My wife and I went to hear Rosaria Champagne Butterfield speak at Christ Covenant Church in Charlotte, NC this morning (Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018). I had never read any of her books nor heard her speak before, but I did have some idea of the general outline of her story. At the book tables following her speech I bought both her “The Secret Thought of an Unlikely Convert” and her second book “Openness Unhindered.” So from these I suspect I shall hear her story in much greater detail.
I found Rosaria to be a good speaker and Biblically sound. In the Q&A session following the talk she noted a number of times the importance of church membership and leaning on your elders for help in dealing with many of these difficult questions of life and sexuality. Rosaria didn’t just “pass the buck” though. She provided great answers herself to the difficult questions raised by audience members. “Should I attend my daughter’s wedding where she will be married to another women?” To this Rosaria’s answer might be summed up, “No. While you can (or should) invite them both to birthday parties and other events, your presence at their wedding would give an improper sign of approval of their decision. But, to remain in their lives and give them a Christian witness, opposed to the LGBT agenda’s narrative, you can be involved in their lives. You may consider sending two weddings gifts, one for each person as signs that you care for them individually, instead of a single wedding gift showing approval of their decision to be together.”
Rosaria’s personal story, which I heard some of in the lecture, might lead one to think about how kind the pastor was who first worked with her, converting her from a feminist Women’s Studies professor and LGBT rights activists to a faithfully (and heterosexually) married Christian woman. But, more importantly in her story one should take away from it the power of the Biblical message to convert someone. For, while her pastor and his wife were instrumental in Rosaria’s conversion, it was the Bible that did the real work. She said, and I quote verbatim this time, “The Bible got to be bigger inside me than ‘I’.”
When a story like Rosaria’s “goes viral” or even just spreads to a moderate-sized audience, one is tempted to think it must have occurred recently. But the truth is, for authors like Rosaria, it can take a lot of time to get the word out and make much of an impact. Her “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” in fact first came out in 2012, and only in the recent year or two have I, for one, come across it. But that Rosaria’s story took some time to spread is also to the story’s benefit in some way. That is, she has now remained a Christian and been happily married for over 16 years. It is not just a fleeting thing she has gotten herself into, but a life changing event, made by the only true life-changer there is, Jesus Christ.
On some other notes, this was the first time I have been to the very large Christ Covenant Church, now pastored by Kevin DeYoung. Though the size of the church might be outside of my preference I do wish them well and am glad for their success. Rev. DeYoung had actually included my book, The Presbyterian Philosopher, as #2 on his top 10 list of 2017. This doesn’t mean that my book will ever sell 1/100th of one of his or of Rosaria’s, but I’m glad for the publicity nonetheless.
Coming to Charlotte also gave my wife and I the opportunity to stay a night with former Gordon H. Clark students Chris and Betty Williams. They had each taken philosophy courses from Dr. Clark at Butler University in the 1960s. Chris had from that time onward followed Dr. Clark’s writings and would purchase each of his books as they came out. He had an impressive collection of first editions of each of Dr. Clark’s books among his sizable library.