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...]

Should You Pursue a Ph.D.?

I routinely get questions from undergraduate and Master’s students, at Baylor and elsewhere, about applying to Ph.D. programs. Here is some of my standard advice. How do I choose a Ph.D. program? I had a wonderful experience in my graduate program at Notre Dame, especially because of the particular historian (George Marsden) with whom I worked. [Read More...]

The Counterintuitive Art of Promoting Books

Everyone seemingly wants to be an author, and most authors want to promote their books. We want to sell copies, of course, but we also want to promote the ideas within our books. The best piece of advice I can offer regarding book promotion is that if you wait until your book is published to [Read More...]

“The Enlightenment” and Its Relevance Today

I am skeptical about “The Enlightenment.” It is an ideologically loaded term that implies that much of the western intellectual tradition before The Enlightenment was “dark.” Much of that tradition was, of course, Christian. “The Enlightenment” presupposes an arc of history toward secular democratic scientific liberalism. There is something to this presupposition, of course. Even [Read More...]

“Woven into the fabric of our country”? Islam in Early America

President Obama created controversy in a recent speech when he asserted that “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.” He followed this statement with rather generic statements about Muslim immigrants coming to America and finding economic opportunity and freedom. The point of the president’s comments is, of course, that [Read More...]

What Motivates Jihadists?

Over at The Atlantic, Graeme Wood has a fascinating but disturbing piece on the theological foundations of ISIS. It is worth reading the whole article, but this is the critical passage: The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the [Read More...]

Which Is Better: Small Church or Big Church?

A reader of last week’s post took exception to my comparison of large churches in Texas and small churches in Scotland, saying in effect “I’ll take a small church full of committed saints over your nominal Texas megachurches any day.” A bit of a broad brush, no doubt, but this does raise an important question. [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...]

Ben Franklin’s Calvinist Father

Greetings friends! Writing here from beautiful and chilly St Andrews, Scotland, where we are spending the semester. I have just begun to write a new book on Ben Franklin and religion, and am discovering more and more what a thoroughly Calvinist background Franklin had. I have written before about his beloved Calvinist sister Jane. Today [Read More...]

The Church and Robert Nisbet’s Quest for Community

I recently read Robert Nisbet’s classic work The Quest for Community (1953), a challenging and far-sighted book that attributes much of modernity’s unease to the collapse of the mediating institutions – village, church, and family – that traditionally stood between the individual and the state. It is a work that has inspired generations of reflection on [Read More...]


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