Yes, Remove the Confederate Flag. But What Then?

I have a pretty strong personal history of wrestling with the memory of the Confederacy. Having lived all over the South, I grew up hearing stories from relatives about the Lost Cause and how the Yankees took everything we had during Reconstruction. There was little mention of the role of slavery in the Confederacy. I [Read More…]

#CharlestonSyllabus

Bloggers and professors at the African American Intellectual History Society have put together a timely project titled #CharlestonSyllabus that offers a comprehensive reading list of African American history and literature, with special attention to South Carolina and Charleston. Here’s the section of the list on race and religion: Gayraud S. Wilmore, Black Religion and Black [Read More…]

How Can Southern Baptists Get Their Groove Back?

Last week at The Washington Post, Barry Hankins and I offered three reasons why Southern Baptists are on the decline, and three ways to address it. They include getting serious about evangelism, defeating “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” and making politics secondary. One of the most interesting “pushbacks” I got was against point #2 – aren’t there [Read More…]

Benjamin Franklin, Skepticism, and The Enlightenment

As I have written previously at the Anxious Bench, I am skeptical about “The Enlightenment.” This ideologically-freighted term implies the inexorable progress of scientific humanist thought. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the theory goes, such enlightened thinking triumphed over “dark” religious views. Among the Enlightenment’s many problems today is that classic secularization theory lies in [Read More…]

Caitlyn Jenner, The Duggars, and The Culture of Gawking

The news cycles and Twitter trends of recent weeks have reminded us of just how degraded and inane American pop culture can be. Without commenting on the details of sex changes and molestation, I would recommend that Christians take this opportunity to reflect on the perennial question of the church’s relationship to culture. I understand [Read More…]

Mark Noll on Darwinism

Eminent Notre Dame historian Mark Noll has written a pithy and provocative piece for the National Association of Evangelicals on American Christians and science. Here’s an excerpt on the reception of Darwinism: The Newtonian picture of a static, law-ordered world was breaking down before Charles Darwin published “The Origin of Species” in 1859. Napoleonic warfare, [Read More…]

The Blind Spots of an American Evangelical

Collin Hansen’s new book Blind Spots has initiated a helpful conversation about what American evangelicals conventionally miss when their faith is defined by insular, America-intensive subcultures. I found especially instructive his interview with Gloria Furman about what she learned about blind spots as she has lived and ministered in Dubai. We’re inevitably shaped by the culture in [Read More…]

Baptists in America: A History

Next Monday marks the formal release date for my new book (with Barry Hankins) Baptists in America: A History. Why should you consider buying a copy, or using it in a college course, or in your adult Sunday School class? Here are four reasons: 1) Baptists in America offers a fresh approach to the history of Baptists [Read More…]

Why Weren’t Baptists More Enthusiastic Patriots?

Today’s post comes from chapter 3 of my new book Baptists in America: A History (Oxford University Press), co-authored with my friend and Baylor colleague Barry Hankins. Baptist pastor James Manning of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote to English Baptist leader John Ryland in November 1776, apprising him of trouble in the American colonies. Two winters before, Providence’s [Read More…]

Do You Love Theology More Than Jesus?

In a recent blog post lamenting Southern Baptists’ decision to disinvite Ben Carson from speaking at the SBC Pastors’ Conference, Pastor Perry Noble said that the disinviters “love theology more than Jesus.” Although Noble conceded that theology played an important role in the Christian faith, he could see no legitimate reason why Ben Carson’s theology should [Read More…]


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