Welcome to Christianity for the Common Good! I am a leadership consultant and the author or co-author of nine books. Six of those publications are trade books, including Letters to an American Christian, How To Survive an Election Season, Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians, and One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics. Three of those publications are academic books: The Doctrine of Creation, The Gospel of Our King, and Theology & Practice of Mission.
Additionally, I serve as Senior Fellow in Public Theology at the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology (Cambridge, UK), a participant in the Dulles Colloquium of the Institute on Religion & Public Life, and a trustee at the Institute for Religion & Democracy.
This is my personal blog. It is focused on “Christianity for the common good.” My conviction is that Jesus is Lord and, for that reason, we should be thoughtful and intentional about how our belief in him should shape our lives.
I write on a broad array of topics, including: spirituality and mental health, PTSD and substance abuse, politics and public life, theology and philosophy. These aspects of human life bear exert a significant influence on the common good of our society.
My goal is to create thoughtful and helpful content that is faithfully Christian and can be put to work in the public aspects of life. If you are a person interested in how Christianity applies to public life in its many facets, this is the blog for you.
If this is your first time visiting the site, you might want to read a few sample posts. Usually, I write short posts. These posts can be read in 2-3 minutes and can be shared easily with family and friends. Here are some samples:
- “The One Thing Christians Must Do This Election Season“
- “Pence is Right about Constitutional Interpretation“
- “The One Thing That Could Tip the Balance in the Next Presidential Debate“
- “‘America is Exceptional’: Why Hillary Clinton is Right…and Wrong“
- “It’s Trump: What Evangelicals Should Do Now“
- “Evangelicals, Take Off Your Beer Goggles Before You Vote”
- “Not Trump: Should conservative Evangelicals consider voting for a third party candidate?”
- “2016 Race: Is Looking for Faith in a Candidate the Wrong Way to Approach the Voting Booth?”
Other times, I write longer posts. These posts might take 10 or 15 minutes to read and can be shared with friends and family who are into “ideas” and in-depth conversation. Here are some samples:
- The Jewish Intellectual Who Predicted America’s Social Collapse
- The (Religious) Problem with Liberalism
- The (Religious) Problem with Nationalism
- Lessons from Father Abraham (Kuyper): Christianity, Politics, & the Public Square
I was born in Virginia Beach, but grew up in the town of Roseboro, a small farming community in eastern North Carolina. By the time I enrolled in college, I was a committed Christian but had very little idea what to “do” with my Christianity.
Shortly after graduating, I moved to Kazan, Russia, where I taught English adjunctively at several universities and taught Bible studies at my flat in the evenings. Those years in Kazan were some of the best of my life.
Kazan is a cultural crossroads. It is one of the most intriguing religious and political environments in the former Soviet Union, being composed as it is of Tatar Muslims, Russian Orthodox Christians, and a good number of atheists. There in Kazan, I was forced daily to reflect on questions such as, “How can I be a witness for Christ in a context where evangelical Christianity is considered implausible?” “How can I bring my Christianity to bear on public life—such as my university lectures—in such a way that it contributes to the common good?”
Most of my students were deeply skeptical about whether God existed, whether life had any meaning, and whether there were any moral absolutes. Russia’s cultural institutions—including its government, businesses, marriages, and schools—reflected this deep sense of loss.
During these years, I began to read books by Christian thinkers such as Richard John Neuhaus, Lesslie Newbigin, and Francis Schaeffer. Their writings and life stories helped me immensely. But it is Abraham Kuyper whose biography and writings caused me to reconstruct my way of thinking from the ground up.
Kuyper lived in nineteenth century Holland, served as prime minister of the Netherlands, founded a Christian university, started a newspaper, and wrote influential books on theology, politics, and other topics. His deepest convictions might be summed up in one sentence: Jesus Christ is Lord of all, and because of that fact, our allegiance to him should shape not only the private but also the public aspects of our lives. If Christ is Lord, he is not just the Lord over private spirituality or obviously “religious” things, but also Lord over public things like art, science, business, politics, economics, and education. Reading Kuyper got me started on the path toward viewing Christ’s Lordship as directly relevant to public life.
My questions about Christianity and the public square persisted and even intensified upon returning to the United States in the summer of 2000. I realized in new ways that evangelical Christianity was becoming less and less plausible in the eyes of my fellow Americans. Christian views about sexual morality, for example, were considered not only wrong but morally reprehensible and even hateful.
I knew that American Christians needed to find ways to witness to Christ not only in private via interpersonal conversations but also in public via education, politics, art, and entertainment. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life motivating and equipping Christians to be public witnesses. I sensed that the best way for me to do that was through higher education.
So I enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Theological Studies. In 2003, I completed the Ph.D., defending my dissertation on a philosopher named Ludwig Wittgenstein. I was hired to teach philosophy and History of Ideas for The College at Southeastern, where I served for two decades. Today, I serve as CEO of The Ashford Agency.