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

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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

Patriot's Bible

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

Summer Reading

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 out [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...]

A Balanced Evangelical View of America’s Founding

I recently reviewed David Aikman’s excellent book One Nation Without God? for Christianity Today. As I note in the review, Aikman’s book takes a balanced view of America’s Christian heritage: In the chapter on history (the longest section of the book), Aikman reviews modern Christian providentialist literature, led by books such as Peter Marshall and David Manuel’s The Light [Read More...]

Engaging the Past, Engaging History

Noll

I was going to write about the GOP Convention today, but I found the following topic more interesting: Over at Books and Culture, Nicholas Wolterstorff reviews Mark Noll’s Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind.   For Christian scholars, it doesn’t get any better than this.  For the past generation, Noll and Wolterstorff have been [Read More...]

Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity

Our church recently hosted a presentation by Owen Strachan, who teaches theology and church history at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky. Strachan is the co-author, with Douglas Sweeney (Strachan’s doctoral mentor), of the five-volume Essential Edwards Collection (2010). I happily came away from the session with a copy of one of these volumes, Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity. [Read More...]


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