That Was The Week That Was


• Two big, related announcements: not only has InterVarsity Press agreed to publish my next book on Pietism, but my co-author and I will be thinking aloud about each chapter when the second season of The Pietist Schoolman Podcast debuts next month.

• Can a historian be both truthful and hopeful?

• I wasn’t quite buying the notion that the country’s largest consortium of evangelical colleges and universities was “already dead, even if it doesn’t know it yet” — but then I didn’t really expect its leading member to make headlines for badly overreacting to a professor’s statement about Christianity and Islam.

…There (Wheaton College)…

Some more reactions to the story of Wheaton College suspending political science professor Larycia Hawkins for saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God — but not, apparently for wearing a hijab.

Volf, Allah: A Christian Response• John Stackhouse was confused — both by Hawkins’ statement and Wheaton’s reaction to it. But he did think the situation made clear that “We evangelicals would do well, once more, to listen to our own missionaries more and to heed those I call our ‘watchdogmatists’ perhaps less.”

• Or maybe it really is about the hijab, said Hollis Phelps.

• Or, said Miroslav Volf, Wheaton’s suspension of Hawkins “reflects enmity toward Muslims, taking on a theological guise of concern for Christian orthodoxy.”

• But Wheaton history professor Karen Johnson pushed back against both Volf’s claims of bigotry and the eagerness of some supporters of the college’s administration to condemn Hawkins.

• And Ed Stetzer — visiting Wheaton the other day both for a summit at which evangelicals agreed to support resettlement of Syrian refugees and to take his daughter on a college visit — came away impressed that people at Wheaton on both sides care about beliefs, justice, and action.

• Adam Laats was less interested in what these events at the “evangelical Harvard” have to say about the adjective in that tired slogan than about the noun: “At elite colleges these days, instructors, students, and administrators are expected to do more than agree generally and in principle with their schools’ current orthodoxy. They are expected, rather, to agree with forceful clarity. They are expected to avoid any statement or action that ‘seem[s] inconsistent’ with dominant moral ideas. To this reporter, it looks as if Wheaton College continues to be more similar than different from other elite schools these days.”

…and Everywhere (Other Links)

• Hey, speaking of Harvard… Given all the recent unrest in New Haven, would it be Schadenfreude for a Yalie to post a link to a story about the time the school in Cambridge tried to use place mats to prepare its students to answer questions about racism during Christmas break?

Syutkin & Syutkin, CCCP Cookbook• Another take on the history and hope question, from a civil rights historian who is “also a weary activist of sorts, and I will admit that these roles are sometimes at odds with one another…”

• How does studying history change college students? Let’s ask them.

• What would a cookbook trying to recover Soviet cuisine be like? “Picture a 1970s Better Homes and Gardens spread, heavy on the aspic, and you get the idea.”

• With her newest book, Congregationalist historian Peggy Bendroth “intends to rescue liberal Protes­tants from both scholarly ano­nymity and the disdain that almost inevitably accompanies numerical decline.”

• Christian History magazine revealed honorable mentions for its “Top 25 Christian Writings” list. I was especially happy to see “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” works by three women, the hymns of Charles Wesley, and, yes, Pia Desideria make that cut.

• Precisely because he’s a religious conservative himself, historian John Wilsey’s critique of the evangelical right is significant. (Though I’m not sure how many of that group will read it, addressed as it is to readers of The Christian Century.)

• Bob Smietana’s brilliantly reported article on links between songwriter Ed Cash (“How Great Is Our God”) and prosperity gospel preacher Wayne “Pops” Jolley (“…I am called a cult leader,” says Jolley, “I really don’t care”) inspired Cash to write back to Smietana with a song (“Whether you’re to blame or someone told you lies, / All I have is grace, and I see you through his eyes”).

• Even more remarkable: GQ‘s confusing, utterly compelling profile of Carl Lentz, the celebrity-collecting lead pastor of Hillsong NYC.

• I’ve predicted a few times this year that more evangelical colleges and universities will soon drop their bans on hiring LGBT employees. Biola University clearly will not be one of them.

• Laura Turner got me to look at the Book of Revelation through different eyes: as a “strangely soothing” source of comfort.

• And vexillologists, rejoice: one country is on the verge of adopting a new national flag!

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