January 25, 2013

I have recently been discussing the destruction of the church that flourished in Roman Britain up through the fifth century. Historians differ greatly on how far they think the fifth and sixth centuries marked a major change of population in the country, or at least the south and east of the island – what became southern and eastern England. In my view, the old society really was devastated, and the best argument for that is the linguistic transformation. Neither Latin… Read more

January 24, 2013

Oftentimes the most powerful accounts of “religious history” are found in books addressing much broader topics. Such is the case in Anne Applebaum’s convincing and eloquent The Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 (Doubleday, 2012). Focusing on events in East Germany, Poland, and Hungary, Applebaum uses both archival sources and oral interviews to chronicle the rise of totalitarianism in Eastern Europe. Max Frankel wrote a rather dismissive review of the book for the New York Times. While Frankel… Read more

January 23, 2013

From John Fea: The conservative Christian World Magazine has published a lengthy essay by Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter drawn largely from their book, Getting Jefferson Right. The fitting title of their article is “David Barton is Wrong.” David Barton offers a lengthy rebuttal to Getting Jefferson Right.  The fitting title of his article is “No, I’m Not Wrong.”  At the start of the article Barton grudgingly admits that the work of Throckmorton and Coulter has exposed a few things… Read more

January 22, 2013

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which critics regard as one of the most overreaching decisions in Supreme Court history. Citing an expansive interpretation of the 14th amendment and the “right to privacy,” the court determined that abortion on demand should be legal in all 50 states. As I have written earlier, the fallout from Roe v. Wade remains one of the key reasons that many evangelicals, including those I call “paleo evangelicals,” remain attached to a Republican Party… Read more

January 21, 2013

This past week NPR ran a five-day series on the “Nones,” the increasing number of religiously unaffiliated Americans.  The title comes from a Pew study released last fall noting an uptick in those who described their religious affiliation as “none.”  About a fifth of American adults, and a third of Americans under 30, classify themselves this way, some firmly atheist, some agnostic, some spiritual but not looking for church.  Affiliations have declined in several categories but more distinctly among Protestants,… Read more

January 18, 2013

I’m wrestling with a truly baffling linguistic mystery, with some far-reaching implications for Christian history. In a couple of recent posts, I looked at the fate of the British Christian society that appears to have been overwhelmed by pagan Germanic invaders during the fifth and sixth centuries. According to traditional accounts, invaders killed or enslaved most of the earlier Celtic inhabitants in the south and east of England, driving many into exile to the north or west, or overseas. That’s… Read more

January 17, 2013

This morning, I began reading Brad Gregory’s magisterial The Unintended Reformation: How A Religious Revolution Secularized Modern Society. It’s not a subtle or irenic book. “Judged on their own terms,” Gregory concludes, “and with respect to the objectives of their own leading protagonists, medieval Christendom failed, the Reformation failed, confessionalized Europe failed, and Western modernity is failing.” In particular, he contends, “the Reformation is the most important distant historical source for contemporary Western hyperpluralism with respect to truth claims about… Read more

January 16, 2013

I am working on some revisions to an article on evangelicals and political engagement in the twentieth century.  If all goes well, the essay will find its way into a collection of essays stemming from a series of Catholic-Evangelical dialogues that have taken place over the last several years at Georgetown University.  One of the readers of an earlier draft of my manuscript noted that my story of twentieth-century evangelicalism was too “Anglo” and “white.”  It was a good point. … Read more

January 15, 2013

In his magisterial biography of Jonathan Edwards, George Marsden reminds us that there was a time, in the decades after his death, when Jonathan Edwards was more popular in Scotland than in America. Indeed, there was a fleeting moment, after the Northampton church dismissed Edwards in 1750, when Edwards might have moved his family to Scotland. One of his closest Scottish associates, John Erskine, about whom I have written recently, offered to get him a position there, if only he could… Read more

January 14, 2013

I have a long-standing interest in the early church and the church of Late Antiquity – depending where you are located, that includes the era we sometimes call the Dark Ages. This fascination, for instance, led me to write books like my Jesus Wars. The more I think about it, the more I realize just where this interest comes from. Little did I realize it at the time, but I grew up in a landscape utterly marked by the early… Read more

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