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…]

What Are The Most “Important” Topics in American History?

I recently spoke at the annual conference of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, as part of a panel on “What in American history is most important for teachers to pass on to our students?” The audience was largely from private Christian schools, including administrators and history teachers. I found the exercise quite challenging [Read More…]

King Jesus

A classic book can change your life. Oddly, on occasion, a much lesser and truly flawed work can have a similar effect. Over forty years ago, I read Robert Graves’s daring 1946 novel King Jesus, which a later publisher’s blurb characterized as “one of the most controversial historical novels of all time.” Not once was [Read More…]

Apples, Oranges and Nephites

Neil Rappleye is a Book of Mormon apologist. He recently did a piece about me at his blog, under the title The Goose and the Gander, and he is fully entitled to take issue with me on anything and everything. I don’t intend to respond to every criticism or comment he makes, but I am [Read More…]

Scripture and Sedition

The Hasmonean rulers of the independent Jewish kingdom (165 BC – 63 BC) were the subject of many writings, usually in the form of veiled pseudo-prophecies. Taken together, they provide us with a strictly contemporary commentary on a critical period. The ruling Hasmonean dynasty had many enemies, and from various perspectives. Originally aligned with the [Read More…]

Early Christian and Medieval Heavens

Two weeks ago, I began a discussion of Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang’s Heaven: A History, in which they trace two millennia of Christian ideas about the afterlife. To what extent does human community persist in heaven? Does the hereafter, moreover, take place on earth or in heaven? Last time, I discussed M&L’s discussion of [Read More…]

An Honest Anabaptist Named Jacques

For all their humility and reputation for being “the quiet in the land,” Mennonites sure do get a lot of press. This past week during the Mennonite Church’s biennial convention in Kansas City, they made news for passing a document entitled “Forbearance in the Midst of Differences” and passing a resolution against drone warfare. “Weird [Read More…]


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