What Is Deism?

The claim that any of the Founding Fathers were deists generates pushback among certain conservatives. This helps to account for the firestorm of controversy (which I covered for WORLD Magazine) over David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies and the book’s subsequent abandonment by Thomas Nelson Publishers. Barton argued that until late in life, Jefferson was an orthodox, Trinitarian [Read More...]

Handling Rejection in Academic Writing

Today’s guest post is by Dr. Beth Allison Barr, Department of History, Baylor University. You can follow Dr. Barr on Twitter at @bethallisonbarr Recently I wrote an odd sort of thank-you note. It was to a journal editor who had rejected one of my articles. The careful critique he had provided helped me reconceptualize my argument [Read More...]

“The Enlightenment” and Its Relevance Today

I am skeptical about “The Enlightenment.” It is an ideologically loaded term that implies that much of the western intellectual tradition before The Enlightenment was “dark.” Much of that tradition was, of course, Christian. “The Enlightenment” presupposes an arc of history toward secular democratic scientific liberalism. There is something to this presupposition, of course. Even [Read More...]

“Woven into the fabric of our country”? Islam in Early America

President Obama created controversy in a recent speech when he asserted that “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.” He followed this statement with rather generic statements about Muslim immigrants coming to America and finding economic opportunity and freedom. The point of the president’s comments is, of course, that [Read More...]

What Motivates Jihadists?

Over at The Atlantic, Graeme Wood has a fascinating but disturbing piece on the theological foundations of ISIS. It is worth reading the whole article, but this is the critical passage: The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the [Read More...]

Which Is Better: Small Church or Big Church?

A reader of last week’s post took exception to my comparison of large churches in Texas and small churches in Scotland, saying in effect “I’ll take a small church full of committed saints over your nominal Texas megachurches any day.” A bit of a broad brush, no doubt, but this does raise an important question. [Read More...]

Gordon Wood on Bernard Bailyn

When the great American historian Gordon Wood has a long-form essay on the equally-great Bernard Bailyn (at The Weekly Standard), one takes notice. Reviewing Bailyn’s latest book, Wood says “Although Bernard Bailyn is one of the most distinguished historians in the Western world, he is not as well known as he should be. He rarely appears [Read More...]

Secularization and Scotland’s Christian Heritage

One of the most immediate differences from America one notices in the U.K. is how secularized the society is (especially compared to Texas!). Polls in Scotland suggest that even nominal adherence to Christianity, and Christian orthodoxy, is in massive decline. Although opinion data is often difficult to interpret with precision, the overall pattern seems clear. [Read More...]

Ben Franklin’s Calvinist Father

Greetings friends! Writing here from beautiful and chilly St Andrews, Scotland, where we are spending the semester. I have just begun to write a new book on Ben Franklin and religion, and am discovering more and more what a thoroughly Calvinist background Franklin had. I have written before about his beloved Calvinist sister Jane. Today [Read More...]

Baptist Student Union and the Vietnam War

Today’s guest post is by Nathan A. Finn, who serves as associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also directs the Center for Spiritual Formation and Evangelical Spirituality. You can follow him on Twitter​. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Vietnam War divided Americans, including American Protestants. By this time, [Read More...]