Tag Archives: Baptists

Ken Starr at Baylor and Baylor’s vision of becoming a world-class Christian university

Burleson Quadrangle, Baylor University, Texas

Burleson Quadrangle, Baylor University, Texas

Over at the Dallas Star, an interesting article profiles Ken Starr, new president of Baylor University, and retells the story of the school’s recent history and its attempt to become a world-class Christian university, something that no Protestant university has sustained in the 21st century.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

[Starr’s] larger mission is to fulfill one of the most breathtaking visions in American higher education. Baylor wants nothing less than to transform itself from its traditional role as a somewhat sleepy, second-rate, predominantly regional Baptist school to a world-class research university with highly ranked graduate programs. Continue reading

“God in America”: First looks at the new six-hour PBS documentary


Colonial Williamsburg parish church


This week PBS is airing a new six-part documentary called “God in America.” I missed the first two parts last night because for some odd reason I wanted to watch Brett Favre throw more interceptions.

The third and fourth parts air tonight (8 and 9 pm CST) while I am teaching (drat), and are described by TV Guide: “The first hour recalls how slavery split the U.S., and Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders both used the Bible to support their positions. Also examined is Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual journey, which was fed by the carnage of the Civil War and the death of his young son. The second hour details how modernity challenged traditional faith during the 19th and early 20th centuries via the establishment of Reform Judaism and the 1925 Scopes evolution trial.” Continue reading

Baptist bishops? In some African-American churches, yes.

Baptists and bishops have historically gone together like, well, oil and water. But now that’s starting to change in some black Baptist churches.

“I think we see this emergence in spiritual leadership from a people who have known oppression,’’ Borders said. “It’s a self-identification that we’re gaining; it’s a valuing of our own leadership.”

And in some cases now symbolic garb and elaborate rituals are accompanying the title. That’s now possible because the 400-year-old fear of an all-powerful hierarchy has faded into a distant memory, and it now feels “safer to borrow and reappropriate historic practices that once were considered to be theologically problematic,’’ said James Farwell, professor of religious studies at Bethany College in West Virginia.

The title is increasingly being used more formally in African-American Baptist churches, where the practice of calling senior pastors bishops has been unusual. African-American Baptist ministers have historically been powerful figures in their communities and pillars of their congregations; some see the title as a recognition of that role.

The whole article, in today’s Boston Globe, can be read here.

Evangelicalism–a basic summary–part II

This is a continuation of this article. Part III may be found here.

Edwards and the Awakening

The Great Awakening began in November of 1734, when Jonathan Edwards, a Massachusetts pastor-theologian, became concerned by a spreading tendency among Connecticut River Valley Christians to rely on their own abilities in seeking salvation from God. In response, Edwards preached a two-sermon series on “Justification by Faith Alone.” And in what Edwards believed was “a surprising work of God,” the people in Northampton and the surrounding area were, he said, “seized with a deep concern about their eternal salvation” so that “scarcely a single person in the whole town was left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world.”

Edwards organized small groups to encourage those experiencing such concern, and soon hundreds were converted and renewed. The revival spilled over into 1735, touching some 25 Massachusetts and Connecticut communities before its intensity began to wane that spring.

Meanwhile, back in England, several students at Oxford University, including the brothers John and Charles Wesley and their friend George Whitefield, founded a group that the undergraduates derisively called the “Holy Club.” Continue reading