Clergy Housing Allowances Ruled Unconstitutional

Last week came the news that, in the latest legal success for secularist advocacy groups, a federal judge ruled that clergy’s tax-exempt “housing allowance” is unconstitutional. It is difficult to know exactly what the Founders would have thought of this issue, because a) there was no federal income tax until the early 20th century and [Read More...]

THE SIGN OF JONAH

Joshua-Commanding-the-Sun-to-Stand-Still-Upon-Gibeon-1816-

For many Christians, Biblical literalism is a fraught subject. My own theory is that one can be conservative to different degrees about such matters, but absolute 100% literalism is impossible, because there are at least a few Biblical verses that nobody can accept in pure literal form. The obvious example is Joshua 10.12-13, which assumes [Read More...]

Mormon Handcart Pioneers

C.C.A. Christensen, Handcart Pioneers, 1900

One of the most poignant times in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came in the fall of 1856, when two companies of Mormon handcart pioneers became trapped in winter storms and endured roughly two hundred deaths before their rescue and November arrival in Salt Lake City. The self-sacrificial perseverance [Read More...]

Blue Crabs and Evangelicals – Part 2

Oriole

Aside from getting to feast on some great crab cakes and see a beautifully crafted ballpark, I have had the opportunity to listen to several very good papers while attending the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Baltimore, MD, today. This morning, I was privileged to moderate a panel of three solid presentations [Read More...]

“A New Birth of Freedom”: The Gettysburg Address

November 19, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, his most famous speech and one of the most famous in American history. He delivered the speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, four months after the conclusion of the Civil War’s decisive battle. The renowned orator Edward Everett was the main [Read More...]

BEYOND CONFLICTS

Very shortly, I will be receiving a real honor, but also one that comes with a major challenge attached. On November 29, I am speaking at a major conference in Assisi, in Italy. The conference, Custodire l’umanità, is ambitious in its goals, discussing the crisis of meaning in the contemporary West, together with the economic [Read More...]

THE EVANGELICAL MELTING POT

Journalist Mira Kamdar had a lovely story in a recent New York Times about the “Other” Paris that tourists rarely see, with its rich tapestry of immigrant peoples. One anecdote in particular: I’ve learned a lot during my long commutes on the metro. One thing is not to underestimate the cosmopolitanism of my fellow travelers. [Read More...]

RESTORING PRIMITIVE TRUTH

For many years I taught a course on Sects, Cults and New Religious Movements. Scholars produce many reasons why new religions should attract particular groups, and offer similar messages, eg the promise of healing. Often these reasons are drawn from psychology or sociology. But the groups themselves explain their message and their appeal according to [Read More...]

The Secularization of Christian Holidays

Weinachtsmarkt

The Christmas season starts early in Germany as well. Some stores have had their displays out for weeks, and bakeries are already churning out the Stollen and Plätzchen. I’m trying to imagine what December in Germany would be like if American-style jurisprudence reigned. Christmas markets across Germany (organized by cities) would become “Winter markets” or [Read More...]

The Cold War Origins of World Vision

Bob Pierce and Korean orphans in the 1950s

World Vision, known best for its child sponsorship programs, has become the largest and most significant evangelical relief and development agency. The organization’s Wikipedia page vaguely describes its humanitarian origins. Its official website features a similarly vague history, preferring to tout its culturally appropriate development work. But its story is much more vivid than these [Read More...]


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