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Still Christian by David Gushee- A review

 


Still Christian:

Following Jesus Out of American Evangelicalism

By David P. Gushee

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

In Still Christian: Following Jesus Out of American Evangelicalism, David P. Gushee offers a candid memoir that chronicles his spiritual journey within the American evangelical movement. This book is not merely a narrative of Gushee's life; it is a profound reflection on the challenges of maintaining personal integrity in the face of institutional pressures and societal expectations.

 

Gushee, a distinguished professor of Christian ethics, was born and raised a Roman Catholic. His transition to Southern Baptist evangelicalism marked a significant turn in his spiritual quest, one that would lead him to grapple with the complexities of faith, scholarship, and moral conviction. The book is laid out chronologically, allowing readers to follow Gushee's path from a zealous Baptist teenager to a respected academic and outspoken advocate for LGBTQ inclusion within the Christian community.

 

The author's intellectual journey is particularly compelling. Gushee's pursuit of religious studies at a public university and later at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during its conservative shift presents an intriguing backdrop to his evolving theological perspectives. His subsequent doctoral work at Union Theological Seminary, known for its liberal and liberationist leanings, further shapes his ethical stances, especially as he navigates the discomfort of being a moderately conservative white man in a predominantly progressive space.

 

Still Christian is more than an autobiography; it is a mirror reflecting the broader schisms within American Christianity. Gushee's experiences with the Christian Right, his encounters with political activism, and his eventual ousting from evangelicalism for his pro-LGBTQ stance are narrated with a blend of humility and boldness. The book is a testament to the author's commitment to following Jesus, even when it means parting ways with established religious institutions.

 

One of the book's strengths is Gushee's ability to articulate the internal conflicts and external pressures that accompany deep moral convictions. He does not shy away from discussing the personal costs of his decisions, including the loss of friendships, job security, and a sense of belonging within the evangelical community. Yet, despite these losses, Gushee's narrative is imbued with hope and a steadfast belief in the redemptive power of Christ's teachings.

 

Gushee's writing style is accessible and engaging, making complex theological and ethical discussions approachable for a broad audience. His story resonates with anyone who has wrestled with the tension between personal beliefs and institutional doctrines. It speaks to those disillusioned by the politicization of faith and the often-polarizing nature of religious discourse.

 

Still Christian is a compelling account of a man's unwavering pursuit of truth and authenticity in his faith journey. It challenges readers to consider the cost of discipleship and the courage required to stand firm in one's convictions. Gushee's memoir is a valuable contribution to the conversation about the future of Christianity in America and the role of personal integrity in religious practice.

On a more personal note,  I found it interesting because a considerable part of my life was spent in evangelical communities that in more recent years were overtaken by fundamentalists whose penchant for literal interpretations of select biblical texts has led to the reconstruction of walls ostracizing other Christians and constricting the space in which women may flourish.

References

Gushee, D. P. (2017). Still Christian: Following Jesus out of American Evangelicalism. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.    Available on AMAZON

Sutton, G. W. (2024, April 14). Still Christian by David Gushee--A review. Interdisciplinary Book and Film Reviews. Retrieved from https://suttonreviews.suttong.com/2024/04/still-christian-by-david-gushee-review.html




Geoffrey W. Sutton, PhD is Emeritus Professor of Psychology. He retired from a clinical practice and was credentialed in clinical neuropsychology and psychopharmacology. His website is  www.suttong.com

 

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