Still Christian

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

Following Jesus has led many of us out of the conservative Evangelicalism we may have started in. In this book, David Gushee shares the story of how that has happened in his life.

This is a fairly quick read. I finished it in less than 24 hours. It’s a short memoir because it stays focused on a very specific topic of Evangelicalism through the lens of Gushee’s life. He does give us a brief overview of how exactly Evangelicalism in the US came to be (rebranding “fundamentalism”, coopted by the political Right, etc.).

Gushee also describes how the politically motivated played a big role in taking over the Southern Baptist Convention and THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. As I myself am now a member of a progressive Baptist Church in Louisville and have lived in Louisville for most of my life, this was especially interesting to read about. I’ve heard people at my church talk about being students at SBTS when “the takeover” was going on. Needless to say, they hurt a lot of people in that process, which is what bad theology and power trips tend to do.

It is important to note that while the ultra-conservatives said they were pushing back against “liberal theology”, Gushee writes, “I never met a true theological liberal faculty member the whole time I was at Southern Seminary. In biblical studies, most professors did teach a modest version of historical criticism, but it was hardly outré compared to what I ran across later in my educational pilgrimage. I found that my theology professors hardly strayed to the “left” of Karl Barth, and legends like Dale Moody were very, very Southern Baptist. No, those Southern Seminary faculty were still pious Southern Baptist folks who were simply reasonably open to the broader world of ideas and wanted their students exposed to that world. They also, of course, like most academics, feared witch hunts, purges, and attacks on their academic freedom. Already by 1984, the academic environment was becoming more conservative and less free." (Location 397)

Gushee earned his M.Div from SBTS in 1987, then his M.Phil (1990) and Ph.D. in Christian ethics from Union Theological Seminary in 1993. But he ended up back at SBTS after that because it was his only job offer. I was surprised to learn that Mohler, who had just been appointed as president of the Seminary, was only 33 at the time. He taught at SBTS from 1993-1996. By the time he left SBTS was forcing everyone out who was not willing to ascribe to their stance that women should not be allowed in ministry. So when Gushee received an offer to teach at Union University, he took it as his way out.

Gushee describes this incident at SBTS from before he left: 
“...a new policy came down from the administration, one that would change everything at Southern. At an epic, miserable faculty meeting, the president [Mohler] declared that those who believed that women should serve as pastors would no longer be hired, promoted, or tenured at Southern Seminary. While some details of this policy remained to be addressed, the implications were clear enough. A school that had, over the years, worked its way around to a largely egalitarian understanding of gender roles was now, by decree, overnight, a place that required faculty both to believe and to teach that Holy Scripture clearly bars women from the highest office of church leadership. Dissenting tenured faculty members might survive but probably ought to leave, untenured faculty members who held the now-erroneous belief had no future at the school, and no new faculty members would be hired who were egalitarian. 

This meant the end for pretty much all female faculty members. I vividly remember one of my younger female colleagues getting up from the meeting in which the policy was announced, running from the room, and throwing up in the hall. It's not every day that you are professionally executed by public decree. It just might make you physically ill.” (Location 748)

Still Christian will resonate with anyone who has grown weary of the marriage of Evangelicalism with right-wing politics, and those who are completely over this nonsense about women not being allowed to preach, teach, lead, minister, etc.

Honestly, even if you still consider yourself an Evangelical, you might want to read this to help you understand more about why so many of us that started out that way have been leaving in droves, and for many of us, including Gushee, that does not mean leaving Jesus behind.

Another thing I love about this books is that Gushee kept journals almost every day over the course of his life which I'm sure increases the accuracy of the stories he tells from the past. He even quotes from them throughout the book:

“This reflection from the summer after my freshman year in college foreshadows much about my later journey: Amy Grant sings, “You must put aside the reasoning that’s standing in the way.” Well, my convictions may be shaky but this one isn’t—I will never sacrifice my intellect on the altar of “being faithful.” If you [God] can’t stand up to my measly questions, then you must be an illusion. . . . Must I sacrifice my intellect for the faith? No, I will not suppress my mind, I will not give up my intellect. I will give up the faith first.” (Location 342).

I have felt the exact same way and have written similar things in journals of my own.

I also appreciate Gushee's grace for "the other side". I think he succeeds in his goal of offering a "fair rendering" of the "flawed people and institutions" he describes in this book.

