Category: Secularization


Robert Nelson on Lutheranism and Nordic Social Democracy

The Nordic states are known for their high levels of socio-economic equality, good governance, and high levels of social trust. While some scholars have attributed this to their unique brand of secular social democracy, Prof. Robert Nelson (U of Maryland) argues that Nordic social democracy has deep roots in the “Lutheran ethic.” We discuss how the Lutheran ethic is different than the Calvinist ethic (as seen by Max Weber), how contemporary social democratic thought in Nordic countries has similar elements to Lutheranism, and what is in store for social democracy.

Check out our other podcasts related to the Protestant Reformation this year!

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Rodney Stark on Myths of the Reformation

Many misconceptions surround the Protestant Reformation, from it being the birth of capitalism to it prompting Europe’s secularization. Noted sociologist of religion Rodney Stark (Baylor ISR) joins us to discuss these myths and more. With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation just about a month away, this is a great opportunity to refresh on some interesting talking points to engage your friends, family, and colleagues.

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Emily Fisher Gray on Luther’s 95 Theses

The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation will be celebrated on October 31st of this year, marking the date that Martin Luther disseminated his famous 95 Theses on papal authority and indulgences. Prof. Emily Fisher Gray of Norwich University contextualizes this historically important document and explains how the themes of liberty and authority play out in this and other of Luther’s writings. We review the impact of this document, as well as Luther’s thoughts about a peasant uprising he inspired.

This is the fourth in our special series on the Protestant Reformation. Visit our archives for more great episodes.

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Chris Soper on the Challenge of Religious Pluralism

How do various democratic nations manage increasing religious pluralism around the world?  Prof. Christopher Soper, a distinguished political scientist at Pepperdine University, answers this question and talks about the third edition of his book The Challenge of Pluralism, co-authored with Kevin den Dulk and the late Stephen Monsma.  After Chris provides a few reflections on […]

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Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?

With all the tumult in the American political landscape recently, is the United States pump primed for a Christian Democratic party similar to those in Europe? Three scholars debate this topic based upon a scholarly symposium published in the journal “Perspectives on Political Science.” Prof. Hunter Baker (Union University), the organizer of the symposium, argues that the time is right for Christian Democracy in America. Prof. Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) notes that while Christian Democracy (CD) was helpful in Europe for consolidating democracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the conditions in the U.S. are not ripe for CD. Finally, Prof. Micah Watson (Calvin College) takes a decidedly negative position towards the concept of CD. Your host, Tony, chimes in with his own thoughts at the end.

Let us know your position by clicking “read more” and commenting on our discussion board.

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Ani Sarkissian on Politics & Religious Civil Society in Turkey (Encore Presentation)

In light of the interesting political developments in Turkey this past year, we dip into our archives to feature an encore presentation with Prof. Ani Sarkissian discussing the relationship between religious civil society and politics in Turkey.

More new episodes on the way.

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Frank Newport on Survey Research and American Religiosity (Encore Presentation)

Encore Presentation: Dr. Frank Newport, the Editor-in-Chief at Gallup, discusses the process of public opinion research and what it tells us about America’s changing religious landscape. We spend a significant amount of time discussing how polls are conducted, what their limitations are, and how survey companies like Gallup try to overcome these problems. This is a fantastic primer for those who are unfamiliar with survey research. We spend the second half of the interview discussing Dr. Newport’s book, “God Is Alive & Well,” which argues that America is still a vibrantly spiritual nation.

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Joseph O. Baker on American Secularism

America has become less religious in recent years. To explore this phenomenon, both in its present form and situated historically, we invite Prof. Joseph O. Baker of Eastern Tennessee State University to talk about the history and contemporary dimensions of American secularism(s). He notes that secularism does not necessarily mean atheism, but includes an array of different categories. We also discuss some of the reasons for the recent increase in “nones,” including family structure, changing sexual norms, and political polarization.

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Rodney Stark on The Triumph of Faith

The decline of religion around the world may be greatly exaggerated. Returning for his sixth appearance on our podcast, Prof. Rodney Stark, co-founder of Baylor’s ISR, discusses his new book “The Triumph of Faith” and reviews how the religious landscapes in various countries and regions of the world has been greatly transformed in the past half century. We look at “nones” from the United States, the rise of indigenous Christianity in Africa, and how even the Japanese still rely upon Shinto priests for blessings.

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Joseph Castleberry on the New Pilgrims

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, president of Northwest University, discusses how the recent wave of immigrants have been revitalizing religion in America, both spiritually and in terms of civil religion. He connects this revitalization back early “great awakenings” in American history that were spurred by waves of individuals coming to America in search of greater opportunity, and relays stories of how the “new pilgrims” are planting churches and inspiring success.

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