“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...]

The Church and the Dissolving American Family

A new Pew report has confirmed what we’ve known was coming for the American family: a majority of American children now live in homes without married parents in their first marriage. The reasons behind this “new normal” of the broken American family are complex but are certainly related to factors including the “sexual revolution” that began in [Read More...]

George Whitefield’s Christmas, 1739

As we observed George Whitefield’s 300th birthday last week, here’s a post on his 1739 Christmas travels and preaching, from the Anxious Bench archive: In December 1739, 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 [Read More...]

Happy 300th Birthday George Whitefield!

The day is finally here – the 300th birthday of George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist of the eighteenth century, and the best known person in colonial America prior to the Revolution. I have been waiting for this day for a long time, but I started getting serious about writing a Whitefield biography in time for [Read More...]


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