Category Archives: American History

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.

 

DOREEN AT DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

photo2Here is Doreen teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary.  Professor Michael Svigel has Doreen in every year to talk about her book and field questions.  Doreen’s book is required reading for the class as you can see from this snippet of Michael’s syllabus for the course.

III. COURSE TEXTBOOKS

  1. Required: Gonzalez, Justo. The Story of Christianity, vol. 2, The Reformation to the Present Day. Rev. and updated. New York: HarperCollins, 2010.
  2. Marsden, George. Fundamentalism and American Culture. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. (260 pages)
  3. Moore, Doreen. Good Christians, Good Husbands? Geanies House, U.K.: Christian Focus, 2004. (200 pages)
  4. Oden, Thomas C. After Modernity…What? Agenda for Theology. Paperback ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. (224 pages)Response Paper (25%)There will be one 7–10 page paper required for this course. This will be a summary, evaluation, and personal application paper in response to the book Good Christians, Good Husbands? by Doreen Moore. The paper will consist of three clearly-labeled sections: 1) summary of the book reporting the basic thesis and content of the book (approximately 1 to 2 pages); 2) evaluation of the book, including a critical review of the book’s argument, evidence, use of history, and conclusions, including at least three positives and three negatives (3 to 4 pages); 3) personal application of the book, including a discussion of how the argument of the book affects your view of history, ministry, and family and a description of how one can utilize the information in the book in ministry (3 to 4 pages).

FROM RACISM TO RECONCILIATION

Eventually, Wallace said his father considered his life’s greatest victory to be not his four terms as governor or the millions of presidential votes he secured around the country, but his faith and relationship with God.

After the assassination attempt, Wallace wrote to the gunman, Arthur Bremer.

“He told him that he loved him and he had forgiven him. And he told Arthur Bremer if you’ll ask our lord and savior Jesus Christ into your heart, we’ll be together in heaven,” Wallace said.

“He told me once, ‘If I can’t forgive him, the Lord won’t forgive me.’ ”

The rest is here: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20120608/son-says-former-gov-george-wallace-repented-for-past

MANY EVANGELICALS AREN’T EVANGELICALS

Evangelical has become merely a name for many who gladly identify with the label.  A related moniker, Bible-believing Christian, is also quite a farce as many identifying with that label are woefully ignorant of what the Bible says.

How about the word conservative or conservative Christian?  Well, two tenured friends at separate Christian colleges told me they would have been fired for speaking out against Trump.  Whether these individuals are correct in that assessment or not, that was their perception.  And we so-called conservatives mock that the free exchange of ideas does not take place in the secular academy.  Rom. 2:1!