The Slain God

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I have been enjoying the latest book by Timothy Larsen, The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith (Oxford University Press, 2014). At first sight, such a study of the rise of an academic discipline might seem like an odd topic for a scholar who has established such a splendid reputation writing on specifically religious [Read More...]

In Search of the Fall

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The two centuries or so before Jesus’s time were a wildly productive era in terms of Jewish thought. It is in this time for instance that we find the full development of such ideas as Satan and angels, the afterlife and the apocalypse. I have been pursuing one concept in particular that would have enormous [Read More...]

Evangelical Anti-abolitionists

Robert J. Breckinridge, ca. 1845

Even in slaveholding states, many white Americans were uneasy about the morality of black slavery in the decades that preceded the Civil War. However, there were two things such Americans disliked far more than slavery: black people and abolitionists. According to Luke Harlow’s recently published Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, those double [Read More...]

The Unintended Consequences of Evangelical Cooperation

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Last year, Crossway announced the publication of David Wells’ God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World, promoting this new book as “a remedy for evangelicalism’s superficial theology.”  Merits of the book aside–and I am sure there are many–claiming a remedy for evangelicalism’s superficial theology demonstrates both unflagging optimism, and, more importantly, a [Read More...]

Is Islam Inherently Violent?

The horrific attack on the staff of Paris’s Charlie Hedbo has renewed questions about Muslims and the besetting problem of Islamic jihadism and violence. Is Islam inherently violent, and is Islam itself to blame for such crimes? As delicious as anger and venom can be at times like this (and we certainly hope for justice to [Read More...]

Determined

Rubens-Höllensturz

In his parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus spoke of the Devil sowing evil in the world, so that good and evil grew up together until the Judgment. Such texts seem to provide solid support for doctrines of predestination, which are difficult to find in the Old Testament except through intense proof-texting. As [Read More...]

The Bounty of Keston

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For anyone interested in Christian history, Baylor University’s archives have rich holdings on all sorts of important topics. In this post, though, I want to focus on one astonishingly rich archive that clamors to be better known. This is the Keston Collection, a stunning collection of sources on European history, on religious persecution and religious [Read More...]

Creating Satan

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In the last centuries before the Christian Era, the Devil enjoyed an impressive rise both in his professional status and his assigned areas of responsibility. From being a minor official at the Heavenly Court, he rose to become a fully-fledged adversary of God, almost an anti-God, and like the deity he acquired his own institutional [Read More...]

Why Mormons Love Margaret Barker

James Tissot, Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod, ca. 1886-1894

Several years ago, a Latter-day Saint friend encouraged me to read British Methodist theologian Margaret Barker’s books. Now I understand why. A cautionary note. Barker has a large corpus of books to her credit, including The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God and The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy. [Read More...]

Religious History at the AHA

I wasn’t able to attend the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New York City this year. But blogs and twitter have allowed me to track some of the conversation in the area of religious history, my area of research specialty. There were dozens and dozens of panels, but here are several that [Read More...]


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