Ben Franklin’s Calvinist Father

Greetings friends! Writing here from beautiful and chilly St Andrews, Scotland, where we are spending the semester. I have just begun to write a new book on Ben Franklin and religion, and am discovering more and more what a thoroughly Calvinist background Franklin had. I have written before about his beloved Calvinist sister Jane. Today [Read More...]

“Then I Shall Be a Wicked Child, and the Great God Will Be Very Angry with Me”

New England primer

One beautiful spring afternoon four years ago, I came across a horrifying scene in my living room. One of my two-year-old sons was standing on the back of the couch with his legs spread and his arms outstretched. My other two-year-old son stood facing him with an imaginary hammer in his hand and a determined [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...]

The Strange Career of the Antimission Baptists

I recently wrote about “Calvinism and the Roots of the Missionary Movement,” in which I discussed the powerful (and to some, counter-intuitive) influence of Calvinism on early Baptist missionaries. There’s a flip-side to that story, which is the largely Calvinist antimission movement of the 1820s and 1830s. Baptists and other evangelicals founded a number of [Read More...]

Calvinism and the Roots of the Missionary Movement

Over at Kevin DeYoung’s blog, Jason Helopoulos asks “Does Calvinism Kill Missions?” and answers with a resounding historical ‘no.’  I agree, and want to put a little finer point on it: from the perspective of Baptist history, Calvinists birthed the missions movement. (For background on Calvinism/Arminianism in the Baptist context, see links below.) I’ve recently been reading Jason Duesing’s [Read More...]

George Whitefield, Confessional Protestant Whipping Boy

Over at the Old Life website, our friend D.G. Hart has a piece, “Between Whitefield and the Vatican,” which argues that George Whitefield (the greatest evangelist of the eighteenth century, and the subject of my current book project) focused too much on the Spirit and personal experience, while Roman Catholics focus too much on the institutional [Read More...]

Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture

Moorhead

I have been a fan of James H. Moorhead’s work since I read his American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War as a graduate student.  As the Mary McIntosh Bridge Professor of Church History at Princeton Theological Seminary and the longtime senior editor of the Journal of Presbyterian History, Moorhead has had a stellar [Read More...]

Puritans: The Original Republicans?

What political legacy did the Puritans leave to America? There was a time when historians commonly portrayed the Puritans as America’s founding democrats.  No one better articulated this view than Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote in Democracy in America that Puritanism was not merely a religious doctrine, but it corresponded in many points with the most absolute [Read More...]

THE DESOLATION OF REALITY

Some of the world’s grimmest headlines these days are coming out of North Africa, and particularly the vast country of Mali, which few Westerners would be able to locate on a map. As I described in a recent column on RealClearReligion, the country has become a happy hunting ground for brutal Islamist militias, many claiming [Read More...]

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

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 some version of what some call the “sinner’s prayer.” But some evangelicals, including Baptist pastor David Platt of Birmingham, Alabama, have begun to criticize the sinner’s prayer as unbiblical and superstitious. Surely, [Read More...]


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