The Anabaptist Judith

From the Anxious Bench archives… Things were not going well in Münster (in present-day northwestern Germany) as of June 1534. The previous year, local Anabaptists, their ranks swollen by arrivals from the Netherlands and elsewhere, seized full control of the city. In February, a prophet named Jan Matthias had taken charge, whereupon Catholics and most [Read More…]

Exeter Cathedral and Collective Memory

Most American visitors to European cathedrals are immediately struck by their vastness and grandeur. In most instances, however, the small details of cathedrals are what truly fascinate and keep the attention. This is true of the golden mosaics at Monreale, and it’s certainly true of cathedrals in England. In terms of the latter, my favorite [Read More…]

Bernie Sanders, Anti-Evangelical Bigot?

Senator Bernie Sanders opposed the nomination of Russell Vought as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget because of the way Vought supported his alma mater in its firing of Larycia Hawkins. Vought wrote the following for The Resurgent: Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because [Read More…]

The Quaker Jesus

In October 1656, James Nayler rode into the English city of Bristol, accompanied by a small band of men and women who sang hosannas. Understood to have recreated Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and accused of claiming to be Jesus Christ, Parliament convicted Nayler of “horrid blasphemy.” Nayler was scourged with the whip, his flesh [Read More…]

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…]