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

May 22, 2012

Evangelical Christians have engaged in a robust, rancorous debate about hell in the past year. As I wrote in USA Today shortly after Osama Bin Laden’s death, this debate was precipitated partly by indiscreet comments about Bin Laden’s eternal destiny, and, more importantly, by the publication of Rob Bell’s Love Wins. Bell’s book strongly implied that because of the power of God’s love, no one would be condemned to everlasting torment in hell. [See my Patheos review of Love Wins here.] As with… Read more

May 20, 2012

It is eerie seeing your old home town suddenly becoming the center of a spiritual phenomenon. I am originally from Port Talbot in South Wales, a town that has lived through very hard times. Once intended as the cutting edge of European industry in the 1950s, Port Talbot became a classic boom town, at its peak employing some twenty thousand at its gargantuan steelworks. By the 1980s, though, that industry collapsed, leaving behind a rustbelt world that would be instantly… Read more

May 18, 2012

I am normally reluctant to link to articles that need a subscription, but I’ll make an exception here. The current Weekly Standard has a lengthy piece by Armin Rosen titled “Birth of a Nation: With American Evangelicals on the Ground in South Sudan.” By way of background, Sudan was for many years divided between its Arab and Muslim north, based in Khartoum, and a (black) animist and Christian south. Rebellions and civil wars produced twenty years of carnage, with a… Read more

May 17, 2012

Most historians publish their dissertations as a book, then aim for a second project that might tackle a larger topic or reach a broader audience. Matthew Bowman has worked in reverse. Earlier this year, Random House published his The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith. The paperback will be out on the weekend of the GOP Convention. I consider Matt a kindred spirit of sorts. I’m a Protestant who has written on my own tradition and then ventured… Read more

May 16, 2012

As many of the readers of my blog, “The Way of Improvement Leads Home” are aware, I have spent a good portion of 2011 and 2012 on the road and on the radio waves promoting my book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? In the process, I have learned a lot about what Americans think about the founding of the United States.  Many of the people I have encountered have been thoughtful, open-minded, and willing to listen to my… Read more

May 15, 2012

I recently learned a fascinating lesson about global Christianity – or to be more exact, the first phase of that great movement, over a thousand years ago. I also learned how little even educated people know about that phenomenon. I had the wondrous experience of visiting the Warriors, Tombs and Temples exhibit that is currently showing at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The exhibit is spectacular, based as it does on the vast terracotta army of soldiers that were… Read more

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