A Brief History of Vacation Bible School

Keep in mind that VBS is one of those traditions in American Christianity that is well-established, but not as old as you might think. [Read more…]

Temperance after Prohibition

While Prohibition is a byword for failed legislation, temperance concerns survived the ratification of the 21st Amendment. But in recent years, more restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol have been disappearing. [Read more…]

Religious Freedom: The Contested Core of Baptist Identity

Like mosques today, school prayer once caused Baptists to debate religious freedom [Read more…]

British Christians Debate “Brexit”

In nine days British voters will determine if their country remains a member of the European Union, as it’s been since 1973. (If you’re not familiar with the details of this referendum, the BBC can bring you up to speed.)  Though British Christians are no longer a majority in what prime minister David Cameron insists is a “Christian country,” they may make the difference in a tightly contested campaign [Read More…]

Looking Back to Think Ahead: Baptists and Obergefell v. Hodges

A committed evangelical, today I write out of and to my narrower ecclesiastical tradition (Baptist) as I address the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.  All others are welcome to listen in or ignore me as they see fit.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last Friday (June 26, 2015) should surprise no one who has been paying attention.  In [Read More…]

How Can Southern Baptists Get Their Groove Back?

Last week at The Washington Post, Barry Hankins and I offered three reasons why Southern Baptists are on the decline, and three ways to address it. They include getting serious about evangelism, defeating “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” and making politics secondary. One of the most interesting “pushbacks” I got was against point #2 – aren’t there [Read More…]

Baptists in America: A History

Next Monday marks the formal release date for my new book (with Barry Hankins) Baptists in America: A History. Why should you consider buying a copy, or using it in a college course, or in your adult Sunday School class? Here are four reasons: 1) Baptists in America offers a fresh approach to the history of Baptists [Read More…]

Why Weren’t Baptists More Enthusiastic Patriots?

Today’s post comes from chapter 3 of my new book Baptists in America: A History (Oxford University Press), co-authored with my friend and Baylor colleague Barry Hankins. Baptist pastor James Manning of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote to English Baptist leader John Ryland in November 1776, apprising him of trouble in the American colonies. Two winters before, Providence’s [Read More…]

Ben Carson and Baptist Identity

This week’s column comes from my piece at The Washington Post – “Southern Baptists canceled an event with Ben Carson. Here’s why it matters.” Southern Baptists find themselves in the midst of political controversy again over the upcoming appearance – now canceled – of Dr. Ben Carson at their Pastors’ Conference. Carson is a celebrated [Read More…]

Secularization and Scotland’s Christian Heritage

One of the most immediate differences from America one notices in the U.K. is how secularized the society is (especially compared to Texas!). Polls in Scotland suggest that even nominal adherence to Christianity, and Christian orthodoxy, is in massive decline. Although opinion data is often difficult to interpret with precision, the overall pattern seems clear. [Read More…]