How Can Southern Baptists Get Their Groove Back?

Last week at The Washington Post, Barry Hankins and I offered three reasons why Southern Baptists are on the decline, and three ways to address it. They include getting serious about evangelism, defeating “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” and making politics secondary. One of the most interesting “pushbacks” I got was against point #2 – aren’t there [Read More...]

Benjamin Franklin, Skepticism, and The Enlightenment

As I have written previously at the Anxious Bench, I am skeptical about “The Enlightenment.” This ideologically-freighted term implies the inexorable progress of scientific humanist thought. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the theory goes, such enlightened thinking triumphed over “dark” religious views. Among the Enlightenment’s many problems today is that classic secularization theory lies in [Read More...]

Caitlyn Jenner, The Duggars, and The Culture of Gawking

The news cycles and Twitter trends of recent weeks have reminded us of just how degraded and inane American pop culture can be. Without commenting on the details of sex changes and molestation, I would recommend that Christians take this opportunity to reflect on the perennial question of the church’s relationship to culture. I understand [Read More...]

The Blind Spots of an American Evangelical

Collin Hansen’s new book Blind Spots has initiated a helpful conversation about what American evangelicals conventionally miss when their faith is defined by insular, America-intensive subcultures. I found especially instructive his interview with Gloria Furman about what she learned about blind spots as she has lived and ministered in Dubai. We’re inevitably shaped by the culture in [Read More...]

Baptists in America: A History

Next Monday marks the formal release date for my new book (with Barry Hankins) Baptists in America: A History. Why should you consider buying a copy, or using it in a college course, or in your adult Sunday School class? Here are four reasons: 1) Baptists in America offers a fresh approach to the history of Baptists [Read More...]

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...]

Why Weren’t Baptists More Enthusiastic Patriots?

Today’s post comes from chapter 3 of my new book Baptists in America: A History (Oxford University Press), co-authored with my friend and Baylor colleague Barry Hankins. Baptist pastor James Manning of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote to English Baptist leader John Ryland in November 1776, apprising him of trouble in the American colonies. Two winters before, Providence’s [Read More...]

Do You Love Theology More Than Jesus?

In a recent blog post lamenting Southern Baptists’ decision to disinvite Ben Carson from speaking at the SBC Pastors’ Conference, Pastor Perry Noble said that the disinviters “love theology more than Jesus.” Although Noble conceded that theology played an important role in the Christian faith, he could see no legitimate reason why Ben Carson’s theology should [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...]

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...]


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