The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

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I’m doing a little math, and the consequences are troubling. My own Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) just released its annual statistics, showing a rate of decline that would be truly amazing if it were at all unexpected. Between 2012 and 2013, the denomination’s membership fell by 1.4 percent, to 1.87 million, while Average Sunday Attendance [Read More...]

Naming Angels

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“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee.” Angels are a lively presence in the New Testament. Jesus himself referred to them on many occasions, and the evangelist Luke reports that Jesus’s birth was foretold by an angel with a specific name, Gabriel. Named angels [Read More...]

The Lost Book of Mormon

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There are not very many contemporary accounts of Mormonism in which the author is expelled from the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Avi Steinberg was not passing out illicit evangelical tracts to audience members, nor was he smoking pot behind the LDS Visitors Center. Instead, he was rehearsing for the show under an assumed name. “Like a [Read More...]

Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice (Part II)

This is Part II of an interview with Brantley Gasaway, author of a just-released book entitled Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice. If you order it now, you should get a copy in the next couple of weeks. *** Swartz: You orient the mission of progressive evangelicals around the concept of a “public [Read More...]

Does the Bible Prohibit Revolution?

My graduate students and I recently read James Byrd’s terrific Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution. This book is a treasure trove of information about how the Patriots and Loyalists actually used the Bible during the Revolution. The most surprising fact I learned from the book is that Romans 13 – in [Read More...]

Of Scriptures and Superheroes

AdamSeth

I have a long-standing interest in apocryphal and non-canonical Christian writings. Many of these texts present themselves in the words of Old Testament figures like Adam or Moses (the pseudepigrapha), and Old and New Testament characters and stories merged together freely over the centuries. Eve, for instance, is in one story an early visitor to [Read More...]

Restoring the Kingdom

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When the Risen Jesus appears to the apostles, they have a vital question for him: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Given the thrust of the gospels as we have them, that seems a bizarre emphasis: could his followers really have got Jesus’s message so totally wrong? But [Read More...]

The Elders of Israel

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds semiannual general conferences, with twenty thousand of the faithful gathering in the church’s conference center across the street from Temple Square and others watching in local meeting houses, stake centers, and over the internet. General Conference always receives some coverage in the media. This year, the [Read More...]

Good Advice for those who are ABD

Jean & Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University By Jbaker08 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take.” -Alanis Morissette, “Ironic,” Jagged Little Pill (1995). Anxious Bench blogmeister, Thomas Kidd recently posted a great piece on “How to Survive Graduate School.”  He dealt with big picture items such as tailoring reading strategies, taking care of your health, and attending to your spiritual life.  In [Read More...]

Those Suspicious Medical Missionaries

“It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?” So muses Brian Palmer at Slate about the work of medical missionaries like Dr. Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola in Liberia. I’m almost embarrassed to write about this piece, because it is such an easy target. [Read More...]


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