January 17, 2019

Lately there’s been debate among old white male pastors like me about whether diversity is a gospel matter. One white male pastor worries that “pastors in our day [will] let cultural concerns”—like diversity—“crowd out the preaching of new birth, repentance, and justification by faith alone.” He writes that, if this happens, it “wouldn’t be the first time in the church’s history that the ‘gospel’ became more social than gospel.” Another group of white male pastors are even more direct: “We… Read more

January 15, 2019

Back in the day, I attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield, Illinois, for seminary. There I learned the history of American evangelicalism from John Woodbridge. What I didn’t realize at the time was that how one tells the history of American evangelicalism has a lot do with how one thinks about contemporary evangelicalism: what it is, who gets to define it, who counts as one, and so on. Embed from Getty Images It wasn’t until after seminary that… Read more

January 10, 2019

Today Trump is visiting McAllen, Texas, in an attempt to make a case for a border wall. There are conflicting reports about whether he will visit the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Humanitarian Respite Center today during his stop, but the invitation has been offered by its director, Sister Norma Pimentel. In an open letter in the Washington Post, she writes: Mr. President, if you come early in the morning, here is what you will see: The families who… Read more

January 10, 2019

In case you missed it, last month there was a bit of a blogosphere dust-up when religion writer Jonathan Merritt tweeted that it was “weird” that evangelical historian Thomas Kidd used the word “evangelical” to describe Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American poet. A number of evangelical historians came to Kidd’s defense (as is well documented by historian John Fea), and the conversation quickly shifted to the questions of how to define “evangelicalism” and who should do it. I followed this… Read more

January 8, 2019

“Are you sure you belong on the evangelical channel?” the Patheos director of content asked me over the phone. It’s a fair question. A couple months ago over breakfast a pastor friend from my evangelical denomination expressed his concern with what he called my “Mennonitism.” He seemed to think Anabaptist theology is incompatible with evangelicalism and to equate Anabaptism with liberalism. The irony is that the denomination in which we both pastor was started by Mennonites who had been kicked out… Read more

January 5, 2019

On the church calendar the season after Christmas is called Epiphany. “Epiphany” is not a word we use very often these days. The word has two meanings. First, epiphany can mean “an appearance or manifestation of God.” This kind of epiphany is sometimes called a theophany, which literally means God-appearance. So when we observe the Epiphany season, we celebrate God appearing to us in the person of Jesus. (The actual day of Epiphany, January 6, commemorates Jesus being presented to… Read more

January 3, 2019

“I’m not sure what ‘revisions’ means in the title. Is it an Anabaptist expression?” So asked the Patheos director of content as we discussed this blog. He was concerned that people wouldn’t get the title. And he has a point. As far as I know, revisions isn’t an Anabaptist expression. But vision is. When Anabaptist-Mennonites hear the word vision, they are likely to think of historian Harold Bender’s 1944 essay, “The Anabaptist Vision.” This essay offers Bender’s vision for Anabaptism, which, according… Read more

January 1, 2019

My name is David Cramer, and I’m starting a blog. In 2019. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t blogging a bit more 2009 than 2019? Perhaps. But I’m not the one to ask. I still use an LG Cosmos keyboard phone. It’s so antiquated it’s become a conversation starter every time I use it in company. Which I kind of enjoy. I don’t refuse to upgrade to a smartphone simply because I’m a Luddite—though I may, indeed, be one. Rather,… Read more

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