Just a few years ago, my entire family (parents, siblings, aunts, and my grandfather) attended a church service together. The pastor was preaching through Ephesians and had reached chapter 5. Now, I have to tell you some about my grandfather. He was Baptist most of his life. After his family moved back to Texas from California, they joined Travis Avenue Baptist Church where he eventually met my grandmother. For most of his adult life, after the war, he served as… Read more

About a month after my editor first mentioned the name of Charles Lindbergh to me, our sabbatical travels took my family to the birthplace of aviation: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Sure enough, there’s a painting of Lindbergh in the National Park Service building at the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flights. But I’m starting to think there’s a decent “spiritual, but not religious” biography to be written about Wilbur and Orville Wright themselves. Embed from Getty Images That came… Read more

As I study the early history of Christianity, I become ever more interested by one critical era, namely the decade or so on either side of 200 AD. That is a time of terrific expansion, but more particularly, I have argued that this marks the point at which a sect becomes a church, or more specifically, when the Jesus Movement becomes the Christian church. This transition had powerful consequences for language and languages. That expansion had vital implications for the… Read more

Chris shares his gratitude for the students, parents, and colleagues who make possible his work. Read more

Not having seen the big production new film of Mary Magdalene (Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor), I can’t comment on it. And for interesting reasons I will explain, don’t expect to see it in the US any time soon. But I will respond to the latest wave of comments that this film has drawn forth about the widespread and powerful myth concerning Mary Magdalene herself – and myth it assuredly is. In the British Daily Telegraph, Peter Staniford writes… Read more

From the Anxious Bench archives: When I ask students to read and generate questions about the Gospel of Mark, someone always asks about the beheading of John the Baptist? What sort of mother asks her daughter to ask her father for a prophet’s head? (I can also count on a question about Jesus cursing the fig tree, for which I never have an adequate answer). According to Mark, John the Baptist criticized Herod Antipas for having married Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife…. Read more

If Madeleine L’Engle’s portrayal of communism as the evil “other” was not unusual, her antidote certainly was. A Wrinkle in Time points to a third way of creative resistance to evil. Read more

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is planning to eliminate its arts, humanities, and social science majors. Here’s why Christian colleges need to beware heading down that path… Read more

Marilynne Robinson, writer of beautiful novels and perspicacious essays, turns some attention to New England Puritans in an American Scholar article drawn from her most recent book, What Are We Doing Here?  She characterizes Puritans as progressive contenders for a society shaped by grace rather than harsh punishment. “What do we lose when we ignore early American history and, to the extent that we notice it, mischaracterize it? The stigmatizing word that makes the North fall out of sight is… Read more

I have blogged quite a bit recently on early Christian history, and the further I get into this material, the more interested I become in one particular period – quite a narrow period in fact, of a quarter century or so. I keep coming back to these years as the critical turning point in early Christian history, and it rarely receives the respect it demands. For all the attention paid to the era of the Council of Nicea, about 325,… Read more

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