Entries by Randall Balmer

The Complement of Sacramentalism

Many thanks to Ferris Blount for his nuanced discussion of the Black Church, and especially his reminder that the Black Church is anything but monolithic. Indeed, I see extraordinary diversity, from the relatively dignified African Methodist Episcopal Church to the rollicking expressions characteristic of Pentecostalism. When I taught in New York City, one of my […]

Hearts Strangely Warmed

I deeply appreciate Sarah Lancaster’s summary of the Wesleyan tradition and its emphasis on holiness and piety within the context of community. True, as Ms. Lancaster notes, that emphasis has flagged somewhat at various times within the Wesleyan tradition—a consequence of routinization, no doubt—but the ideal remains, and it is important. When I think of […]

Is Conversion Essential?

By way of context, I sometimes refer to myself as a lower-case baptist. I was baptized by my father by full immersion in the baptismal tank at the Evangelical Free Church in Bay City, Michigan. David Gushee’s captivating account of his own spiritual pilgrimage from Roman Catholicism to the Baptist tradition curiously reverses the pathway […]

Almost Persuaded

Wes Granberg-Michaelson has presented a compelling, even winsome, case for Reformed (Calvinist) Christianity, a tradition that once shaped my theological perspective. He speaks of the emphasis on community (for infant baptism especially), the importance of confessions, the sovereignty of God, ecumenism, and the Reformed tradition’s reckoning with sin. Mr. Granberg-Michaelson, a distinguished Reformed leader himself, […]

Those Countercultural Anabaptists

I open with thanks to Michael King for reminding us of the virtues of the Anabaptist tradition. It is indeed a movement with a colorful and distinguished history, populated as it is with remarkable individuals, many of whom suffered for their convictions. Because this tradition takes its cues from the Sermon on the Mount, the […]