What Hath Anabaptists To Do With Evangelicals?

PICKWICK_TemplateA few years ago I wrote an essay in a book, edited by Jared Burkholder and David Cramer, titled, The Activist Impulse: Essays on the Intersection of Evangelicalism and Anabaptism.  Since I self-identify as an evangelical, work at a college with Anabaptist roots, and study American evangelical movements, I have had an informal interest in this subject for a long time.

Cramer is a pastor and seminary professor who works at the intersection of these two Christian movements.   I met him for the first time in the Fall when I spoke about Believe Me at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.

Cramer writes about that visit in a post at his new Patheos blog “Anabaptist Revisions.”  Here is a taste of “Does ‘Anabaptist Revisions’ Belong on the Evangelical Channel?“:

“Are you sure you belong on the evangelical channel?” the Patheos director of content asked me over the phone. It’s a fair question.

A couple months ago over breakfast a pastor friend from my evangelical denomination expressed his concern with what he called my “Mennonitism.” He seemed to think Anabaptist theology is incompatible with evangelicalism and to equate Anabaptism with liberalism.

The irony is that the denomination in which we both pastor was started by Mennonites who had been kicked out of the Mennonite church for their progressive methods and ideals—like singing four-part harmony, holding tent revivals, and embracing women in leadership.

The suspicion can run both ways. Last fall evangelical historian John Fea spoke at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS, the seminary where I work) and was told in no uncertain terms by one Mennonite theologian in attendance that evangelical theology is itself responsible for the violence and racism prevalent in American society. After the interaction Fea wrote that he “realized that Anabaptism and Evangelicalism are quite different, especially when it comes to the theology of the atonement and the role that doctrine plays in Christian identity.”

Read the rest here.

Chris Gehrz Reviews *Believe Me* at The Anxious Bench

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I have yet to hold a published copy of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, but I understand that others have copies.    The reviews have already starting rolling in.  Over at The Anxious Blog (Patheos), Chris Gehrz has written a very generous review.  Here is a taste:

Perhaps that makes it seem like he pulls his punches on an issue like racism. But I’d read Fea’s approach differently.

For example, in the first half of ch. 5, on Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again,” Fea confronts evangelicals with the historical and theological problems inherent in the idea of America as a Christian nation. (Familiar territory for him.) Then while the rest of that chapter reveals the racist and xenophobic subtexts of Trump’s appeals to nostalgia, Fea holds back from indicting white evangelicals themselves. Instead, I think he trusts that such readers who have made it that far in Believe Me can make the connection themselves and question — maybe for the first time — just why they yearn to revive what Russell Moore dismissed as “the supposedly idyllic Mayberry of white Christian America. (“That world,” Moore continued, “was murder, sometimes literally, for minority evangelicals.”)  

Maybe such readers won’t ask that question, or even read the book in the first place; since 2016 I’ve had my own doubts about the possibility of changing evangelical hearts and minds. But there’s some evidence even in recent weeks of conservative Protestants rethinking their commitment to a Trump-led culture war. And believe me, if any historian can succeed in getting American evangelicals to take an even longer, more honest look at themselves in the mirror of their own past, it’s John Fea.

Read the entire review here.

Chris Gehrz: “Can Patheos Continue to ‘Host the Conversation on Faith’?”

Anxious-Bench-squareThis morning we highlighted Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s recent post at The Anxious Bench.  Du Mez has some serious concerns about the direction Patheos is moving.

Now Chris Gerhz, the blogmeister of The Anxious Bench, has entered the conversation.  He has similar concerns about Patheos.  Here is a taste of his post:

I hope that Patheos continues to host such a diversity of voices, across and within channels, but I think it’s fair for Kristin to ask whether Warren’s termination signals that Patheos “will be hosting a censored, invitation-only conversation? Are there topics we would do well to avoid?”

But even if we get more details and stronger reassurance, I’ve got a separate concern that’s been on my mind for several months now: that Patheos doesn’t host a conversation so much as a cacophony.

Go to www.patheos.com and you can find any number of voices speaking — but only rarely to each other. With the notable exceptions of Hart, McKnight, and Progressive blogger James McGrath, I rarely get the sense that other Patheos bloggers are all that interested in what The Anxious Bench has to say. But I’m guilty of this, too: as often as I find myself reading other Patheos blogs, I rarely write posts in response to them — whether to agree, disagree, or simply provide historical context.

Read the entire post here.

Another Patheos Blogger Wants to Know What is Going on at Patheos

Anxious-Bench-squarePatheos bloggers continue to ask questions after the website unceremoniously dumped Warren Throckmorton.

