The Stunning Statistics of the Slave Trade

One of the most surprising revelations to me during my research for my new book American Colonial History was just how much Africans dominated transatlantic immigration from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Sure, I knew that millions of Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas during that period. But the actual numbers, especially in [Read More…]

Healing Prayer

We hear a lot these days about the growth of the “Nones,” people who refuse to declare an affiliation with any particular religious tradition. Never, though, confuse that caution about affiliation with a rejection of a religious or spiritual world-view. That point is underlined by a recent study by Jeff Levin on “Prevalence and Religious [Read More…]

The Christ-Myth and the Napoleon-Myth

I recently blogged about The Myth of the Mythical Jesus. Among other things, I argued against those who saw Jesus as a repurposed myth – that is, he was borrowed from some earlier Middle Eastern archetype, perhaps a “dying and rising god” figure. And oh my, do these ideas go back a long way. As early [Read More…]

Guns at Church

Sunday was a dangerous time. When people left their homes and went to church, it provided an opportunity for trouble makers to commit crimes and to foment rebellion. That was the thinking of the Carolina assembly in August of 1739, when it passed what was called the Security Act. The bill required all white men [Read More…]

J.C. Can Save America

Ted Cruz marshals a rhetoric of Christian America in his campaign for president. Christians should “take back” or “reclaim” America, he says, from secularist liberals who have led the nation from its Christian origins. This vocabulary echoes that of his discredited adviser David Barton. His own father Rafael Cruz preaches a dominionist theology and suggests [Read More…]

Was Jonathan Edwards Wrong About Interpreting God’s Providence?

This post is gratefully re-shared from Reformation 21, where it originally ran. Like many eighteenth-century Reformed pastors, Jonathan Edwards was confident in his ability to discern God’s purposes in earthly events. For example, during a 1736 drought, he explained that God was chastising New Englanders for the “corruption in our hearts.” Similarly, during a plague [Read More…]

Slings, Arrows and Shakespeare

As you will assuredly have noticed by now, this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616 (April 23, in fact, which was also his birthday). I have nothing to add to all the high scholarship provoked by the commemoration, but it does give me an opportunity to share my enthusiasm for one [Read More…]

What’s in a Name?

While he tends his father-in-law’s sheep, as recorded in the Book of Exodus, Moses sees “the angel of the LORD … in a flame of fire out of a bush,” which burns but is not consumed. When Moses looks at the Bush, God calls to him, orders him to remove his shoes, announces himself as [Read More…]

The Value of Failure in Graduate School

My husband suggested once that I have lunch with a friend. She was a graduate student, and struggling in the program. “Did you tell her I almost quit?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” my husband said. “That is why I thought you should talk with her.” Graduate school is one of the hardest things I have ever [Read More…]

The GOP Race: Is Ted Cruz Our Best Option?

When we were in St. Andrews, Scotland for the Spring 2015 semester, I remember our Baptist church there praying for parliamentary elections. The implicit message of the prayers was, “Lord, we have no obvious options here. Please help us to know how to vote.” I have been having the same feeling about the GOP race [Read More…]