1680: The Limits of Christendom

I recently described the tumultuous years 1675-1685, and how they shaped the future of Europe and North America. Here, I want to explore the implications for the politics of religion in this era, and for some of the stereotypes we might have. Everyone knows that religion played a vital role in the Early Modern era: [Read More…]

The Geneva Bible’s One Covenant of Grace

From 1560 until well into the seventeenth century, the Geneva Bible was the most widely read translation of the Christian scriptures into English. Itself building upon but surpassing the prior efforts of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, the Geneva Bible exerted a strong influence on the language of the King James text and through it [Read More…]

Counting the Cost of a History PhD

I still remember the day I got the letter. Five full years of support, including an additional first year award, for my top choice in history graduate school–The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I ran so fast to my undergraduate professor’s office to tell him the good news, that I tripped and spilled [Read More…]

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…]


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