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Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist Hardcover – June 18, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of this book is misleading since it characterizes the author, pastor of a Boston-area Pentecostal church, as an ex-atheist. But as Schmelzer recounts in the book, his atheism was a teen phase, and adolescent explorations are generally not cited on one's intellectual résumé. The title also sets the reader up to expect some apologetic rejoinder to trendy bestselling polemical atheists. This book, however, is much broader (and better) than that, and almost antipolemical. Schmelzer has a disarmingly low-key way with words, a refreshing change from the fighting terms so often employed in battles over religious truth . His self-deprecating tone is persuasive even while he makes bold statements about the power of faith. He asserts, for example, that prayer can bring about physical healing, a statement he backs with evidence from his own family and a few other instances. Yet he's honest enough to admit he has no answer to the question of why God permits suffering. Schmelzer's mild-mannered theological humility is winning. (July)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: SaltRiver (June 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141431583X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414315836
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dave Schmelzer is the senior pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Greater Boston. A former playwright, Dave graduated from Stanford University with a degree in literature and later received his M.A. in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He lives outside of Boston with his wife, Grace, and their children.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
IT IS PROBABLY TOO MUCH to say that I like Dave Schmelzer, based simply on having read his short memoir, Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist. I don't think it's too ambitious, though, to at least say this: I'd be surprised if I met him and didn't like him.

Here is a book that is part memoir, part apologetic, and which never seems to over-do either. In this quick and pleasant read, Schmelzer shares his spiritual journey and presents life with God as a kind of adventure.

He makes the case that truth is relational rather than simply abstract or propositional (Personally, I think it is both). He explains why we are better off entering into a relationship with God and others as part of a Christ-centered life journey (rather than a group/my team/us-and-them existence).

He also makes the bald statement "God is good. Religion is bad." At first I found it, I suppose, kind of annoying. The more I thought about it though, I saw his point. It is a view shared by prominent Orthodox Christian thinkers such as the (late) Rev. Fr. Alexander Schmemman (For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy*) and the Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko (in many of his lectures). I agree that although Christianity may be characterized as a 'religion' in certain contexts and discussions, it is above all a "Way." (Acts 18:26; 24:22).

Eastern Christians will appreciate this book in that it reminds us to keep union with God in Christ as our paramount aim in life. It also holds a unique value to those who serve in "ethnic" churches. While cognizant of the need to serve the needs of those coming from a particular cultural milieu, we are warned not to be snagged by cultural trappings.

And he is a good writer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David C. Schroeder on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I came to this book after a few months of reading the posts and conversations at the blog launched in conjunction with the book - [..] . I had found the ideas on the blog very thought provoking and helpful in my own wrestling with faith and culture.

The title of the book struck me as if it were going to be something of a book on apologetics. I'm fine with books on apologetics but so often those books, while articulating clear reasons for belief, do very little redemptive or helpful beyond that. Thankfully this was not one of those kinds of books!

There seems to be 2 prominent views these days on faith and culture. One version sees the surrounding culture as something that must be pulled away from, that the culture itself is an evil and corrupting force and is the arch enemy of those of faith. This view fails to take into account its own cultural baggage.
The other view in our world these days sees the culture as something which Christians must very much engage or at least account for in Church. While this view of church has shown some promise it has also very much had its pitfalls as some have sought so much to be culturally relevant that they have lost the very distinctive of what being a Christ-Follower is all about.

Enter Dave Schmelzer...
'Schmelzer makes the case very convincingly that each of us has cultural baggage, Christian, secular or otherwise, that can be detrimental to following Jesus, but that rather than fighting over issues of one culture over and against another he argues simply for the experience of God wherever a person may be. The way Schmezer sees it is that God wants us to experience him and that each time we do it validates our journey towards Christ.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Mendes-sheldon on July 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Great reading for just about everyone - believers, unbelievers, with faith, no faith, you name it! Dave's conversational tone is inviting. He is witty, yet quite profound and thought provoking. Like Jesus, Dave offers a non judgmental religious perspective. He successfully depicts a God who is pretty much alive and available to all who simply believe and seek Him.
After reading this book you will know that following this God is much easier than a lot of religious and preachers impose. (Thank God for such a guilty free, pleasant "religious" perspective for a change!)
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By hessa on June 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Pastor Dave is a guy who has helped to build a thriving Christian organization in the heart of skeptical Cambridge, Massachusetts. The title and jacket make this book sound like a really progressive, spiritual approach to Christianity. For the first few chapters, it lives up to that promise. Both the writing style and the approach to Christianity are very intimate, emphasizing one's personal relationship with God over the rules and structures of any formal religion.

The book lost me when it turned into a memoir of sorts, focusing too much on the author's own experiences instead of greater spiritual truths. I was also disgusted with his petty comments about atheists, particularly broad generalizations about how atheists are joyless people. Huh? Since when were stereotypes a part of spiritual enlightenment? I was looking for a book that could draw people in with its accepting attitudes, and ultimately I ended with a lot of "Jesus Saves" stuff that felt familiar, not fresh. Given the strong opening, I was very disappointed!
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