In the preface, Gushee writes: "We are experiencing a moment in American life in which our cultural divides have hardened into mutual incomprehension and demonization." Then he says that he first wrote that line long before the election of Donald Trump as president, and of course, it is even truer now. "We don't know each other, we don't understand each other, we don't trust each other, and we don't like each other. All we see are each other's vices, none of each other's virtues. If this memoir from both sides of the barricades helps improve this deplorable situation, that is reason enough to write it" (Location 92)

I think the only time I noticed Gushee taking a harsher tone was in this passage (which I completely agree with) in Chapter 7:

“This is my best chance to say that I believe the resurgence of a doctrinaire Calvinism in contemporary evangelicalism is among the most odious developments of the last generation. I abhor its version of God and most of its version of Christian ethics, and I believe it could only have emerged among relatively privileged, hyper-cognitive, compassion-challenged white men, as it has. But I digress” (Location 995).

I love what Gushee writes at the end of the book:
“I still believe in Jesus. Indeed, I believe in him more than ever. I need him more than ever. Some days the only thing I have left of my Christianity is Jesus. And that’s okay.
I still believe in the prophetic religion of Jesus and of those before him and those after him who also shared it—a religion of justice, love, and compassion, a powerful source of good in this broken world. 

But I no longer believe that the church, per se, knows or follows that religion. I no longer believe that the church, per se, is generally a source of good in the world. It depends. Sometimes it is quite the opposite. When it is the opposite, the only way to be a true Christian is to oppose the church. Yet I will never leave the church. That’s because I still believe in local communities of Jesus-followers straining every effort to study, hear, and obey him. And I believe in local shepherds humbly serving those communities. I still believe in the power of the preached Word and received sacrament in a community of hungry believers. [...]

I still believe that the truest human language is tears, and the best test of human beings is how they respond to tears. I now believe what Union Seminary tried to teach me—that the most important voices for me to hear come from the margins and from those who have been silenced." (Location 1625)

(I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)
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Its an informative book with an interesting life journey that is being shared. I personally -not being american- never really undrestood all the specific under groups that exist in america and so i found it very interesting to hear what gushee had to say and share about it. 
all in all a good read, if you are interested from the title or summary i would think you will at least enjoy it.
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I overall really enjoyed reading this book. Before picking up this book I had never really heard of David Gushee, but after reading i was quite moved by his story. He provides an in-depth look into the history of the Southern Baptist denomination, evangelical Christianity, as well as evengelical academia. Not only that but he also gives us a brief glimpse into the political climate through the years and how the evangelical world has impacted and continues to play a part in the United States government. Although this book is written, and promoted as a “tell all” it goes much deeper then that, and challenges the reader to really examine their own life. Gushee was faced with many different situations where he had to decide whether to settle for status quo or take a stand for what he though was right, even though there may be backlash. Through his eloquent writing style, Gushee challenges the reader to examine themselves to determine where they themselves stand and what they are willing to sacrifice for what they believe. The book ends on an excellent note with a message for the next generation. I won’t give too much of this away in my review. However, I thought this was a great personal touch that really added a lot and also meant a lot to me personally. Overall Gushee does a great job recounting history, challenging his readers, and pairing a beautiful picture of what genuine Christian should look like without burning bridges on one side or the other. For that reason I highly recommend this book.
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Still Christian is David P Gushee's memoir about growing up Catholic, joining the SBC, finding and losing community among liberals, conservatives and later being rejected by the evangelical community for his position on "the LGBT issue". It was a quick and interesting read, which provided some background to American Evangelicalism. I would have liked deeper insight into how his thoughts and opinions changed over time. Although the book is described as a "provocative tell-all" the author does not seem out to attack any of those who've had opposing views to his.
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I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, this book wasn't what I expected from the description. It was very boring. I stopped reading it a few chapters in.
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I got this book because I thought it was a critique of American Evangelicalism and Cultural Christianity but I was wrong. Still Christian is an autobiography/memoir about the life of Christian ethicist David P Gushee, the author of the controversial book Changing Our Mind: A call from America's leading evangelical ethics scholar for full acceptance of LGBT Christians in the Church. (Which I was not aware of before I read this book) 

