Randall Balmer seeks the religious roots of America’s passion for sports. In the early 1990s Randall Balmer ascended to rarified air: He became an academic whose name resonated beyond the ivory tower. The impetus was Balmer’s 1989 book Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, perfectly summarized by its subtitle as “a journey into the evangelical subculture in America.” The power of Balmer’s book (and subsequent PBS series) came from the strength and clarity of his writing along with his willingness to dwell in paradox. He was both an insider (at least in his past) and an outsider, an academic expert…

What’s the best way to oppose abortion? Some pursue a national ban while others object that “plays into liberals’ hands.” What comes next? The pro-life movement has focused on the fight in the Supreme Court for so long that when the Dobbs v. Jackson decision finally came—overturning Roe v. Wade and ruling that abortion can be regulated—it wasn’t clear what the plan was after that. The hoped-for, prayed-for, and worked-for victory didn’t end abortion, after all. Ending Roe was just one political battle in the process, even if took 50 years. “When the decision first came out and shortly after…

Abortion seemed like the obvious answer—until I met the Lord of life. I was born in 1989 into a dysfunctional home in Glendale, Arizona. Alcohol and drug abuse had plagued our family for generations. My late father’s addictions earned him a revolving door in and out of prison. My mother got pregnant at 19 after running away from her own father’s abusive behavior. She raised me as a single parent, alongside live-in boyfriends. We moved frequently. Having witnessed the horrors of drug and alcohol abuse firsthand, I entered junior high school vowing never to take drugs—at least until a fellow…

On November 3, 2020, Tim and Aileen Challies received the shocking news that their twenty-year-old son Nick had died. Tim, an author and blogger, began to process his loss through writing, which eventually led to the book Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God. During this launch event, Tim reads a brief excerpt from the book and then has a discussion with Alistair Begg and Bob Lepine about God’s purpose in and through our sorrows, reminding us that lasting comfort is something that only He can provide. Watch or listen to the message “‘Seasons of…

Evangelicals are eager to preserve their unity—and the country’s. Singapore has decriminalized gay sex while pledging to add a constitutional amendment to protect the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. The country’s evangelical leaders broadly opposed the government’s decision to repeal Section 377A of the penal code and supported the proposed amendment. Though there are currently only mild discrepancies over strategies of engaging the government and the LGBT and same-sex-attracted community, they know the church is susceptible to division. “There is understandable uncertainty and anxiety as we await the unfolding of a new social compact regarding…

As in the past, one can learn about our nation’s political divisions by looking at our religious ones. This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here. An uncanny number of people are imagining the looming collapse of the United States. Some speak openly of preparing for “civil war,” while others crow about the need for a “national divorce” between red and blue states. Most, though, whisper these thoughts. They look at a country seemingly at the breaking point and begin to wonder whether we may indeed be heading for a national conflict of some kind. To answer such…

William Ruto credited God and church leaders for his victory. Should this be the model? William Ruto sees the hand of God in Kenya’s presidential election results. “We have worked hard,” the outgoing deputy president told his supporters after the Supreme Court ruled he won the presidency, defeating five-time challenger Raila Odinga. “But as the Bible teaches us … some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we trust in God.” In another victory speech, Ruto credited the many pastors who opened their pulpits to him, accepted donations from his campaign, and urged their congregations to pray for his…

How stories of misbehavior distort our vision of male-female friendship in the church. When news of Matt Chandler’s “inappropriate” online relationship popped up in my phone notifications last week, I was in the middle of a church staff retreat with my copastors, who are all male. I interrupted one of them to read the story aloud. The news landed like a lead balloon between us, and then we came together as a group and talked about how stories like this make us feel and whether our own ministry friendships might be “inappropriate.” The larger evangelical world was shaken too. Twitter…

In a performative age, brazenness gives an illusion of strength. For most of the year, a friend in England and I have debated whether his country’s politics are becoming more American. Much of it had to do with the roiling scandals around Prime Minister Boris Johnson. My friend was constantly telling me, “This time, Boris is done for,” but I was never quite sure. Ultimately my friend was right, and Johnson’s Conservative Party forced his resignation. But critics agreed that he stuck it out as long as he did because, as many put it, “Shamelessness is a superpower.” A sense…

The Dutch illustrator’s bold and simple work shaped “the biblical cosmos of images” for millions. Kees de Kort, an artist who gave generations of Dutch and German children their first indelible impressions of Bible stories, has died at home in the Netherlands. He was 87. De Kort sold more than 33 million children’s Bibles worldwide and became so popular in the Netherlands and Germany that “De Kort” is sometimes understood as a synonym for “children’s Bible.” For many modern Europeans, “the biblical cosmos of images is unthinkable” without his work, according to the German national newspaper Die Zeit. De Kort’s…

You might be familiar with the classic story The Pilgrim’s Progress, a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. It tells the fictional tale of Christian, who navigates many challenges on his way to Celestial City. But did you know that Bunyan wrote a sequel to his story, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Part II? In it, the main character, Christiana, embarks on her own journey and learns, as Christian did, about the perseverance that the Christian life requires. In a recent adaptation for children, Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey Part II follows the same storyline as Bunyan’s sequel but uses simplified language that’s…

