March 21, 2019

Today we welcome Mary Li Ma to the Anxious Bench. A research scholar, mission consultant, social scientist, and justice advocate, Mary has been working to bring attention to the problem of abuse within Chinese churches. She has a PhD in sociology from Cornell University and is author Surviving the State, Remaking the Church and The Chinese Exodus. Mary works extensively on issues of social justice and Christian mission in China, and writes for both public and Christian media in the… Read more

March 20, 2019

I usually never read comments on my blogs, much less respond to them. But one recently caught my eye. It was posted on a twitter thread following a tweet by Katelyn Beaty about my last AB article posted by Scot McKnight on Jesus Creed (sorry, the social media world can be a confusing place…). This is what it says: “Women need to learn theology. Way way way too much eisigetic “teaching” today. Elizabeth Elliot witnessed and survived so, so much… Read more

March 19, 2019

What should we make of the atrocities committed by American soldiers against Japanese, Italian, and German prisoners during World War II? Chris considers how even “good” wars corrode the human soul. Read more

March 18, 2019

For multiple reasons, I am not a particular fan of Bill Clinton. But one speech of his always strikes me as a singular landmark in modern US political history, and specifically in matters of religion and the public square. If the rhetoric is not quite up there with Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, it does demand our attention. On April 19, 1995, neo-Nazi terrorists blew up the Murragh federal office building in Oklahoma City, killing 168. Some days later, Clinton delivered a… Read more

March 15, 2019

ADDENDUM: I must report a ghastly synchronicity. This post concerns a historical theme that is anything but well known to non-specialists, so who thought it might be in the headlines? I wrote this post some weeks back, and it posted a few hours ago. In the hours since that posting, its contents have acquired a horrific relevance from the appalling terrorist attack in New Zealand, where Brenton Tarrant murdered dozens of Muslims. He left a manifesto explaining his actions as… Read more

March 14, 2019

From the Anxious Bench archives: When I ask students to read and generate questions about the Gospel of Mark, someone always asks about the beheading of John the Baptist? What sort of mother asks her daughter to ask her father for a prophet’s head? (I can also count on a question about the fig tree, for which I never have an adequate answer). According to Mark, John the Baptist criticized Herod Antipas for having married Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Just to… Read more

March 13, 2019

How an activist for suffrage converted to conservative Christian faith Read more

March 12, 2019

What does “render unto Caesar” mean in the Age of Trump? Chris explains why he thinks that Jerry Falwell, Jr. has badly misinterpreted Matthew 22:21. Read more

March 11, 2019

(Note: I am currently working on a small-grant application for a new course entitled “Christianity and Other Faiths: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Engagements.” This is a work in progress but the grant narrative is below. I invite feedback.) Title and Description of Course “Christianity and Other Faiths: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Engagements.” This new course will be introduced in Valparaiso University’s four-year interdisciplinary honors college (cross-listed in theology and history) to coincide with the release of two of my forthcoming books: The… Read more

March 8, 2019

When I teach my survey of what my university clumsily terms “Religions of the West,” students learn about categories such as revelation, scripture, ritual, and patterns of authority. The course focuses on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Along the way, we discuss several expressions of these traditions over time and place, and at the end of the semester, I typically spend one or two days and introduce a brief unit on Mormonism. I do so for several reasons. For starters, I… Read more

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