Does the Reformation Still Matter?

Does the Reformation Still Matter?2017 is the commemorated 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. As I noted here earlier, however, that date—1517—is a bit arbitrary. Somehow, I’m not sure when, who or how, Luther’s nailing of his “95 Theses” to the Cathedral Church door in Wittenberg, Saxony, Germany on October 31 became for Protestants around the world “Reformation Day.” Of course, as any church historian knows, there were already Protestants in Europe—in the theological sense—lon … [Read more...]

A Day I Cannot Celebrate: Inauguration Day, 2017

A Day I Cannot Celebrate: Inauguration Day, 2017Today, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. I have revealed here before my feelings about him and his presidency. I will not be watching any of the inauguration or celebrating it. For me it is a truly frightening turning point in American history and possibly world history. I will turn on my television and leave it on all day on channels not showing the inauguration as a protest.In my … [Read more...]

Who Were the First Protestants? Reflections on the “500th Anniversary”

Who Were the First Protestants? Reflections on the “500th Anniversary”This year—2017—many Protestant Christians around the world will be celebrating what they think is the 500th anniversary of the birth of Protestantism. Many consider October 31 “Reformation Day” and celebrate it as the annual anniversary of the birth of Protestantism because it was on that day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the cathedral church door in Wittenberg, Saxony.Well, any historian worth he … [Read more...]

Must Science and Religion Conflict?

Must Science and Religion Conflict?Please be patient as I clarify the question. (I have learned the hard way, mostly through blogging, that terms mean different things to different people and I cannot assume a universal, let alone uniform, meaning of any word.) Must modern science and Christian theism be viewed as enemies?Now, why the question? It’s really a very old question and has been very much discussed at least since the days of Galileo. Perhaps one pinnacle of the debate about the … [Read more...]

Is Evangelicalism America’s New “Religious Establishment?”

Is Evangelicalism America's New "Religious Establishment?"This past weekend I've attended and participated in the annual meeting of the American Society of Church Historians. I served on two panels. One was composed of the editors and some authors of a book I reviewed here earlier: The Future of Evangelicalism in America edited by Candy Gunther Brown and Mark Silk (Columbia University Press, 2016). I contributed the chapter "The Emerging Divide in Evangelical Theology." All the other authors … [Read more...]

The “Disappearing Middle” in American Political and Religious Life

The “Disappearing Middle” in American Political and Religious LifeNow, to head off objections—of course I know there still IS a “middle” in American political and religious life. My point here will be that it is not as strong or populated as it once was—during my lifetime.It seems to me, and many of my conversation partners agree, that gradually during the last several decades Americans have become increasingly polarized in their political and religious opinions.This process has ruine … [Read more...]

Must a Christian Forgive Unconditionally?

Must a Christian Forgive Unconditionally?Believe it or not, I have found this to be one of the most controverted subjects among Christian ethicists. Must a Christian forgive unconditionally? Or may he or she hold back forgiveness until there is repentance shown? I have struggled with this question much.Some years ago well-known and highly regarded Christian ethicist Lewis Smedes, author of at least one book about forgiveness, gave lectures at the seminary where I teach. I had the … [Read more...]