7 Theses on Evangelicalism After Donald Trump and 2016

In the aftermath of the many scandals of the past week and a half, which began with the Trump tapes, and the consequent loss of endorsements for Trump (and the increasingly appalling support for the man), now is a good time to take stock of where evangelicalism is as a social movement in America and what our post-Trump future will be.

Continue reading

Mere Fidelity: 1 Kings

Apologies for the late posting: Matt is traveling today so I’m publishing the podcast this week, except I’m also moving tomorrow and have two small children, and one in particular who excels at unpacking the things we just packed.

Anyway, here is this week’s episode of Mere Fidelity, which features the full cast and crew discussing the book of 1 Kings. This is going to be the first of a series of episodes on 1 and 2 Kings. Continue reading

Interview with Danielle Hitchen

After featuring Danielle Hitchen’s new project on Monday, I wanted to ask her a few more questions about the counting primer specifically and about more general work that she is doing with Catechesis Books. So in this brief interview, we’ll hear how Danielle (and artist Jessica Blanchard) chose the visuals for the book, selected text excerpts to feature on each page, and more. Remember, if you’re interested in Danielle’s project and want to support it, you can do so via their Kickstarter page.

The first thing that stood out to me as I looked at the proofs is that you’ve made some really interesting choices for the topics you cover. It’s a counting primer board book for very small children, but you’re covering things like the two natures of Christ, three persons in the trinity, etc. How did you decide what things to feature on each page? Continue reading

Choose: A Republic or “A Basket of Deplorables”

One of the smarter critiques of today’s American liberalism is that it’s actually mainline Protestantism shorn of its explicitly Christian content. Former First Things editor Jody Bottum makes this critique in his book An Anxious Age but others have made similar arguments elsewhere.

Typically the point of making this observation is to highlight points of overlap between mainline Protestantism and today’s liberalism. But in light of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment from late last week, it seems worthwhile to note where precisely today’s liberalism is deeply at odds with Christianity and how this discontinuity with liberal Christianity figures to be far more important than liberalism’s many continuities with that dying branch of American Christianity. Continue reading

The Problem of Pronouns and Pluralism

From the land of “the culture war is interested in you,” here’s this new report from Eugene Volokh at the Washington Post:

From the official Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination’s Gender Identity Guidance, just released last week:

Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.

Now, churches hold events “open to the general public” all the time — it’s often how they seek new converts. And even church “secular events,” which I take it means events that don’t involve overt worship, are generally viewed by the church as part of its ministry, and certainly as a means of the church modeling what it believes to be religiously sound behavior.

You should read the whole thing for context, but the upshot is that there are serious conversations happening right now in the state of Massachusetts that could lead to legal action against churches that do not use a person’s preferred pronouns. Legal action may even be taken against churches whose congregants engage in such behavior, depending on how laws are written and courts rule. Continue reading

Regarding Nebraska

I wrote this essay four years ago and it has been sitting on my hard drive awaiting further work ever since. I’ve recently concluded that it’s been so long now that I can’t “finish it” but only write a sequel. I’m working on that one now. But for the moment, I decided to finally hit “publish” on this, even if it’s now four years old and, as a result, a bit dated in parts. Do note that I quote a few people directly and these people have… we’ll say “colorful” ways of speaking.

I. “Love… has a body and a place.”

If you stand at the intersection of 48th and O in Lincoln and look north, you’ll see an Advanced Autoparts on your right next to a dilapidated (but still open) skate zone. To your left, you’ll see a CVS, Target, and a grocery store called Super Saver. If you walk a half mile north, you’ll come to 48th and Vine. From there, you can see a lingerie store in an old office building to your right. Across the street from it, you’ll see a Mexican restaurant called D’Leon’s that looks like a converted trailer home and a small, unobtrusive pet shop specializing in fish named, in classic Nebraskan fashion, “The Fish Store.” Continue reading

Purity as Branding in the Evangelical Sub-Culture

After Ruth Graham’s interview with Joshua Harris last week in Slate there was, once again, the predictable round of discussion on social media and in the blogosphere about evangelical “purity culture,” as it existed in youth ministries during the late 80s through the early 2000s. The term purity culture is probably part of the problem here, as there isn’t just one “purity culture” in evangelicalism. Continue reading

On David Gushee’s Dishonesty

Earlier this week David Gushee continued his sad decline with a cowardly piece for Religion News Service. It’s all par for the course for progressive evangelicals like Gushee, of course, which is why I’m generally not too bothered by what they say. But even so the dishonesty in this particular piece is jarring and merits further comment.

I could quote multiple lines, but this one will suffice, to begin. In talking about those awful backwards bigots (that he used to hang out with), Gushee writes, “(Religious conservatives) are organizing legal defense efforts under the guise of religious liberty, and interpreting their plight as religious persecution.” Continue reading

Francis Schaeffer and Christian Intellectualism

In his recent essay on Christian intellectualism, Alan Jacobs dates the high point of the public Christian intellectual in America as being in the late 1940s. Citing the influence of thinkers like CS Lewis, WH Auden, and Reinhold Niebuhr, Jacobs argues that the movement began to fade in the 1950s and, by the 1960s, was largely a spent force. By that time Lewis, Auden, and Niebuhr were no longer as relevant in contemporary debates and the next generation had not yet emerged. By the time that generation of leaders did, Jacobs argues, the culture had moved past them and they had become more conversant in the intramural discussions happening in conservative religious circles rather than the broader cultural conversation. Continue reading