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

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From Paul Mozur and Ian Johnson, at The New York Times:

A secretive Chinese court sentenced one of the country’s best-known Christian voices and founder of one of its largest underground churches to nine years in prison for subversion of state power and illegal business operations, according...

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Believe it or not, I get contacted regularly by reporters trying to confirm alleged quotes from the Founding Fathers. One recently asked me about the oft-cited quote, supposedly from Ben Franklin, that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” It sounds like something...

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Christianity Today released its annual books-of-the-year awards this week. Evangelical History readers might be interested in the winners for the category of history and biography.

Their overall winner was Kathryn Long’s God in the Rainforest: A Tale of Martyrdom and Redemption in...

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Evangelicals have always had a complicated relationship with the graves and relics of their heroes. On one hand, the heritage of the Reformation made them wary of Catholic excesses regarding religious devotions and relics. On the other, evangelical heroes including George Whitefield and Jonathan...

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Monday, 11 November 2019 13:03

New and Notable Books – Fall 2019

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Here’s my latest edition of New and Notable Books. As a reminder, these are suggestions focused on fairly recent books in American history and religious history. These books certainly may be of interest to fellow historians, but I also try to suggest ones that are accessible and (somewhat)...

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Mark David Hall—the Herbert Hoover distinguished professor of politics and faculty fellow in the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University—is swimming against a certain scholarly stream in his new book, Did America Have a Christian Founding? Separating Modern Myth from...

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My colleague Samuel James—associate acquisitions editor at Crossway and the proprietor of the Letters and Liturgy blog—sits down with Thomas Kidd to discuss his book, Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a Movement in Crisis (Yale University Press, 2019).

Authors: Justin Taylor...

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Monday, 14 October 2019 14:28

The Art of the Book Review

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Writers who publish books will find their books subjected to reviews. Although good book reviews are enormously helpful for keeping up with what’s happening in one’s field, for individual authors they can be frustrating, perplexing, and even paralyzing. Negative reviews can send writers...

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The question raised by my new book, Who Is an Evangelical?, is a historical as much as a contemporary one. One of the most obvious changes to the term historically is that until the 1800s, “evangelical” was almost always used as an adjective, not a noun, as in “evangelical...

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Thursday, 26 September 2019 03:12

Why Patriots Really Fought the American Revolution

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In 1843, a 21-year-old Dartmouth student named Mellen Chamberlain was doing research on the American War for Independence.

He had the opportunity to interview a survivor of the initial battles of Lexington and Concord, 91-year-old Captain Levi Preston of Danvers.

The young scholar wanted to know the...

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Thomas Kidd’s Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a Movement in Crisis (Yale University Press, 2019) is now available.
Here is what others are saying about it:
“Kidd makes a persuasive case for returning the term ‘evangelical’ to the religious convictions that once...

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Thursday, 12 September 2019 14:27

The Best Biographies of William Wilberforce

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Today’s post is by Michael Morgan (D.Min., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary). Michael is researching a PhD on Wilberforce and the clergy at the University of Leicester, under the supervision of Professor John Coffey. He works for William Tennent School of Theology (williamtennent.org)...

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Monday, 02 September 2019 14:49

Jonathan Edwards, Mentor

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In this post I am interviewing Rhys Bezzant about his new book, Edwards the Mentor (Oxford University Press). Bezzant has served as an ordained priest in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, and presently teaches church history at Ridley College, where he directs the Jonathan Edwards Center...

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Monday, 26 August 2019 14:22

Five Great Books on Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson was no evangelical, but he is of great interest to many evangelicals, just as all the major Founding Fathers are. I am in the midst of research and writing for a moral biography of Jefferson, which has given me a chance to catch up on the vast literature on him. Here are five...

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In late August 1619, a shipment of “20 and odd Negroes” arrived on a ship to Virginia. They were not the first Africans in Virginia, but this human cargo is widely viewed as the beginning of slavery in the English colonies. This symbolic moment reverberated through the Civil War, the...

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019 14:52

New and Notable Books – Summer 2019

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This is the inaugural post of a series of occasional lists I plan to compile, to highlight new or forthcoming books in American religious history or the history of colonial/Revolutionary America.

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In this post I am interviewing Darren Dochuk, author of the new book Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America (Basic Books, 2019). Dochuk is associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, and a longtime friend of mine dating back to our PhD program at Notre...

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Tuesday, 09 July 2019 13:47

Happy Birthday, Mr. Calvin

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Jehan Cauvin (John Calvin) was born on July 10, 1509 in Noyon, a town in Picardy, which was a province of the Kingdom of France. He  was was the second of six children born to Jeanne le Franc (daughter of an innkeeper from Cambrai) and Gerard Cauvin (registrar to the ecclesiastical court).

His...

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A staple of “Christian America” history is the claim that “half,” or “twenty-nine” of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had “seminary” or “Bible college” degrees. This claim unfortunately shows up in Fourth of July sermons and...

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019 14:18

Faith in ‘Back Row America’

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Being “spiritual but not religious” has become an American cliche. Growing evidence suggests, however, that being “spiritual” (having individualistic piety) without being “religious” (connected to a congregation) is not just unbiblical, but it has bad social...

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For Christians who want to study history—or just to think more carefully about what history means and how it should be responsibly interpreted—the two best books to start with (in my view) are:

  1. Nathan Finn, History: A Student’s Guide, in the Reclaiming the Christian...

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Monday, 03 June 2019 14:39

Virtue Signaling and Historical Presentism

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One of Americans’ favorite pastimes is establishing their moral superiority by denouncing dead people. Every week brings news stories of some politician scoring points, or a university cleansing itself, by removing a name, a monument, or in some other way purifying our historical memory.

Of...

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J. I. Packer, writing more than 30 years ago in A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway, 1990), 31–34:

Our numbers, it seems, have increased in recent years, and a new interest in the old paths of evangelical theology has grown. For this we...

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Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:39

How to Call Christians Out on Twitter

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Every day on Twitter and other social media sites, Christians call each other out for being “woke” (or not woke enough), “misogynist,” “politically correct,” “heretical,” and much more. Such debates seem typically (on all sides) to generate a lot of...

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Readers of this blog have almost certainly heard a sermon illustration to this effect: Bankers learn how to discover counterfeit money not by studying fake currency but by spending so much time handling the real thing that they learn to feel the difference. (I’ve never independently verified...

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