Book Review: Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist (Nov-Dec 2008)

By Matt Dabbs

by Fred Peatross
November – December, 2008

Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist
Dave Schmelzer
Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN -10: 1-4143-1583-X

I was just introduced to Dave Schmelzer, senior pastor of the North Cambridge Vineyard Church. Schmelzer is busy growing a church in a city with a reputation for not liking “church people.”Yet among some of the nation’s most impressive universities Schmelzer preaches to secularists who are spiritually interested, a description that he says still applies in some ways to himself.

While reading his newest book I’ve learned that, like myself, Schmelzer is not the religious type. I’ve never met Mr. Schmelzer, never sat in the same room or shaken his hand, neither have we talked about what we have in common. But the confessions of this former atheist unveiled a paradoxical journey common to many while at the same time unique to him. You can meet Dave Schmelzer and maybe see yourself in his new book, Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist.

Dave Schmelzer has an intriguing resume.

  • a former atheist
  • a playwright
  • a degree in literature with an M.A. in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary

I’d love to spend a few hours with Schmelzer. But he’s in Boston and I’m in Appalachia. So I did the next best thing, I spent time with his new book and discovered a man with skilled leadership abilities. Schmelzer has the special gift of encouragement, not for just a few but for everyone, no matter their station in life. And it’s the kind of encouragement that compels one to continue moving toward God, in the best and worst times, even when all the answers are not there.

At the CrossroadsHis chapter titled “How M. Scott Peck Saved My Life,” is smart writing, offering some interesting analogies on the ‘deeply religious’ and the ‘not-so-religious’ peoples who spend a season in therapy. Schmelzer says that often the deeply religious leave their religion after being helped while the not-so-religious discover faith as a result of being helped.

There is a thoughtful revisiting of the concept of bounded-sets and centered-sets; a subject Frost and Hirsch introduced to their readers to in the ground breaking book The Shaping of Things to Come (at least it was an introduction to those who are not mathematically inclined). These musings are worth the price of the book alone.

Not the Religious Type is divided into four sections (The Universe; God; Happiness; and Welcome to Your Centered-Set Life); a mosaic of thoughtful essays on faith in a postmodern world. In less than 200 pages Schmelzer, quietly bridges the gap between the secular and the sacred. If you like Ann Lamott and if you think Blue Like Jazz is the believer’s anthem then you’ll love Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist.New Wineskins

Fred PeatrossFred Peatross lives, works, romances his wife and exudes deep feelings of love, awe, and admiration for his Creator while living in the heart of Appalachia. For over two decades Fred has resided in Huntington, West Virginia where he has been a leader in the traditional church. He has been a deacon, a shepherd, and a pulpit minister. But his greatest love is Missio Dei.

Long before thousands of missionaries poured into the former Soviet Union Fred, in a combined effort with a Christ follower from Alabama planted a church in Dneprodzerhinsk, Ukraine. Today Fred lives as a missionary to America daily praying behind the back of his friends as he journeys and explores life alongside them. [Fred Peatross’ book Missio Dei - In the Crisis of ChristianityMissio Dei: In the Crisis of Christianity, reviewed in New Wineskins]. He blogs at [Abductive Columns].

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1581 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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