Our book is now out! And this time “our” means “Scot McKnight and Hauna Ondrey.” A real plural. The title is Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy and Baylor has produced a book that fits well in your hand and looks good. Let me tell you a bit about this book.
About 8 years ago I was thinking about sabbatical and thinking I’d like to do something on eschatology, so I began to dig around a bit in stuff about prophecy. That led me to some interest in the sociology of conversion and I read a book that really got me wound up, and the next thing I was working — not on eschatology — but on conversion. That led to a book called Turning to Jesus, which explained a sociological approach to conversion.
But more important to me was that studying conversion led to an interest in learning how to interpret patterns of conversion, so I did a study on why evangelicals become Roman Catholic and then one on why Jews become messianic. Each of these revealed clear patterns and I thought they were of use for lay folk as well as pastors. Those two studies were published in journals. Then I landed upon two more topics: why do so many Catholics become evangelicals and then I thought I could use the same stuff for understanding why orthodox Christians leave the faith. So, last summer I finished up that last study and asked my former student, and one of the finest I have taught, Hauna Ondrey, if she would be interested in chasing down any patterns she could find in why so many Catholics become evangelicals. Her study was outstanding. I had done some work on the topic before she began, but she found two discernible patterns and saw things I had not seen. So I’m glad she joined me in this project. (Hauna is now a student at our seminary and she’s doing serious research on immigration and theology.)
So, Hauna and I bundled up these four studies and sent them off to Baylor but I told the excellent editor there, Carey Newman, that I wanted this book to be readable and not have footnotes. They made the book even more readable and that’s what we’ve got: a readable collection of four studies that reveal that people convert in patterns: Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy. (By the way, the only thing remotely academic sounding is the introduction and a bit in the conclusion.)
I will do some stuff on this book on Mondays for awhile, but I would like to hope that our chp on why folks walk away from the faith would be of use to all pastors and especially to friends and family of those who have walked away or who seem to be walking away. Next Monday I will also be explaining a way of opening up a conversation about this book, so come back next Monday.
(By the way, I still plan to do something on eschatology where I will argue that we are not “left behind” but “still here” and for a good reason!)