December 4, 2018

Reading a new collection of sermons by Fleming Rutledge got Chris thinking about the implications of Advent for the practice of history. Read more

December 3, 2018

Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, Thomas Jefferson famously opined in his Notes on the State of Virginia, adding, in what sounds like a snarky aside, “if ever he had a chosen people.” Jefferson maintained that God made the breasts of farmers “his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.” Champion of religious liberty and religious minorities, Jefferson in these words was making clear that, whether or not a Supreme Being was the source of farmers’… Read more

November 30, 2018

The season of Advent begins this year on Sunday, December 2. I am adapting here a column I originally posted at this site several years ago. Advent is one of my favorite times in the church year. For many reasons, I relish the “O Antiphons,” which belong precisely to this season. They are so rich in the lessons they teach, with implications for Christmas, of course, but also for the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and (surprisingly perhaps)… Read more

November 29, 2018

Today we welcome George Marsden back to the Anxious Bench. One of the preeminent historians of evangelicalism, George previously weighed in on whether evangelicalism can survive Trump. Here he returns with a provocative thought experiment, adapted from a portion of an essay he is contributing to Evangelicalism, its History, and its Present Crisis, a forthcoming book (Eerdmans, 2019) he is editing together with David Bebbington and Mark Noll.    For those who are (as I am) puzzled and sometimes troubled by how so… Read more

November 28, 2018

It is the most nerve-wracking time of the year. PhD hopefuls have uploaded finely-honed applications to their top choice doctoral programs and clicked submit. Now the waiting game begins. By mid-January programs with the earliest deadlines will begin notifying first-round candidates and extending offers for preview weekends, by March most offers will have been extended, and by April it will be all over (at least for programs with Fall entrance dates). Unfortunately, for most applicants, the news won’t be good…. Read more

November 27, 2018

The story of Hans Nielsen Hauge, the peasant-turned-lay preacher who revived Norwegian Christianity, challenged conventional gender roles, and incurred the hostility of the state church. Read more

November 26, 2018

Sadly, because of the untowardly symbiotic relationship between Trump and the media covering him, many newsworthy stories remain untold or relegated to the back pages. One of these concerns the situation of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine today. It is a complicated story, but the gist is this: many in Ukraine are clamoring that a single autocephalous (self-standing, independent) Orthodox church be formed from the three divided churches that currently exist in the former Soviet Republic: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church… Read more

November 24, 2018

Why Christ the King Sunday is a religious legacy of World War I and its political aftershocks. Read more

November 23, 2018

I have been writing about the cultural and spiritual impact of the First World War, and especially the cataclysmic end of that war in 1918. This takes me back to a topic that I have published about quite a bit, namely white American attitudes to Native peoples, to American Indians. Briefly, the years immediately around 1918 marked a historic cultural shift in the US, as elite white thinkers argued a position that is common today, but which was radically novel… Read more

November 22, 2018

From the Anxious Bench archives… In Augustine’s Confessions, at the end of a discussion of infancy and childhood, there is a beautiful passage about thankfulness. [Note the quotations that follow are from Maria Boulding’s translation]. Much of Book I baffles contemporary readers, who think that Augustine is rather too hard on himself and others. Augustine insists that the “only innocent feature in babies is the weakness of their frames; the minds of infants are far from innocent.” Babies glare “with livid… Read more

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