An Unlikely Convert: A Former Lesbian Professor's Journey to Faith

An Unlikely Convert: A Former Lesbian Professor's Journey to Faith
June 12, 2013 11:55 ET

Come join FRC to hear about one woman's unlikely journey to faith in Christ and find ways to graciously discuss some of the toughest questions on sexuality with your friends, neighbors and family members. As a tenured lesbian professor at Syracuse University, Dr. Butterfield had no desire to become part of the heterosexist, patriarchal culture that she perceived to be the identity of Christianity. Her thinking was challenged by the letter of a local pastor who inquired about her basic presuppositions and asked her questions no one had ever asked her before. What began as an academic exercise to find fault with the Scripture and expose the darker side of Christianity ended with answers and a changed life that resonates in today's culture.

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Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies from The Ohio State University. On faculty at Syracuse University in the English Department and Women's Studies Program, with research interests and publications in feminist theory, 19th century British literature, and queer theory, she was nominated for tenure in 1998. After her conversion to Christianity in 1999, Dr. Butterfield served as adjunct faculty in English at Geneva College (Beaver Falls, Pa.), changing her academic research to Christian hermeneutics. Dr. Butterfield is married to Reverend Kent C. Butterfield, pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Durham. The Butterfields live in Durham, N.C., with two of their four children. She loves pouring her life into her church and into homeschooling her children. She is the author of a Christian memoir, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith (Crown and Covenant Publications, 2012). She is working on two new books, one on Biblical sexuality and the other on Biblical hospitality. A motivational conference speaker and friend, Rosaria encourages audiences to develop Biblical fluency, trust in the inerrant and inspired word of God, and think with Biblical compassion and rigor about the cultural and political issues of our day.

Below is a description of her book:

Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department's curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down-the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a "train wreck" at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could. Conversion put me in a complicated and comprehensive chaos. I sometimes wonder, when I hear other Christians pray for the salvation of the "lost," if they realize that this comprehensive chaos is the desired end of such prayers. Often, people asked me to describe the "lessons" that I learned from this experience. I can't. It was too traumatic. Sometimes in crisis, we don't really learn lessons. Sometimes the result is simpler and more profound: sometimes our character is simply transformed.-Rosaria Butterfield

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