Still Christian tells the story of Gushee’s conversion among the Southern Baptists and his subsequent journey in the Christian academic world. He tells of his experiences with the Conservatives, Liberals, and Evangelicals and how all of this shaped his beliefs. Most of the book is political and ethical in nature. I agree with the author about many things but also disagree about many. My main problem is his view on LGBT issues. I won’t recommend this book because of this. 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Customer Review
4.0 out of 5 stars
A different perspective
ByC. Fergusonon January 20, 2018
Format: Paperback
I am so glad that I read this book. I come out of a conservative, "Christian right", Republican perspective, and it's too easy to assume that all Christians think the way that I do. David Gushee describes himself as "center left," though I (and many of my social group) would label him as a liberal. But, I love his heart. He is truly a committed, born-again believer and truly is a follower of Jesus. I love that about him. I was not part of the Southern Baptist denomination, and, though I knew that there was a conservative "takeover" of the denomination in the 80's, I didn't know that many good Christian people were hurt by it, and didn't know that the major bone of contention was the issue of women in the ministry. This was new information for me. I appreciate David's sticking to his beliefs on this subject, one that reasonable Christian people can disagree about.

American Evangelicalism is a tricky subject. I greatly appreciate David's perspective as an educated, academic, compassionate Democrat. I have learned a lot from this book, and I hope that it has made me more compassionate and understanding of viewpoints that differ from my own. My only disappointment was his demonization of white male conservative Republicans. This is so cliché, and far from the truth. It is not the white male conservative Republicans alone who are responsible for society's ills. In the not too distant future, I believe that it will become evident that the corruption of the Democratic party on the national level is the evil that must be excised from our body politic. And, yes, Donald Trump will have a role in this, believe it or not.
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Mr Gushee and I share some common things in life. We were both raised Catholic and both came to know Jesus at about the same time, though we were 10 years apart in age. Major differences are that he went on to become a minister with the support of people around him, mine was a journey of people blocking me from full time ministry, but I still do what I can from the tools that I have. 

We also share a common problem in our politics. Like him, I cannot be classified as a republican. Unlike him, that is where I tend to vote as I do not see the democrats are any better but the positions I do have lean more towards the right. I would guess his politics put him left of center and mine more right, but we are, what appears to be, more central on most issues. 

The book is a journey from the time the author received his salvation in high school until the present day. It is a interesting journey because, even though I did not go through seminary of Bible school, I had a lot of the same interactions with the people around me that he did. While a strong evangelical, that does not mean that you through compassion out the window, something that many Christians seem to miss. As he tries to show this to people again and again, he gets frustrated at those not hearing him and at himself for not being always true to his ideals. His constant referrals to his journals show that this is not looking back at something and remembering the good times. In fact, in one section he shows all three sides of a situation. The liberal, conservative and the true version of the story. It shows that not all situations can be wrapped up in I am right and you are wrong. 

I recommend this to anyone. Younger people may not get the significance, but anyone over their teens may get a good look at a man who wrestles with his Christianity each day and what it means to be a true Christian. I may not agree with all he says but I know that he is speaking his conscious.
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David P. Gushee has been at the forefront of nearly every schism, controversy, and watermark moment in American evangelicalism over the last 50 years. From his teenage mountaintop conversion, to his time serving as a professor at a Baptist seminary newly defined by fundamentalism in the 80s, to his successful career speaking out for the environment and against torture as a Christian ethicsist, to the publication his hit book Changing Our Mind, which shook up the evangelical world by championing the full inclusion of LBGTQ people in the people of God, Gushee has been red, blue, popular, derided, conservative, liberal, and everything in between. Still Christian accounts ongoing Gushee’s love affair with Christ and resulting divorce from evangelicalism with candor, temperance, and humor.

I expected a little more theological unpacking of the choice to “leave” American evangelicalism from Gushee, as this book as been lauded as an anchor in a swirling sea of  moral bankruptcy and theological confusion in the evangelical church. Instead, the book was quite simply a mid-career memoir, but a very good one, and one that cast a lot of light on the schisms and inner tensions that have been whittling away at American evangelicalism since the seventies.

