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Penance in a White Sheet

From First Thoughts

While rereading Edmund Morgan’s magisterial  American Slavery, American Freedom , I was struck by his discussion of public penance performed by early Virginian fornicators and adulterers. The courts, for example, prescribed penances for couples who appeared with children too soon after . . . . Continue Reading »

Christians on Campus

From First Thoughts

“Christians are ousted wherever possible on campus,” complained Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) founder Bill Bright a few years before his 2003 death. With some regularity universities make news for de-recognizing student campus ministries that require their leaders to adhere to certain . . . . Continue Reading »

How Does God Still Speak?

From Web Exclusives

Until recent decades at least, nearly all Americans have believed in an unchanging God, “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” If God does not change, does God’s manner and rate of revelation change over time? Typically, those who have wrestled with the issue of canon in the history of American religion have made only crude differentiation among different groups. … Continue Reading »

Moral Minority

From First Thoughts

I recently reviewed David Swartz’s  Moral Minority  for  Books & Culture . Swartz is a gifted writer, and his book was a pleasure to read. David’s history of the evangelical left is a pleasure to read (and it should be so even for those on the opposite side of the . . . . Continue Reading »

St. Matthew’s Passion

From First Thoughts

The furtherance and further enrichment of the medieval Christian heritage of music and art remains of the greatest legacies of the Lutheran wing of the Protestant Reformation. As Luther stated in the preface to the 1524  Wittenberg Hymnal , he was “not of the opinion that the gospel . . . . Continue Reading »

Did Mainline Christianity Win in the End?

From First Thoughts

In recent decades pundits and some scholars have made much of the post-WWII evangelical resurgence, coupled with a precipitous post-1965 mainline decline. For evangelicals, the post-WWII religious boom kept going for the rest of the century, whereas in terms of membership, the mainline segment of . . . . Continue Reading »