The Limits of Evangelical Identity Politics

Jimmy Carter’s born-again credentials drew many evangelicals to the polls in 1976. Evangelicals who had never campaigned for a candidate campaigned for Carter. Jerry Falwell, future founder of the Moral Majority, encouraged evangelicals to vote for the Democratic candidate. Pat Robertson, who claimed credit for Carter’s win in the Pennsylvania primary, hosted the candidate on [Read More…]

Guns at Church

Sunday was a dangerous time. When people left their homes and went to church, it provided an opportunity for trouble makers to commit crimes and to foment rebellion. That was the thinking of the Carolina assembly in August of 1739, when it passed what was called the Security Act. The bill required all white men [Read More…]

J.C. Can Save America

Ted Cruz marshals a rhetoric of Christian America in his campaign for president. Christians should “take back” or “reclaim” America, he says, from secularist liberals who have led the nation from its Christian origins. This vocabulary echoes that of his discredited adviser David Barton. His own father Rafael Cruz preaches a dominionist theology and suggests [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…]

When the Mormon Jesus Was Married

It is a staple of anti-Mormon literature (and evangelical countercult literature more generally) that the Mormon Jesus is not the Christian Jesus. One subject that repeatedly surfaces in such arguments is that nineteenth-century Mormon leaders believed that Jesus married, married more than once, and had children. As the film The God Makers explains, “Mormon apostle Orson Pratt [Read More…]

The Evangelical Onion

If you haven’t run across the Babylon Bee yet, check it out. It’s the evangelical version of the satirical online news source The Onion, and it’s made a big splash. In its first three weeks, the Bee has scored more than one million page views. Even the Washington Post has noticed, last week running a [Read More…]

Was Nebuchadnezzar a Werewolf?

“Nebuchadnezzar’s malady was not unlike a lycanthropy,” wrote Cotton Mather in his Biblia Americana. The Book of Daniel informs that the king of Babylon and conqueror of Jerusalem lived as a beast. He grew claws and feather-like hair. How? God smote him. Was this a disease of the mind? Mather noted passages in the gospels [Read More…]

American Colonial History

In today’s post I am talking with fellow Anxious Bench blogger, Baylor University historian, and prolific author Thomas Kidd about his new book, American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths. His previous books include biographies of George Whitefield and Patrick Henry and a history of the Great Awakening. JT: You write that two major themes organize American [Read More…]

The End of American Evangelicalism

One of the big surprises of 2016 is the extent of evangelical support for Donald Trump. As I mentioned several weeks ago, judging by historical precedents, evangelicals might well have divided their support among a number of candidates who spoke persuasively about their Christian faith, including Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and the now-defunct Ben Carson, [Read More…]

American Protestantism and Madness

Nearly twenty years ago, I visited a psychiatric unit near the city of Cebu in the Philippines. It consisted of two small sex-segregated wings, each holding perhaps two dozen patients. For my young adult eyes, it was a house of horrors. I had seen slums. I had seen young children scavenging at a filthy dump. [Read More…]


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