Still Christian is delightfully dishy and covers enough scandal to keep even those well acquainted with the rise of the Moral Majority and push-back from writers and theologians on the Evangelical left interested, but Gushee deals with all people and events mentioned with humility, grace, and love. The heart of Christ is kept at the center of Still Christian, even if Gushee is all too aware how rarely the institutions in charge of seeking it out keep their promises.
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The recent headlines surrounding Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore remind me of the reasons I hesitate to identify as “evangelical”: the toxic mix of faith and politics, the inconsistent positions on moral issues, to name a few.  Like evangelicals, I hold the Bible in high regard; I believe in salvation by grace through faith alone.  However, when a pastor’s sermons drift into culture wars and run afoul of the Johnson Amendment, I begin to wonder, “Would Jesus be doing this?”

Consequently, I found myself resonating with David Gushee’s memoir Still Christian.  Gushee has worked for 30+ years in Christian higher education.  I’ve spent the last 20 years serving on a church staff.  And like Gushee, I struggle not to turn bitter and cynical, especially when faith is used to cloak other agendas.  

Gushee begins his memoir with his conversion as a teenager in a Southern Baptist church in northern Virginia where he “dated his way” through the youth group.  (Hey, every youth group has a guy like that.) He attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and became ordained in the SBC before going to liberal Union Seminary in NYC for his PhD in Ethics.  Upon graduation he returned to Southern Seminary to teach.  He found himself not really fitting in at either location: too conservative for Union and too liberal for SBTS.  The growing tension is further seen in the response of evangelicals to his academic work in the field of Christian ethics.  They praised his book on righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, but became critical when his research turned to issues of climate change and torture.  

This memoir is a fascinating look behind the curtain of Christian higher education--where in addition to the usual pressures from alumni, trustees, big donors, accreditors, and students, the administration must deal with denominational boards and doctrinal positions.  “Academic freedom” in Christian higher education is limited to say the least.  The author came to the conclusion that “white evangelical Christian higher education … is also about creating an educational environment in which loyalty to U.S. Republican presidents and their policies is not challenged seriously in public.”  By way of illustration, he lists the various celebrities and politicians who were invited to speak at Union University during his years there – not a single Democrat among them.

The book does not end in despair or agnosticism.  Rather, as the title suggests, Gushee explains that he still believes in Jesus, now more than ever.  He has learned to separate simple faith in God from organized religion’s unholy alliance with politics.  Christians who are troubled with the culture wars and the politicization of American Christianity will take comfort from this book in realizing they are not alone.
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After a quick read through David Gushee's autobiographical search of a home for his particular Christian views, I can understand why it resonates with liberal Christians and some former- and non-Christians. While I do not agree with some of the author's positions, I give him credit for raising his voice to provide a viewpoint that often gets lost in the rhetoric surrounding members of the Southern Baptist faith.

I embarked upon this book knowing that the author was making this somewhat of a personal journal-turned-marketable book. Furthermore, it was a treatise with which I can't align. However, as a person who tries to keep an open mind, I found it very interesting to see things from his perspective. Today's world of academia is lockstep with certain political positions. It was interesting to read that the more liberal thinkers also have a place in certain Christian colleges.

Proverbs 11:25 - Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
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He has been on both sides of the divide. Raised as a Catholic, he became a member of Providence Baptist Church toward conservative Southern Christianity. Although he graduated from the liberal Union Theological Seminary, he was called to be a minister and an academic for the fundamentalist Southern Seminary. His years there became one of his most painful periods of ministry. Certain issues became hot potato issues that refuse to go away. Issues such as women ordination and pastoral leadership which became embroiled in power shifts amid strong convictions from all sides. Soon, he became disillusioned due to the infighting and how the events affected his marriage and family. Thankfully, he has mentors such as David Dockery who on several occasions offered him a way out of the struggles, and opens doors to various opportunities such as a different school to teach in and editing opportunities in Christianity Today. He sees firsthand the difficulties in trying to maintain a core fundamentalist stand while trying to stretch the limits of academic excellence. He has seen the worst behaviors from all sides. He became a "center-left evangelical ethicist." Soon people start to call him "every liberal's favourite evangelical." Then his own views on the LGBT debate shifted and he became "every evangelical's least-favorite liberal." His book "Changing Our Mind" about his changing stance would render him unpopular with evangelical circles. No matter how he tries to nuance his views, the evangelical camp isolated him. Speaking engagements were withdrawn. Publishers pulled his books. He learned first hand what it means to be taking an unpopular position.

