The Problem of Personality-Driven Congregationalism in American Evangelicalism

As the American colonies congealed into a new nation, the founders undertook a “lively experiment.”*  The new nation refused to establish an official state church–or religion for that matter–allowing its citizens much greater freedom to determine their own religious affiliations than had been the case in Europe.  The young nation codified this commitment in the [Read More...]

The Thee Decade: The 1970s Was More Than Bad Hair

The decade of the Seventies has a rather dismal reputation. In his creatively titled book The Seventies, Bruce Schulman chronicles the horrors: bad hair, vapid dance music, a rootless youth culture, Ford’s mysteriously exploding compact car called the Pinto, hostages in Iran, defeat in Vietnam, double-digit inflation and stagnant economic growth (called stagflation). The American [Read More...]

The Past and Presence of Progressive Evangelicalism

Brantley Gasaway’s new book on progressive evangelicalism opens with a striking story. In 1985 evangelical activists marched through the streets of Washington, D.C. As the demonstration began, a spokesperson declared, “We’re showing that we are willing to pay the price, to sacrifice, to go to jail, if necessary to draw attention to all the assaults [Read More...]

Caitlyn Jenner, The Duggars, and The Culture of Gawking

The news cycles and Twitter trends of recent weeks have reminded us of just how degraded and inane American pop culture can be. Without commenting on the details of sex changes and molestation, I would recommend that Christians take this opportunity to reflect on the perennial question of the church’s relationship to culture. I understand [Read More...]

Mark Noll on Darwinism

Eminent Notre Dame historian Mark Noll has written a pithy and provocative piece for the National Association of Evangelicals on American Christians and science. Here’s an excerpt on the reception of Darwinism: The Newtonian picture of a static, law-ordered world was breaking down before Charles Darwin published “The Origin of Species” in 1859. Napoleonic warfare, [Read More...]

The Blind Spots of an American Evangelical

Collin Hansen’s new book Blind Spots has initiated a helpful conversation about what American evangelicals conventionally miss when their faith is defined by insular, America-intensive subcultures. I found especially instructive his interview with Gloria Furman about what she learned about blind spots as she has lived and ministered in Dubai. We’re inevitably shaped by the culture in [Read More...]

Evangelical Oats


Reuben Torrey and Henry Crowell are the two key figures in Timothy Gloege’s outstanding Guaranteed Pure. In his book, Gloege develops a rich analogy between the rise of corporate advertising and the rise of American fundamentalism. Crowell grew up in a Presbyterian family, then was taken with Dwight Moody’s revival encouragement to “dream great things [Read More...]

Doing Bad to Do Good: Carter’s Race-Baiting Election of 1970

In 1970 Jimmy Carter ran a sordid campaign for governor of Georgia. Courting the support of segregationist George Wallace, Carter used Wallace’s slogan “our kind of man,” which was a barely veiled appeal to the laboring classes who opposed integration. Carter’s campaign workers, who called themselves the “stink tank,” found a photograph showing Carter’s liberal [Read More...]

Do You Love Theology More Than Jesus?

In a recent blog post lamenting Southern Baptists’ decision to disinvite Ben Carson from speaking at the SBC Pastors’ Conference, Pastor Perry Noble said that the disinviters “love theology more than Jesus.” Although Noble conceded that theology played an important role in the Christian faith, he could see no legitimate reason why Ben Carson’s theology should [Read More...]

Corporate Evangelicalism

Recently, Kevin Kruse’s One Nation Under God has generated considerable attention for its claims about the way that the 1930s and post-WWII alliance between politically conservative businessmen and evangelicals created modern ideas about “Christian America.” According to the book’s self-description, Kruse “reveals how the unholy alliance of money, religion, and politics created a false origin [Read More...]