Eucharistic Visionaries

Birgitta, ca. 1530

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been exploring the role of visions in the history of Christianity, specifically visions of Jesus. It was accepted by nearly all early Christians that men and women had been granted visions by the divine (and often of the divine), and it appears to have been widely accepted that at [Read More...]

The Passions of Perpetua and Frans van der Lugt

The martyrdom of Perpetua, Felicitas, and others, from a ca. 1000 illuminated manuscript

Jesus warned that those who wanted to be his disciples would have to take up their crosses and follow him, at the risk of losing their lives. During Holy Week, Christians rightfully focus their meditations and prayers on the passion of their Savior, but especially at this time it seems appropriate for us to remember [Read More...]

The New Prophecy

“Having assumed the form of a woman,” a late second-century prophetess announced, “Christ came to me in a bright robe and put wisdom in me, and revealed to me that this place is holy, and that it is here that Jerusalem will descend from heaven.” Epiphanius, a fourth-century bishop on Cyprus and categorizer of alleged [Read More...]

The Visions of John of Patmos

St. John the Evangelist on Patmos, ca. 1479

A man named John found himself “on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” While “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” he heard a loud voice instruct him to “write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches.” Presumably, like [Read More...]

The Urban Pulpit

Bowman cover

Two years ago, I posted an interview with Matthew Bowman, a preview of a book that has now appeared as The Urban Pulpit:New York City and the Fate of Liberal Evangelicalism. A few quick thoughts: – Paul Putz posted an excellent summary/review at Religion in American History: Bowman argues that the fracturing of evangelicalism in [Read More...]

The Brightness of the Sun

The Conversion of St. Paul, Jean Fouquet, in the Hours of  Étienne Chevalier, ca. 1450s

Sometime around the year 1820, the young Joseph Smith was troubled. According to the earliest account, written in 1832, Smith was anxious over the state of his sinful soul. He “felt to mourn,” for his own sinfulness and that of the world. He was convinced of God’s existence, simply by looking at the wonders of [Read More...]

Visions in the Hebrew Scriptures

Ezekiel's_vision

Beginning today, I’m starting a weekly series on visions. My immediate interest in the question stems from my recent foray into the history of Mormonism, a movement that now traces itself to Joseph Smith’s theophany of God the Father and Jesus Christ. (See this recent statement on the subject published last year by the Church [Read More...]

The End of Religious Freedom?

Smith Freedom

What is religious freedom? Is it the freedom to worship or otherwise interact with God, gods, or other things and entities as one sees fit? Is it freedom of conscience in terms of the supernatural? If religious freedom also involves the right to live out one’s religion in the public sphere, how far does that [Read More...]

American Pseudobibles (and the Book of Mormon)

American-Zion

Americans during the Revolutionary era and the Early Republic lived in a world suffused with the Hebrew scriptures. That reality, already charted by many historians (including Mark Noll, who once termed the Old Testament (“the common coinage of the realm”), is only the backdrop to Eran Shalev’s remarkable American Zion: The Old Testament as a [Read More...]

The Anabaptist Judith

One of Lucas Cranach's several renderings of Judith.

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 Lutherans were stripped of their [Read More...]


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