This book is David Gushee's personal lament about his journey into and out of evangelical Christianity. Having experienced both the fundamentalist right and the liberal left, he still finds it hard to nuance a position that is acceptable to the majority without compromising his own convictions. Slowly, he is finding acceptance back into the Catholic Church, where it all began for him. Yet, there are certain convictions that remain the same for him. He believes in the ministry of preaching the whole Word of God. He believes in the need to keep learning. He believes that academic excellence is possible without compromising evangelical beliefs. He believes that victory is not about winning arguments but about climbing back from the depths of every fall. Above all, he is beginning to see from the margins. It takes one to be a voice. I remember Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's famous words:

    "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

For Gushee, the future is essentially back to the basics of family, friends, and faith. Could there have been a better outcome for the author? Maybe. Having experienced the pain of being marginalized for his own opinions, he has shown us that it is difficult to take a stand against a majority opinion. This is especially so for teachers and preachers who are expected to be judged more strictly based on what they teach. The experience of Gushee is quite similar to many others who had taken a stand against conventional views of the LGBT debate. The recent episode surrounding the highly respected Eugene Peterson about his willingness to bless gay marriages ended up with Peterson retracting his statements. Then and only then did the attacks on him subside. For Gushee, there was no such privilege, simply because he held on to his changing views. That is his prerogative, but at a heavy cost of being dismissed by the evangelical right. Perhaps, his story highlights a big gap between the left and right: How do we expand the space for dialogue? How do we control the powerful emotions from derailing any profitable discussion or theological discourse? Can we honestly communicate our authentic beliefs without becoming unduly punished for our points of view? As far as I could see, it would take a while before that could happen. The stakes are high, too high for some. Can we still treat each other as brothers and sisters even when our views on controversial issues differ? This remains a challenge. A very big challenge.

David Gushee is distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Mercer University since 2007.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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David Gushee is a Christian academic who came up through the Southern Baptists.  He follows his life and journey as he moves through his education and the culture wars of modern life.  

I agree with him in many areas, but we do significantly diverge in some.  He is right in that Christians sometime fight the wrong battles, and many times fight them the wrong way.  

Still, this is a thoughtfully written memoir and worthy of a read.
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Summary: A brief memoir about how Gushee’s attempt to follow his calling moved him out of Evangelicalism.

David Gushee is one of those authors that I know about but until I read his book Changing Our Mind, I do not think I had read more than a couple articles by him (mostly at Christianity Today.)

The transcript of a speech at the end of the 2nd edition of Changing Our Mind (the 3rd edition is now out) is what made me what to pick up this book. Gushee’s dissertation was about German Christian response to the Holocaust. Gushee in his speech drew parallels to how ethical thinking was impacted by the understanding of actual people harmed.

Last week I saw that this memoir was coming out. I picked up a review copy and moved it to the top of my reading list. I have been craving memoirs of my elders lately. After finishing the four volumes of Madeleine L’Engle’s memoirs I was intending to pick up Stanley Hauerwas’ memoir Hannah’s Child. Gushee’s memoir jumped in line.

Seeing how people work out their faith over time, in good and bad times, is very encouraging. And watching how people of deep faith come to different conclusions in their theological and ethical positions while retaining a robust devotional and theological life also is a good reminder of the greatness of God, and of our own limited perspectives.

David Gushee grew up a nominal Catholic. As a teen, Gushee came to faith through a Southern Baptist church in Northern Virginia. Quickly feeling the call to ministry, he went to undergrad at William and Mary and then seminary at Southern Seminary. Gushee had not been prepared for the internal politics of the SBC that was in the throes of a significant theological battle.

He moved from Southern to Union Seminary in New York City, from a school that was fighting about how conservative to be, to one that was the center of Liberation Theology. For three years on campus and then three years off campus, he started to gain an understanding what it means to be too conservative for the liberals and too liberal for the conservatives.

During the writing phase of his dissertation Gushee worked with Evangelicals for Social Action and Ron Sider and discovered Evangelicalism. Southern Baptist prior to the 1990s were not really mainstream Evangelicals. Gushee’s exposure to politically left leaning, but theologically conservative Evangelicals was refreshing and gave him a new view of an arena of where he could practice his ethical academic background.

