Dr. Ruble’s Sabbatical Project — And a New YouTube Series on Race & Christianity in America

Posted on July 8th, 2021 by

Dr. Sarah Ruble, Professor of Religion and Faculty Director of Assessment at the College, returns from a year’s sabbatical this coming fall. Here’s an update on what she’s been working on — including an exciting new YouTube series on race and Christianity in America, designed specifically for Sunday schools and Adult Ed.

 

Sabbatical Project

My current project compares two evangelical Christian magazines: Christianity Today and World. Scholars in U.S. religion often call Chrisitanity Today the “flagship” magazine for American evangelicalism and use the magazine to gauge evangelical positions on social and political issues. I’ve done it myself. We tend to use World magazine less in our scholarship. On one hand, that makes sense. World is newer and does not have the pedigree of Christianity Today. Yet the tendency to use Christianity Today as a barometer of evangelical belief and to disregard World does not make sense for contemporary understandings of evangelicalism given their now comparable circulations and the influence of World’s editor, Marvin Olasky. Olasky coined the term “Compassionate Conservatism” and has been a significant figure in conservative political thinking for several decades.

My project is still in the evidence gathering stages, but I am reading the magazines with a couple of questions in mind.

First, what kind of evangelical community and what kind of secular world do the two magazines imagine? These questions raise others about authority, the relationship between theology and ethics as well as about economics and politics. My second question is about sources and method: how does our understanding of U.S. evangelicalism change if we take World seriously as an important voice with significant influence?

 

YouTube Series

Since 2017, I have been working on a YouTube-based adult Sunday School curriculum on the history of Race and Christianity in the United States, with a focus on the relationship between black and white Christians.

I wanted to provide a free resource with accurate, accessible history that would address issues and questions important to Christians. I consider, for example, when and why separate denominations for white and black Christians emerged (a historical question) and what the history of racially separate denominations has meant theologically (an ecclesial question).

The eight-week curriculum and accompanying videos are complete and available on my website, sarahruble.com.

 

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