January 30, 2020

Who are evangelicals? How did the meaning of evangelicalism take shape over the course of the last two centuries? When answering those questions, historians most commonly examine denominations, congregations, and parachurch ministries, and their leaders. Daniel Vaca, Robert Gale Noyes Assistant Professor of Humanities at Brown University, explores the creation and development of evangelical identity from a different vantage point, that of the marketplace. Vaca’s recently published book is Evangelicals Incorporated: Books and the Business of Religion in America (Harvard, 2019)…. Read more

January 29, 2020

Fifty years after the latinization of Latin America Mission, attempts to implement the insights of Gatu and Lores continue with only uneven success. Read more

January 28, 2020

Chris investigates the unlikely history of a much loved children’s hymn. Read more

January 27, 2020

The nineteenth-century Catholic theologian John Henry Newman was recently canonized by Pope Francis. Newman is the author of many important works, but none are as relevant to Christian higher education as his The Idea of a University. In several weeks, I will lead a discussion on it. Here are a few initial thoughts, especially with an aim to contextualizing the work historically: Although perhaps more invoked than read, Newman’s The Idea of a University remains a key work for thinking… Read more

January 24, 2020

This post is about the process of writing, and about gradually finding out what exactly you have been researching and writing through the years. The answer can surprise, even or especially me, as the author. In my time, I have written a lot of books, around thirty to date. The topics are not randomly selected, as they fall into four or so distinct categories. But for the purposes of this blog, I will trace one of those long arcs or… Read more

January 23, 2020

Last week, journalist Sarah McClure published an investigative report in Cosmopolitan—yes, Cosmopolitan—on the prevalence of sexual abuse among the Amish. Based on a year-long investigation, the report contains disturbing details that are difficult to stomach; I’d call it shocking if we didn’t already have a history of similar reports of abuse in Amish and Mennonite communities going back years. McClure discovered “52 official cases of Amish child sexual assault in seven states over the past two decades,” but the full… Read more

January 22, 2020

This is from my Anxious Bench archives. I am working hard on book chapters, but never fear I will be back soon. I wanted to post this again for two reasons. First–it is one of my favorite local history posts (that probably many of my readers haven’t seen, since it is from 2016), and I thought it was poignant given Wayne Grudem’s recent public change on his stance on divorce. He just admitted that divorce is probably okay in the case… Read more

January 21, 2020

Given current trends, mainline denominations may virtually disappear by the year 2050. If so, Chris hopes that the historic best of mainline Protestantism will survive, finding new expressions in a renewed church. Read more

January 20, 2020

The Economist just published an article that on its surface said nothing about religion or religious trends, but the implications for that topic are huge. Let me put the argument out there for discussion. The article is called “Free Exchange: Economists Grapple With Rising American Mortality” (January 9, paywalled). The main topic is “deaths of despair,” as “A growing share of middle-aged white Americans, especially those without college degrees, are dying from suicide and drug and alcohol use.” This is… Read more

January 17, 2020

I have written a lot related to the centennial of the First World War. One of my main themes has been the stunning juxtaposition in those years of radical modernity – in the form of tanks, aircraft, gas weaponry, and mass industrial warfare – and the truly ancient religious ideas that people used to comprehend what was going on around them.  The visual record of the war years is awash with images of angels and Armageddon. People spoke the language… Read more

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