The Deist Revolution

I echo pretty much everything my colleague Tommy Kidd wrote in his recent column What is Deism?, but I would add a footnote. Perhaps the most important contribution the Deists made to religious thought was in terms of understanding the Bible, and in sparking the movement that became known as higher criticism. So much “higher” [Read More...]

Hunting Heretics

Epiphanius-Kosovo

The heresiography (or heresiology) is something of a dying genre among Christians today. For centuries, though, heresiography was a staple of Christian literature, as those who contended for their understanding of orthodoxy theology catalogued the theological sins of others. To give a recent example, through at least most of the twentieth century, conservative Protestants in [Read More...]

American Religion in the 1950s

From the Archive.  Originally posted July 31, 2013. In American memory, the 1950s are often portrayed as a mundane, picturesque prelude to the chaotic, transformative decade that would follow.  Popular contemporary television portrayals of the decade such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952-1966), Father Knows Best (1954-1960) and Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963) helped create the stereotype of the 1950s [Read More...]

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...]

Making the Church of the East

Christianity spread in the Persian Empire during the second and third centuries, when it became a major force, especially in western regions. Looking today at some of those early centers is multiply depressing, as they are today in the process of witnessing that ancient tradition being uprooted. From the fifth century through the fourteenth, the [Read More...]

Understanding the Islamic State

Violence related to religion is obviously very much in the news right now. I want to address one aspect of the topic that I think has escaped the attention of virtually all commentators, and that has to do with raw numbers. Recently, Graeme Wood wrote an excellent piece in the Atlantic on the theme of [Read More...]

Importing Christianity

1864_Johnson_Map_of_the_Roman_Empire_-_Geographicus_-_RomanEmpire-johnson-1864

In the third century, Christianity spread into the Persian Empire, where it  became a powerful presence. The means by which this auspicious event occurred are startling and even humbling for anyone who thinks in terms of deliberately planned missionary efforts. At least at first, many, perhaps most, of the Christians who found themselves under Persian [Read More...]

Jesus, Time, and Calendars

A funny thing has happened to time during my adult lifetime. When I began college, it was customary to use the abbreviations “BC” (Before Christ) and “AD” (Anno Domini, or in the year of our Lord) in the rather tricky task of keeping track of years. Thus, the Babylonians destroyed the first Jewish temple in [Read More...]

The Entrepreneurial Evangelicals

The title refers not to Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame or to George Pepperdine, who started Western Auto Supply and used the money to found Pepperdine University. The new entrepreneurial evangelicals are from the Majority World. Esteemed Anxious Bench contributor Philip Jenkins has a great line in The Next Christendom: “If we want to visualize [Read More...]

Persia’s Christian Roots

Map_of_the_Achaemenid_Empire

I have been exploring the history of Christianity within the Persian Empire, a subject very well known to specialists working on that area, but less so to their counterparts who study the story in its “mainstream” (Mediterranean and European) forms. Before writing about this in any more detail, it’s important to understand the geographical setting, [Read More...]


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