A Family Guide to Visiting Philadelphia

There are few better cities in America for a history-themed visit than Philadelphia. We recently returned from a week and a half visit to Philly and Princeton, where I was a faculty leader for a wonderful Witherspoon Institute seminar. (I highly recommend their excellent seminars, which range across topics in law, history, and religion.) Whenever [Read More...]

How Violent Was American Slavery? Colonial Slave Codes

Last week I wrote about the challenges colonial American missionaries faced when trying to evangelize slaves without fundamentally challenging the institution of slavery. Starting in the eighteenth century, growing numbers of Christians began to express concerns about the immorality of slavery, at least slavery as practiced in the Americas. But when they turned to Scripture, [Read More...]

Evangelizing Slaves and Colonial Christianity

I recently read Travis Glasson’s excellent book Mastering Christianity: Missionary Anglicanism and Slavery in the Atlantic World (Oxford, 2012). This book details the complex relationship between enslaved people, slave masters, and the missionaries of the Anglican Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), which began a major outreach effort to the North American colonies in the [Read More...]

Christianity, Violence, and World War I

Our friends at Religion News Service have an excellent profile of two of the best books ever written on World War I and religion, Jonathan Ebel’s Faith in the Fight: The American Soldier and the Great War, and my colleague and fellow Anxious Bencher Philip Jenkins’ The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a [Read More...]

Five Great Books on Evangelical Christianity

My recent post “‘Evangelicals’ Who Are Not Evangelicals” generated quite a discussion about who’s in, and who’s out of the evangelical camp. The study of evangelicalism has seen an amazing renaissance in the past fifty years, so here’s a list of five excellent books on evangelicals and their history. The usual disclaimers: I’m not including [Read More...]

The “Evangelicals” Who Are Not Evangelicals

At the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim recently reviewed Steven Miller’s excellent book The Age of Evangelicalism, which I also reviewed at The Gospel Coalition. In my review, I suggested that evangelicals’ necessary engagement in politics has defined evangelicals by their politics and politicians, such as George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. Swaim helpfully raises the problem [Read More...]

Penn Prof: Religious Colleges Should Not Be Accredited

University of Pennsylvania professor Peter Conn says at the Chronicle of Higher Education that religious colleges (presumably meaning only conservative Christian colleges) should not receive accreditation. Conn: Providing accreditation to colleges like Wheaton makes a mockery of whatever academic and intellectual standards the process of accreditation is supposed to uphold. If accrediting agencies are playing [Read More...]

“A Decision of Startling Breadth”? Reflections on Hobby Lobby

This week’s Hobby Lobby decision from the Supreme Court brings good news and bad news. The good news is that the majority made the right decision, on sensible grounds, namely that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) should protect “closely held” businesses from acting against the dictates of conscience, especially when the government has not [Read More...]

Runaway Slave Ads and the Violence of Slavery

In research for my colonial America book, I recently came across a runaway slave ad cited in Ira Berlin’s masterful Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. The ad appeared in the Maryland Gazette in 1766, one of countless such ads seeking the return of runaways from southern farms and plantations in the [Read More...]

Phillis Wheatley and the Evangelical Anti-Slavery Movement

When the evangelical poet Phillis Wheatley published an pamphlet-length elegy on George Whitefield upon the great itinerant’s death in 1770, she gained renown as the first published African American woman in history. She was still a slave in Boston at the time, and (perhaps predictably, if she was going to be published) there were only [Read More...]


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