WHERE HAVE ALL THE CULTISTS GONE?

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One of the most enjoyable academic conferences on religious studies is CESNUR, the Center for the Study of New Religions, and this past month we hosted the group’s annual meeting at Baylor. I spoke on a topic that I have addressed before, namely the sharp decline in public concern (or panic) about dangerous religious cults [Read More...]

Fully Divine, Fully Human Word of God

Erosion

When Christianity Today editor Harold Lindsell identified a Battle for the Bible in 1976, he spoke to a conflict that had been roiling American Protestants for more than two centuries and that had been splitting conservative Protestants for many decades. In The Erosion of Biblical Certainty (not exactly bargain priced, so the Anxious Bench pursues [Read More...]

Black religion and Vietnam

Beyond Vietnam

On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached at Riverside Church in New York City. In his sermon (listen to it here) he publicly broke ranks with the policies of President Lyndon Johnson and the white liberal establishment (which still largely supported the war) as he condemned American involvement in Vietnam. King articulated what [Read More...]

Runaway Slave Ads and the Violence of Slavery

In research for my colonial America book, I recently came across a runaway slave ad cited in Ira Berlin’s masterful Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. The ad appeared in the Maryland Gazette in 1766, one of countless such ads seeking the return of runaways from southern farms and plantations in the [Read More...]

MASONS AND MUSLIMS

zColonial Possessions in 1900

I have recently been posting on the astonishingly widespread influence of Freemasonry both in Anglo-American culture, and in Continental Europe. But that global influence went even further, into some regions and contexts that today seem almost incredible. To illustrate this, I turn to the origins of modern Islamic thought. At the end of the nineteenth [Read More...]

Have Visions Ceased?

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In his published account of his first visionary experience, Joseph Smith reported that a Methodist preacher reacted to his report of his vision with utter contempt: “he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in [Read More...]

Five American Religious History Books Every Evangelical Minister Should Read

Summer Reading

Traditionally, summer is the time for reading lists.  In honor of that tradition, I present the following post. Among Anxious Bench authors, I am a bit of an anomaly.  My colleagues on the blog–Agnes Howard, Tal Howard, Thomas Kidd, Philip Jenkins, David Swartz, and John Turner–all hold positions in history departments.  I teach in a [Read More...]

Phillis Wheatley and the Evangelical Anti-Slavery Movement

When the evangelical poet Phillis Wheatley published an pamphlet-length elegy on George Whitefield upon the great itinerant’s death in 1770, she gained renown as the first published African American woman in history. She was still a slave in Boston at the time, and (perhaps predictably, if she was going to be published) there were only [Read More...]

FREEMASONS AND THE NEW AGE

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I posted recently on the importance of Freemasons in Anglo-American history – political, cultural and religious. Masonry had a substantial influence on mainstream churches, especially in what we call mainline denominations. But its impact was all the more obvious among more marginal groups, and in new religious movements. When we look at America’s esoteric and [Read More...]

MACHEN’S TERROR

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I recently published the book The Great and Holy War, about the supernatural dimensions of the First World War. In connection with that project, I have posted on some of the major books of that era, including works by George Moore and H. G. Wells. I am arguing that the war’s astonishing violence inspired both [Read More...]


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