July 17, 2019

If you walk into the main book browsing area in Harvard Coop (as in oops) in Harvard Square (Cambridge), you will see on the banister at the second level a display of Harvard University’s various schools’ crests. What caught my eye on a visit last week, after walking around the campus of my alma mater, Harvard Divinity School, was that the Div School actually started (1816) a year earlier than the Law School. Neither was as old as the Med… Read more

July 12, 2019

Some folks in the Reformed tradition do not care for the theological debates and divisions that have marked Presbyterian church history. As such, you will find those invoking John Newton’s advice — he’s the author of Amazing Grace — about how to treat opponents: Of all people who engage in controversy, we who are called Calvinists are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. But with some frequency you may also find Presbyterians… Read more

July 9, 2019

Born-again Protestantism was always tricky to define, but evangelical support for President Trump has sent scholars searching for a definition that will reassure those who find the president deplorable that real believers would never do such a thing. Here a piece that Billy Graham wrote in 1997 for Christianity may be handy. His account of the origins of the magazine, Christianity, stresses what practically everyone of an earlier generation knew about being evangelical — you become one in order to… Read more

July 3, 2019

With news that Nike has chosen to side with a man over a woman, Colin Kaepernick’s role in the decision got me thinking about whether David French, the evangelical columnist at National Review, thinks this is troubling development for the classical liberalism he promotes and defends. Of course, nixing a new sneaker has next to nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. But since Nike seemed to think that featuring the American flag that Betsy Ross… Read more

July 2, 2019

These reflections come in the context of finishing a manuscript on the spiritual life of Benjamin Franklin. Of all the debates that surround the Christian character of the American Founding and the faith of the nation’s original statesmen, most academics have little trouble disposing of Franklin within the ranks of the faithful. The Bostonian who grew up in New England Puritanism and then relocated to Philadelphia and went through a Deist phase, married an Anglican woman and made his peace… Read more

June 27, 2019

This is a follow-up to the previous post about the Presbyterian Church in America leaving the National Association of Evangelicals. It is an excuse to include an excerpt from Recovering Mother Kirk, a collection of essays about Presbyterian identity and the ways it is distinct from evangelical Protestantism. In other words, the PCA leaving the NAE on religious as opposed to political grounds makes perfect sense: “But are Presbyterians evangelical?” That was the question that kept coming back to me… Read more

June 25, 2019

While evangelical historians continue to lament the majority of born-again Protestants who voted for President Donald Trump — some have even dedicated books to the nineteen percent who did not — these same observers of American Protestantism were likely unprepared for the news that a committee on ecumenicity within the Presbyterian Church in America endorsed an overture at its current meeting of the General Assembly to leave the National Association of Evangelicals. Of course, the NAE, the organization that in… Read more

June 21, 2019

Roman Catholics worrying about whether to stay in the church has dissipated somewhat since the farther we get from the headlines of scandal (though the news does not actually slow), the less pressing the dilemmas feel. For Roman Catholics in West Virginia who recently of former Bishop Michael Bransfield, the choice may be more to withhold funds than to go to church elsewhere (either with Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox): Now that parishioners fear their funds might just be going… Read more

June 13, 2019

I will be (all about mmmmmeeeee) leading students this evening in a discussion of some essays by the poet, writer, agrarian, and farmer, Wendell Berry, as part of a seminar designed to increase awareness of localism and belonging to communities and neighborhoods. This assignment prompted a return to some of Berry’s essays which lead me to this discussion of sex that is pretty darned impressive and a tad prophetic since it is from 1992, well before the rise of on-line… Read more

June 7, 2019

Just when Sohrab Ahmari’s take down of David French-ism has almost expired, Jared Wilson decides to trot out the old canard that Calvinists are mean. This is a meme that the leaders of and writers for The Gospel Coalition (also known as Big Green Letters) have used many times to distinguish themselves from Reformed Protestants who are more particular about Reformed ministry and church life than the assemblage of Baptists and Presbyterians who really really like Jonathan Edwards. On the… Read more

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