A selection of articles on the late leader’s global legacy. When Mikhail Gorbachev first took his place as the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, many people, including CT writers, assumed he would “continue [the Soviet government’s] campaign against religious believers regardless of who leads the country.” But perceptions about his faith changed as the fall of the Soviet Union transpired and visits to the Crystal Cathedral and the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi sparked debates about his thoughts on religion. While some Chistians speculated about Gorbachev’s relationship to end times prophecy, CT writers looked for new signs…

Looking ahead, Christians should focus less on enforcement than on changing cultural attitudes. What does the history of abortion tell us to expect, now that the Supreme Court has decided to give states the option of protecting unborn children? If half the states have protective laws, will the laws be enforced? Or will abortion statutes in many places have as much effect as Section 10-501 of Maryland law (which reads: “[a] A person may not commit adultery. [b] A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be fined $10”)? I cannot find any…

Staffing shortages and ongoing pandemic restrictions have kept volunteers out—and left the incarcerated craving the kind of spiritual support they had before. James Hyson hasn’t had access to ministries, classes, or mentoring groups since before the pandemic. That’s because the ministry staff who volunteer at the New Jersey prison where he is incarcerated haven’t been able to return. Though pandemic restrictions have loosened in most parts of American life, many state prisons and jails still limit outside volunteers. Ministries reported to CT that states have either not lifted their 2020 ban on volunteers, blocked volunteers whenever there is a COVID-19…

Why praising the Most High requires a physical body. Visit the Kodaiji Temple in Tokyo, Japan, and a six-feet-four, 132-pound robot priest named Mindar will give you a 25-minute sermon on Heart Sutra. Mindar’s ability to preach suggests a near future where artificial intelligence (AI) robots broadly replace human religious leaders. Christian churches may soon be considering how AI and smart machines can shape their liturgies. One case in point is a Christian AI musician created by Marquis Boone Enterprises. Based on software algorithms, this AI musician recognizes different patterns of songs and composes new ones through replication of the…

Christian efforts to protect the body often fail to protect women. As the abuse crisis roils American evangelicalism, church leaders are finally paying attention, if only because the accretion of cases is now impossible to ignore. Commentators on the Left have eyes on it, too. Among the various cries, some progressives are calling out Christian conservatives for policing the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) while simultaneously dismissing abused women in their own midst. “Youth leaders were fondling us and raping us and shaming us into silence,” said Julie Rodgers at the beginning of the #ChurchToo movement. “Meanwhile,…

English bishop and Oxford scholar cultivated unity, dialogue, and respect between the ancient faith and evangelicals. As Orthodox Christians commemorate Metropolitan Archbishop Kallistos Ware, who fell asleep in the Lord early Wednesday morning in England at age 88, evangelicals also have a loss to mourn and reason to pray, as Orthodox funerals do, “May his memory be eternal.” Born Timothy Ware in 1934 and raised in an Anglican family, he converted at age 24 and became one of the most influential Eastern Orthodox theologians in the English-speaking world in the 20th and early 21st centuries. His most famous books were…

His DC Talk bandmates are back as collaborators. Since Truett McKeehan, an aspiring rapper, died at age 21 in 2019 after an accidental drug overdose, his father, the Grammy-winning Christian artist TobyMac (also known as Toby McKeehan), has not produced much original music, releasing a few “lost” demos and a concert recording that included “21 Years,” a song mourning the loss of Truett. Now, a new album reflecting the trajectory the songwriter has traveled in the almost three years since the death of his oldest son was released on Friday, a collaboration with Truett’s sister, Marlee, Sheryl Crow, and TobyMac’s…

Reforms have legalized 2,400 Christian structures, yet Abu Seifein represents problems from when construction and repair permits were impossible to obtain. As Egypt reels from the tragic church fire that killed 41 worshipers on Sunday, many search for where to put the blame. “God forgive the fire department,” said Ishak Henin, a deacon at Abu Seifein Coptic Orthodox Church in Imbaba, a dense urban neighborhood of Cairo. “If they had come earlier, they could have saved more people.” Egyptian authorities stated they arrived almost immediately after the 9 a.m. fire was first reported. Eyewitness testimony varied; some stated 15 minutes,…

Frederick Buechner diffused the power of disbelief and brought hope to wandering hearts. In The Alphabet of Grace, the late writer Frederick Buechner gave an account of his conversion. He was agnostic at the time but had been attending a church because he liked the preacher, George Buttrick. Queen Elizabeth had recently been crowned, and Buttrick made a connection to those events by saying that unlike the queen, Jesus has been crowned again and again in the hearts of those who trust him. Here’s how Buechner describes it: He said in his odd, sandy voice, the voice of an old…

Success for the church looks different depending on your discipline. On March 1, the Chinese government enacted wide-ranging restrictions on religious communication, teaching, and evangelistic efforts conducted online. Now, only religious groups with government approval can carry out such activities. Various media outlets around the world shared this news, which is unsurprising. When we think or talk about Christianity in China, its social impact and implications for issues such as human rights and China’s international relations—rather than its pastoral and theological developments and challenges—have received disproportionately large attention in the Western press in the recent decades. There are many methods…