Archives for October 2013

Evangelical-Mormon “Detente”?

Adelle Banks of Religion News Service has a fascinating piece on signs of a possible new evangelical-Mormon detente, a thaw that goes even beyond the widespread evangelical support for Mitt Romney as president. She writes Last month, after being sure to get his caffeine fix at Starbucks, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land went where few [Read More…]

Mixing the Market and the Common Good: Complicating the Individualist-Structuralist Binary

In recent years scholars have accentuated the individualistic impulse within conservative evangelicalism. Evangelicals, Christian Smith and Michael Emerson pointed out in Divided By Faith, often understand racism as a long series of personal white-on-black abuses more than a practice built into economic, social, and cultural systems. Typically this impulse is contrasted with secular liberal attention [Read More…]

“Psychedelic Christians”: The Legacy of the Jesus People

I recently had the pleasure of reading Larry Eskridge’s remarkable God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (Oxford, 2013). [Full disclosure: Larry is a good friend and fellow Carolinian – though of the North Carolina variety – who has occasionally given me barbecue advice.] This book is the epitome of definitive, with rich, entertaining [Read More…]

Virtue and Vice and Everything …

One of the heartening things about our times has been the recovery, at least in some quarters, of the language of virtue and vice.  At a popular level, this owes much to William Bennet and his concern for the moral formation of children, and at an academic level, the smoking gun points, above all, to [Read More…]


Today’s blog is about blogging. If you blog on religious topics, you know that there are a couple of issues that are guaranteed to set at least some commenters off into paroxysms of rage. On a site like this, Islam and Mormonism are two prime detonators. I’m open to very wide ranging discussions on anything [Read More…]

Luther and the Word of God

Martin Luther did not want to preach in Wittenberg’s city church. The year was — most likely — 1513. Luther later commented that he “was chosen against my will to preach here.” He was afraid of what he considered a great responsibility. “I shall not live a quarter-year,” he feared. Germany is currently just more [Read More…]

Blue Crabs and Evangelicals – Part 1

Next month, the sixty-fifth meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) will convene in Baltimore, Maryland.  In between eating blue crabs and searching for book deals, members will present papers, discuss present and future projects, catch up with colleagues, and network with other evangelicals.  Although the society maintains a pronounced focus on Bible and theology, a [Read More…]

Interpreting Demonic Possession

My graduate course recently read Brian Levack’s The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West (Yale, 2013). Levack, the author of a number of important books on witchcraft and possession in early modern Europe, notes from the outset that “demonic possession is a methodological landmine for historians.” That’s the truth! It is relatively easy [Read More…]


I recently described the powerful medieval theme of rooting the events of the New Testament in the places and objects of the Old. I cited for instance the Syriac writer Solomon of Basra around 1220, and what we can only call a complex mythological system: As to the tree upon which our Redeemer was crucified, [Read More…]


I have been spending a lot of time recently with the apocryphal texts of the Old Testament, the pseudepigrapha. This material can become obsessive! Through much of Christian history, the relationship between Old and New Testaments was very different from how most would imagine it today. Modern believers certainly see foretastes or prophecies of Christ [Read More…]