John Donne, Redone

“John Donne, Anne Donne, Undone.” According to one later account, so the Elizabethan and early Stuart poet chalked on the backside of his kitchen door the day of his secret marriage to Ann More. Indeed, by marrying a woman without her well-connected father’s permission, Donne scuttled his career and income. The scandal of his marriage [Read More…]

The End of American Evangelicalism

Amid the semester’s end, the following is adapted and slightly updated from the Anxious Bench archives… One of the big surprises of 2017 was the extent of evangelical support for Donald Trump. During the Republican primaries, evangelicals might well have divided their support among a number of candidates who spoke persuasively about their Christian faith, including Ted [Read More…]

Keller and Coulter, Orthodoxy and Heresy

Most of you have no doubt heard about this spring’s Kellerite controversy at Princeton Theological Seminary. At first, PTS decided to award high-profile pastor and prolific author Tim Keller its 2017 Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness. In keeping with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) to which Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian [Read More…]

The End of Silence

Shusaku Endo’s Silence is a very grim novel, as is the much-discussed recent film adaptation by Martin Scorsese. It is Japan, roughly 1639. After decades of fruitful missionary work begun by Francis Xavier in 1549, decades of bitter persecution have followed. There are still many Christians in Japan, but they are hidden. Some Portuguese Jesuits have [Read More…]

Being Protestant

    Early modern English Protestants, at least the more earnest among them, were known to be a rather dour bunch. “Better it is to goe sickly (with Lazarus) to Heaven,” wrote Lewis Bayly in his The Practise of Piety, “than full of mirth and pleasures, with Dives, to Hell.” That Bayly’s devotional manual was [Read More…]

Defining Evangelicalism: Part 1,242…

Douglas Winiarski’s Darkness Falls on the Land of Light begins with the story of two couples in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. In the winter of 1748-1749, Hannah and John Corey withdrew from Sturbridge’s Congregational church, were baptized, and united themselves to a Separate congregation. The couple had belonged to the Sturbridge Congregational church for around seven years, [Read More…]

Where is John the Baptist’s Head?

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 the fig tree, for which I never have [Read More…]

Are the gods present?

“After he has lunched on his God on Sunday, / You should worship his turd on Monday.” So the French Huguenot polemical poet Agrippa d’Aubigné mocked the Catholic Eucharist. Early Protestants felt and feigned horror at the idea that Catholics believed that they chewed, swallowed, and digested the very body of Jesus Christ. They were [Read More…]

Biographies Full of Females

Who’s significant? As Chris Gehrz discussed in a recent post, his students — and most publishers — think that a “biography is a book written about a significant individuals.” Most of those individuals happen to be men in positions of political power. Presidents, kings, businessmen, and a few religious leaders thrown into the mix. This [Read More…]

The Desecration of Indian Corpses

In February 1850, Mormon settlers began a brief but bloody campaign against several bands of Ute Indians in Utah Valley. On February 13, the Mormons captured a group of Indians, promising them their lives and safety. They lied. “[W]e shall deal with them in the most summary manner as soon as another day favors us [Read More…]