A Return to the Same

James K.A. Smith reviews Francis Beckwith’s book about his return to Rome. Francis J. Beckwith (Ph.D., Fordham) at one time was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He has written several books and was considered a leading and intellectual voice in the culture wars and on the side of the “objective” truth of Christianity or what I would call the modern approach to such questions.

Smith, I think, rightly determines that Beckwith’s “return” was more a coming home than return to something larger than his former world of evangelicalism. Rather than a move, it was a full circle journey that conveniently allowed Beckwith to remain within that same world (mind-set) he supposedly left behind.

In this whole area of people converting or moving between traditions, what is more interesting is when the one moving tells us it was because he learned something or was faced with an event/experience that actually called his current world into question and then he made a choice to change or move to something that was truly different than his former world. I have not read Beckwith’s book, so I can’t say for sure, but based upon Smith’s review, this doesn’t seem to describe what happened to Beckwith in his “return” to Rome.

This entry was posted in Beckwith, Evangelicalism, James KA Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Return to the Same

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Like

  2. (oops. Sorry the deletion. I found a big typo and needed to republish).

    Darrell:

    Smith's review was a work of complete fabrication and meanness. Here are my responses:

    http://romereturn.blogspot.com/2010/03/follow-up-on-smith-review-of-return-to.html

    http://romereturn.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-diminish-heart-felt-narrative.html

    What you get in Smith's “review” is Smith playing the “unmasking” game rather than communicating what I actually wrote. He begins with the assumption that my conversion was inauthentic and tells you what he thinks is in my heart.

    He wrote with the intent and purpose to hurt me. And he did in fact succeed. The meanness of it was palpable

    If you read my book, you will see that it is a celebration of all that I have encountered in my journey. It is, in short, a celebration of love. So, when Smith says my book lacks love, we can safely conclude that he does not have eyes to see or ears to hear (if I may borrow a line from the Master)

    Like

  3. You write:

    In this whole area of people converting or moving between traditions, what is more interesting is when the one moving tells us it was because he learned something or was faced with an event/experience that actually called his current world into question and then he made a choice to change or move to something that was truly different than his former world

    Chapters 5 through 7, if you take the time read the book. Also, if, for example, someone converts to Catholicism (or Orthodoxy) are you actually suggesting that there is a template that must be followed–that you find it “interesting”–so that you can pronounce it “authentic”? For if you do, that essentially puts you in charge of assessing other people's journeys. Are you competent to embrace that role?

    Like

  4. darrell says:

    Dr. Beckwith,

    I am sorry you felt hurt by Dr. Smith’s review. As I noted, I was simply basing my thoughts upon his review and admitted I had not read your book. My intention was not to access the authenticity of your journey but to simply note the difference between finding that something different matched what one already believed as opposed to learning that one was wrong in some areas of belief and moving on that basis.

    By the way, I hope you can detect, at the very least, the incongruence of believing Smith was trying to tell us what was in your heart, at the very same time you are telling us what you believe was in his heart as far as his “intent” and “purpose.” Perhaps we should all stay out of the heart judging business.

    Like

Comments are closed.