Archives for January 2013


I’m wrestling with a truly baffling linguistic mystery, with some far-reaching implications for Christian history. In a couple of recent posts, I looked at the fate of the British Christian society that appears to have been overwhelmed by pagan Germanic invaders during the fifth and sixth centuries. According to traditional accounts, invaders killed or enslaved [Read More…]

Unsecularize the Academy?

This morning, I began reading Brad Gregory’s magisterial The Unintended Reformation: How A Religious Revolution Secularized Modern Society. It’s not a subtle or irenic book. “Judged on their own terms,” Gregory concludes, “and with respect to the objectives of their own leading protagonists, medieval Christendom failed, the Reformation failed, confessionalized Europe failed, and Western modernity [Read More…]

Where Are the Studies of Twentieth-Century Black Evangelicalism?

I am working on some revisions to an article on evangelicals and political engagement in the twentieth century.  If all goes well, the essay will find its way into a collection of essays stemming from a series of Catholic-Evangelical dialogues that have taken place over the last several years at Georgetown University.  One of the [Read More…]

Jonathan Edwards’s Scottish Connection

In his magisterial biography of Jonathan Edwards, George Marsden reminds us that there was a time, in the decades after his death, when Jonathan Edwards was more popular in Scotland than in America. Indeed, there was a fleeting moment, after the Northampton church dismissed Edwards in 1750, when Edwards might have moved his family to Scotland. [Read More…]


I have a long-standing interest in the early church and the church of Late Antiquity – depending where you are located, that includes the era we sometimes call the Dark Ages. This fascination, for instance, led me to write books like my Jesus Wars. The more I think about it, the more I realize just [Read More…]

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Conservatives debate the meaning of God and country.  Thomas Kidd reviews Linford Fisher, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America. David Barton is at it yet again The “theological brew” of the Brethren in Christ Church Henry Louis [Read More…]


I recently posted about the annihilation of the church in Roman Britain. Writing the history of that church is largely a story of reporting negatives – not something that historians like to do, but sometimes we have no choice. (Let me stress again that I’m talking about the wealthier south and east of the island, [Read More…]

Jonathan Edwards on Jesus Christ

Still reading through Richard Fox’s Jesus in America, I came across a reference to a beautiful description of Christ in an 1751 letter written by Jonathan Edwards to an aristocrat named Mary Pepperrell, who was grieving the loss of her son. It’s probably familiar to the many fans of Jonathan Edwards out there, but it [Read More…]

The Evangelical Impulse Behind the Abolition of Slavery

Did you get a chance to watch The Abolitionists last night on PBS?  If you missed it, you can watch the first episode  here.  The series focuses on five nineteenth-century abolitionists–Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, and Angelina Grimke–and their fight to end slavery in America.  As I watched the show [Read More…]

“An Index to Books”: John Erskine and The Evangelical Disseminators

I recently read Jonathan Yeager’s excellent Enlightened Evangelicalism: The Life and Thought of John Erskine (Oxford, 2011), and am struck by Yeager’s thesis that Erskine, one of the leading evangelical pastors in eighteenth-century Scotland, was especially significant as a “disseminator of enlightened evangelicalism.” Of course, Erskine was also an important theologian and preacher, but where he [Read More…]