The Invention of God

Thomas Römer’s The Invention of God is a provocative, brilliant, and challenging book. Römer’s narrates that: – groups of people in the ancient southern Levant came to worship a storm God named Yhwh (or another close variant of that name); – that the peoples of ancient Israel and Judah worshiped Yhwh, El, and a goddess [Read More…]

How to Market a Book

The title of this post is as much of a question as a statement. This April, Harvard University Press is releasing The Mormon Jesus: A Biography. Instead of fashioning a “new religion,” I argue, Latter-day Saints have through their experiences, descriptions, and depictions of Jesus Christ created a movement both utterly Christian and distinctly Mormon. [Read More…]

Vonette Zachary Bright (1926-2015)

In December 2004, I went to Orlando, Florida, to interview Vonette Bright. I was in the process of researching and writing a dissertation about Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), using the organization as a lens into the trajectory of American evangelicalism in the second half of the twentieth century. I already felt as if [Read More…]

The Study Quran

For the unfamiliar (that includes me), the Qur’an is an imposing, rather intimidating scripture. Unlike the Bible, it doesn’t contain long chunks of historical narrative that allow one to advance in something like chronological order. Without knowing the context of the individual sections (or sections of sections), one encounters a bewildering array of spiritual, legal, [Read More…]

Joseph Smith’s Last Christmas

2 o[clo]ck about 50 couple sat down at my table to dine. while I was eating my scribe called on me to selmnz [solemnize] the Marriage of Doct Levi Richa[r]ds & sarah Griffiths [Griffith] — but. as I could not leave. I referred the subj[e]ct to Presidt B[righam] Young. who married th[e]m. A large party [Read More…]

Congratulations to Our Own!

If you are still agonizing over how to select that life-changing-yet-affordable Christmas gift, we at the Anxious Bench — especially the prolific among us — are here to help. A few days ago, Christianity Today announced that our Thomas Kidd’s biography of George Whitefield has won its 2015 book award for History / Biography. I [Read More…]

The King of Beaver Island

Most people with only a passing acquaintance with the history of Mormonism presume that there was a simple transition to Brigham Young’s leadership after the June 1844 murder of Joseph Smith, Jr. In truth, Smith’s death precipitated several competing claims to leadership. A new “Kindle Single” authored by John J. Miller in The Polygamist King [Read More…]

Muslims, the New Mormons

In 1890, the U.S. Supreme Court — in upheld laws intended to disenfranchise Mormon polygamists. The 1882 Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act required voters to swear that they were not polygamists, and the Idaho Territory had passed a statute requiring voters to attest that they were not Mormons. In Idaho, church member Samuel Davis was convicted of [Read More…]

The Thanksgiving before the First Thanksgiving

The Mayflower pilgrims anchored at what is now Provincetown Harbor on the south side of the Cape Cod hook on November 11, 1620 (November 20 by our calendar). When a party waded ashore, William Bradford wrote some years later: they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over [Read More…]

Surprised by Joy

Joy Davidman Gresham is best known for the very end of her life. As depicted in the film Shadowlands, she and the renowned Christian author Clive Stapleton Lewis married after Joy was diagnosed with terminal cancer.                 Recent years have brought an avalanche of books about C.S. Lewis, who a half-century after his death continues [Read More…]


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