Calvinist Environmentalism?

With Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism, Mark Stoll chronicles how conservationism and its green progeny arose from Calvinism. “When Emerson advised the solitary individual to seek mystical union with the Divine in the woods,” writes Stoll, “he simply restated long-standing Calvinist advice.” Continue Reading »

Puritans on the Potomac

On a late November evening in 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War, Celestia Ferris, chief washer-woman at the Bureau of Engraving, organized a prayer meeting not far from the U. S. Capitol. She was joined by a circle of earnest Christians, mostly of the Baptist persuasion, who . . . . Continue Reading »

The Third Temptation

In the mid-1970s, the famous Mennonite theologian and ethicist John Howard Yoder visited Calvin College to give a lecture explaining the Anabaptist perspective on political authority. His opening comments offended many in his audience (including me). Referring to the Gospel account of the third . . . . Continue Reading »

Free University Orthodoxy

During the debate over “biblical inerrancy” that raged among evangelicalism for several years in the late 1970s, I remember someone observing that Harold Lindsell’s 1976 book, The Battle for the Bible, which pretty much got that debate going, was more a theory of institutional change than it . . . . Continue Reading »

Taking Special Vows in Theology

To say that we evangelicals haven’t always engaged in respectful dialogue with folks representing other perspectives is to put it mildly. But there are clear signs that things are improving, in at least some parts of the evangelical world. The presence of many evangelical voices as a part of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Talking Calvinism with Robert H. Schuller

One day in the spring of 1990, I received a phone call from Professor Hendrikus Berkhof, a well-known theologian at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He was visiting Southern California and had a free day at his before flying out. “I would like to see Fuller Seminary,” he said. Having never spent time with Professor Berkhof, I was quite honored by his request. I had read and re-read at least five of his books, and his discussion of themes in Reformed theology had (and has) significantly influenced my thinking. Continue Reading »

How to Battle for Hearts and Minds

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 »

Lutheran Evangelicals

Why is Calvinism so influential among American Evangelicals while Lutheranism is not? We might describe the statistically modal convert to Calvinism—that is, the most frequently observed kind of convert—as a person like this: A young adult, usually male. Raised in a broad though indistinct Evangelical (and sometimes nominally Catholic) home. Bright. A reader. Searching for better intellectual answers to questions about God, Jesus and the Bible. Is open to becoming a pastor. Why does this young man so much more often become a Calvinist instead a Lutheran? Continue Reading »