A New Book about “The Second Greatest Lutheran Theologian”

According to church historian Carter Lindberg, that’s how German Lutherans in the early 18th century thought of Philipp Jakob Spener: second only to Martin Luther himself. Born this day in 1635, Spener is less remembered nowadays, but played a prominent role in renewing early modern Protestantism, as a popular preacher and writer and the founding … More A New Book about “The Second Greatest Lutheran Theologian”

Following Jesus: The Lutheran Tradition

As a Pietist who now worships within a Lutheran congregation, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this month’s installment of our year-long, ecumenical conversation about Following Jesus. Church historian Mark Ellingsen didn’t disappoint, offering a reflection on what he called Lutheranism’s “Evangelical Catholic” way of following Jesus. At least, that’s how he saw his more “confessional” branch … More Following Jesus: The Lutheran Tradition

In Praise of Folly

Although I just wrote a biography about a man dedicated to the art of practical joking, I can’t stand April Fool’s Day. Because even if I were clever enough to come up with hilarious practical jokes, I’d feel guilty about making other people to look foolish. But driving to work today, it struck me that … More In Praise of Folly

The With-God Life: Faith without (Political) Works

I groaned a little when I saw James 2 show up on the daily lectionary yesterday and today. As a historian who teaches about the Reformation and a Protestant who still (mostly) celebrates its legacy, I’ve wrestled dozens of times with Martin Luther’s disdain for this “right strawy epistle,” which insists that “a person is … More The With-God Life: Faith without (Political) Works

That Was The Week That Was

This week I wrote a commencement address for the Class of 2020 and recorded the final episode of our Pandemics and the Liberal Arts podcast. Elsewhere: • There’s been a lot of attention paid to the success Asian countries like Taiwan and South Korea have had in responding to COVID-19. But what about two African countries … More That Was The Week That Was

That Was The Week That Was

When I wasn’t researching the history of a much-loved children’s hymn, I was reading the following posts and articles: • Last week I mentioned the local Methodist church that received national attention for its supposed plan to expel older worshippers. That story inspired Emily McFarlan Miller to report on the larger challenge of “restarting” declining … More That Was The Week That Was