When Gushee finished his PhD, Southern Seminary was the only job offer. So back to Louisville and the SBC he went. Mohler had just been appointed president (at 33!) and Gushee was one of the attempts at making all sides happy.

One of the strengths of this memoir is that Gushee has been a long term journaler. There are a number of quotes from those journals which give contemporaneous thoughts on different aspects of his life. The combination of the thoughts from the time with his longer view look when writing gives Still Christian balance.

The second balance of the Still Christian is that with almost no exceptions, Gushee shows difference of opinion, but not villains. Mohler and a number of other characters have a different of opinion with Gushee. But Gushee portrays them as real people.

It is not the only issue, but Gushee was supportive of women in ministry at a time when it was a flashpoint in SBC and at Southern. When he was offered an out, he took it. This time it is to Union University in Jackson, TN. It is during this time that Gushee starts becoming a rising star in the Evangelical world. He was writing a column for Christianity Today, active in ethical debates, and he became a regular speaker around the country.

It is the ethical debates around Torture and the Environment that raised his profile, both positively and negatively, and eventually lead him to move to Mercer University. Throughout his teaching and writing career up until this point Gushee was solidly Evangelical. He was somewhat left socially, but within clear bounds of standard Evangelicalism. After critiquing the use of torture under Bush, which was roundly condemned by Evangelical leaders, but largely supported by many Evangelical lay people, and supporting the Evangelical Environmental movement, Gushee was embraced by Evangelical Democrats. Gushee was largely supportive of Obama, but also became more wary of being used by politicians, on all sides.

The final straw for Gushee’s Evangelical identity was his change on LGBT issues. Gushee identifies his book Changing Our Mind as an important shift for him. It may not seem related, but his mother, father in law, and mentor all died in quick succession. And in the middle of this Gushee decides to write weekly column exploring LGBT issues. He describes it as publicly exploring the issue, while privately grieving. Which means he had lowered inhibitions and was less careful than he might have been had he not been grieving. He acknowledges that he should have known better, but he was unprepared for the backlash.

Part of his movement on the LGBT issue was his involvement in his church, First Baptist Church Decatur. Since Oct 2016 he has been the Interim Pastor. But his involvement over the past 10 years in a community that was working through their own issues with LGBT involvement was part of what gave rise to the columns, which gave rise to the book.

Gushee announced yesterday that he was going to stop writing opinion pieces for Religion News Service and other outlets and focus on his roles as academic and pastor. In the last chapter of Still Christian, he speaks about his desire to open up his teaching position to a new generation as quickly as possible.

This post is nearly as long as Still Christian. I very quickly read it over two evenings. His clear faith stands out. But also a lot of pain. In some ways Still Christian is what I wanted Peter Enns’ book the Sin of Certainty to be more like. I thought Enns needed more of his story to frame his point. Gushee uses his story well to frame the problems with internal policing of Evangelicalism.

