Howell Harris and Wales’s Great Awakening

January 23, 2014 marks the 300th birthday of the remarkable but troubled Welsh revivalist, Howell Harris. Harris was one of the foremost preachers of the Great Awakening in Britain, and a close friend (for a time) of George Whitefield (the subject of my current book project), who was born later in the same year, 1714. Whitefield [Read More...]

Antebellum African Missions and the Evangelical South

I recently read Erskine Clarke’s remarkable By the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey, which tells the epic chronicle of John Leighton Wilson and Jane Wilson, antebellum southern missionaries to west Africa. Clarke is one of the most gifted historians of American religion, with particular mastery of the antebellum southern Christian mind. By the [Read More...]

Of Platforms and Publishing

In my recent post on publishing, I noted that “To publish a book with an established press, you ordinarily need a “platform” from which to write a book – in the world of religious history, the most common such platforms are an academic position or a pastorate,” and that “Platform is a much bigger issue, increasingly [Read More...]

New Year’s Resolution: Read More Books!

[Today's post is from my Patheos archive] Happy New Year! I have routinely resolved at the New Year that I’d like to read more, and to read more intentionally. (Of course, a major part of my job as a history professor is reading, and much of that reading is pleasurable, but I am talking about [Read More...]

Was Christmas in Revolutionary America a Drunken Bash?

Our modern American Christmas is an anxious affair—and not just because of “those” relatives you don’t want to see. We so constantly remind ourselves to focus on Christ during Christmas that “The reason for the season” has become an American Christian mantra. In light of our annual December anxiety, I find it strangely comforting that [Read More...]

How to Publish a History Book

As we pass George Whitefield’s 299th birthday this week, I am preparing to deliver the revised manuscript of my Whitefield biography to Yale University Press. It is a good time to review how publishing a history book works, and to give an update on where the biography stands. To publish a book with an established [Read More...]

The Virtues of a Free (Christian) Press

In my time writing for WORLD magazine, one thing I have learned is that people don’t like being the subject of negative press coverage. This shouldn’t be a surprise, of course, but still it has been revealing to see how often coverage of controversy generates complaints from representatives of the person or ministry in question. Were I [Read More...]

Why Homeschool?

My wife and I are not exactly fire-breathing homeschool zealots. Homeschooling is not for everybody, and we have friends in Waco whose kids do just fine in public and private schools. But for us, and for many paleo evangelicals and their fellow travelers, the advantages of homeschooling are quite compelling. Recent reports have suggested that the [Read More...]

Review of R. Tracy McKenzie’s The First Thanksgiving

Over at Christianity Today, I reviewed Robert Tracy McKenzie’s excellent The First Thanksgiving. Here’s a sample: In 1623, Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford proclaimed the first Thanksgiving. “The great Father,” he declared, “has given us this year an abundant harvest…and granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.” He directed the Pilgrims [Read More...]

Clergy Housing Allowances Ruled Unconstitutional

Last week came the news that, in the latest legal success for secularist advocacy groups, a federal judge ruled that clergy’s tax-exempt “housing allowance” is unconstitutional. It is difficult to know exactly what the Founders would have thought of this issue, because a) there was no federal income tax until the early 20th century and [Read More...]


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