Churches “Pandering” to Millennials?

Over at the Juicy Ecumenism blog, my friend Mark Tooley gives some historical perspective on why changing theology to suit the perceived preferences of the younger generation is always a bad idea. While the church should never “pander” to anyone, the church does have a responsibility to “cater” to those who might be making decisions [Read More...]

The Quaker Contribution to Religious Liberty

As I noted in a recent post for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Founding Fathers were quite familiar with the concept of religious exemptions from laws. In the eighteenth century, among the groups most often calling for such exemptions were the Quakers. The Quakers were pacifists who would [Read More...]

The Art of the Book Review

Writers who publish books will soon find their books subjected to reviews. Although good book reviews are enormously helpful for keeping up with what’s happening in one’s field, for individual authors they can be frustrating, perplexing, and even paralyzing. Negative reviews can send writers into chasms of bitterness and personal resentment against the reviewer, or [Read More...]

Yes, Religious Liberty is Threatened in America

Oral arguments begin today at the Supreme Court in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, a case precipitated by the HHS Mandate, under which corporations must provide abortifacient and contraceptive coverage to employees. This requirement, the most controversial in a host of controversial provisions under Obamacare, has elicited a host of lawsuits from a variety of religious organizations, [Read More...]

George Marsden and the Gift of Clear Writing

Over at The Gospel Coalition, I recently reviewed The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief, by my doctoral advisor George Marsden. One of the things that I admire the most about Marsden as a history writer, which I see again in Twilight, is his clarity. (Wilfred McClay agrees, calling Twilight “sprightly [Read More...]

“Ask Jesus into Your Heart”: A History of the Sinner’s Prayer

[This week's post comes from my Patheos archives.] Many an evangelical pastor has concluded a sermon by asking non-Christians to “ask [or receive, or invite] Jesus into their heart,” or to pray a version of what some call the “sinner’s prayer.” But some evangelicals, including Baptist pastor David Platt of Birmingham, Alabama, have in recent years [Read More...]

Tocqueville’s Uncanny Vision

Last week I had the privilege of leading my History of American Thought class at Baylor through Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. This is one of the most intriguing, and in some cases most chilling, analyses of the American republic ever written. Composed by the visiting French aristocrat in the 1830s, Democracy in America [Read More...]

What to Publish, and When?

In response to one of my recent newsletters, a friend and former student asked, from the perspective of a Ph.D. student, “With seminar papers, conference papers, book reviews, and journal articles, there is a lot to think about. How to prioritize these? How to find time to work on long-term projects when the daily tasks [Read More...]

Recovering Lemuel Haynes: Patriot Hero, African American Pastor

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the implications of “all men are created equal” for America’s slaves was uncertain, at least to the delegates to the Continental Congress, many of whom (like Jefferson) owned slaves themselves. There was no doubt about the Declaration’s meaning to many free and enslaved African Americans, however. Lemuel [Read More...]

How to Stop Fiddling Around and Start Writing

A friend recently asked me about my writing practices – in particular, how do I keep track of notes as I am preparing to write? This allows me to make a recommendation that I hope you won’t find too peculiar: When writing, don’t take notes. Don’t make outlines. Just write. Let me clarify. What I [Read More...]