What Are You Reading and Why?

Still Christian

David Gushee, Westminster, 2017

Reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

Gushee tells his story, of finding faith and struggling with spirituality, whose commitment to Jesus puts him at odds with American evangelicalism.  Still Christian tells of his pilgrimage from personal faith found on a Baptist church parking lot as a teenager to studies and teaching in five seminaries and several inter-church social action groups.  His story relates to a wide range of religious probing:  the Southern Baptist Convention controversy; mainline liberalism and radicalism; American conservative and progressive evangelicalism; life as an academic in both secular and Christian institutions; Christian engagements with politics; national media; fights over specific issues such as abortion, climate, torture, women’s participation in church structures and LGBT inclusion (xv). 

He became a Southern Baptist as a teenager, discovered Protestantism at liberal seminars, got a teaching gig at a conservative seminary, got involved in environmental and anti-torture activism, change his mind about gay people (xi).  The discipline of journaling helped create accuracy and perspective.

With all the changes that his journaling and teaching resulted in, what remains?  ‘I still believe in Jesus.  I still believe in the prophetic religion of Jesus and of those before him, a religion of justice, love and compassion. I still believe in local communities of Jesus-followers.  I still believe in the power of the preached Word and received sacraments.  I still believe that the truest human language is tears….  The most important voices come from the margins.’ (p 150)

A good read of a fellow pilgrim’s story.

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.