Tag Archives: American religion

“God in America”: First looks at the new six-hour PBS documentary


Colonial Williamsburg parish church


This week PBS is airing a new six-part documentary called “God in America.” I missed the first two parts last night because for some odd reason I wanted to watch Brett Favre throw more interceptions.

The third and fourth parts air tonight (8 and 9 pm CST) while I am teaching (drat), and are described by TV Guide: “The first hour recalls how slavery split the U.S., and Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders both used the Bible to support their positions. Also examined is Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual journey, which was fed by the carnage of the Civil War and the death of his young son. The second hour details how modernity challenged traditional faith during the 19th and early 20th centuries via the establishment of Reform Judaism and the 1925 Scopes evolution trial.” Continue reading

Hauerwas continues usual schtick; slams American church as front for nationalism

Stanley Hauerwas continues his long-time screed against the American church as “too American.” What do you think? Does he go too far here? Not far enough? What is the value and what are the dangers of such categorical critique?

Truth in advertising: (1) I certainly recognize the syndrome he describes; (2) I deny that the church in America has entirely lost its mission, selling its spiritual heritage for a mess of nationalist pottage; (3) I feel Hauerwas’s sweeping critique is excessive and counterproductive. It stands to discourage American Christians and deter us from participating in our churches more than it helps us to participate well.

Feel free to call me out on this. I’m always ready to learn and be corrected.

Evangelicalism–a basic summary–part II

This is a continuation of this article. Part III may be found here.

Edwards and the Awakening

The Great Awakening began in November of 1734, when Jonathan Edwards, a Massachusetts pastor-theologian, became concerned by a spreading tendency among Connecticut River Valley Christians to rely on their own abilities in seeking salvation from God. In response, Edwards preached a two-sermon series on “Justification by Faith Alone.” And in what Edwards believed was “a surprising work of God,” the people in Northampton and the surrounding area were, he said, “seized with a deep concern about their eternal salvation” so that “scarcely a single person in the whole town was left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world.”

Edwards organized small groups to encourage those experiencing such concern, and soon hundreds were converted and renewed. The revival spilled over into 1735, touching some 25 Massachusetts and Connecticut communities before its intensity began to wane that spring.

Meanwhile, back in England, several students at Oxford University, including the brothers John and Charles Wesley and their friend George Whitefield, founded a group that the undergraduates derisively called the “Holy Club.” Continue reading

Billy Graham’s America–sneak peek of a new biography

Even better, check out this article on Billy Graham by my doctoral adviser at Duke University, Grant Wacker. Some day I hope to write as well as he does.