December 14, 2018

After reading Rusty Reno’s relatively recent laments about sanctity among Roman Catholic clergy (and the culture than enables it), I couldn’t help but remember the old argument for mainline Protestants converting to Rome. The mainline communions had abandoned traditional morality about marriage, sex, and family life — with perhaps women’s ordination thrown in if the convert were that kind of Protestant. At least, the argument went, Rome had sturdy views on sex and marriage and a tradition of maintaining such… Read more

December 13, 2018

Historians are an insecure lot and all the more so with recent developments. First came the glamorous Harvard University historian, Jill Lepore’s verdict that historians had lost an audience with the public, which was easy for her to say since she is a staff writer for The New Yorker. (How many historians can that magazine publish and do they ever take submissions from faculty at Illinois Post-Industrial State University?) Then came news that history majors have declined, an apparent indication… Read more

December 10, 2018

Roman Catholics recently (Dec. 5 8) celebrated or observed (or marked) The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which as this article explains is about the conception not of Jesus but of Mary. Protestants, at least in this part of the world, recently had a fellowship meal after which they sang lots of Advent and Christmas carols. High church folks, don’t get upset. Be happy Reformed Protestants are even acknowledging Christmas because they didn’t used to until retailers made it “the… Read more

December 7, 2018

Some dispute that Martin Luther ever said that he would rather be ruled by a wise Muslim than a foolish Christian, but apocryphal or not, it suggests an important insight in Luther’s theology that has implications for the way that Christians understand and live in the modern world. In the non-Lutheran part of the Protestant world, the desire to integrate faith and learning or to have a Christian worldview view of the world about all areas of earthly existence may… Read more

December 6, 2018

Take for instance the recent review essay in the New York Times of books on American Judaism in which the author, Gal Beckerman, writes this way about the United States even after the killing of 11 Jews on October 28 at a Pittsburgh synagogue: They were victims, in America, a country that has never seen even a hint of a pogrom. In their pain and worry, individual Jews had a rare chance to feel themselves part of a larger community… Read more

December 3, 2018

I keep seeing posts or tweets that suggest or even insist that Christianity is 100% behind social justice. This is an odd way for people to think who worship an innocent man (sinless even) executed by Roman authorities on the most shameful of all instruments of punishment that ancients can devise. In other words, the crucifixion was an enormous instance of injustice, social, political, theological, racial (possibly even economic). What prevents Jesus from qualifying on some metrics of intersectionality is… Read more

November 29, 2018

A good friend and great colleague in the study of U.S. history, Leo Ribuffo, has died. Details and obituaries have yet to surface. He was older and sometimes frail, so the news of his demise was not a surprise even if its suddenness shocked. I have known Leo since he identified himself as the reader of my then manuscript, an intellectual biography of J. Gresham Machen. Ever since, I have known Leo to be unpredictable and insightful in his judgments,… Read more

November 28, 2018

Matthew Schmitz must be a terrific poker player. At a time when the reasons for becoming a Roman Catholic are not looking particularly good, the editor at First Things, a convert from the Calvinistic Baptist world, has gone all in on the Roman Catholic Church’s possession of the true path to salvation. Particularly, in response to three recent deconversions — Melinda Henneberger, Melinda Selmys, and Damon Linker — Schmitz has the intestinal fortitude (some might say, temerity) to write that… Read more

November 26, 2018

Roger Olson observes that the current critics of evangelicalism, the so-called voices from the margins, want to be free from the white-male dominated power structures responsible for defining evangelicalism: After listening to the panelists’ papers and the ensuing open discussion, I wondered if 1) white, heterosexual men (like myself) have any place in this conversation anymore (I think not), and 2) if “evangelical” is now losing all meaning. Again, for all our faults and failures, we at least attempted to… Read more

November 21, 2018

When will John Fea turn from David Barton to Michael Gerson? The column about the wickedness of evangelical support from Trump (if only there were one) is a tad old now (Oct. 1) but it is littered with the sort of historical blunders that professional historians like John Fea regularly fault in David Barton, the Texan with the hat to match who dunks the American founding in the waters of lowest common denominator Protestantism. Consider the following: It is also… Read more

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