Category Archives: American History

ANGLICANISM

Many American Evangelicals mistake the American variety of Anglicanism for either the British variety, or worse still, the liberal Episcopalian church.  The Anglican Church North America (ACNA) is decidedly under the authority of Scripture and quite clear about the work of Christ on the cross. 

I now gladly attend an Anglican church, but I am not Anglican.  There are four major reasons I give to those wondering why we shifted from low church evangelicalism to the Anglican church: an intentional theology of the body (and the physical world), a conscious tie to the whole church throughout its history and in the world today, truly keeping primary doctrines primary which translates to giving much space to differ over a variety of non primary doctrines, and a protection against personality cults emerging with respect to the ministers.  Much could be said about those things and perhaps later I will offer more details…

COTTON MATHER WITHOUT ALL THE BLATHER

Rick Kennedy is a professor of history and a sailing enthusiast.  In the video above, he is interviewed on his terrific, new biography of Cotton Mather.  Below is my brief review of Kennedy’s book:

This short biography by Rick Kennedy is simply superb.  All the major (and some minor) things that we want to know about Mather are included.  The writing is clean and compelling. 

You learn in short compass (145 pages!) that Mather had this incredible combination of gifts: scholar, pastor, visionary, and writer. 

Mather also had a wonderful skepticism towards what we typically call false dichotomies or binary traps.  Mather’s “trust, but verify” approach to legitimate supernatural events is wise and instructive for us today.

Oh yeah, and if you have the stereotype of Mather being responsible for the Salem Witch Trials, you will definitely need to read this biography.

TRUMP INAUGURAL SPEECH

There are many things that certainly could be debated about what was said in Trump’s speech.  One is not debatable, at least among Christians.  Trump mentioned that God will protect us.  Yes, we should pray for God’s protection, but we can’t simply invoke that God will protect us.  Did God protect us on 9/11?  If the answer is yes, then what does protection mean?  If the answer is no, then how can we be confident God will protect us now?

Many Christians are in great need of a slower read through the book of Jeremiah.  We are not Israel (or Judah) to be sure which actually makes the point above. If God did not protect the only nation He ever chose to be a light to the Gentiles, how can we believe God is indebted to protect us?!

REVOLUTIONIZING MEDICINE

https://www.amazon.com/Fever-1721-Epidemic-Revolutionized-Medicine/dp/147678308X/ref=cm_rdp_product

Coss’s book is like having three good, small scale biographies surrounded by the drama of a deadly disease. We get to know a doctor, Puritan preacher, and Founding Father.

Zabdiel Boylston, Cotton Mather, and Ben Franklin are characters most of us know in the order I listed them: from obscure to well-known. Coss makes it clear and quite compelling why we ought to know Boylston and Mather better. And even though I have read several books about Franklin, there were some fresh insights in this terrific book.

One other person who is not part of the aforementioned triumvirate, but looms large is James Franklin, the older brother of Ben. Coss does a terrific job of showcasing how much Ben benefited from the prickly and mercurial James. At times, I felt the author was a bit generous towards James, especially in downplaying how cruel he could be to Ben, but Coss makes his case very well.