December 5, 2019

Those were the days: At the beginning of the twentieth century this distinction between mainline and evangelical Protestantism did not exist. To be a member or officer in one of the largest and oldest American Protestant denominations was to be an evangelical. One way to illustrate this point is to look at the sort of statements issued in 1908 at the founding of the Federal Council of Churches. This body, of course, is rarely considered one of the institutions or… Read more

December 4, 2019

Once more a defense of evangelicalism by trying to disassociate this form of Protestantism from Donald Trump and the surveys of Americans that in 2016 find eighty-one percent of evangelical Protestants voted for the president: What does it mean to be evangelical? The simple answer is that evangelical Christianity is the religion of born-again Christians. Here’s a little more detailed definition: evangelicals are born-again Protestants who cherish the Bible as the Word of God and who emphasize a personal relationship… Read more

November 28, 2019

Josh Zeitz explains (did so even before Hillary versus Donald): The president did it again. Governing unapologetically by executive fiat, he steamrolled over Congress and issued a sweeping order that was sure to raise the ire of his Republican opponents. Their complaint was as familiar as his offense. Big, potentially divisive challenges should be resolved through a deliberative, bipartisan legislative process, Republicans insisted, and not by diktat. “If the change has any merit at all,” groused a certain former GOP… Read more

November 26, 2019

Something odd happened on social media. Beth Moore tweeted this: When you fundamentalists run off all the conservative Jesus-loving, Scripture-believing, church-serving conservatives, y’all have fun with what you’ve got left.— Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) November 23, 2019 Apparently, she did not realize that she was channeling another Baptist, one from yesteryear. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a prominent modernist, preached something similar in his famous sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” In the evangelical churches today there are differing views of this matter. One… Read more

November 22, 2019

What if evangelicalism only began in the 1940s with the fame Billy Graham acquired, which observers in turn translated into a religious movement? The theological critiques and historical soul searching of the 1990s raised important questions about how to fix evangelicalism. For some like Wells the solution resides in more and better doctrine. For others like Noll evangelicalism needs to abandon restrictive and simplistic theological formulas. Greater zeal and faithfulness, along with greater discernment about evangelicalism’s recent past are also… Read more

November 20, 2019

Doesn’t anyone remember Mark Noll, David Wells, George Marsden, Donald Dayton, or Douglas Sweeney? The history of evangelicalism in the United States was not supposed to turn out this way. What had been the Horatio Alger story of twentieth-century American religion by the year 2000 turned out to be equivalent of Humpty Dumpty. To be sure, the evangelical narrative did not put its best foot forward when it entered the twentieth century by splitting the American mainline denominations between fundamentalists… Read more

November 14, 2019

I have already noticed the sort of odd phenomenon of progressive evangelical academics rallying to the side of a female Bible teacher who is anything but a scholar and not all that progressive. Here’s another example. Pete Enns makes some useful points about the nature of academic life and scholarly expertise. He does so in a way to counter critics of expertise: There’s nothing like spending a few years after college (for me it was 9) studying a field and… Read more

November 8, 2019

I am not sure if any form of Protestantism will satisfy #Exvangelicals, aside from mainline (read modernist) Protestantism. But a recent post about the German Reformed Church’s nineteenth-century is a good reminder that modern Protestantism bears little resemblance to original Protestantism. Back in the day, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Reformed Protestants were the main options for being Christian outside fellowship with the Bishop of Rome. Anabaptists did appeal to some, but their pacifism and rejection of the Christian magistrate meant that… Read more

November 5, 2019

Surely if evangelicalism had an ecclesiology, that is a doctrine of the church, church membership would matter to any effort to understand what evangelical Protestantism is. But as is so often the case with studies of evangelicalism, Thomas Kidd’s new book, Who Is An Evangelical?, goes for definition over institutional ties. Here is his simple definition: Evangelicals are born-again Protestants who cherish the Bible as the Word of God and who emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the… Read more

October 31, 2019

On Reformation Day, mentions of Martin Luther are legion. This post is not about Luther per se but builds on his 1520 pamphlet, The Freedom of a Christian, to underscore the spiritual nature of the gospel and the liberty it promises. Luther distinguished between the inner man, which enjoyed complete freedom, and the outer man, which was servant to everyone and everything. Keeping that distinction between the spiritual and temporal is difficult because many Christians want faith to be relevant… Read more

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