Here is a taste of historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez‘s latest post at The Anxious Bench:

Does Patheos in fact host the conversation on faith? Or is this a sign that it will be hosting a censored, invitation-only conversation? Are there topics we would do well to avoid? (To be clear, these questions are not meant to “disparage” the site, simply to inquire about its strategic objectives going forward).

As someone who writes on feminism, on Focus on the Family, on racism and Christian nationalism, on conservative Christians and sexual abuse, on #MeToo and the church, and, yes, on Donald Trump, this question is of particular interest to me. (To be clear, I’ve never received any editorial directives from Patheos leadership; Throckmorton’s removal, however, seems to have come without warning).

Beyond censorship, I suppose there’s also the question of whose pockets we’re padding. The revenue generated from the ubiquitous ads goes somewhere. I can’t imagine my blog posts contribute in any significant way to the net wealth of folks like President Trump’s personal lawyer—he has other more lucrative streams of income, I presume.

Read the entire post here.

What Patheos Bloggers are Saying About the Website’s Decision to Dump Warren Throckmorton

ThrockOver at his new blog, Warren Throckmorton has collected comments from Patheos bloggers about his unceremonious removal from the religion website.

We blogged about this here and here and here.

Here is a taste of Throckmorton’s post:

Patheos blogger Fred Clark (aka Slacktivist Fred) says I may have been “Throcked.” He offers this term to describe being fired to appease far-right donors and to warn others not to anger those donors.

Whatever the reason or reasons, some Patheos bloggers have bravely taken to their Patheos blogs to criticize the move to dismiss me from the platform.  This post serves as a summary of those posts.

Read it all here.

It is Still Not Clear Why Patheos Dropped Warren Throckmorton

ThrockWe have covered this here and here.

Over at his new blog, Warren Throckmorton is still wondering why the religion website Patheos unceremoniously dropped his blog.

Here is a taste:

I feel this is important for me to say since Patheos Director of Content Phil Fox Rose sent an email to some bloggers yesterday implying that I knew their expectations “many months ago.” This email was sent to me by several Patheos bloggers:

As some of you know, Patheos decided to end its partnership with Warren Throckmorton. This was done after long and thoughtful consideration. The decision was not made based on a triggering event or post, and Mr. Throckmorton was advised of our expectations many months ago. This is not reflective of some change in policy. It was a specific case. This decision should not give any blogger reason to think their status is in question. We’re sorry the lack of details allows for speculation, but our commitment remains as always to be the place where conversation about faith is happening in the most robust and dynamic way. Nothing will change that. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out to Ben, and I’m happy to talk too.

What were the expectations and how did I fail to meet them? Since I was not aware of any expectation relating to my blog (beyond the same agreement all other bloggers sign), I don’t know what Mr. Rose is talking about.

Read the entire post here.  Sounds like a raw deal to me.

Warren Throckmorton Says More About His Ousting at Patheos

ThrockThe powers-that-be at the religion website Patheos have ended their relationship with evangelical blogger Warren Throckmorton.  We did a post on this yesterday.

Today Throckmorton wondered which one of his posts crossed the line:

Much of the interest on social media has focused on the fact that Mark Driscoll and Gospel for Asia CEO K.P. Yohannan are blogging at Patheos now while I am not. Apparently, the strategic objectives of Patheos include those fellows.

Ponder that.

Read the entire post here.

Warren Throckmorton is Out at Patheos

ThrockYesterday the religion website Patheos pulled the plug on Warren Throckmorton.

Some of you know Throckmorton’s work as an evangelical watchdog, especially as it related to his coverage of GOP activist David Barton, Mark Driscoll and his now-defunct Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and lawsuits related to Gospel for Asia.

Patheos told the Grove City College psychology professor that his blog no longer fit its “strategic objectives.”  Throckmorton has moved his content to a new site.  Here is his first post:

I hope to have more to say about it soon but for now, I can report that I am blogging here now at wthrockmorton.com.  Patheos leadership informed me yesterday that my blog no longer fit their “strategic objectives.” Since I don’t know what those are, I can’t say how I didn’t fit them.

In any case, thanks to friend J.D. Smith, the blog was quickly migrated with the content to this ad free site. The downside is that I have been unable as yet to find out from Patheos how to get my comments moved along with the posts.

What a strange turn of events. Patheos was at the center of the Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia stories and now they host Mark Driscoll and K.P. Yohannan. All of the those Patheos links about Mars Hill and GFA are now erased. The content is here and archived elsewhere but admittedly, it will be harder to find.

This is indeed a really strange development.  I am awaiting some kind of official word from Patheos about why it released Throckmorton.