Looking Back to Think Ahead: Baptists and Obergefell v. Hodges

A committed evangelical, today I write out of and to my narrower ecclesiastical tradition (Baptist) as I address the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.  All others are welcome to listen in or ignore me as they see fit.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last Friday (June 26, 2015) should surprise no one who has been paying attention.  In [Read More…]

Yes, Remove the Confederate Flag. But What Then?

I have a pretty strong personal history of wrestling with the memory of the Confederacy. Having lived all over the South, I grew up hearing stories from relatives about the Lost Cause and how the Yankees took everything we had during Reconstruction. There was little mention of the role of slavery in the Confederacy. I [Read More…]

Blows Against the Empire

People in the modern West are properly critical of the whole idea of imperialism, and suspicious of its rhetoric. That approach naturally influences religious thinkers, and there is no shortage of Bible scholars who apply strictly contemporary views to the New Testament world. We acknowledge the critique of Empire in the Gospels and in texts [Read More…]

Parties at War

Reading Josephus’s history of the Jewish people in the century or so before the Common Era offers surprising insights into the era of Jesus and his first followers. It must for instance change our view of the factions that we think we know so well from the New Testament, groups like the Pharisees, Sadducees and [Read More…]

The Biblical Heavens

What do you think of when you think of heaven? Is your first thought God and Jesus, or is it your loved ones (spouse, parents, children, and pets)? Over the past few years, I’ve dipped into Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang’s endlessly fascinating Heaven: A History, and I recently had the chance to read it [Read More…]

The Thee Decade: The 1970s Was More Than Bad Hair

The decade of the Seventies has a rather dismal reputation. In his creatively titled book The Seventies, Bruce Schulman chronicles the horrors: bad hair, vapid dance music, a rootless youth culture, Ford’s mysteriously exploding compact car called the Pinto, hostages in Iran, defeat in Vietnam, double-digit inflation and stagnant economic growth (called stagflation). The American [Read More…]

How Can Southern Baptists Get Their Groove Back?

Last week at The Washington Post, Barry Hankins and I offered three reasons why Southern Baptists are on the decline, and three ways to address it. They include getting serious about evangelism, defeating “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” and making politics secondary. One of the most interesting “pushbacks” I got was against point #2 – aren’t there [Read More…]

Napoleon and Christianity

The 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s well-known defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 has recently been marked in Europe and elsewhere. In addition to commentary on the battle itself, much attention has focused on Napoleon’s politics, diplomacy, and military skills. It is for his actions in these areas that most of us know the [Read More…]

Paul the Covert

I have to share this. One of the classic works on Judaism and early Christianity is Alan Segal’s Rebecca’s Children (1986). Through the centuries, debate has raged over exactly what St. Paul was doing when he took the Jesus Movement on its new directions. I am struck, therefore, to find that the Harvard University Press [Read More…]

The Age of Tyrants

Josephus recorded the history of the Jewish people in the last two centuries before the Christian Era. Reading that story today must many of our assumptions about the world we know from the New Testament. I think I am accurately reflecting common ideas when I imagine that history something like this. In the 160s, the [Read More…]


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