Wheaton College lecture series explores 'The Danger and Promise of Evangelical Practice'

Updated 3/22/2023 11:48 PM

On Tuesday, March 28, the Wheaton College history department and the McManis Lecture Series presents "The Danger and Promise of Evangelical Practice; Or, Can I Still Have A Personal Relationship With Jesus?" by historian Aaron Griffith.

Diagnoses of the ills of American evangelicalism abound. Historians have proven particularly adept in cataloging the roots of contemporary evangelical failures, attending to past evangelical entanglements with national sins such as racism, militarism, and sexism.


But what about the status of central modern American evangelical practices themselves, such as personal prayer and evangelism? Are these essentially neutral? Are they fully implicated in the sins of evangelicalism? Or are they potentially a source of radical transformation?

Drawing on both his research on evangelical involvement in American criminal justice and recent theological debates concerning the redemptive and damaging possibilities of Christian practices, the Whitworth University history professor offers an account of American evangelicalism that takes seriously the movement's characteristic failures and redemptive promise.

Griffith has an MDiv and ThD from Duke Divinity School and previously was a postdoctoral fellow at the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Aaron's first book, "God's Law and Order: The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America," was published in 2020 by Harvard University Press, and won the "Best Book in History & Biography" award from Christianity Today in 2021. He is the recipient of the 2021 Emerging Public Intellectual Award, hosted by Redeemer University and sponsored by the Acton Institute, Cardus, the Center for Public Justice, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the Henry Institute at Calvin University, and is currently a fellow in the Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative at the Public Religion Research Institute. He writes regularly for popular publications such as Religion & Politics and Religion News Service, and has been quoted on issues relating to religion and criminal justice in publications like The Atlantic and Christianity Today. He is currently at work on a book on the religious history of American policing.

This free event, open to the public, will take place at 7 p.m. in Blanchard Hall, Room 339 Lecture Hall, located at 501 College Ave. in Wheaton. A reception will be provided after the lecture.

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