A week ago I asked, and many of you answered: “What are some indispensable Christian academic Twitter accounts?” Not just Christian scholars — like me — who mostly use Twitter to point to other platforms but those “who are using Twitter to engage each other and the public, or to curate ideas for their followers. Regular, thoughtful retweeters are as important here as tweeters.”
But with thanks to all those who commented, emailed, and (of course) tweeted their votes, it’s quite clear that there are going to be significant holes in any such list that I try to crowdsource. While I’m impressed that my readers produced recommendations that spanned — often, defied — the political spectrum, it’s not surprising that the theological spectrum is rather narrower: mostly evangelicals of various stripes. (It would be especially foolish of me to try to pass off any list of “indispensable Christian academics” that doesn’t include any Roman Catholics.) Our pool is awfully deep in the humanities and shallow in natural or social sciences. And everyone nominated comes from North America.
So I’m not going to share even half as many as the fifteen recommendations that came via the Chronicle of Higher Ed exercise that inspired last week’s post. Instead, here are seven indispensable Christian academic Twitter accounts: those getting the most nominations, plus a couple others that I want to champion. In no particular (i.e., alphabetical) order, with a couple of recent, somewhat representative tweets:
Christena Cleveland (@CSCleve)
My biggest failure of the 2014-2015 academic year was failing to get to know Christena Cleveland while she was my faculty colleague at Bethel. I should have known that we would be lucky to keep her around for more than two semesters before a school like Duke came calling… Fortunately, she’s so active in a variety of media that I can at least follow her — and be challenged by her — wherever her academic career takes her. In addition to books like Disunity in Christ, a new column at Christianity Today, and posts at her blog (like a much-read one recently on Donald Trump and the Resurrection), her 9,000+ tweets (and even more retweets) are essential reading on race, gender, reconciliation, justice, psychology, and faith.
John Fea (@JohnFea1)
If he never did anything on Twitter, I’d still still hope to be John Fea when I grow up: I don’t know any other historian who so adeptly draws on his academic training for the benefit of public audiences, let alone conservative Christian audiences whose Platonic ideal of a historian is often David Barton. But on top of his widely-read blog, acclaimed books, and new podcast series, John’s decision to take a sabbatical during the election year of all election years has resulted in some pretty compelling tweeting as well. There’s no shortage of opinions about politics on Twitter, but John’s refreshing blend of historical context, insightful analysis, irenic engagement, and humor stands out. Though even he can’t make John Kasich happen.
Drew Hart (@DruHart)
There’s no more distinctive Christian voice on Twitter than Drew Hart’s. If any part of #AnaBlacktivism doesn’t make sense to you, you need to be following the author of Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism — soon to be joining John Fea on the faculty of Messiah College.
Alan Jacobs (@ayjay)
He writes so much in so many other venues that it’s not surprising that Alan Jacobs uses Twitter primarily to link to other people’s writing. (Well, unless he’s writing about non-American football, or Waco.) But there’s no more widely read curator of online content than this Baylor professor… not that he always admires what he reads.
Alan Noble (@TheAlanNoble)
If the republic (or, at least, the Republican party) is truly falling apart, there’s no better way (and I’ll cease that construction… now) to watch it happen than by following Oklahoma Baptist professor Alan Noble, whose Twitter account has become something like the tragicomic, (pop)culturally literate conscience of conservatism.
James K. A. Smith (@james_ka_smith)
Joining Jacobs and Noble as iconoclastic, thoughtful conservatives on our list is Calvin College philosopher Jamie Smith, whose 14.4K followers easily top this list. To a large degree, that’s probably because he’s the rare Christian academic who spends much of his time addressing the Church and its practices.
Alissa Wilkinson (@alissamarie)
Where I work, professors from our division tend to congregate around two lunch tables. I eat with historians and political scientists; the other hosts colleagues who study fake stuff like literature, film, and philosophy. We call it the Cool Kids Table. So while it pains me to close the list with a cultural critic rather than a social historian… If there’s a case to be made for the “‘New York-centrism’ of evangelical cultural engagement,” it’s being made most engagingly by Alissa Wilkinson of The King’s College.
Austin Channing (@austinchanning)
David Congdon (@dwcongdon)
Daniel Kirk (@jrdkirk)
W. Travis McMaken (@WTravisMcMaken)
Jeffrey Overstreet (@Overstweet)
Arlene Sánchez-Walsh (@AmichelSW)
Karen Swallow Prior (@LoveLifeLitGod)
Noah Toly (@noahtoly)