Archives for March 2013


I have been writing on some quite diverse topics recently, including “faith on the borderlands,” and Christianity in Early Britain. I hadn’t actually intended to bring them together, but they appear to be merging of their own accord. This may be a dumb question, but has anyone written a book on current and former slaves [Read More…]


Felices Pascuas, Joyeuses Pâques, Buona Pasqua, Glad Påsk… Around the world, Christians use very similar words to wish each other a happy Easter, and with a couple of glaring exceptions, they call the feast by a variant of pascha, Passover. Even Tagalog uses pasko. The odd-tongues-out are of course English itself, and its close ally [Read More…]

St. Matthew’s Passion

The furtherance and further enrichment of the medieval Christian heritage of music and art remains of the greatest legacies of the Lutheran wing of the Protestant Reformation. As Luther stated in the preface to the 1524 Wittenberg Hymnal, he was “not of the opinion that the gospel should destroy and blight all the arts, as [Read More…]

What Does Jesus Look Like?

The History Channel’s hit miniseries “The Bible” offers us yet another on-screen depiction of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The honor this time goes to Diogo Morgado, whom the New York Post calls “a kind of surfer Jesus.” The Portuguese actor’s Jesus is not exactly Anglo (although his on-screen accent is); but basically, this Jesus [Read More…]


I have already posted on the remarkable survival of ancient apocryphal gospels through the Middle Ages and beyond. In terms of their actual impact on popular belief and practice, these texts had an influence at least approaching the canonical Big Four gospels, and for that reason alone, they demand to be remembered as major sources [Read More…]


I posted recently about the network of small states that existed between the Roman and Persian empires, the two superpowers of Late Antiquity. Most of these buffer states are of little interest to non-specialists, but two of those middling powers in particular demand our attention for what they suggest about the early history of both [Read More…]

The Rise of Liberal Religion

I’ve recently cracked open Matthew Hedstrom’s recently published The Rise of Liberal Religion. Hedstrom’s book is providing me with an opportunity to reconfigure my thinking and teaching on the respective trajectories of twentieth-century (and beyond) Protestant liberalism and evangelicalism. In recent decades pundits and some scholars have made much of the post-WWII evangelical resurgence, coupled [Read More…]


This year more than most, March 21 is a date of multiple significance in the Church of England. You might justly ask whether the English church still matters much on the world stage, but the wider Anglican Communion assuredly does: by the middle of this century, there could well be 150 million Anglicans worldwide. Historically, [Read More…]

With Signs Following: Baptists and the Holy Spirit

One of the perennial struggles in church life is balancing our approach to the work of the Holy Spirit. On one side of the evangelical continuum, there are self-conscious “cessationists” who believe that the “sign gifts,” such as prophecy and speaking in tongues, ceased with the closing of the New Testament canon. On the other [Read More…]


That children should do chores might seem so obvious as to be unworthy of mention.  I considered the question in a recent Boston Globe article.  No suspense: I do think children should do chores.  But revisiting an important book about the Reformation, of all things, strengthened that conviction. Considering “The Religious Beliefs of Teenagers” in [Read More…]