Tag Archives: D L Moody

Revival in secular New England? Yes, even this is possible


Sporadically we hear rumors of religious revival on the college campuses of one of America’s most notoriously secular regions: New England. The Boston Globe published one such report of Ivy League revival in 2003 (as of today, Jan 29, 2010, the link still works, and the article is still fascinating). Shocking? Not really. It’s just the latest in a long line of campus revivals in the land of the Unitarian Brahmins. The Globe article gave me the excuse (like I really needed it) to look into the story of those revivals.

An exciting New England development today: the campus of D. L. Moody’s Northfield College has now been purchased for the C S Lewis Foundation–the group that owns Lewis’s home, the Kilns, in England, and runs a study center there. Soon, Moody’s old stomping grounds will host of a new “great books” college (check out the videos at that link) named after Lewis.

Can Anything Good Come Out of New England?
Evangelical revival in the land of the liberal Brahmins may not be as historically odd as we suppose.
Chris Armstrong

A recent article in the Boston Globe discerns a spiritual “New Day” in New England—a day in which evangelical Christianity has penetrated even the liberal fortress of Harvard and stands poised for a full-blown regional revival.

To some modern-day evangelicals this may seem a bizarre—if welcome—a piece of news. On a level with God’s bulletin to Jonah that Nineveh would at last be saved. New England, such skeptics would say, long ago slid into a spiritual funk that has got to have John Winthrop (of Puritan “City on a Hill” fame) rolling around in his grave.

Never mind the glory days of Jonathan Edwards and his Northampton, Massachusetts-based Great Awakening (see last week’s newsletter), the evangelical skeptic might say. In a time when Harvard Divinity School students eviscerate their Bibles and celebrate “Coming Out Day” to affirm their homosexual colleagues, this spiritual legacy is long buried. No, the Unitarians and other liberals have, the critic would say, definitively won the day in that erstwhile blessed region, and God has passed over the land of his chosen (Puritan) children, moving on to revive hearts where the prospects seem more promising. Continue reading

Muscular Christianity’s prodigal son, college sports


With the Super Bowl looming, and Christianity Today putting out a big “sports issue,” it’s time to weigh in with a church-historical take. Yes, this one’s on college sports rather than pro sports. But hey, March Madness is just around the corner.

And yes, I can do a history riff on anything. That’s one of the fun things about being a historian.

(Note: this story was originally posted on Christianity Today’s website a few years back, when a scandal involving Baylor’s basketball program had just hit the front pages)

Muscular Christianity’s Prodigal Son, College Sports
In the wake of a basketball scandal at a prominent Christian university, we take time to remember the Christian roots of college athletics
Chris Armstrong

Inappropriate payments and academic fudging on behalf of college athletes. Rampant performance-enhancing and recreational drug use. Cursing, furniture-throwing coaches. Medically questionable practice regimens that may have contributed to players’ deaths. The past decade has not been kind to college sports.

Texas’s Baylor University has been pursuing a very public quest to become America’s “Protestant Notre Dame”—a top-ranked research university with an explicit Christian commitment. But recent revelations of drug use and under-the-table scholarship payments in the athletics program, on the heels of a basketball player’s tragic death, are currently distracting everyone’s attention.

Other than the fact that this scandal is occurring at a Christian school, this feels like “old news”—sadly familiar in the big-money world of Division I college sports. But it may lead the faithful to ask a new question: Should a Christian student think twice before getting involved in high-profile college sports like basketball or football? What kind of values will he or she learn in that setting?

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, this question would have been unthinkable. Why? Continue reading

Do Non-Charismatics ‘Do’ Holy Spirit Baptism? Ask D. L. Moody, Charles G. Finney, Jonathan Edwards, or Cotton Mather


As a Christian “of Pentecostal extraction” working at Christianity Today International, I was often asked by friends from that movement to see whether I couldn’t get some more coverage of the Wesleyan-holiness-Pentecostal-charismatic stream in CTI publications. I agree that Christianity Today itself had not always done a great job of covering that significant (to put it mildly) stream within American and world evangelicalism–though I think that’s starting to change. So early on, I posted a couple of short items pointing to the affinities between Pentecostals and other evangelicals. Here is one of those:

Do Non-Charismatics ‘Do’ Holy Spirit Baptism?
Ask D. L. Moody, Charles G. Finney, Jonathan Edwards, or Cotton Mather
Chris Armstrong

Recently we’ve heard a lot about the rapid worldwide growth of Pentecostal and charismatic groups. Researcher David Barrett and his team have been reminding us for years that these groups have passed all others in their global spread. Polls here at home have showed similarly high domestic growth rates in such groups.

Some secular commentators have found this growth menacing—the burgeoning of yet another potentially violent, reactionary religious group. Some evangelicals, too, are discomfited, finding the charismatics’ emphasis on Spirit-bestowed gifts such as tongues and prophecy exotic, if not downright alien. Continue reading