The Future of American Evangelicalism

Nearly twenty years ago, Christian Smith assessed American evangelicalism as “embattled but thriving.” Nowadays, just “embattled” seems more apt for the preeminent impulse in the *history of American religion (*at least for much of that history). From the rise of the “Nones” to the collapse of the Religious Right to declines in church membership, the [Read More…]

The Limits of a Narrow Evangelical Advocacy

Today’s guest post comes from David Bronkema, Associate Professor of International Development at Eastern University near Philadelphia. He is author of “Foster Just and Sustainable Economic Development,” in Glen Stassen, ed, Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War and co-author of the just-released Advocating for Justice: An Evangelical Vision for Transforming Systems and Structures. *** [Read More…]

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

[This week’s post comes from my Patheos archives.] 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 a version of what some call the “sinner’s prayer.” But some evangelicals, including Baptist pastor David Platt (president of the SBC’s International Mission [Read More…]

The Limits of Evangelical Identity Politics

Jimmy Carter’s born-again credentials drew many evangelicals to the polls in 1976. Evangelicals who had never campaigned for a candidate campaigned for Carter. Jerry Falwell, future founder of the Moral Majority, encouraged evangelicals to vote for the Democratic candidate. Pat Robertson, who claimed credit for Carter’s win in the Pennsylvania primary, hosted the candidate on [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…]

Culture-Changing Christians

Back in 2012, when Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, many disappointed supporters – including a number of evangelicals – suggested that his defeat spoke to an American culture in decline. For politics to change, they say, culture must change. Glenn Beck, for example, tweeted that “the time for politics is over. I’m doubling down [Read More…]

The End of American Evangelicalism

One of the big surprises of 2016 is the extent of evangelical support for Donald Trump. As I mentioned several weeks ago, judging by historical precedents, evangelicals might well have divided their support among a number of candidates who spoke persuasively about their Christian faith, including Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and the now-defunct Ben Carson, [Read More…]

Salvation Mountain

For historians and other scholars, religion provides an endless supply of fascinating narratives. And few experiences are as sweet as encountering a previously unknown but utterly bizarre and remarkable story. I had that experience reading Sara Patterson’s just-released Middle of Nowhere: Religion, Art, and Pop Culture at Salvation Mountain, a lucid chronicle and analysis of [Read More…]

Unexpected Sites of Christian Pacifism: South Korea

South Korea is an embattled nation. Birthed out of brutal Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945 and then invaded by a Marxist army in 1950, it since has been threatened by North Korea, its totalitarian, atheistic, saber-rattling neighbor to the north. The understandable result has been a militarized nation that requires mandatory service for all [Read More…]

Bethel at War: A Digital History

I’m pleased to present a guest post from Fletcher Warren, a recent graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Read this fine essay, but more importantly, check out the impressive digital history project, created by Warren and Chris Gehrz on which it is based. –David *** Bethel at War is a locally-rooted history of [Read More…]


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