The Biographers and Jonathan Edwards

Today’s post is an excerpt from my essay on George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards, and the Art of Religious Biography, from the recently-released book American Evangelicalism: George Marsden and the State of American Religious History (Univ. of Notre Dame Press), which I co-edited with Darren Dochuk and Kurt Peterson. Biographers have put Jonathan Edwards’s thought and life [Read More...]

Ben Franklin’s Calvinist Sister

In my Baylor graduate seminar on the American Revolution, we recently read Jill Lepore’s marvelous Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. She details Ben and Jane Franklin’s lengthy correspondence, pondering the ways in which the circumstances of history allowed the bright boy Ben to pursue fame and scientific knowledge, while Jane married [Read More...]

David Skeel’s _True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World_

I recently read Penn law professor David Skeel’s remarkable apologetics book True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World. I have to admit to ambivalent feelings about a lot of Christian apologetics, which often seems likely only to confirm Christians’ faith rather than engaging seriously with the work of Christianity’s critics. I found Skeel [Read More...]

George Whitefield: Bridging the Evangelical and Academic Gap

Today is the official publication date for my book George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father. Thanks to all of you who have already bought the book, as well as those who have so kindly posted and tweeted about it! Why do we need this George Whitefield biography? Aside from the fact that he needs to [Read More...]

C.S. Lewis, Public Intellectual

This week’s post is a review I wrote of Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life, from the Anxious Bench archives: Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life comes with endorsements from Eric Metaxas, Timothy Keller, N.T. Wright, and perhaps most weightily given the topic, from my Baylor colleague Alan Jacobs, who calls it “a meticulously researched, insightful, fair-minded, and honest [Read More...]

Does the Bible Prohibit Revolution?

My graduate students and I recently read James Byrd’s terrific Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution. This book is a treasure trove of information about how the Patriots and Loyalists actually used the Bible during the Revolution. The most surprising fact I learned from the book is that Romans 13 – in [Read More...]

Those Suspicious Medical Missionaries

“It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?” So muses Brian Palmer at Slate about the work of medical missionaries like Dr. Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola in Liberia. I’m almost embarrassed to write about this piece, because it is such an easy target. [Read More...]

Advice for the Dismal Academic Job Market

Over at Slate, Rebecca Schuman imagines an awkward scenario from a family gathering, which includes a newly-minted Ph.D.: You’re just making polite conversation, so you ask him: “Want to come visit us next Christmas?” Why on earth did his sallow face just cloud over at your kind and generous offer? Because he has no idea where he’ll be living [Read More...]

Graduate Course on the American Revolution

This semester I am teaching a graduate seminar on the American Revolutionary Era. As I have written before, choosing a book list for a graduate course is not as simple as picking 13 to 15 of your favorite books on a topic. When assigning books, I take several factors into account – inexpensive editions (usually [Read More...]

The New Birth: A Uniquely American Concept?

Last week at CNN.com, progressive Christian author Matthew Paul Turner wrote a piece about the ways that America has “changed God.” George Whitefield came into the discussion in way #2. Rather than engaging humanity through communal covenants—holy connections usually reserved for large groups —according to the Anglican evangelist George Whitefield, God was now interested in making [Read More...]


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