The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith
Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department’s curriculum.
And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down—the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a “train wreck” at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.
"As you read Champagne Butterfield’s incredibly poignant and vulnerable account, you can’t help but put yourself in Smith’s place…. Would you have reached out to a woman who thought Christians and their God were ‘stupid, pointless and menacing’?"
Jim Daly, president, Focus on the Family
"This autobiography is the launchpad for numerous sophisticated reflections on the nature of life, faith, sexuality, worship, education and other matters. As one would expect from a lover of nineteenth century literature, the book is also beautifully written with many a well-turned sentence; and as one would expect from someone schooled at the highest levels in critical theory, it eschews simplistic pieties for stimulating analyses of both Christian and non-Christian culture.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I do not agree with everything she says; but I did learn from everything she wrote. It deserves the widest possible readership."
Dr. Carl Trueman, Westminster Theological Seminary, reformation21.org
"There are some stories that just need to be told—some testimonies of the Lord’s grace that are so unusual and so encouraging that they will bless everyone who hears them. This is exactly the case with Rosaria Butterfield, who recently authored The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert."
Tim Challies, challies.com
Rosaria Butterfield’s Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faithdemands serious attention by all evangelicals interested in the areas of Christian lifestyle, worship, worldview and evangelism. Her narrative describes her self-described ‘trainwreck’ conversion. It documents how Christ confronted and captured someone who never considered herself a ‘seeker’ until Christ first came calling….
While Butterfield’s conversion is a triumph for Christ and testimony to the faithfulness of His servants, it is thankfully not a triumphalist puff piece on Christians in general. The conversion that deconstructed her life and worldview taught her a thing or two about how Christians fail homosexuals and postmoderns. One such failure is an unbelief in Christ’s power to transform people and the Bible’s power to captivate people. She likewise warns against an overzealous quest to supplicate and ‘identify’ that denies Christ by boldly saying that people may embrace both Christ and their sin.
Rev. Chuck Huckaby, worldviewchurch.org
How our lives bear the fruit of Christ’s spilled blood is important” (ix). In her book, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield gives a testimony that truly glorifies our sovereign, loving, living God. I bought this for our church library, and as soon as I finished the last page, hopped on the computer to order five more….
There are those who highlight deeds over creeds, and there are those who hold so tightly to orthodoxy over service that their knowledge is cold and removed from life. Butterfield is neither of these, nor is she ‘the proper balance’ of the two. She is the extreme of both—but not in the ways I’ve identified above, of course. She goes all in. Doctrine is very important, because truth is important! Throughout her testimony, she is also a discoverer and teacher of the knowledge of God. The reader will see her passion in doctrines such as election, sexuality, hermeneutics, authority of Scripture, hospitality, worship, adoption, and Christian love to name a few. And speaking of the latter, it’s impossible for the reader to be unmoved by Butterfield’s intense desire for service, acts of love, and compassion, especially to the ‘stranger at the gate.’
Every now and then you read something that not only is a good book, but makes you want to have a meal with the author and get to know them better. This was one for me.
Aimee Byrd, housewifetheologian.com
If you’re looking for an anti-gay tract, this isn’t it. In fact, Butterfield doesn’t flinch in describing the rich relationship she shared inside the gay and lesbian community, and the heartbreak of having to distance herself from it. She broods, knowing that to openly profess Christ will cost her so many cherished relationships, if not her career. Her decision to publicly speak about her transformation while delivering the Graduate Student Orientation Convocation at Syracuse is utterly captivating. (A copy of her address, entitled ‘What King Solomon Teaches Those in the Wisdom Business: Active Learning and Active Scholarship,’ is included in its entirety and, in my opinion, worth the price of the book.) Along the way, Butterfield walks the tightrope between the Christian community and the LGBT community, immersing herself in Scripture while receiving counsel from a transsexual, ex-Christian minister. It’s a fascinating, gritty glimpse into an intersection of unlikely worldviews.
Mike Duran, mikeduran.com