Recently I watched Marvin Olasky interview Rosaria Champagne Butterfield from the campus of Patrick Henry College. For your benefit, I have included the video below. The interview was about the remarkable story of Butterfield’s conversion from radical opposition to Christianity to her current life today as a passionate follower of Christ, and pastor’s wife. It was because of that interview that I was excited to read a copy of her new book, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.” The book centers around her story, and her story is quite compelling. The book begins with Butterfield teaching as a tenured professor in both the English Department and the Center for Women’s Studies at Syracuse University in upstate New York. At the time Butterfield was, as I said, substantially opposed to Christianity, and was living in a committed lesbian relationship. After publishing an article in the local paper critiquing Promise Keepers for the gender politics, she was contacted by a local pastor who, along with his wife, loved her unconditionally, and introduced her to Jesus both in word and in deed.The rest of the book that follows is the story of her long walk towards Christianity, and the transformation that occurred in her life after her commitment to Christ.
This book is an interesting one, to me. In one sense, the strength of the book is also its weakness. The strength of the book is its very real, and personal portrayal of the life of someone walking toward Jesus. The path is full of stumbling, and fear, and ultimately leads toward grace. Along the way, though, things are organic and messy and are rarely packaged neatly. The book reflects this very real, honest portrayal. It is not so much a polished example of professional writing – though the writing is very good – as much as it is very similar to listening as Butterfield sits down beside us and shares her story with us. It is very much a story. With that said, this story, I think, can also be part of the weakness of the book. While her personal narrative is strong and compelling, there are a few times when, in an effort to reveal some of the process through which she has come, Butterfield spends a fair amount of time walking through various theological perspectives, none more consistently than her interpretation of the Regulative Principle of Worship. These excurses are obviously important to her, but they seem to detract from the strength of the personal narrative, in my opinion. However, as I said, these theological distinctions are important to her personal narrative, therefore I understand why she would include them.
What may have encouraged me most about this book, apart from the compelling story of her own experience with grace, is the story of the Christians that she interacted with who helped lead her to Jesus. Their willingness to love and accept her, along with their wisdom and intelligence, as well as a personal commitment to living out their faith, paint a different picture than the one we all too often see when we hear about evangelical Christianity in the marketplace.
This book is extraordinarily readable and is quite compelling. The narrative of redemption and grace; the transformation from adamant anti-Christian professor, to grace-filled pastors wife, is tremendous. I would highly encourage you to go out and get a copy for yourself, and maybe a few to give away.
As I understand it, the only store where you can purchase a copy, as of this writing, is in a LifeWay Christian Store, so go find your local LifeWay, and pick up a copy. If a digital copy is more your speed, you can order that through Amazon by clicking here.