Regardless to your position on LGBT issues, Still Christian is a good book to remind us that Christianity is about following Christ. Gushee has attempted to do that whether his answers and paths are your own or not.
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I was able to relate to many points in David Gushee's story of seeing the light as a former evangelical. I agreed 100% with his frustrations on lack of women in church leadership positions and the frustration with the lack of compassion for the LGBT community. I also enjoyed the challenging questions that David added throughout the book to help form my own story and relate to the material.
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For too long in the United States, evangelical Christians have allowed their faith to be woven into the political fabric, most notably with the Republican Party. This can become a problem when the platforms of the GOP do not match up with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and becomes downright dangerous when we allow our politics to subsume our faith in our daily lives. Gushee, though traditionally leaning in a different political direction from most evangelicals, nevertheless has been on the inside, and seen these conflicts first-hand. Though I have long leaned in a different political direction than Gushee, in the past two decades I have become increasingly worried about the accelerated politicalization of our mutual faith. This is a must-read for all American Christians, and should serve as a warning that we look to our savior Jesus first and foremost.
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This is a warm, honest and really engaging personal memoir that reflects American evangelicalism over the past 40 years. It engages with the wrestling over theological issues (climate change and women in ministry), political wranglings and the desire that evangelicals have had to get close to power, the issues around sexual ethics and what happens when evangelicals change their minds. As a church leader in Britain, I recognised all these issues, and the influence that the American conversations and personalities have had on our own debates. This is great reading for those who have lived through many of these debates and have changed their minds on them, and seek to live as authentic disciples of Jesus. Highly recommended.
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Still Christian: Following Jesus out of American Evangelicalism by David P. Gushee is his journey from a young Christian just as the Christian Right movement began to gain momentum. He chronicles his path through college, seminary, minister, academic and then activist. He became a leading Christian ethicist who was caught in the crosshairs of those who lead the movement. He details the history and course of American Protestantism as it split into two primary camps: fundamentalists/conservatives and modernists/liberals. He is particularly critical of the Southern Baptist Convention as it was the leading charge in the changing course of American Protestantism. He also discusses the changing in the church as the political climate changed with the election of President Obama and the most recent election of President Trump. He discusses the changing role of women in the church as women were taken out of leadership roles and teaching position because it was suddenly unwise for women to be in such powerful position. He also discusses how the relationships in his life changed either strengthened or fell apart as the climate of the American church changed. 
Still Christian is an honest and blunt recount of one man’s journey with Christ and the church through the changing times in America. At one point, he states that the “resurgence of a doctrinaire Calvinism in contemporary evangelisms is among the most odious developments of the last generation.” He was further critical saying that Calvinism could have only “emerged among relatively privileged, hypocognitive, compassion challenged white men.” This statement stuck out to me as I remembered when I was a young Christian in college and I was on my way to a weekend retreat with my uncle’s church. On the drive there, a young man was discussing Calvinism and when I asked what exactly Calvinism was, he replied that I wouldn’t understand it. He didn’t even try to explain it. It wasn’t until much later as I matured in my faith, I realized that he couldn’t explain it because he barely understood it himself and didn’t want to expose his deficiency. While I did not agree with all of Dr. Gushee’s statements or assertions, I found myself refreshed by his honesty and focus on Jesus instead of doctrine. I highly recommend Still Christian as a powerful, honest and helped put into words what I’ve seen in recent years. 

Still Christian
is available in paperback and eBook
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David Gushee is not a name I've heard in faith circles before, so apart from the blurb, I didn't really know what to expect when I began reading.  

This was a very interesting book especially from someone who lives outside of the U.S.A. I'm familiar with the labels of 'religious right' and 'evangelical fundamentalists' but I didn't really know what these labels really entailed and the connection to politics. 

Through this memoir David Gushee unpacks how he become involved with these groups, although he never intended to be, and what happened when he questioned and disagreed with their ideas. It's not a 'kiss and tell' type memoir though, as he is not interested in hurting people for the sake of it. 

Considering its content this was very easy to read, although having never been a Baptist it was a bit confusing when he mentioned the different strands of the South Baptist Union.   

It was a fascinating, and bewildering read at times, making me realise for the first time how interlinked religion and politics really are in America. 

 I definitely recommend this if you enjoy faith memoirs or if you're at all interested in the rise of the American religious right.  

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Westminster John Knox Press for my digital copy.
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Still Christian by David Gushee is an open memoir of life as a Southern Baptist and how life and politics changed and shaped his views. Gushee studied to be a Baptist Preacher and spent a lot of time in academics. He was called to Christian ethics which leads to a slippery slope in the world of progressiveness and fundamentalism. Gushee details those struggles but reminds us why we are Christians and that we can't let bad experience keep us from our Faith.
I grew up as a Southern Baptist but what I didn't know is that my formative years were shaped by the conservative movement that overtook the Baptists. I came out declaring I was no longer Baptist by the time I was an adult because it was so conservative that it treated people that weren't WASP Baptist with disgrace and lacking Jesus' love. This book corrected m view that Baptists has always been like that and made me rethink what I saw in the older Baptist who had lived through this change, that were a lot less closed minded than the ones I grew up with.
This candid look showed both the accepting said of evangelicals and the closed sided giving time to both view while still focusing on the authors struggle to find his place in the world. In the end, he is still an outlier but he hasn't given up Jesus's love. Instead he celebrates those who embrace and washes away any hate for those that  ostracize him. It's a great story for me because I still have a problem with anger towards those that have shunned my open minded love they neighbor philosophy.
Heartfelt, with historic context, Still Christian is a great story for anyone that wants to learn more about the Baptist split or how o be inclusive in their faith.
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