The Beginning of Wisdom

I have been posting on the subject of Gnosticism and its origins. By the early second century AD, Gnosticism was clearly in evidence as part the early Christian movement, but its history before that date is obscure. Undoubtedly it drew from multiple sources and influences, including Greek philosophical ideas and terminology, but we do not [Read More...]

American Evangelicals’ Global Vision Began in Korea

From the Archive. Originally posted March 14, 2013. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27[1] The global vision of American evangelicalism began in an improbable place, 1950s South Korea, as Americans encountered [Read More...]

Secularization and Scotland’s Christian Heritage

One of the most immediate differences from America one notices in the U.K. is how secularized the society is (especially compared to Texas!). Polls in Scotland suggest that even nominal adherence to Christianity, and Christian orthodoxy, is in massive decline. Although opinion data is often difficult to interpret with precision, the overall pattern seems clear. [Read More...]

Those Who Know

jerusalem.e.p100.300

Ever since my undergraduate years, I have been interested in early Christian history and Gnosticism. In the next few posts, I will talk about some of the things I have learned about Gnosticism, why it is so important, and some of the areas I am still trying to explore in my present book project. Here, [Read More...]

Shapur’s Great Persecution

I posted on the topic of early Christian martyrdom, arguing that the phenomenon was as widespread as Christian writers claimed, and that it truly was driven by religious motives. That was especially true in the Persian Empire. One of the great church historians of antiquity was Sozomen, who was born near Gaza, in Palestine, around [Read More...]

The Reality of Persecution

Rome was not the only empire in antiquity, nor the only one with a sizable Christian population. I stress that repeatedly because of the number of times we read about Christian engagement with the secular world, which seems to be defined as the Roman Empire. In fact, the Persian Empire also had plenty of Christians, [Read More...]

Jesus Delayed

Sutton

Christians have no good reason to believe Jesus is coming soon. Okay, in the final chapter of John’s Apocalypse, Jesus himself says, “See, I am coming soon” (I prefer the King James Version’s “Behold, I come quickly”). But let’s face it, “soon” and “quickly” do not usually mean after two millennia. Indeed, a surface reading [Read More...]

Molly Worthen on the Mennonites

In 1947 future Christianity Today editor Carl Henry wrote The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. This rebuke of his heritage’s cultural isolationism helped jumpstart the neo-evangelical movement headlined by Billy Graham, Fuller Theological Seminary, and the National Association of Evangelicals. In 1955 John Howard Yoder, who went on to teach at what became Anabaptist Mennonite [Read More...]

Ben Franklin’s Calvinist Father

Greetings friends! Writing here from beautiful and chilly St Andrews, Scotland, where we are spending the semester. I have just begun to write a new book on Ben Franklin and religion, and am discovering more and more what a thoroughly Calvinist background Franklin had. I have written before about his beloved Calvinist sister Jane. Today [Read More...]

The Good War and the New Age

The 1940s witnessed a boom in esoteric and occult movements, and we so often encounter evidence for such movements that we realize just how familiar a part they must have been in the social landscape. We see this for instance in Wallace Stegner’s 1942 study of Utah, Mormon Country. Near Monticello, in one of the [Read More...]


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