The New Birth: A Uniquely American Concept?

Last week at CNN.com, progressive Christian author Matthew Paul Turner wrote a piece about the ways that America has “changed God.” George Whitefield came into the discussion in way #2. Rather than engaging humanity through communal covenants—holy connections usually reserved for large groups —according to the Anglican evangelist George Whitefield, God was now interested in making [Read More...]

Writing a Book, From Start to Finish

One of my newsletter subscribers, Job Dalomba [jobdalomba.com] suggested that I write a post how how to do “book projects from start to finish, and share any ideas on how to get started.” Philip Jenkins and I have been posting lately about how to choose a research subject, but I loved this suggestion and want to [Read More...]

Phillis Wheatley and the Evangelical Anti-Slavery Movement

When the evangelical poet Phillis Wheatley published an pamphlet-length elegy on George Whitefield upon the great itinerant’s death in 1770, she gained renown as the first published African American woman in history. She was still a slave in Boston at the time, and (perhaps predictably, if she was going to be published) there were only [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 of Birmingham, Alabama, have in recent years [Read More...]

Howell Harris and Wales’s Great Awakening

January 23, 2014 marks the 300th birthday of the remarkable but troubled Welsh revivalist, Howell Harris. Harris was one of the foremost preachers of the Great Awakening in Britain, and a close friend (for a time) of George Whitefield (the subject of my current book project), who was born later in the same year, 1714. Whitefield [Read More...]

How to Publish a History Book

As we pass George Whitefield’s 299th birthday this week, I am preparing to deliver the revised manuscript of my Whitefield biography to Yale University Press. It is a good time to review how publishing a history book works, and to give an update on where the biography stands. To publish a book with an established [Read More...]

Plagiarism, Personality-Driven Leadership, and the Problem With Evangelicalism

George Whitefield

Update: New developments in the Mefferd-Driscoll storyline can be found over at Warren Throckmorton’s blog post, “Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating to Charges of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes to Audience.” Updated 12/4/13 @ 5:14 pm EST The recent dust-up within evangelical circles over accusations of plagiarism highlights one of the problems with the personality-based [Read More...]

Benjamin Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Founding of the University of Pennsylvania

Many people are not aware of the vital friendship between Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield. Franklin became Whitefield’s key publicist and printer in the colonies in the early 1740s, and their relationship lasted until Whitefield’s death in 1770. They also exchanged friendly letters on many topics. One of the most fascinating exchanges between them came [Read More...]

George Whitefield, Confessional Protestant Whipping Boy

Over at the Old Life website, our friend D.G. Hart has a piece, “Between Whitefield and the Vatican,” which argues that George Whitefield (the greatest evangelist of the eighteenth century, and the subject of my current book project) focused too much on the Spirit and personal experience, while Roman Catholics focus too much on the institutional [Read More...]

George Whitefield’s Christmas, 1739

In December 1739, the great evangelist George Whitefield was completing a treacherous overland trip from Maryland to South Carolina, and he stopped for Christmas in New Bern (“Newborn”), a relatively new parish in North Carolina, which was also one of the newer southern colonies. He had already seen phenomenal crowds attend his outdoor meetings in [Read More...]


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