James R. Rogers is department head and associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University. He leads the “New Man” prison ministry at the Hamilton Unit in Bryan, Texas, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

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Ecclesiastical Exceptionalism

From Web Exclusives

Americans are disengaging from communities, at least if the evidence proffered by scholars like Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone is to be believed. This may have a class dimension as well. Charles Murray and First Things’ own editor, R.R. Reno, suggest that community is disintegrating more rapidly, and with harsher consequences, among folks in the lower socioeconomic strata in the U.S… . Continue Reading »

It’s Not Theology, It’s Ideology

From First Thoughts

Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, posted this YouTube video criticizing the shutdown of non-essential parts of the U.S. national government as “unbiblical.” Wallis’s argument is three-fold. First, he posits the factual claim that the government of the United States . . . . Continue Reading »

Credit the Calvinists

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I picked up John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion some years back. Dipping into it, I anticipated a dry, grim, and doctrinaire treatise. Perhaps because I came to it with such low expectations, the books surprised me. I found the Institutes surprisingly accessible, written by a lively, engaged mind… . Continue Reading »

The Politics of Subgame Perfection

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There has been a spate of editorials and columns”even a book”criticizing Republicans in Congress for being “radical,” “crazy,” “extremist,” and focused on the GOP “brand” rather than on “problem solving.” Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein’s 2012 book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, exemplified and encouraged much of this criticism. Mann and Ornstein”both stolid fixtures of the Washington policy establishment”make the argument that the Republican Party bears unique responsibility for what ails Washington and the nation… . Continue Reading »

I Drink Because I’m a Fundie

From First Thoughts

ABP (Associated Baptist Press) published a web story here about some Baptists advocating for a return to wine (instead of grape juice) when celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The article quotes Pastor Troy Dixon noting that he abstains from alcohol to keep from scandalizing other . . . . Continue Reading »

Patrick Henry’s Very Modern Proposal

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Thomas Jefferson and James Madison squared off against Patrick Henry and his bill for “Establishing A Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion” for Virginia in the mid-1780s. Jefferson and Madison won the day, and the Virginia legislature did not enact Henry’s bill… . Continue Reading»

What Good is Forgiving Others?

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Last Thursday Russell Saltzman took on “Forgiveness Therapy.” This therapeutic approach represents a self-centered vulgarization of forgiveness that Saltzman rightly criticizes, even as he wrestles with what motivates Christian forgiveness of others. I recall some years ago being knocked down flat when I finally read”I mean really read”the short passage in Mark in which Jesus says, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone.” … Continue Reading »

Presidents versus Prime Ministers

From First Thoughts

Liberty Forum at the Online Library of Law and Liberty posted an essay this month by George Mason Professor Frank Buckley arguing that the ministerial form of executive government in parliamentary systems better protects liberty than does the presidential form of executive government in . . . . Continue Reading »

Government Is Not a Necessary Evil

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Numerous commentators, particularly among contract or consent theorists, maintain that government is a result of the Fall”something that would not be necessary were it not for Adam’s sin. As Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, “society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” … Continue Reading »

Protestant Perseverance and Catholic Decline?

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Protestants with a strong religious identity continue to increase as Catholics with a strong religious identity continue to decline, according to a March study by the Pew Research Center. The proportion of Catholics reporting strong religious affiliation declined by almost twenty percentage points over the last few decades … Continue Reading »