Still Searching for Christian America

“At times of crisis it is a natural human reaction to turn to the past for support.”[1] These words were written by evangelicals, to evangelicals. In 1983. Wait—1983? But Ronald Reagan was president at the time. What could possibly have been the source of evangelical angst back then? In fact, the causes were many. The [Read More…]

Heroes of the Faith: True, but not Accurate

Today at the Anxious Bench we welcome Bruce Berglund, professor of history at Calvin College. He is co-editor of the collection of essays, Christianity and Modernity in Eastern Europe. His book Castle and Cathedral in Modern Prague: Longing for the Sacred in a Skeptical Age will be published this March by Central European University Press.   [Read More…]

Fear No Evil: Christian Witness in a Time of Darkness

A truck plows into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market. Heart-wrenching images from Aleppo disquiet us on a daily basis. A young white man is convicted in the horrific killing of nine African American worshippers. The fourth anniversary of Sandy Hook comes and goes. Stories of police violence continue to surface. And in the midst [Read More…]

J.C. Can Save America

Ted Cruz marshals a rhetoric of Christian America in his campaign for president. Christians should “take back” or “reclaim” America, he says, from secularist liberals who have led the nation from its Christian origins. This vocabulary echoes that of his discredited adviser David Barton. His own father Rafael Cruz preaches a dominionist theology and suggests [Read More…]

The New United States: A “Christian Nation”?

Politicians and pop history writers squabble endlessly about whether America was founded as a “Christian nation.” Skeptics routinely point to the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, in which American officials declared that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” and “has in itself no character [Read More…]

Ted Cruz: When Civil Religion Goes Too Far

Our fellow Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton posted about recent comments Glenn Beck made at a Ted Cruz rally, held at a South Carolina church, about the Constitution and the Bible both being “sacred scriptures.” [start at :50] Christian conservatives need to draw a clear line on this topic. Yes, religion and the Bible have had [Read More…]

Patriotism is on Behalf Of, Not Against, All Nations

Today’s guest post is from John D. Wilsey, Assistant Professor of History and Christian Apologetics, and Associate Director, Land Center for Cultural Engagement, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He recently published American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea (IVP Academic). Is patriotism compatible with democracy? After all, a democracy is supposed to be built on [Read More…]

Scripture as Usable History II

In my last post I described the pushback from some American evangelicals against God-and-country Bibles like the Patriot’s Bible or the Bicentennial Bible. Another woefully understudied, but potentially significant, source of dissent is global evangelicalism. To my knowledge Mark Noll is one of the few to analyze foreign perspectives on America’s treatment of Scripture. In [Read More…]

The United States: Christian or “Secular?”

Those who of you who thought I had gone off the deep end with last week’s critique of Dr. Ben Carson’s National Prayer Breakfast speech will probably be even more disturbed by the fact that today I will be speaking at an international conference on secularism.  (I explain my decision to accept the invitation to [Read More…]

Giving Thanks

Professors tend to be a grumpy lot. The pay is not exactly stratospheric. University bureaucracies can be a nuisance. My own personal gripe is that I have to pay for the privilege of parking. I would understand if I had to pay some sort of fine for because I bring such an eyesore of a [Read More…]