been … [Read More...]

The Nahom Follies

I wasn’t planning to write this piece, but so many of the comments on my earlier Book of Mormon posts have raised a particular point, and I don’t want it to seem that by ignoring it, I am conceding its value. The story also says much about how an authentic academic find metastasizes into popular rel … [Read More...]


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