In Memoriam: Dale A. Johnson (1936 – 2014)

Neil Brake/Vanderbilt

Feeling a vocational calling to teach, I completed all of the graduate school application necessaries in the fall of 2000.  I secured recommendations letters, practiced and sat for the GRE, wrote essays, ordered transcripts, and made contact with potential supervisors at the schools to which I considering applying.  Fatigued from the process and the other [Read More...]

Notes to Freshmen on Mystery and the Liberal Arts

asbury

At Asbury University, where I teach, the fall semester is already ramping up. After welcoming nearly 400 new students to campus last Tuesday for orientation, we didn’t waste any time starting up academic conversations. All incoming students are reading G.K. Chesterton’s mystery thriller The Man Who Was Thursday for their liberal arts seminar, which met [Read More...]

Slow Church: A Report from the Trenches

Young boys using mobile phone.

As an admirer of the Englewood Review of Books, I have been anticipating the release of Slow Church. Now that it’s in my hands, I’m happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. I am thoroughly convinced by the book’s critique and vision. I’ll leave the close outlining of the book’s contents—on ethics, ecology, and economy—to [Read More...]

Christian Humility? In Academia?

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  ~Philippians 2:3-4 (NRSV) Considering others more important than yourself by looking out for their interests manifests Christian humility and demonstrates conformity to the [Read More...]

History Surprises

Those who profess to dislike history may as well profess to dislike people.          ~Everett Ferguson I like people.  I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them–whether they are dead or alive.  For me, meeting new people from the past and growing in my understanding of them make history fun. [Read More...]

Why Study History

why study history

As the Civil War ground to an end in early 1865, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address. It was a gracious meditation. He noted that both the North and South read the same Bible and prayed to the same God. Invoking the mystery of God’s ways, he declared, “The prayers of both could [Read More...]

The Expansion of Evangelicalism

The Expansion of Evangelicalism

This past week, I re-familiarized myself with John Wolffe’s The Expansion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Wilberforce, More, Chalmers, and Finney (2006) while preparing a lecture on evangelicalism for my Survey of Church History course (which I wrote about here). Sequentially second in IVP’s History of Evangelicalism series, Wolffe’s volume spans the 1790s to the 1840s, a period [Read More...]

From Graduate Student Learner to Teaching Professor

Like many professors, I work at an institution where I teach broad survey classes.   At Southwestern Seminary, this means I regularly teach the standard Church History sequence—Church History I and II—in the Master of Divinity program.  The recent addition of a B.S. in Biblical Studies at our Houston campus and in our prison extension required [Read More...]

A Humble Proposal

At the beginning of each semester, I ask my students to call me David, not Dr. Swartz. Part of the reason I ask them to use my first name is because my religious tradition trained me that way. Raised a Mennonite and nurtured on the language of the “priesthood of all believers,” we never called [Read More...]

The Historian’s Vocation in the Age of Information, Part 1*

Over the past two decades, the exponential advance of information-sharing and communication-oriented technology transformed and continues to transform everything from recipe-sharing to research.  Since 1990, when I first entered the academic world, portable data storage technology evolved from state-of-the-art 5.25 inch, “high density” floppydisks, which stored 360 KB of data, to flash-drives the size of [Read More...]


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