I have been writing about the early Christian church around 200 AD, and how surprisingly “Catholic” it already looked in terms of its attitudes towards clergy and priesthood. Even the idea of clerical celibacy appears in rudimentary form, considerably earlier than we might commonly think. Whatever he intended, already by 200 the great Church father Tertullian was offering manifestos for a celibate priesthood. In recent historical writing, we often hear that the celibacy requirement emerged only in the Middle Ages,… Read more

I have posted several times on issues of translation, specifically about the New Testament. Today I want to address the Curse of Quotations. Recently, my church read 1 Corinthians 8, which in the NIV begins with the verse Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up (8.1) Please note the quotes around “We all possess knowledge.” The chapter then included several other phrases likewise in quotes. We… Read more

Nicholas Pruitt teaches in the Department of History at Eastern Nazarene College. He’s also a newly minted Ph.D. from Baylor University. Last month, I heard Nick give a talk at the American Society of Church History. At the time, I was feeling rather depressed about the fact that throughout the course of American history, native-born Protestants frequently have embraced anti-immigrant positions. Nick’s talk raised my spirits, because he discussed the fact that many mainline Protestants in the first half of… Read more

Moody Bible Institute’s pursuit of middle-class respectability led away from a soft racial egalitarianism toward straightforward complicity with Jim Crow. Read more

Did you see this map making the rounds a couple weeks ago? Using data from the 2010 U.S. Religion Census (via the Association of Religion Data Archives), creator Alex Egoshin constructed Faithland, a heat map of religious adherence, county by county, for the United States. Egoshin came up with topographical names for blue patches of low adherence (bays, trenches, lakes, seas) and red spots of high adherence (islands, ridges, plateaus, peaks). For the most part, the results are unsurprising. Religious… Read more

In the mid-1990s my husband and I, living in southern Germany for his fellowship year, traveled to the Slovakia hometown of my distant cousins. We didn’t plan the trip well, expecting to pass through Eastern Europe during a still-wintry Holy Week on way to Krakow. Rookie mistakes in the days before cell phones left us stranded in a train station, overnighting in musty post-communist hotel, and only reaching Litmanova by shoving our way onto an early morning bus with all… Read more

Most Americans are rightly appalled at the level of civil discourse over most matters of politics, culture, or morality. Would you like to see a shining example of how this can be done exactly right? Back in 2006, Randy Olson released his documentary film A Flock of Dodos, which attacked the Intelligent Design (ID) movement as a thinly disguised form of Christian Creationism. As such, he argued (and courts have agreed) it must not be taught in public schools. Olson… Read more

Access Hollywood. Roy Moore. Stormy Daniels. The cast of characters may shift from one scandal to the next, but evangelical Christians have remained remarkably consistent in their response to the sexual scandal du jour. Although evangelicals have not generally earned a reputation for tolerance, particularly when issues of sexual morality are involved, all that seems to have changed of late. These days evangelical Christians seem to be demonstrating an exceeding tolerance for sexual misconduct of all sorts–harassment, assault, the abuse… Read more

How to download a free Lenten devotional that Chris edited: inspired by his book, The Pietist Option, and written by dozens of its readers. Read more

Meredith Stone, a Baptist female seminary professor, responded last week to John Piper. If you remember, John Piper recently posted the script of an interview on Desiring God. He argued that women should not teach at seminaries. Actually, that isn’t correct. John Piper argued that women are disqualified from teaching pastors because–according to his complementarian reading of scripture–women are disqualified from the pastoral role. This isn’t because women are less capable; it is because women are divinely created to be… Read more

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