June 4, 2012

I am not foolish enough to review a book before reading it, so please treat this as a pre-review. I am just beginning to read what looks like a really important book on Christian history, and I want to define the points I hope to get out of it. The book in question is R. I. Moore’s The War On Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe. Before going further, let me begin by explaining why this matters so much,… Read more

June 1, 2012

Anyone not already familiar with the term “majority-minority” should add it to their vocabulary very soon. That is particularly true for anyone planning for the future of US churches. Through US history, non-Latino whites have always constituted a substantial majority of the population, sometimes 85 percent or more, depending on how we count Native Americans. That proportion has fallen steadily since the 1960s, and at the turn of the new century, some states achieved the status of majority-minority, meaning that… Read more

May 31, 2012

One of the more surprising developments (at least to me) in recent weeks was the apparent equivocation of megachurch pastor Andy Stanley on the issue of homosexuality’s sinfulness. Stanley is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church (according to Wikipedia the second-largest congregation in the country) and related campuses and ministries. I heard him speak at North Point quite a few years ago, though I have to admit that my ears were recovering from the pre-sermon worship music and I… Read more

May 30, 2012

I was delighted to see my colleague Tommy Kidd writing so enthusiastically about G K Chesterton, and especially about The Man Who Was Thursday, one of my absolute favorite books. Chesterton’s other novels are also very well worth reading, and each in its way is quite as bizarre as Thursday. Who knew, for instance, that as far back as 1914 he would write a novel depicting the Islamic takeover of Great Britain? I draw the following from my book God’s… Read more

May 30, 2012

This Sunday the preacher was talking about how the church sanctuary is a sacred place.  It reminded me of a piece I wrote about five years ago called “Praise the Lord and Pass the Caffeine.”  For those of you who have not seen it, or have not read it in its entirety, here it is.  –JF I have never been much of a coffee drinker. When I was a teenager, this posed a few problems, since my father was a… Read more

May 29, 2012

Recently I read G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, A Nightmare (1908), a roller-coaster of a novel, full of surprises and thought-provoking theological reflections. (It is also, happily, one of the public domain titles available for free on Kindle.) I don’t want to summarize the book because The Man Who Was Thursday is best read the way I did — totally fresh. Going in, I knew Chesterton’s work, or at least I had read Orthodoxy, his most famous work. But I knew almost nothing about this particular… Read more

May 28, 2012

The prestigious magazine The Economist recently did a significant piece on the political and cultural attitudes of US evangelicals. Under the title “Evangelical Voters: Lift Every Voice”, it argued that “Growing numbers of non-white evangelicals and changing attitudes among younger Christians are reshaping the politics of American Christianity.” The article offers a number of examples of evangelicals who run contrary to existing stereotypes by their liberal activism, and explores the prospects for “a leftward turn for American Christianity.” Now, you… Read more

May 25, 2012

In the American Spectator, Mark Tooley discusses the recent General Conference of the United Methodist church in a piece called “United Methodists Transition from Liberal to Global.” The article’s main argument is not surprising in light of Mr. Tooley’s strongly conservative advocacy through the years. As often in the past, he says that liberal Western denominations are losing members fast because of their failure to teach a straightforward orthodox message, while Global South churches are growing and eventually will challenge… Read more

May 25, 2012

Hail happy land! hail happy state! Whose freeborn sons in safety meet… Come let us kneel before his face Devoutly supplicate his grace. I have sought to warn my daughter that royalty is not all it’s cracked up to be. Once Evelyn began dressing up one of her stuffed animals as a king (the “King of Starbucks,” as he used a Starbucks coffee holder for his crown), I took it upon myself to have said stuffed animal act like a… Read more

May 23, 2012

Professors are not supposed to attend the funerals of their students. But roughly one year ago today I was sitting in a funeral home in southern New Jersey mourning the death of Megan. She died on May 25, 2011 from complications related to her ten year battle with Lupus.  She was 31 years old.  Megan was the first student I worked closely with when I arrived at Messiah College in 2002. Megan’s enthusiasm for life, God, and the study of… Read more

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