The hosts of NetVUE’s podcast Callings recently sat down for a conversation with Kristin Kobes Du Mez, professor of history and gender studies at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since the publication of her New York Times bestselling book, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (2020), she has been in the middle of intense public debates about faith, nationalism, and gender in American Evangelicalism. In this episode, Kristin shares some of the story behind that story, reflecting on the role that historical research plays in public life.
“History isn’t going to answer your questions for you,” she says, but it “is going to give you a whole lot more wisdom as you search out those answers. [. . .] It complicates our categories.” Her desire to share the truth of history and the Gospel are at the core of her calling despite the daily attacks directed at her since the publication of her bestselling book. She believes that as an historian, her research matters to a wide audience but especially to the many evangelical women who reach out to her. Although she describes herself as having a “thick skin,” she also understands that “holding things loosely” enables her to continue her work as long as her contribution is needed.
Throughout the conversation, Kristin advocates for honesty and humility as vocational touchstones. “Our cultural context, our historical context, shapes the way we understand God’s Word. That’s how we are created,” she says. Humility is needed in part because “the Gospel always disrupts.”
Click here to listen to the episode featuring Kristin Kobes Du Mez titled “Historical Evidence and Public Debate.”
Stephanie L. Johnson is the editor of Vocation Matters.