A Golden Age for Christian Colleges?

Are Christian colleges uniquely positioned to revitalize our nation’s intellectual life and contribute to cultural bridge-building in this era of political and social polarization? If you ask Christian scholars, this would seem to be the case. In Inside Higher Ed, Tal Howard argues that America’s Christian colleges and universities “are now well positioned to save [Read More…]

Still Searching for Christian America

“At times of crisis it is a natural human reaction to turn to the past for support.”[1] These words were written by evangelicals, to evangelicals. In 1983. Wait—1983? But Ronald Reagan was president at the time. What could possibly have been the source of evangelical angst back then? In fact, the causes were many. The [Read More…]

The Biographers and Jonathan Edwards

Today’s post is an excerpt from my essay on George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards, and the Art of Religious Biography, from the recently-released book American Evangelicalism: George Marsden and the State of American Religious History (Univ. of Notre Dame Press), which I co-edited with Darren Dochuk and Kurt Peterson. Biographers have put Jonathan Edwards’s thought and life [Read More…]

Re-envisioning Our Public: The Conference on Faith and History 2014

For decades, committed evangelicals such as Richard Pierard, Robert Linder, George Marsden, Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch and others worked towards two different goals aimed at two different audiences.  First, to an evangelical constituency in which fundamentalism’s suspicion of the academy lingered, they cultivated the idea of history as a legitimate Christian vocation.  Second, building on [Read More…]

Scripture as Usable History

The Bicentennial Bible (1975) and the American Patriot’s Bible (2009) tie scripture closely to right-wing politics. The marginal notes feature quotations from Dick Cheney and other conservative activists on the subjects of liberty and the efficacy of public school prayer and free-markets. The Bicentennial Bible declares that Scripture is “America’s Book from Almighty God.” These [Read More…]

Five American Religious History Books Every Evangelical Minister Should Read

Traditionally, summer is the time for reading lists.  In honor of that tradition, I present the following post. Among Anxious Bench authors, I am a bit of an anomaly.  My colleagues on the blog–Agnes Howard, Tal Howard, Thomas Kidd, Philip Jenkins, David Swartz, and John Turner–all hold positions in history departments.  I teach in a [Read More…]

George Marsden and the Gift of Clear Writing

Over at The Gospel Coalition, I recently reviewed The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief, by my doctoral advisor George Marsden. One of the things that I admire the most about Marsden as a history writer, which I see again in Twilight, is his clarity. (Wilfred McClay agrees, calling Twilight “sprightly [Read More…]

The Historian’s Vocation in the Age of Information, Part 2*

  “You and your d**n cards.  How do you keep track of them all?” queries Adrian “Kim” Philby as he walks into the dark, shade-drawn office of James Angleton, the head of the CIA’s counterintelligence operations.  Hovering over stacks of notecards strewn throughout his office while he chain-smokes cigarettes, Angleton replies, “Certain cards simply cry [Read More…]

An Interview with George Marsden and Mark Noll on the Idea of America as a Christian Nation

Thanks to Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition for posting an interview with Mark Noll and George Marsden on the idea of America as a Christian nation. (Marsden was my doctoral advisor, and my blogging colleague John Turner’s.)     [Read more…]

Sin and the Historian

This semester I am teaching a sophomore seminar entitled “Historical Methods.”  Since I teach at a Christian college, we spend a lot of time in this course thinking about the relationship between Christianity and the practice of doing history.  This morning I taught a wonderful essay by George Marsden entitled “Human Depravity: A Neglected Explanatory [Read More…]