Posted by jlwile on January 9, 2014
Because I was an atheist who converted to Christianity, I like to read the stories of other former atheists (see here, here, and here). This post is about atheist-turned-Christian Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. She was an English professor at Syracuse University, and in her own words, her conversion to Christianity was a “train wreck.”
A short version of her conversion story is at Christianity Today, and it is well work the read. She has also written a book entitled The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. I have not read the book, but it is on my list.
What I find most intruiging about her story is how it began. She had written an article in the local newspaper that was critical of the Christian group called Promise Keepers. Like most controversial pieces, the article sparked all sorts of written responses. She says that she filed them into two groups: hate mail and fan mail. However, there was one letter she couldn’t classify. That letter led her down the path to Christ.
What was the content of the letter? In Butterfield’s own words:
It was from the pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. It was a kind and inquiring letter. Ken Smith encouraged me to explore the kind of questions I admire: How did you arrive at your interpretations? How do you know you are right? Do you believe in God? Ken didn’t argue with my article; rather, he asked me to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it. I didn’t know how to respond to it, so I threw it away.
Obviously, she ended up fishing it out of the trash, and the way God worked through that letter and its author is incredible.
Because of God’s mighty work, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield was transformed. She was transformed from someone who couldn’t say the name of Jesus to someone who worships Him. She was transformed from a woman who attacked Christians to a woman who loves her fellow Christians. She was transformed from a lesbian into a pastor’s wife and a mother of four.
Of course, that last transformation bothers some people. She gets a lot of pushback because she honestly discusses her sexuality before and after her conversion. For example, when she spoke at the University of South Florida a group of students staged a peaceful and respectful protest in the front row of her talk.
If you would like to hear more from this atheist-turned-Christian, you might watch this one-hour interview with Marvin Olasky of World Magazine. God calls to us in many different ways, and I am so glad that he does!