The Puritans as Masters of Reform

My history graduate students and I recently read David Hall’s A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (2011), a remarkably admiring portrait of early New England Puritans and their participatory society. While progressive critics, following Nathaniel Hawthorne, have often caricatured the theocratic rule of the Puritan fathers, Harvard’s Hall – one [Read More...]

THE GREEN MAN AND THE KING OF SALEM

khidrborder

Christians who delve into the Qur’an will be surprised how many old friends they find there, including Jesus and Mary, of course, and a lengthy roster of prophets and patriarchs. Exploring the Qur’an can be an excellent way of understanding the Christian and Jewish worlds of Late Antiquity, roughly the sixth and seventh centuries BC. [Read More...]

THE CAVE OF TREASURES

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Throughout history, both Jews and Christians have been extraordinarily prolific in producing alternative scriptures, which we conventionally divide into Old and New Testament apocrypha (or pseudepigrapha). Some texts, though resist such neat divisions. While apparently expanding on Old Testament events and personalities, they actually present Christian doctrines so strongly that they certainly belong alongside New [Read More...]

Billy Graham’s Legacy

If evangelicals are those who like Billy Graham, I’m in the club. I attended two Graham crusades, one in Rochester, NY, ca. 1990, and the other in Louisville near the end of Graham’s public ministry. At the first, I came forward to (re)dedicate my life to Christ. [Like many of us, I have done that [Read More...]

Rock the Desert: Evangelical Activism in Texas and Sudan

Rock the Desert

In 2001, just one month before 9/11, 32,000 evangelical youth invaded Midland, Texas. Drawn to a Christian music festival called “Rock the Desert,” they clapped and danced to the rock anthems of Newsboys and Skillet. Festival organizers also highlighted a social and diplomatic crisis in Sudan, then a war zone with one of the worst [Read More...]

Five Great Books on George Washington

Last week saw the opening of the long-awaited George Washington National Library at Mount Vernon. Washington himself seems to have had such a project in mind at the end of his life, when he wrote in 1797 that “I have not houses to build, except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security [Read More...]

THE SECRET RESURRECTION OF SALVATOR ROSA

'Pythagoras_Emerging_from_the_Underworld',_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Salvator_Rosa

I think I’ve discovered a long-lost secret society that transmitted its religious message through coded paintings. No, I have not lost my mind, nor have I changed my last name to Brown. The main problem in studying the history of secret societies and underground ideas is that they are all so, well, secret. On the [Read More...]

FORGETTING EZRA

Latimer_Ridley_Foxe_burning

In October, 1555, the regime of Mary Tudor burned two former English bishops for their stubborn Protestant convictions. As they went to the flames, one of the martyrs, Hugh Latimer, addressed his comrade, Nicholas Ridley, in stirring terms that have inspired successive Protestant generations. He urged him, “Be of good cheer, master Ridley, and play [Read More...]

Das Buch Mormon

About a year ago, I asked for advice about how to structure a course on American evangelicalism. Many first-rate suggestions were forth-coming. This fall, I’m teaching a course on Mormonism in Heidelberg, Germany (gluecklicherweise auf Englisch, sonst waere es mir sehr peinlich). For the next year, I am residing at the Heidelberg Centre for American [Read More...]

From Graduate Student Learner to Teaching Professor

Like many professors, I work at an institution where I teach broad survey classes.   At Southwestern Seminary, this means I regularly teach the standard Church History sequence—Church History I and II—in the Master of Divinity program.  The recent addition of a B.S. in Biblical Studies at our Houston campus and in our prison extension required [Read More...]


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