Archives for June 2012


Through the kindness of my Baylor University colleague Bernard Doherty, I have been looking at the findings of the latest Australian census on religion. Even if you have no specialist interest in that part of the world, it’s a fascinating document, because it shows how a traditionally Christian country (divided fairly equally on Protestant-Catholic lines) [Read More…]

Grow Up, Evangelicals (and everyone else, too!)

“We’re all adolescents now,” suggests the subtitle of Thomas Bergler’s essay in this month’s issue of Christianity Today. “The Juvenilization of American Christianity” is a distillation of Bergler’s book of the same title. It’s a thoughtful critique of a major trend within American evangelicalism (and, as he suggests, American Christianity more broadly) since the Second [Read More…]


I just got hold of Eamon Duffy’s latest book Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition: Religion and Conflict in the Tudor Reformations (Just published in Britain, and due out in the US in August). Duffy is a wonderful historian whose 1992 book The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 was a staggering evocation of [Read More…]

How Significant is Fred Luter’s Election for Southern Baptists?

This week my Baylor colleague Barry Hankins and I published a USA Today editorial, “Southern Baptists Cleanse Past,” commending the SBC’s election of its first African American president, Fred Luter. From the column: America remains torn by racial problems – and Sunday morning is still America’s most divided hour – but even the most cynical observer [Read More…]


In a recent posting, I discussed the impact of overseas missions on the theology and practice of home churches, and suggested that this was a vast and understudied topic. The theme also gives me an excuse to explore some Christian writings that I consider to be truly important, but which today are gravely under-known and [Read More…]


You may remember from earlier posts that I was eagerly anticipating R. I. Moore’s book The War on Heresy, which I have now finally read and reviewed for Church History. The review won’t be out till next year but here is a quick summary of my impressions. The whole story raises critical issues for Christian [Read More…]

America’s Most Influential Evangelicals

 Cleaning out my office this week, I came across Time magazine’s February 2005 list of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” Here’s the list, in the order of appearance (though Time didn’t rank it): Rick Warren James Dobson Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Dianne Knippers Michael Gerson Richard John Neuhaus (a curious choice, I [Read More…]

Evangelicals and Romney: Politics Trumps Theology?

Evangelicals are overwhelmingly indicating support for Mitt Romney in public opinion polls, and writers such as Jonathan Merritt are asking whether this indicates a sea change in evangelicals’ views of Mormonism. Patheos blogger Scot McKnight briefly commented that this support for Romney reveals that for evangelicals, “politics too often matters more” than the particulars of [Read More…]


As Christianity has grown around the world over the past century, it has been fascinating to watch the complex and often unexpected interplays between the older and newer churches. In South Africa, for instance, the mighty Zion Christian Church (several million strong, and mainly Zulu) takes its name not from Mount Zion, but from Zion [Read More…]

What is Evangelicalism?

Since this blog is on Patheos‘s “Evangelical Channel,” I thought we should devote at least one post to discussing what “evangelical” means today. For their thumbnail definition of evangelicalism, many scholars rely on David Bebbington’s “quadrilateral” of conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism. There are at least two problems with Bebbington’s very useful definition. First, the [Read More…]