The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Review: “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert”

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The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Crown & Covenant, 2012, 154pp., paperback (also Kindle and ebook), $12 ($8.50)

ISBN 978-1-884527-38-8

“Brutally honest” may be an overused phrase in book reviewing, but I think it applies here. This book begins with its then 36 year old author enjoying her role as a high-achieving lesbian doyenne of Queer Theory, a “tenured radical” in the liberal arts at a large research university in New York. From there, it charts her exposure to gospel truth, the comprehensive chaos that followed as Christ called her to be his disciple, and the sweeping sanctification and sincere service that followed. Writing about and wrestling with things as only an English professor with a predilection for the Romantic can, with a strong capacity for self-analysis and a transparency that is bracing, Mrs Butterfield records this journey from the perspective of a felt outsider suddenly drawn into the kingdom and eventually (as the wife of a church planting pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church) on the frontline of its battles. That she does so honestly but not pruriently is one of the strengths of this book: she is clear and blunt without ever being coarse. There are points at which Mrs Butterfield wields her vorpal sword to slay whole herds of sacred cattle simultaneously, and I responded with a hearty “Amen!” far more often than with a stifled “Aargh!”, enjoying her boldness even when wishing to push back against her conclusions. Too often Christians seek to win to Christ people who are just like them, who fit their notions of what churchgoers ought to be. Rosaria Butterfield prompts us to think more humbly about what it means to be an effective witness in an increasingly Corinthian society, with real insights into the world (not just the homosexual culture) and the church from both sides. This is a genuinely refreshing read by a woman who, it seems, states and sacrificially acts on her thoughtful and deeply-held convictions with characteristic boldness. I should love to debate with her about all kind of things, but I hope I have also learned from this sobering, provocative and joyful testimony. (I am sure that a homeschooling English professor like the author is disappointed by a significant number of errors in the text that will, I hope, be corrected in future printings.)

You can listen to an interview with Rosaria Butterfield with David Murray and Tim Challies (either link takes you there).

Carl Trueman’s longer review is here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 2 November 2012 at 12:39

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