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The Coming Methodist Revival?

From Web Exclusives

These days, when outsiders consider Methodism, they tend to quickly assume that it is just withering away on its deathbed. But before checking for a pulse, observers ought to call to mind its history, particularly its vigorous beginnings. John Wesley preached to thousands from his father’s grave after being muzzled by the Anglican Church, and when the movement he spearheaded crossed the Atlantic, American Methodism spread on horseback as its dedicated circuit-riders expanded their territory along with the young nation. According to Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, in 1776, Methodists made up only a sliver of the religious pie, just some 2.5 percent of worshipers. By 1850, however, Methodism was by far the largest expression of Christianity in the United States, claiming over a third of all the nation’s religious adherents. Continue Reading »

Welcome Back, Ted

From Web Exclusives

This Thursday, for the first time since he argued before the Supreme Court in 2013 for a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Theodore Olson will be back in the Federalist Society limelight. The former Solicitor General of the United States under President George W. Bush—for whom he successfully argued Bush v. Gore—will be talking not gay marriage but class actions and the BP oil spill settlement. A few years ago, that would have amounted to business as usual. Olson, a gifted communicator, would regularly serve as a Federalist Society speaker, even acting as their reviewer in chief after the Supreme Court wrapped up its session each June. However, when he rather publicly began calling for the court creation of “equal protection” rights utterly unfathomable to our nation’s founders, those duties generally ceased. Continue Reading »

His Eye is on the Minnow

From Web Exclusives

I was probably the only person who thought of theologian Wayne Grudem while watching Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s controversial epic now flooding DVD players. (Spoiler alert.) Grudem involuntarily came to mind when Tubal-Cain, the villainous ark stowaway, jarringly bites into a sleeping reptile. A dumbfounded Ham says, “The beasts are precious. There are only two of each!” Tubal-Cain, chewing away, confidently replies, “And there is only one of me.” The much better looking Grudem, a professor at Phoenix Seminary and past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, had similarly jarred me two years before when, speaking at a fundraising dinner ostensibly focused on the stewardship of creation, he smilingly advocated the extinction of a species to satisfy human appetites. Continue Reading »

Hope at the March for Marriage

From Web Exclusives

Will traditional marriage follow the path of preborn life—an issue moving from judicial activism and socially elite proclamations that a generational shift was “inevitable” and “the debate is over” to our day decades later where the youngsters are more right minded about abortion than their parents. That seemed to be the hope of many taking to the podium at the March for Marriage, held June 19th in Washington approximately a year after the Supreme Court struck down much of the Defense of Marriage Act that President Bill Clinton had signed into law. Continue Reading »

How the Climate Debate Was Overtaken By Spin

From Web Exclusives

new federal tome has put climate change in the news cycle for a too-brief moment—extended a bit thanks to the cultural power of Pat Sajak and the pope. Like a doctor at an annual physical saying, “You’re even fatter than last year, and it’s not good for you,” the National Climate Assessment (NCA) tells us once again that temperatures, sea levels, ocean acidities, and greenhouse gas levels are on the way up. Continue Reading »

The Venn of Q

From First Thoughts

Noah Toly opens his reply to my recent Q conference review by stating that my piece contained one big weakness. Apparently, this relates to my observation that at Q “bridges are favored over lines in the sand.” Toly replies, “While Q organizers and participants might find this refreshing, Murdock finds it obscurantist, lending a dangerously false sense of reconcilability to what might actually be irreconcilable positions.” Continue Reading »

A Crash Course in Q

From Web Exclusives

Let’s keep Christianity weird.” So said the Southern Baptists’ official face to the nation, Russell Moore, as he closed an address on “prophetic minorities” before a thousand pastors, artists, social entrepreneurs, and assorted others at latest edition of Q. “What is Q?” you might ask like a local woman did to me as I snapped a picture of the ten-foot-tall reclaimed wood logo that stood outside a historic hall in the shadow of the Tennessee capitol building. Telling her dryly that it was a gathering of hipster Christians only seemed to add to her confusion. (I overheard someone else try to explain it as a bit like TED for evangelicals, which apparently left his native inquisitor as perplexed as mine.) Even the basics can be cloudy—every participant I asked assumed the “Q” stood for “question” but no one really knew for sure, and Q’s website holds no direct answer. Continue Reading »

CPAC Behind Bars

From Web Exclusives

A few weeks back, I highlighted the friction between ascendant libertarians and ignored social conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). After some time to mentally digest that red meat laden all-you-can-eat political buffet, one nutritious morsel still stands out: the . . . . Continue Reading »

Taking a Back Seat at CPAC

From Web Exclusives

Pot was in and social conservatism was out. That is the best single sentence summary I can give after three exhausting and sometimes mind-numbing days at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).The gathering is a media favorite partly for its colorful characters. One tall . . . . Continue Reading »