When the Mormon Jesus Was Married

It is a staple of anti-Mormon literature (and evangelical countercult literature more generally) that the Mormon Jesus is not the Christian Jesus. One subject that repeatedly surfaces in such arguments is that nineteenth-century Mormon leaders believed that Jesus married, married more than once, and had children. As the film The God Makers explains, “Mormon apostle Orson Pratt [Read More…]

Was Nebuchadnezzar a Werewolf?

“Nebuchadnezzar’s malady was not unlike a lycanthropy,” wrote Cotton Mather in his Biblia Americana. The Book of Daniel informs that the king of Babylon and conqueror of Jerusalem lived as a beast. He grew claws and feather-like hair. How? God smote him. Was this a disease of the mind? Mather noted passages in the gospels [Read More…]

American Colonial History

In today’s post I am talking with fellow Anxious Bench blogger, Baylor University historian, and prolific author Thomas Kidd about his new book, American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths. His previous books include biographies of George Whitefield and Patrick Henry and a history of the Great Awakening. JT: You write that two major themes organize American [Read More…]

Stephen H. Webb

Two weeks ago, prolific American theologian Stephen H. Webb died. For a beautiful tribute, see this essay. I knew Stephen because we read and reviewed each other’s books. About five years ago or so, I was sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for a flight to a conference. Whenever I’m going to a conference, I [Read More…]

The End of American Evangelicalism

One of the big surprises of 2016 is the extent of evangelical support for Donald Trump. As I mentioned several weeks ago, judging by historical precedents, evangelicals might well have divided their support among a number of candidates who spoke persuasively about their Christian faith, including Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and the now-defunct Ben Carson, [Read More…]

American Protestantism and Madness

Nearly twenty years ago, I visited a psychiatric unit near the city of Cebu in the Philippines. It consisted of two small sex-segregated wings, each holding perhaps two dozen patients. For my young adult eyes, it was a house of horrors. I had seen slums. I had seen young children scavenging at a filthy dump. [Read More…]

Death and Faith in the Civil War

In February of 1864, a Confederate officer named Franklin Gaillard received word of his father’s death. Gaillard was numb to death, having fought at Gettysburg the previous July. “It was the most shocking battle I have ever witnessed,” he wrote after his side’s bloody defeat. “There were familiar forms and faces with parts of their [Read More…]

Salvation Mountain

For historians and other scholars, religion provides an endless supply of fascinating narratives. And few experiences are as sweet as encountering a previously unknown but utterly bizarre and remarkable story. I had that experience reading Sara Patterson’s just-released Middle of Nowhere: Religion, Art, and Pop Culture at Salvation Mountain, a lucid chronicle and analysis of [Read More…]


In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, he includes what most scholars regard as an early Christian hymn. It praises Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God,           did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born [Read More…]

The Geneva Bible’s One Covenant of Grace

From 1560 until well into the seventeenth century, the Geneva Bible was the most widely read translation of the Christian scriptures into English. Itself building upon but surpassing the prior efforts of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, the Geneva Bible exerted a strong influence on the language of the King James text and through it [Read More…]