Book Reviews -- By: Matthew S. DeMoss
BSac 175:697 (January-March 2018) p. 110
By The Faculty and Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary
Still Christian: Following Jesus out of American Evangelicalism. By David P. Gushee. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017. xvi + 151 pp. $16.00.
Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He is also President of the American Academy of Religion (2018). This brief memoir relates his journey to faith in Christ, into American evangelical academic institutions, and then away from self-identifying as an evangelical. Gushee writes not from memory but based upon four decades of records. He explains, “I’m a compulsive journaler and record keeper. I have kept every lecture and speech I’ve ever given, and pretty much all of my important correspondence. And all along the way, I’ve been journaling almost every day about most every important thing I’ve experienced” (xii). This is not another tale of a defector from the faith. Gushee explains, “The stories I am going to tell you are not the stories of a disillusioned ex-Christian. It’s weird, perhaps, but none of the nasty stuff I’ve seen in churches or denominations or seminaries or colleges or academia has ever really had an effect on my faith in Jesus. Jesus isn’t the problem. Christians are” (xvii). To be more specific, Gushee’s problem is with conservative, American, evangelical Christians.
Gushee begins by narrating his conversion to Christianity as a sixteen-year-old. It, like all conversion stories, is an example of how the grace of God moves into a person’s life and changes it forever. After going from a Southern Baptist youth group to the College of William and Mary, Gushee completed ministerial training at Southern Seminary and was ordained as a pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention. He chose to do doctoral work in ethics at Union Seminary in New York. He served several years on staff at Evangelicals for Social Action before accepting a teaching position at Southern Seminary. His time at Southern was short. This section of the book might be the most painful to read. Gushee was a moderate and thus could not remain long in a place where belief in inerrancy was required. Yet the story of a young faculty member who quickly came to realize that he was not where he belonged is a moving one. After three years, Gushee joined the faculty of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. During these years, his voice against torture and in support of the science of climate change increasingly put him on the margins of conservative evangelicalism and led to a move to Mercer University. But
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