A Time of Commencement: Religious Liberty

William Raspberry By Knight Foundation (William Raspberry  Uploaded by Gobonobo) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As the end of May approaches, most colleges and universities in the United States have already conferred degrees upon their graduates.  A long and arduous day punctuates the final exercises, which display the accomplishments of the graduates to their friends and families.  Part and parcel of that process is the commencement address, which few in [Read More...]

“Theological Police”? Paleo Evangelicals and Ben Carson

In the week since my Washington Post piece on Baptists and Ben Carson, some critics have accused the Southern Baptist Convention of a new kind of fundamentalism. Baptists unduly rescinded the offer to Carson to speak at the Pastors’ Conference because of (what the critics see as) irrelevant theological differences between evangelicals and Seventh-Day Adventists [Read More...]

The Promises and Perils of Denominational History

Today’s guest post is by Nathan A. Finn, who serves as associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also directs the Center for Spiritual Formation and Evangelical Spirituality. You can follow him on Twitter​. Near the end of my time in college, I was a history major who knew I [Read More...]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 2

SBC ExComm Building

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  This is the second part.  The first part ran Wednesday, June 4th.  Relevant updates and emendations [Read More...]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 1

Bmore-Skyline1

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  The first part will run today, the second will run on Saturday, June 7th.  Relevant updates [Read More...]

What Can Stop Southern Baptist Decline?

In anticipation of the 2014 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources issued its annual report on church statistics, and for the seventh straight year, the SBC’s overall membership declined. (Here’s my coverage of the 2013 report and annual meeting for WORLD Magazine.) The University of North Carolina’s Molly Worthen, [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...]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 1

Next week, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will hold its annual meeting in Houston, TX.  Over the last several decades, the SBC’s public profile has increased significantly due to the actions of its leaders and as a result of the media scrutiny that has come from solidly positioning itself on the conservative wing of American [Read More...]

Calvinist Controversy at Louisiana College

The latest front in the Baptist battle over Calvinism and Arminianism has opened at Louisiana College, where the administration has decided not to renew the contracts of three faculty members - Jason Hiles, Kevin McFadden and Ryan Lister. The latter two have doctorates from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, while Hiles’s doctoral degree is from Southeastern Seminary. [Read More...]

“Ask Jesus into Your Heart”: A History of the Sinner’s Prayer

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 some version of what some call the “sinner’s prayer.” But some evangelicals, including Baptist pastor David Platt of Birmingham, Alabama, have begun to criticize the sinner’s prayer as unbiblical and superstitious. Surely, [Read More...]


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