But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.  1 Peter 3: 14-16

Evangelical History - Apologetic Report
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In America, some of the most (apparently) devout people behave in the most secular ways. This is not a new phenomenon—the great sociologist Will Herberg was one of the first to identify it in his classic book, Protestant-Catholic-Jew (1955). Polls in the 1950s already showed that...

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The claim that you are “spiritual but not religious” has reached cliche status in American culture. But in the evangelical and Reformed tradition, there is really no possibility of being “spiritual” without being regenerate. The “spiritual” state to which the...

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Tuesday, 04 September 2018 14:30

The 7 Most Famous Things Luther Never Actually Said

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Some of the best Luther quotes are things he didn’t actually say or didn’t say in quite that way. Some of them capture his basic thought, while others represent things he would have disagreed with.

Alleged Luther quote #1

If I believed the world were to end tomorrow, I would still plant a...

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Monday, 27 August 2018 14:44

The New Thought Roots of the Prosperity Gospel

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Kate Bowler’s Blessed is the best history of the American prosperity gospel. Here she explains the intellectual and theological roots of the prosperity gospel in the “New Thought” movement.

New Thought represents a cluster of thinkers and metaphysical ideas that emerged in the...

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We are honored today to run a guest post by our friend and fellow historian (as well as fellow Cornhusker fan), Dr. Paul Putz (PhD, Baylor University), who specializes in twentieth-century U.S. history, especially sports, religion, and the Midwest. His dissertation, “God, Country, and...

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Monday, 20 August 2018 14:23

The Two Main Things We Need from Leaders

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The Donald Trump presidency and our recent outbreak of pastoral and denominational scandals have brought into focus how much we need both the right ideas and personal integrity from our leaders. Too often, our tendency is to think that all that matters is a leader’s ideas, or just...

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Monday, 13 August 2018 14:05

Teaching Salem Witchcraft

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One of the most provocative topics in the American History survey class is the Salem witchcraft trials. Although it was a great tragedy, the episode lends itself to wonderful discussions about historical interpretation. As Emerson Baker’s book A Storm of Witchcraft points out, the past four...

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There is no such thing as the Christian approach to history—a definitive, universally applicable method for historians to practice their craft “Christianly.” And according to Jay Green—himself a Christian and a historian—that is not necessarily a bad thing, as he...

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John Bisagno, longtime pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church, went to be with the Lord this weekend. He was known as one of the early leaders in America’s evangelical youth movement of the early 1970s. Before he became an influential evangelist and Baptist pastor, Bisagno worked as a...

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The traditional date for Ben Franklin’s famous electrical experiment with his kite is June 10, 1752. It is such a paradigmatic moment in science that there has been a lively debate about the actual date it transpired, or whether it happened at all!

Whatever the actual date of the experiment,...

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Monday, 16 July 2018 14:10

Is the Wall of Separation ‘Bad History’?

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As journalists pore over every line written and uttered by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Los Angeles Times has highlighted a 2017 speech in which Kavanaugh said that the “wall of separation between church and state” is a metaphor based upon “bad history.”

Sep...

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Monday, 09 July 2018 14:20

Did Congress Print the First American Bible?

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One of the hardiest Christian America myths is the idea that Congress gave financial support to print the first American-published Bible in 1782, or even that Congress printed it themselves. Neither is true, though Congress did give an endorsement to the Bible printed by Robert Aitken. In the past,...

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At the Anxious Bench blog, my friend and Baylor colleague Philip Jenkins suggests that American religion may finally be catching up with secular Europe, because of a key change in American families.

The United States just passed a critical statistical landmark, one that I think–I...

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Adam Laats, Professor of Education and History at Binghamton University, is the author of Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in American Higher Education (Oxford University Press, 2018), which Joel Carpenter calls “a major contribution to the history of Christian higher education and to...

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In today’s post I am interviewing Jeff McDonald about his new book John Gerstner and the Renewal of Presbyterian and Reformed Evangelicalism in Modern America. McDonald is pastor of the Avery Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Nebraska and an Affiliate Professor of Church History at...

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The Southern Baptist Convention meeting added even more controversy to its agenda this week with the announcement that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence would address the gathering. The decision generated much debate and consternation on social media, but a motion to stop Pence’s appearance was...

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Monday, 11 June 2018 14:30

How Augustine Wrote So Many Books

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Garry Wills, Augustine’s Confessions: A Biography, Lives of Great Religious Books (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), 1–4:

How did Augustine write Confessions?

Well, in the strict sense, he didn’t—didn’t set words down on papyrus or parchment.

Augustin...

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The Faith of Donald J. Trump by David Brody and Scott Lamb represents an evangelical apologetic for supporting a deeply flawed, non-evangelical politician. It is a book for the already-converted. It will resonate with religious people who voted for the president, and who take Vice President Mike...

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We often think of New England as one of the most unchurched (or de-churched) regions of the country. So you may be surprised to know that the number of churches in Boston actually doubled between the 1960s and the year 2000. Much of the increase is due to the growth of immigrant-focused evangelical...

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Wednesday, 16 May 2018 12:21

Who Was Lady Jane Grey, the 9-Day Queen?

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Lady Jane Grey (1536/7–1554) is a daughter of the Reformation whose story of faithfulness and grace deserves to be better known.

But in order to explain why an 18-year-old Christian girl was beheaded after a nine-day reign as Queen of England, we first have to back up and offer a quick primer...

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The white evangelical response to the civil-rights movement has been much debated. In general, white evangelical leaders (especially by Billy Graham) were cautiously supportive of civil rights, but they also did not want to antagonize white segregationist allies in their denominations. Nor did they...

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Andrew R. Lewis, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati, is an expert on evangelicals and politics, church-state relations, conservative legal activism, and rights politics. His new, important, and timely book, The Rights Turn in...

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Monday, 30 April 2018 14:05

The Border, the Families, and the Church

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Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border is the epitome of a well-timed book. Cantú, a third-generation Mexican-American, worked for the Border Patrol from 2008-2012. He has written a quietly beautiful but disturbing memoir about his...

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At the recent Theologians on the Christian Life conference, hosted by Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Piper for an hour to talk about the role of history and biography in his life.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

    • Do you recall your...

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Monday, 23 April 2018 14:01

Should You Pursue a Ph.D.?

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I routinely get questions from undergraduate and Master’s students, at Baylor and elsewhere, about applying to Ph.D. programs. Here is some of my standard advice to those thinking of pursuing a Ph.D. and a career as a college or university professor.

How do I choose a Ph.D. program? I had...

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