Religious Liberty: Thomas Jefferson’s Other Legacy

His commitment to religious liberty helped to prevent violent sectarian conflict. January 16th marked National Religious Freedom Day in the United States, commemorating Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. These are trying times for Jefferson’s reputation and it’s understandable that Americans frustrated with ongoing racism focus on his slaveholding legacy. Some of his[…]

Benjamin Franklin: Not a Deist, but Not a Christian

He believed that religion promoted virtuous behavior and that Jesus was the greatest moral teacher who ever lived but was not God. Ezra Stiles (1727–1795), the Calvinist president of Yale College, was curious about Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) and his faith. In 1790, he asked the nation’s senior statesman if he would commit his religious beliefs[…]

John Wesley and Evangelicalism in the 18th Century

The single most important figure in the history of Evangelicalism was John Wesley, the founder of the Methodists. Evangelicalism was a movement in Protestantism during the 18th century in the English-speaking world.  There was a similar movement in German-speaking Protestantism called “Pietism.”  This movement has had tremendous intellectual, social and political consequences.  Although it was[…]

John Calvin and the Birth of Evangelicalism in the 16th Century

John Calvin was a leader of the Swiss protestant reformation and a pastor of the Evangelical Church of Geneva. Introduction John Calvin (July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was a prominent Christian theologian during the Protestant Reformation and is the namesake of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism. Jean Chauvin (or Cauvin) was[…]