A Thief in the Night

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Today, as part of a course on religion and film, I had the opportunity to discuss the 1972 film A Thief in the Night with a group of religious diverse undergraduate students. My church — a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation that straddled the worlds of evangelical and mainline Protestantism — did not screen the film [Read More...]

Americans Incarcerate

An 1858 Harper's illustration of a freezing "shower"

Americans incarcerate. So begins and ends Jennifer Graber’s The Furnace of Affliction: Prisons & Religion in Antebellum America. Americans incarcerate. One of out every hundred American adults is behind bars. One would rather not think about the economic, emotional, and spiritual cost of this mass imprisonment. I imagine that most Americans and most American Christians [Read More...]

Putin-Loving Evangelicals

Despite some recent reports that the second ceasefire in the war in Ukraine is “generally holding,” there is not much reason for hope. The Ukrainian military says that pro-Russian rebels has attacked 112 times since early Sunday morning. Kiev says that it won’t remove heavy weapons from the front line. And the most recent headline [Read More...]

American Evangelicals’ Global Vision Began in Korea

From the Archive. Originally posted March 14, 2013. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27[1] The global vision of American evangelicalism began in an improbable place, 1950s South Korea, as Americans encountered [Read More...]

Molly Worthen on the Mennonites

In 1947 future Christianity Today editor Carl Henry wrote The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. This rebuke of his heritage’s cultural isolationism helped jumpstart the neo-evangelical movement headlined by Billy Graham, Fuller Theological Seminary, and the National Association of Evangelicals. In 1955 John Howard Yoder, who went on to teach at what became Anabaptist Mennonite [Read More...]

Divided by Reason: Molly Worthen on Evangelicalism

For good reason, Molly Worthen’s Apostles of Reason has enjoyed a lot of attention (Slate, Christian Century, National Review, Religion and American History blog, The Nation). It is a wonderfully provocative and ambitious book with a panorama of fascinating and diverse characters. As I point out in my review of the book over at Marginalia, [Read More...]

Evangelical Anti-abolitionists

Robert J. Breckinridge, ca. 1845

Even in slaveholding states, many white Americans were uneasy about the morality of black slavery in the decades that preceded the Civil War. However, there were two things such Americans disliked far more than slavery: black people and abolitionists. According to Luke Harlow’s recently published Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, those double [Read More...]

The Unintended Consequences of Evangelical Cooperation

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Last year, Crossway announced the publication of David Wells’ God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World, promoting this new book as “a remedy for evangelicalism’s superficial theology.”  Merits of the book aside–and I am sure there are many–claiming a remedy for evangelicalism’s superficial theology demonstrates both unflagging optimism, and, more importantly, a [Read More...]

Grace and Apostasy

Unveiling Grace

As a historian, I am grateful for anti-Mormon exposés. Admittedly, the genre poses obvious problems. Those who leave (and especially those who are expelled from) a religious organization often have an obvious axe to grind. At the same time, they have been inside the organization and know things about which outsiders are not privy. And [Read More...]

Henrietta Mears, Evangelical Optimist

1949 College Briefing Conference

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about the life of Henrietta Mears, the Sunday School superintendent, developer of curricula, and youth evangelist. “Teacher,” as her disciples called her, served at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood for several decades, from 1928 until her death in 1963. Hollywood Presbyterian was a central hub in the booming [Read More...]


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