About Thomas Albert Howard

Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard is Professor of History and the Humanities at Valparaiso University, where he holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics.

Evangelicals and Christian Unity

[Recently, I gave a talk at Gordon College (where I formerly taught) on commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The title of the talk was “500 Years of Protestantism. What Now?” I concluded with the material below on the challenge that this anniversary presents to evangelicals concerning the task of Christian unity–or ecumenism.] In [Read More…]

Jewish-Christian Disputations in the Middle Ages

Although they were infrequent affairs, formal debates between Christians and Jews sometimes took place in the Middle Ages—even if the deck was often stacked against the Jews. For a research project, I have been reading about two of these: the Paris Disputation of 1240 and the Barcelona Disputation of 1263. The former took place at [Read More…]

Christian Colleges Meet Trump’s America

I received much feedback from a piece I wrote for Inside Higher Ed. So, permit me the liberty of reprinting it for Anxious Bench readers. The original appeared here. It has been widely hypothesized that the type of identity politics nurtured on elite secular campuses helped produce the backlash that swept Donald Trump into office [Read More…]

Nicholas of Cusa on the Diversity of Religions

In my last post, I profiled Raymond Llull (1232-1316) as a forerunner of modern-day interreligious dialogue. In this one, and for the same reason, I profile Nicholas of Cusa (1401-61), a fascinating figure in the Christian intellectual tradition. A native of Kues on the Mosel river, Cusa received his education at Heidelberg, Padua, and Cologne. [Read More…]

When did “Interreligious Dialogue” begin?

It is hard to find today a major city that does not have an “interfaith” or “interreligious” council or a university that does not sponsor some sort of “dialogue” among world religions. But when and where did “interreligious dialogue” begin? Most scholars would point to Chicago in 1893 when the first “Parliament of the World’s [Read More…]

The Most Influential Theologian You’ve Never Heard of

Who is Josef Kleutgen (1811-1883)?  The name is not a household name, except in my household!  I’ve recently completed a book manuscript—The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age—and Kleutgen figures quite prominently in it.  He was arguably the ablest student of Thomas Aquinas in the [Read More…]

Education: What is It?

For a “think tank” of sorts, I find myself writing a white paper on education (yep, the whole shebang) and its current aspirations and ailments. It’s a tough assignment, for how does one make sense of such a large category. Here’s my first swipe at defining “institutional parameters.” I welcome feedback! I. Institutional Parameters “Education” [Read More…]

“Bulgarian Horrors”

In the long history of conflict between “Islam and Christendom,” there have been many flashpoints. The Battle of Poitier (732), the fall of Constantinople (1453), and the Battle of Lepanto (1571) are three notable examples from the premodern era. Well before the conflicts and confusions of our own time, the modern age witnessed its own [Read More…]

Counting Down to the Reformation at 500

There’s an African proverb, I am told, that goes like this: “If I don’t beat my own drum, who will?” In this spirit, permit me to make known to Anxious-Bench readers two publications of mine. The first is recently out; the second will be out in a matter of weeks. It has been a delight [Read More…]

Trump and Modern Ethical Theory

We are still many weeks away from early November and I’m already wondering if there is anything left to say about this election, which the Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse memorably described as a “dumpster fire.” (I confess that I didn’t know that this was a phrase until I looked it up and learned that it [Read More…]