Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

What Is Love?

From Web Exclusives

Recently, I sat through a session of someone offering reflections on the “God is love” theme of I John 4:8. He did a pretty nice job of it until his wrap-up. “God is Love,” he said, “what a wonderful thought. But it is also a wonderful thing to realize that Love is God as well. But that’s a subject for another time!” Continue Reading »

A Real Theocrat

From the April 2015 Print Edition

Christian Reconstructionism: 
R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism
 by michael j. mcvicar
 north carolina, 326 pages, $34.95 In 1966, the editors of Chris­tianity Today rejected an article that Rousas J. Rushdoony had submitted for publication. The piece, which had been . . . . Continue Reading »

The Role of Religion

From Web Exclusives

Well, the influence of religion on political life has pretty much disappeared from the world in the past couple of decades. At least that’s what you would have assumed if you relied on an important scholarly work released in 1993 by Blackwell, a distinguished Oxford-based publisher. The book in question bore the title A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy. Almost 700 pages in length, it featured helpful essays on a variety of political topics. But there was almost nothing to be found in the volume on the relationship between religion and politics. And the omission was intentional. The editors told us that they deliberately avoided any treatment of such things as “theism, monarchism, [and] fascism” because “whatever impact they once had on public life, they would seem to play only a marginal role in the contemporary world.” Continue Reading »

American Islam

From Web Exclusives

read recently that some young Muslims in the United States are complaining that what goes on in their mosques is not “American” enough. They say that the patterns of worship and religious education seem designed to preserve the connections to the countries from which their Muslim communities emigrated, while these young folks want their faith to guide them in their lives in America. Continue Reading »

When Penthouse Magazine Came Calling

From Web Exclusives

Someone asked me recently, now that I am retired from administrative leadership, if I plan to write my autobiography. My answer was a definite “No!” Narrating the details of my seventy-plus year pilgrimage would bore me almost as much as it would bore others. I do, however, remember a few events that might be interesting enough for public airing. One of them is the time that I turned down an invitation to appear in Penthouse magazine. Continue Reading »

How to Battle for Hearts and Minds

From Web Exclusives

In a forthcoming issue of First Things, I review a fine book by Michael McVicar, who teaches at Florida State University. His subject is the “Christian Reconstructionism” of the late Rousas J. Rushdoony, a perspective on Christianity and social-political-economic-legal thought and practice that makes much of the continuing relevance of Old Testament civil law—including the sanctions tied to specific laws and practices. Continue Reading »

Toasting Jesus

From Web Exclusives

At an evangelical gathering on a New Year’s Eve, someone stood to announce that he wanted to toast us all. We sipped from our glasses of sparkling apple cider as he expressed his wishes for our collective good health for the coming year. Then someone else spoke up: “Now please join me in a toast to Jesus!” Continue Reading »

Retirement Home Christianity

From Web Exclusives

When, back in the mid-1980s, I told a retired Calvin College colleague that I was moving to Fuller Seminary, he responded: “I hope you will make a case there for more appropriate sermons preached at retirement communities!” He went on to explain: “Last week at the weekly worship service sponsored by our community, a visiting preacher warned us against a modalist conception of the Trinity, while also urging us to avoid tri-theism. But that was not as bad as the week before, when a seminarian—addressing a congregation where at least a dozen of us were sitting in wheelchairs—exhorted us to stand up for Christ in an increasingly secular society!” Continue Reading »

My Favorite Heretic

From Web Exclusives

I had a friend in graduate school who had come to the United States from England to pursue his Ph.D. in Philosophy. This was the 1960s, and he was much more enamored than I was with the “Ordinary Language Philosophy” that drew heavily on Wittgenstein’s approach. He was fond of quoting one of his Cambridge mentors, Professor John Wisdom, whom he reported as having said in a lecture that “all philosophical claims are either true and trivial or false and illuminating.” Continue Reading »

The Evangelical Academy

From Web Exclusives

We were doing an interview on an NPR station, a kind of “point-counterpoint” thing. The other interviewee was a self-identified agnostic , and the topic was the rights of academic institutions to “discriminate” on the basis of religious beliefs. My dialogue partner was not overtly hostile to religion as such. Indeed he said some nice things about the school where I was president at the time. Fuller Seminary produces some excellent scholarship based on our religious convictions, he observed. But why do we hire only folks who subscribe to those convictions? Having religious beliefs is fine, he said. But for institutions to hire only faculty who subscribe to those beliefs is contrary to the principles of academic inquiry. Continue Reading »