Books of Note - The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

Image of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert : An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith
by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Crown & Covenant 2012
Paperback 154

A story of conversion to Christ is always refreshing and encouraging, but the story of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is more than that, it is faith-restoring. Her story reminds evangelical Christians that the saving power of the gospel really is bigger than the contemporary “threat” of homosexuality. The book addresses the homosexual question from the inside out, and illustrates what an incarnated gospel ministry and a church full of people who have the compassion of Christ can accomplish through Christ.

Rosaria Champagne was a tenured English professor and chair of feminist studies, at Syracuse University. She was also an outspoken lesbian. She was up and coming and making a name for herself. But then, she was abruptly stopped in her tracks through an encounter with a kind Reformed pastor who took the time to interact with her on a column she had written in the paper. She didn’t know how to classify his letter, it didn’t fit in the fan mail category, nor was it hate mail. Eventually she was drawn into a friendly exchange with him and slowly he began to shatter her perceptions about Christianity. Over time, she was drawn to faith in Jesus Christ, and slowly came to reject her identity as a lesbian and found new life in Christ.

Her story is told with honesty and charm in an autobiographical account titled The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith. In her book, Rosaria Butterfield recounts her conversion and her growth in understanding the Scriptures. She recounts the struggle it was to be accepted as a redeemed lesbian in conservative Reformed circles. She shares her struggles and misteps in forming healthy relationships, and shares some of her steps on the way to marriage. She recounts her husband’s ministry and her involvement as a ministry partner and home-schooling mother. She also opines about problems she sees in Evangelicalism, including our modern obsession with our rights to sex. She also defends exclusive psalmody in worship.

This “unlikely convert” speaks with a disarming grace, that educates, inspires and aims to help us all change. She attacks the hidden part of us which may loathe the homosexual, and illustrates how genuine ministry will be messy and will prize making a difference above staying safe. Her story is a call to the church to come out of her cocoon and take the saving gospel of Jesus to the world around us.

I listened to the production of this book. The recording was extra special in that Rosaria read her own book. The emotion and flavor of the audio recording was certainly enhanced with the author as narrator. The book is quite short, but profound. I highly recommend it. It will challenge and inspire, encourage and perhaps unsettle. Above all, it will magnify Christ.

About the author

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and her husband, Kent, live in North Carolina with three of their four children. Kent serves as a pastor in a Reformed Presbyterian church.


Bob Hayton Bio

Bob Hayton has a BA in Pastoral Theology with a Greek emphasis and a MA in Bible from Fairhaven Baptist College and Seminary in Chesterton, IN. He is a happily married father of seven who resides in St. Paul, MN. Since 2005, he has been blogging theology at, where he has also published over 190 book reviews. He can also be found occasionally at

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Dick Dayton's picture

Bob,  I saw this book on "Inspiring Reads" and loaded it on my iPad.  A great challenge to be doctrinally complete and combine that with a compassionate and gracious response to people. A reminder that the lost world's greatest need is not to reform their external behavior, but to respond to the regenerating, life transforming gospel. I was saved during grad school, and rejoice in the power of the gospel. 

Dick Dayton

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