May 27, 2019

I have been posting a lot in recent weeks on Christ’s Resurrection, a topic that Christians should really be considering and contemplating in the forty days or so following Easter Day. That was, the New Testament tells us, the time that the Risen Jesus remained with his disciples in order to teach them, prior to the Ascension. I am particularly interested in determining how far we can reconstruct the earliest claims and ideas concerning that event. Beyond debate, the Christian… Read more

May 25, 2019

Today we are so pleased to welcome Otis Pickett, an Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi College, to the Anxious Bench. Otis is also co-founder of the Prison to College Pipeline program. I recently came across a piece on Patheos by D.G. Hart entitled “#Woke Evangelical Timeline.” While I have tremendous respect for Hart as a historian, I also have relationships with the individuals mentioned in the piece and on Twitter.[1] I have also taken both a personal and professional interest in… Read more

May 24, 2019

I have a literary discovery to report, and I think I can claim a first here. It involves a work by one of the great modern Christian novelists, and an older author who wrote a stunning work on one particular tradition of the faith. The modern writer is Gene Wolfe, who died last month. He is often misleadingly called a science fiction or fantasy writer, but he was far more than that. He was a brilliant stylist and a dazzling… Read more

May 23, 2019

A few weeks ago, I suggested that the “myth” of puritan intolerance is “not very useful for understanding the history of seventeenth-century New England” in part because “it implies that New England’s leaders were outliers within the trans-Atlantic world they inhabited.” The reality is that the Congregational ministers and magistrates of New England “were quite ordinary in their desire for religious uniformity and their determination to punish stubborn heresy.” In this week’s post, I will flesh out these suggestions. It… Read more

May 22, 2019

David Swartz interviews David Kirkpatrick about his new book on the Latin American evangelical left. Read more

May 21, 2019

As news spread of Rachel Held Evans’s death, one quote continued to pop up in my social media feed, a quote from her book Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church: But the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” This… Read more

May 20, 2019

Someday, soon perhaps, the Juul e-cigarette will pass into the heap of cast-off youth fads and we may breathe sighs of relief that that’s over.  Until then, fuel for wild-eyed screeds against the product needs to come from somewhere. Religious and moral opposition to smoking has a long and varied pedigree, from the “Counterblaste to Tobacco” of England’s King James I, to the seventeenth-century papal rulings against tobacco use at Mass, to calls by long-skirted ladies of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union…. Read more

May 17, 2019

Not long ago, I posted about the Book of Acts, suggesting that some very early reader of that text went out and collected what all later ages now know as the collection of Paul’s letters. Specifically, I suggested the collector responsible was “Theophilos,” either the actual name or pseudonym of the person to whom Luke dedicated his writings. Following up on that, I returned to one of the very best scholarly works on Acts, which is of course by Ben… Read more

May 16, 2019

Chris writes his first letter to a member of the U.S. Congress. Read more

May 15, 2019

In 215 B.C., a defeated and cash-strapped Rome passed a new law. The context was their greatest military defeat ever. On August 2, 216 B.C., the Carthaginian general Hannibal destroyed their army at Cannae during the Second Punic War. Sources tell us between 50,000 and 70,000 Roman soldiers died that day. That is seven times as many soldiers killed at Gettysburg.  As the first century Roman historian Livy cried, “Certainly there is no other nation that would not have succumbed beneath… Read more

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