A Tale of Two Pastors: Mark Driscoll and A (Medieval) New Year’s Proposal for the 2017 Church

This is a story of two pastors. The first was a vicar in the deanery of Salisbury, England, in 1412. His name was Alexander Champion. He was accused of abusing his ecclesiastical authority by sexually exploiting the women in his care. His parishioners claimed he had slept with five of their wives, that he fathered [Read More…]

Changes Coming in 2017 at The Anxious Bench

As is often the case with group blogs, change is a constant at The Anxious Bench. Just six months ago John announced that I was taking Tommy Kidd’s place, after which I got to tell you that Kristin and Tim would be sharing Thursdays with John. Now it’s my turn to pass along news of two more changes that you’ll [Read More…]

Christmas and Epiphany, Birth and Baptism

You may have noticed an interesting theological debate currently under way among evangelicals. Critiquing the New Testament evidence for the Virgin Birth, Atlanta megachurch pastor Andy Stanley ventured the opinion that “Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus. It really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.” This [Read More…]

The Magi and the Cave of Treasures

As any Bible reader knows, the infant Jesus was visited by Magi, who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and a cold coming they had of it. But where did they actually get these gifts from? However arcane and speculative such a question may seem, the resulting curiosity generated a vast body of Christian literature. Although [Read More…]

Christ Our Morning Star

Adapted from the Anxious Bench archives: My local Presbyterian church has a “Longest Night” service shortly before Christmas, recognizing that even as we celebrate the light that shines in the darkness, many of us experience considerable darkness in our lives. Perhaps we sense such darkness as we contemplate yet another year marred by terrorism and war, but [Read More…]

A Very Not-So-Merry Christmas: How Protestantism Nearly Killed St. Nick

Relics and indulgences weren’t the only casualties of the Reformation. So was Christmas. Christmas was an important feast and saint day in the centuries leading up to the Reformation. Its saint, Nicholas, the bishop of Myra in the early fourth century, loomed large in the Middle Age imagination. In fact, according to Gerry Bowler, Nicholas [Read More…]

Adventures in Parenting as a Historian: The American Girl Books

On seeing history through the eyes of a seven year old, as she reads American Girl books for the first time. [Read more…]

The Most Influential Theologian You’ve Never Heard of

Who is Josef Kleutgen (1811-1883)?  The name is not a household name, except in my household!  I’ve recently completed a book manuscript—The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age—and Kleutgen figures quite prominently in it.  He was arguably the ablest student of Thomas Aquinas in the [Read More…]

Because Xmas really is Xpian…

This is from my Anxious Bench archives. I originally posted it December 2, 2015. But it seems still relevant and useful, so enjoy it for Xmas 2016 too. I literally stumbled across St. Bride’s church in London this summer. Walking down Fleet Street toward St. Paul’s Cathedral, I was considering eating at Ye Olde Chesire [Read More…]

That REALLY Old Time Religion

Over the past few months, I have posted quite a few items on the subject of possible pagan survivals into medieval and even modern societies, as indeed has my Baylor colleague Beth Barr. I stand by everything I have written in those pieces – but I really have some questions that remain open. They are [Read More…]