Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds A Radical Faith
Moody Publishers, 2010. 158 pages, $13,99
I’ve been reading this short book by Dr. Holly Ordway, in which she explains her journey from being an entrenched atheist to a joyous Christian.
Ordway begins the story with her being a PhD teaching at a school and being rather satisfied with the whole affair. She tells us she had not grown up around religious people, and had not been exposed to religions in general or Christians in particlar. As she begins the story, she tells us how she moved from a noncommitted atheism to an decidedly hardened atheism.
In my twenties, that unreflective atheism gradually hardened into strident hostility. I spent two years of my graduate education in the South, where I was unhappy, in part because of culture shock: as a born and bred Yankee, I felt uncomfortable with the food, the weather, and the unintelligible accents of the locals. My exposure to Christianity did increase, but in forms that repelled me. . . One time I was accosted on the way to class by an earnest hander-outer of tracts: “Are y’all saved?” “‘No, and I don’t want to be!” I shouted, half ashamed and half proud of being rude. . . At thirty-one years old, I was an atheist college professor–and I delighted in thinking of myself that way. I got a kick out of being an unbeliever; it was fun to consider myself superior to the unenlightened, superstitious masses, and to make comments about Christians.
Popular atheist writers seem fond of describing people of faith as those who are not strong enough to face life without a God-shaped security blanket. Less anyone accuse Ordway of being some some weak person who was not tough enough to face reality, she comments, “I began to lean on my sense of my own intellectual strength. All right, I said to myself, when we die, we die; nothing that we do has any ultimate meaning. So be it! I can take pride in being able to face facts. Weak and sentimental people might scurry to the cover of some ‘faith’ that allowed them to pretend otherwise, but I would be strong and resolute. I would look into the abyss, and let the abyss look back, and carry on.”
Ordway then goes on to describe how she was not looking for faith, not interested in spiritual things, pursuing a life of her work and hobbies. Her life was not out of control, and had no desperate circumstances, no life-threatening events that would psychologically motivate her. She describes realizing that someone she knew and trusted was a Christian. Ordway gives an easy-to read and refreshingly candid view of what her emotions were as she explored this journey from atheism to Christianity, a journey that took a good amount of time. At every step of the way, Ordway thinks through all the options as a trained academic would. She describes her friend as merely answering her questions, not pushing religion on her, but merely slowly, over time, giving her answers to her questions, questions which were well-thought through. Her friend merely answered her questions thoughtfully. Ordway repeatedly tells of how her friend did not push religion on her, nor even do what many Christians would have done, which is cut to the chase and share the meat of the gospeal. Instead, her friend was doing apologetics, and the result was that God found Holly Ordway.
At one point she describes an experience that happened to her, one which she did not seek out, had never expected. She describes her experiences with the readability of a good writer.
For me, it was completely new, utterly unexpected — and uninvited. What had happened was that I recognized a change in my internal state. It was like being feverish, while at the same time being completely well. Everything felt sharper-edged, preternaturally clear, yet at the verge of revealing something beyond itself. I fel — I felt something . . . Someone . . . working in me that was outside of, or beyond, myself. . . . I had not expected it. I had not looked for it.
Ordway’s book is a light but well-written account of how one hardened atheist thinker wrestled with the issues related to Christianity. She speaks of reading apologetics books and rejecting parts of them, accepting others, but ultimately coming to terms with the fact that there is a God, and He revealed Himself to her. Ordway’s account is no foxhole conversion, but rather a slow, thoughtful journey.
This book is recommended for anyone who is wrestling with these same issues. This is not an answer book; it contains no direct apologetic explanations, and does not hit you in the gut with the gospel. It is more like one person describing what happened to her, telling about what her internal fears and thoughts were as they were gradually drawn in by the God of the universe.
Ordway intersperses her story with short “interludes” that describe some of her experiences as a new Christian coming to know the world that Christians take for granted. She tells of things like not knowing what VBS was, and getting caught up in helping.
Overall this book is easy reading, but a good fun read. I recommend Ordway’s book, Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds A Radical Faith.
Holly Ordway is now one more former atheist who now joins a long line of former atheists who, through Christian apologetics, have turned their backs on their atheist views to become Christians . . .people like C. S. Lewis, J. Budziszewski, Lee Strobel, and Frank Morrison. Even the king of the 20th century atheists, Anthony Flew, gave up atheism due to apologetic reasons.