Respond and Engage!
TALK TO PAUL ON-AIR: 313.272.5600
Michigan Reformation Conference
Paul will be speaking at the 16th Annual Michigan Reformation Conference in Flint, Michigan on Saturday, October 26th (10am – 4pm). More information and free registration.
GUEST: Dr. Thomas Kidd
Thomas S. Kidd is the Vardaman Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University and the author of many books, including Who Is an Evangelical? A History of a Movement in Crisis (Yale, 2019); Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale, 2017); Baptists in America: A History with Barry Hankins (Oxford, 2015); George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale, 2014); and Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots (Basic, 2011).
If you follow politics, you’ve seen plenty of headlines or social media posts in recent months along the lines of “Evangelicals believe [a certain stance on an issue]” or “Evangelicals support [this or that candidate]”.
And if you follow Dr. Thomas Kidd on Twitter, you’ve seen him repeatedly call out such posts — in particular, questioning how such stories determine who counts as an evangelical before reaching their conclusions.
Now, Kidd — a Baylor history professor since 2002 — has published his thinking in a new book: Who Is an Evangelical?: The History of a Movement in Crisis. In it, Kidd pulls from his expertise in American religious history to look back at the birth and growth of the evangelical movement, in the process illustrating how distorted the word “evangelical” has become when it comes to politics.
- AUDIO ARCHIVE: Paula White’s Desperate Moment: Paul’s interview with Paula White in October 2007
GUEST: R. R. Reno, Editor of First Things
R. R. Reno is the editor of First Things magazine, and author of the just released Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West. He was formerly a professor of theology and ethics at Creighton University. He is the author of several books including Fighting the Noonday Devil, a theological commentary on the Book of Genesis in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series. His work ranges widely in systematic and moral theology, as well as in controverted questions of biblical interpretation.
After the staggering slaughter of back-to-back world wars, the West embraced the ideal of the “open society.” The promise: By liberating ourselves from the old attachments to nation, clan, and religion that had fueled centuries of violence, we could build a prosperous world without borders, freed from dogmas and managed by experts.
But the populism and nationalism that are upending politics in America and Europe are a sign that after three generations, the postwar consensus is breaking down. With compelling insight, R. R. Reno argues that we are witnessing the return of the “strong gods”—the powerful loyalties that bind men to their homeland and to one another.
Reacting to the calamitous first half of the twentieth century, our political, cultural, and financial elites promoted open borders, open markets, and open minds. But this never-ending project of openness has hardened into a set of anti-dogmatic dogmas which destroy the social solidarity rooted in family, faith, and nation. While they worry about the return of fascism, our societies are dissolving.
But man will not tolerate social dissolution indefinitely. He longs to be part of a “we”—the fruit of shared loves—which gives his life meaning. The strong gods will return, Reno warns, in one form or another. Our task is to attend to those that, appealing to our reason as well as our hearts, inspire the best of our traditions. Otherwise, we shall invite the darker gods whose return our open society was intended to forestall.
THE CATHOLIC THING: Review of Return of the Strong Gods