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 Baptists unduly rescinded the offer to Carson to speak at the Pastors’ Conference because of (what the critics see as) irrelevant theological differences between evangelicals and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...]

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...]


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