Why the Founding Fathers Spoke the King James Bible

One of the besetting problems of “Christian America” history writing is that it often interprets biblical quotes from the Founders as evidence that they were personally devout. Sometimes personally devout Founders did also speak in the language of the King James Bible, of course. But a broader range of Founding Fathers – including the skeptical [Read More…]

1680: Climates of Revolt

Any account of religion in the pre-Modern world has to take account of economic circumstances, and especially the way in which climate change and weather affected farming and trade. In my last post, I described the horrendous conditions of the decade after 1675,  an especially cold period within the larger framework of the Little Ice [Read More…]

1680: Crops, Catastrophes, and Religious Crises

This is about how we write religious history, and also about a dimension of that history that we need to think through. When we study the history of religions, we usually focus on significant moments of change – great revivals, conflicts, persecutions, awakenings, and reformations. In my next few columns, I am going to suggest [Read More…]

Malcolm X in Cairo

“My heart is in Cairo,” declared Malik El-Shabazz (more commonly known as Malcolm X, formerly Malcolm Little) in July 1964. “And I believe the more progressive relations [and] forces in the Muslim world are in Cairo.” If one teaches American religious history, it does not take long to recognize that undergraduate students love to discuss [Read More…]

Bethel at War: A Digital History

I’m pleased to present a guest post from Fletcher Warren, a recent graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Read this fine essay, but more importantly, check out the impressive digital history project, created by Warren and Chris Gehrz on which it is based. –David *** Bethel at War is a locally-rooted history of [Read More…]

The Perfect Religious President

There are so many discussions swirling around evangelicals’ best choice for president that it makes your head spin. To make sense of it all, I offer five qualities of the perfect religious president. –The perfect religious president should have an active faith that is detached (or as detached as it ever can be) from their [Read More…]

Why Gorgias Matters

This post concerns a wonderful and too-little known resource for Christian history. If you are a specialist in these specific areas, you will be baffled that anyone could make such an obvious point As such specialists are quite rare, I hope that others might find the information of use. In the first millennium (and more) [Read More…]

Evangelicals Will Vote Trump

On Tuesday, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump. A NBC news poll released that same day found that Trump was the preferred choice of a plurality of evangelical voters nationwide. At first glance, Trump should be doing poorly among evangelical voters. He has no obvious track record of churchgoing, piety, or evangelical [Read More…]

A Whale of a Tale: A Pastor’s Guide to Historical Research, Part II

In 1891, the British whaling ship Star of the East was slammed by the tale of a harpooned sperm whale somewhere near the Falkland Islands. Two of the sailors, including a man named James Bartley, fell over board. The whale soon died from the harpoons and the sailors, unable to find their capsized crewmates, began [Read More…]

How Much Do You Need To Read Before Writing?

A reader and friend asked me recently about a key issue in the writing process: I feel like I need to read everything, then write, and even then, I’m unsure of when to have outlined and when to have allowed my new research to impact whatever working outline I may have going. I would love [Read More…]


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