The End of Religious Freedom?

Smith Freedom

What is religious freedom? Is it the freedom to worship or otherwise interact with God, gods, or other things and entities as one sees fit? Is it freedom of conscience in terms of the supernatural? If religious freedom also involves the right to live out one’s religion in the public sphere, how far does that [Read More...]

American Pseudobibles (and the Book of Mormon)

American-Zion

Americans during the Revolutionary era and the Early Republic lived in a world suffused with the Hebrew scriptures. That reality, already charted by many historians (including Mark Noll, who once termed the Old Testament (“the common coinage of the realm”), is only the backdrop to Eran Shalev’s remarkable American Zion: The Old Testament as a [Read More...]

The Anabaptist Judith

One of Lucas Cranach's several renderings of Judith.

Things were not going well in Münster (in present-day northwestern Germany) as of June 1534. The previous year, local Anabaptists, their ranks swollen by arrivals from the Netherlands and elsewhere, seized full control of the city. In February, a prophet named Jan Matthias had taken charge, whereupon Catholics and most Lutherans were stripped of their [Read More...]

What’s in a Name?

Coffman

At first glance, books about religious magazines should not be especially interesting, yet I find  them rather irresistible. As a graduate student, I remember being very impressed by Mark Hulsether’s fine study of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christianity & Crisis. Now, I’ve just finished reading Elesha Coffman’s outstanding history of The Christian Century and the Rise of [Read More...]

American Presbyterians and Israel

Even some seventy years after the Second World War, when one is in Germany one receives reminders of the Holocaust. Here in Heidelberg, vacant space and an understated memorial mark the 1938 destruction of the Jewish synagogue. That permanent emptiness reminds one of the enduring cost of evil. Most Heidelberg Jews died in Auschwitz. A [Read More...]

Evangelicals and Dr. King

Gilbreath Photo

Edward Gilbreath’s Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church (InterVarsity, 2013) offers both a stirring challenge and a strong dose of hope to American evangelicals. Gilbreath, an editor at large with Christianity Today and executive director of communications for the Evangelical Covenant Church, focuses his gaze at King’s 1963 “Letter from [Read More...]

Apostles of Unreason

Worthen 9780199896462

Molly Worthen’s Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism is a sobering encounter with an old friend. At first glance, one’s friend seems to have left some of his old ways behind. He’s more sophisticated, and more well-heeled than in his younger years. He thinks he’s changed a great deal. But when [Read More...]

Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity

I recently had the pleasure of reading Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (Oxford, 2013). My review is up on the Books & Culture website — I characterize Mormon Christianity as “brilliant, provocative, and occasionally maddening.” The maddening, from my vantage point, is what I consider a rather [Read More...]

Evangelicals and the Death Penalty

Santoro

Anthony Santoro’s Exile and Embrace: Contemporary Religious Discourse on the Death Penalty features one of the more arresting book covers I’ve seen in recent years. A pierced and bloody Jesus sits in an electric chair, wearing a crown of thorns and a waistcloth. The photo is of a wax sculpture by Paul Fryer, who offers [Read More...]

The Power of Biography

From the Anxious Bench archives: Especially because my colleague Thomas Kidd and I both like the genre of biography, we’ve touched on that topic periodically on this blog. A while back, he blogged about five compelling religious biographies. I was thinking about that subject again while reading my erstwhile University of South Alabama colleague and [Read More...]


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