“Ask Jesus into Your Heart”: A History of the Sinner’s Prayer

[This week’s post comes from my Patheos archives.] Many an evangelical pastor has concluded a sermon by asking non-Christians to “ask [or receive, or invite] Jesus into their heart,” or to pray a version of what some call the “sinner’s prayer.” But some evangelicals, including Baptist pastor David Platt (president of the SBC’s International Mission [Read More…]

Martin Luther King and the History of Religious Extremism

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” would make it on my list of must-reads for American cultural literacy. Written as he awaited release from a Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963, King explained why the non-violent protests couldn’t “wait” any longer, as some moderate white Christians asked him to do. “When you are harried [Read More…]

Reassessing the Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was the most provocative Patriot action before the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775. Most Americans vaguely know that the Tea Partiers pitched tea into Boston Harbor, because they were angry about taxes. But what actually provoked the Tea Party? The key instigator was Samuel Adams, a devout [Read More…]

Edmund Burke, Trumpism, and the Worst of Both Worlds

I recently read Yuval Levin’s engaging The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. This book is a great example of how good writers can bring high-level intellectual history to a general audience. Levin shows how Paine defended revolutions (both American and French) that he saw as aligning with [Read More…]

The Stunning Statistics of the Slave Trade

One of the most surprising revelations to me during my research for my new book American Colonial History was just how much Africans dominated transatlantic immigration from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Sure, I knew that millions of Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas during that period. But the actual numbers, especially in [Read More…]

Was Jonathan Edwards Wrong About Interpreting God’s Providence?

This post is gratefully re-shared from Reformation 21, where it originally ran. Like many eighteenth-century Reformed pastors, Jonathan Edwards was confident in his ability to discern God’s purposes in earthly events. For example, during a 1736 drought, he explained that God was chastising New Englanders for the “corruption in our hearts.” Similarly, during a plague [Read More…]

The GOP Race: Is Ted Cruz Our Best Option?

When we were in St. Andrews, Scotland for the Spring 2015 semester, I remember our Baptist church there praying for parliamentary elections. The implicit message of the prayers was, “Lord, we have no obvious options here. Please help us to know how to vote.” I have been having the same feeling about the GOP race [Read More…]

Culture-Changing Christians

Back in 2012, when Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, many disappointed supporters – including a number of evangelicals – suggested that his defeat spoke to an American culture in decline. For politics to change, they say, culture must change. Glenn Beck, for example, tweeted that “the time for politics is over. I’m doubling down [Read More…]

The New United States: A “Christian Nation”?

Politicians and pop history writers squabble endlessly about whether America was founded as a “Christian nation.” Skeptics routinely point to the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, in which American officials declared that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” and “has in itself no character [Read More…]

Who Is the Mormon Jesus?

In today’s post I am talking with Anxious Bench blogger and George Mason professor John Turner about his new book, The Mormon Jesus: A Biography. John has written previous books on Brigham Young, and on Campus Crusade for Christ. TK: Your book is called The Mormon Jesus. What do Mormons actually believe about Jesus? Has that view [Read More…]


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