“As Christians, our challenge is to “take every thought captive in obedience to Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5), including our thinking about our national heritage. Thanksgiving is a good place to start.”

Faith and History

Yes, I’m still alive.

I hope to return to semi-regular posting with the new year, but it occurred to me just now that Thanksgiving is only two and a half weeks away, so I thought I would take the time to engage in some shameless self-promotion.

On the possibility that some of you might be interested in a book about the history of the holiday, I will be bold and suggest that you consider my own: The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us about Loving God and Learning from History.

The book came out in the fall of 2013 from Intervarsity Press, and it was a labor of love.  For years I had been gradually developing a new sense of vocation.  I believe that academic historians write too much for each other, leaving the public to learn about the past from pastors, talk-show hosts, rap musicians, and…

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Historical insights – The origin of the Reformation

Hermann Schweder, painter - Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley

Hermann Schweder, painter – Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley

Christianity on the eve of the Reformation was undoubtedly popular and lively, but that does not mean it was healthy or biblical. In fact, if all the people had been hungering for the kind of change the Reformation would bring, it would suggest that the Reformation was little more than a natural social movement, a moral clean-up. This the Reformers always denied. It was not a popular moral reform; it was a challenge to the very heart of Christianity. They claimed that God’s word was breaking in to change the world; it was unexpected, and went right against the grain; it was not a human work but a divine bombshell.”

Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering The Heart Of The Reformation, B&H Publishing, 2010, p. 25.

Psalm 98

A Song of Praise to the Lord for His Salvation and Judgment

A Psalm.

98 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.


Pope Francis Remakes the Vatican

COVER IS FOR YOUR ONE-TIME EXCLUSIVE USE ONLY AS A TIE-IN WITH THE AUGUST 2015 ISSUE OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. NO SALES, NO TRANSFERS. COVER MAY NOT BE CROPPED OR ALTERED IN ANY WAY. ©National GeographicIf you’re interested in this subject, you’ll find an article by this name in the August issue of National Geographic. The subtitle is: “Will the Pope change the Vatican? Or will the Vatican change the Pope?”

In light of Francis I’s planned visit to the US in September, and his addresses to a joint session of Congress and also to the UN, it is important to study the groundwork being laid for these events in the media. 

“Pope Francis Remakes the Vatican”

Photographer – Dave Yoder

Writer – Robert Draper

(Yoder and Draper have also collaborated on a soon-to-be-published National Geographic book: Pope Francis and the New Vatican.)

I plan to read the article and share my thoughts. It includes a short timeline called “Saints and Sinners” that necessarily omits many things, but the omissions are significant:

the Inquisition,

the Reformation,

and the Counter-Reformation

It does include a mention of Luther’s excommunication but no year is given, and of “Reforming Popes,” which notes 1540 as the year when

“Church leaders convene a council… to reform the church. They approve new religious orders that spread the Catholic faith through worldwide missions.”

This is a strange way to speak about the Council of Trent, with its many anathemas of Biblical faith and Christians. And why no mention of it by name?

1540 is not only the date when Paul III summoned this council but the date of his approval/establishment of Ignatius of Loyola’s Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). 

Watch the media, please.