Five American Religious History Books Every Evangelical Minister Should Read

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...]



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...]



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...]

Evangelicals Not Welcome

It’s been a long time since most public and private universities and colleges in the United States desired the active presence of evangelical Christians in their midst. After the YMCA/YWCA and the Student Volunteer Movement backed away from their evangelical roots, groups such as Inter-Varsity, the Navigators, and Campus Crusade for Christ filled the vacuum. [Read More...]

Slow Church: A Report from the Trenches

Young boys using mobile phone.

As an admirer of the Englewood Review of Books, I have been anticipating the release of Slow Church. Now that it’s in my hands, I’m happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. I am thoroughly convinced by the book’s critique and vision. I’ll leave the close outlining of the book’s contents—on ethics, ecology, and economy—to [Read More...]

Anti-Catholicism: The Defining Religious Principle of Early America?

I have been reading Owen Stanwood’s excellent book The Empire Reformed: English America in the Age of the Glorious Revolution, which has taken me back to my own doctoral research and first book (now a cult classic!) The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism. Stanwood shows just how much weight “anti-popery” carried in early English America, and [Read More...]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 2

SBC ExComm Building

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  This is the second part.  The first part ran Wednesday, June 4th.  Relevant updates and emendations [Read More...]



Following on from my book The Great and Holy War, I have been working on the religious and apocalyptic aspects of the First World War, and have recently posted on some major popular culture items from that time. I find myself concentrating on 1916, the year of Mr Britling Sees It Through and The Brook [Read More...]

The Papers of a Prophet

The Joseph Smith Papers Project website ( is one of the very best electronic resources pertaining to the history of religion in the United States. It is a companion to the printed volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers, which have set an outrageously high standard for documentary editions because of their clarity of transcription, extensive [Read More...]