Wednesday, 29 October 2014

ISAE Closing Events

As many of you know, the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals (ISAE) is closing up shop. The final events will take place tomorrow and Friday. On Thursday, October 30, there will be a panel discussion on “A Movement for the 21st-Century: The Future of Evangelicalism” (participants including David Bebbington, Nathan Hatch, Mark Hutchinson, Mark Noll, and Grant Wacker) at 7:00PM in the Barrows Auditorium of the Billy Graham Center, that is free and open to the public.

On Friday, October 31, I will also be attending the following meetings:  

9:00 AM:   The ISAE: A Retrospective on the Institute and Its Work

10:35 AM:  Nathan Hatch will be speaking in the Wheaton College chapel service (Edman Chapel)

1:30 PM:   The Funding and Hosting of Evangelical Scholarship
3:30 PM:   Scholarship on Evangelicals:  Persistent Dilemmas and New Avenues (Participants:  Darren Dochuk, Tommy Kidd, Steven P. Miller, Molly Worthen, Grant Wacker—chair)

While it is sad to see the ISAE closing, I am glad that the folks at Wheaton have gathered some of the finest historians to discuss the future of American evangelicalism.

New Review of Enlightened Evangelicalism

The newest issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology contains a review of my first book, Enlightened Evangelicalism: The Life and Thought of John Erskine. This review marks the sixteenth time that Enlightened Evangelicalism has been featured in scholarly and popular journals.

The reviewer, Tommy Kidd of Baylor University, offered a very thorough summary of the monograph, and highlighted Erskine's dissemination of books to friends like Jonathan Edwards and John Ryland Jr. Kidd writes, "In Erskine, then, we find the evangelical disseminator par excellence in the eighteenth century's republic of letters. Recommending and gifting books was a common practice of Edwards, George Whitefield, the Wesley brothers and other evangelical leaders, but no one went to the lengths of Erskine."

Kate Bowler on the Prosperity Gospel

Kate Bowler of Duke Divinity School gave an excellent talk on the prosperity gospel movement last night at the Camp House to about 120 people. Her talk was part of the LeRoy Martin Distinguished Lecture Series at UTC, working in cooperation with Theology on Tap of Chattanooga.

In her talk, "The Death and Afterlife of the American Prosperity Gospel," Bowler described the hallmarks of this movement as faith, wealth, health, and victory. The movement is not tied to any particular denomination, she explained, and can include adherents from Baptists, Methodist, Pentecostal groups. According to Bowler, prosperity gospel preachers tell audiences that they can unleash the power of God through acts of faith faith. This divine power requires the willingness and trust of individuals that God can heal their sicknesses, restore broken relationships, enlarge their bank accounts, and give them freedom over the bondage of sin. She argued that this was a type of "hyper-Arminianism" coming out of John Wesley's teaching on Christian perfection that blossomed into the Holiness Movement of the nineteenth century.

If you haven't read Bowler's book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, you should pick up a copy. You might also consider booking her as a speaker. She is an excellent communicator, who employs a witty brand of sarcasm and humor into her talks in a very presentable way.