Reports of Evangelicalism’s Demise Are Overblown

This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Future of Faith in America: Evangelicalism. Read other perspectives here. Devout and secular Americans alike have been heralding the decline of traditional faith since the time of the Puritans, but American religion always confounds reports of its demise. The crumbling of evangelical Christianity, in particular, is a [Read More…]

Warlords and Holy Men

I steal my title from a classic book on early Scottish history by Alfred P. Smyth. My defense in doing so is that the phrase does offer useful light on large stretches of Jewish history, particularly during the Second Temple era. As I have posted on this period of Jewish history in recent months, especially [Read More…]

Debating Ancient Book of Mormon Fantasies

I have been engaged in exchanges with Bill Hamblin at his blog, on the subject of the historicity of the Book of Mormon. My responses to his most recent posts are presently forming a sizable backlog, which I thought I would clear here. Throughout, the “you” refers to Dr. Hamblin. He is of course welcome [Read More…]

Jesus, Ebionites and Jewish-Christians

Reading Robert Graves’s 1946 novel King Jesus is like undertaking an archaeological dig into intellectual history, as each new layer we excavate reveals changing ideas about Jesus and the Early Church. What makes the book so valuable is that it appeared on the eve of a thrilling new wave of discoveries – Nag Hammadi, the [Read More…]

The Disappearance of Heaven

When I was in college, both my InterVarsity chapter and my local Baptist church (for clarification, I was never a baptized Baptist) liked to sing “This World Is Not My Home,” at a rapid clip with tambourine. I cannot imagine this anthem had much broad popularity beyond these local settings at the time, but it’s [Read More…]

Professors and the New Public Sphere

I have been reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. This remarkable book came out in 2008 but had already pegged the significance of social media in uncanny ways. The cost of communicating quickly with large numbers of people has collapsed because of e-mail, blogs, and platforms like Twitter. This has [Read More…]

Of Bill Hamblin, History and the Book of Mormon

I have been engaged in a debate of sorts with Bill Hamblin on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, over at his blog, Enigmatic Mirror. (For the uninitiated, he is a prominent figure in “Ancient Book of Mormon Studies”). He is a trooper about posting my stuff on his site,  which I appreciate. Meanwhile, [Read More…]

Jesus the Essene

I have been posting about Robert Graves’s 1946 novel King Jesus, which presented a wealth of ideas and speculations about early Christianity. I suggested that the book was well worth reading not because any or all of those ideas deserve to be taken as serious history, but for what they suggest about the state of [Read More…]

Under God — since When?

Kevin Kruse’s One Nation Under God: How Corporate American Invented Christian America has received considerable attention since its release earlier this year. Deservedly so. I recently reviewed the book for Christianity Today and agree with some of the cautionary notes our Philip Jenkins sounded several months back. Philip suggests that reviewers’ excessively exuberant praise for [Read More…]

The Problem of Personality-Driven Congregationalism in American Evangelicalism

As the American colonies congealed into a new nation, the founders undertook a “lively experiment.”*  The new nation refused to establish an official state church–or religion for that matter–allowing its citizens much greater freedom to determine their own religious affiliations than had been the case in Europe.  The young nation codified this commitment in the [Read More…]


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