The Reformation, in Verse

In 2017, we are going to be hearing a great deal about the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Rather lost in this coverage, though, might be the exceeding slow pace with which Reformation ideas actually permeated many parts of Europe, even those within notionally Protestant states. To illustrate this, I will here tell the story [Read More…]

The Nightmare Before Halloween

I love Halloween, and I love horror fiction. One of the most powerful and evocative contributions to both areas is a lengthy poem that is now regarded as one of the greatest exemplars of modern poetry in the British Isles. As we approach Halloween, it amply repays your attention. The poem is the Ballad of [Read More…]

Alienated and Ambivalent Evangelical Scholars

Along with several of my co-bloggers, last week I was at the Conference on Faith and History. It’s one of a select number of academic conferences that brims with passion. Attendees go the panels, listen to presentations, and talk about them. All great fun. Jay Green, the CFH’s incoming president, spoke on Friday night on [Read More…]

Homeless: The Evangelical Left in 2016

2016 would appear to be the perfect moment to launch a revitalized evangelical left. Donald Trump, the most secular candidate in American history, has a special talent for violating standards of Christian virtue on issues ranging from sexual fidelity to welcoming the immigrant stranger. Many observers predict the fragmentation of an old religious right. Most [Read More…]

Reformed and Always Reforming… Even 499 Years Later

Next week we’ll mark the 499th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses, taking us right up to the verge of a quincentenary that has already inspired a great deal of reflection on the historical and contemporary significance of the Protestant Reformation.  Embed from Getty Images Tal’s the expert here, but not all Protestants make meaning of the Reformation in the same way. [Read More…]

Of Wells, Springs, and Samaritans

This continues some posts I have been doing concerning John’s Gospel. The Bible contains several stories of holy men and patriarchs encountering women at wells. The wonderful example in the New Testament tells how Jesus met the Samaritan woman at “Jacob’s well,” where they engaged in some sharp dialogue and some dazzling theological discussions. Undoubtedly, [Read More…]

Highlights from the 2016 Meeting of the Conference on Faith and History

Race, gender, identity… and Donald Trump. Revisiting the 2016 meeting of the Conference on Faith and History – the first to be displaced by a presidential campaign rally! [Read more…]

Lazarus and James

I have been posting on the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, as told in Luke’s chapter 16, and puzzling out its possible relationship to the miracle of Lazarus in the Gospel of John. Here, I will pursue that question by citing another curious source, namely the Epistle of James. James was for centuries [Read More…]

Latter-day Saints and the Anointing of Jesus

My co-blogger Philip Jenkins is in the midst of a fascinating series of posts (most recently, here) related to the four gospel accounts of a woman anointing Jesus. In Luke’s gospel and also in John’s, a woman (Mary of Bethany, in John’s gospel) anoints Jesus’s feet and then wipes them with her hair. While writing [Read More…]

Halloween: More Christian than Pagan

This is from my archives at the Anxious Bench, originally published Oct 31, 2015. Although I have previewed it this year with my recent 2016 posts  Burning Witches in Medieval Europe? and The Modern Roots of Pagan Halloween , this post stands as I originally wrote it. We, of course, will carve pumpkins again very soon (next [Read More…]