The Urban Pulpit

Bowman cover

Two years ago, I posted an interview with Matthew Bowman, a preview of a book that has now appeared as The Urban Pulpit:New York City and the Fate of Liberal Evangelicalism. A few quick thoughts: – Paul Putz posted an excellent summary/review at Religion in American History: Bowman argues that the fracturing of evangelicalism in [Read More...]

The Brightness of the Sun

The Conversion of St. Paul, Jean Fouquet, in the Hours of  Étienne Chevalier, ca. 1450s

Sometime around the year 1820, the young Joseph Smith was troubled. According to the earliest account, written in 1832, Smith was anxious over the state of his sinful soul. He “felt to mourn,” for his own sinfulness and that of the world. He was convinced of God’s existence, simply by looking at the wonders of [Read More...]

Visions in the Hebrew Scriptures

Ezekiel's_vision

Beginning today, I’m starting a weekly series on visions. My immediate interest in the question stems from my recent foray into the history of Mormonism, a movement that now traces itself to Joseph Smith’s theophany of God the Father and Jesus Christ. (See this recent statement on the subject published last year by the Church [Read More...]

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...]


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