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Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist
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Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  158 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
As an atheist, Dave Schmelzer never thought of himself as the religious type—and he still doesn't, even though he now believes in God and leads a large Boston church in the shadow of some of the nation's most impressive universities. Religion is usually about rules and codes, about “being good,” about what will get you embraced and what will get you shunned. But God, ...more
Hardcover, 179 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by SaltRiver (first published June 4th 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Apr 14, 2011 Russell rated it did not like it
This is quite possibly the worst work of Christian apologetics that I've read. Schmelzer's conclusions frequently don't follow from his arguments (non-sequiters), and he attacks atheists by making all sorts of outrageous claims (straw man arguments), and he never even backs up his claims with examples or references. As an atheist I found this book really offensive. Atheists have no sense of wonder and don't appreciate art? Atheists are racist and classist? Atheists look down on the people of ...more
Jun 29, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laura by: the author
I think my obvious bias - I attend the Greater Boston Vineyard, which is Dave's church (in fact, I bought a signed copy from their bookstore) - cuts for and against my evaluation of the book. For me, many of the stories told and the ideas expressed were not new, since I've heard so many of his sermons. But the stories are compelling (and often amusing), and his ideas about faith are pretty novel if you haven't already heard them from him, I think.

I found two take-away messages here, both of whic
May 24, 2010 Mike rated it liked it
I started reading this book and about mid way through started skimming it. The whole foundation of the book is the dichotomy between religion and God. That is formal religion and a more mystical relationship with God. The author, himself a pastor, holds up this idea well in light of his faith. He notes the limitations of this view when it comes to his faith in Christ and his participation in the church, but doesn't spend a ton of time on it. He has an interesting take on spiritual maturity, he ...more
Feb 17, 2012 Aaron rated it really liked it
This book was right up my alley. It was such a breath of fresh air to read a book that could cause you to look at yourself in perspective without actually having to tell you to do so.

Written by a former atheist and a current intellectual (who could write in a very comprehensible manner, I might add), this book outlines one man's journey from atheism to his current life as a pastor. The interesting thing is that, if I hadn't known already (and if he wouldn't have mentioned it), I would have never
Nov 16, 2008 Chris rated it liked it
Interesting book. Dave Schmelzer writes about his thoughts on Christianity, faith, prayer, and more, based on his unique perspective as a former atheist now minister. I liked his writing style and down-to-earth philosophical approach. As I read the book, I tried to think about who the best audience for it would be. I had started thinking it might be a good book for people who are not Christian but curious about Christianity. But as I read, it occurred to me that it might be best suited for those ...more
Mar 17, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. It had more entertainment factor than I expected. I picked it up just to get some of Dave's perspective on how he did ministry at the Cambridge vineyard, and to learn more about how he explains "center set" and stage theory. I've heard him speak several times in the past. This started as a casual read for me, but I couldn't put it down, and finished the whole thing in a few sittings. Fairly short book, but very engaging. I would recommend it for anyone curious about how ...more
Sep 19, 2008 Angel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone exploring faith
I think this book is really unique on its take on faith and what it means to follow Jesus and not so much to be a "Christian" and someone who has loved Jesus for years but struggled with the label of "Christian" and all that brings with it in this country. I loved his take on centered set theory (you'll have to read it, I can't explain just here)and how I or anyone can follow Jesus, get the good stuff ie relationship with him, and not have to adopt the Christian culture. I love it and I find it ...more
Jim Trotter
Oct 09, 2013 Jim Trotter rated it really liked it
The book reads more like a series of short articles that lead us through the life of someone that really did not believe in God and didn't live a life that would make you think he needed to search for Him either. Yet, his story really shows that God is real and tangible in a life that may appear to not have needed any help on the surface. The writer, who is a pastor now, shows his creativity as someone that has been a playwright (and still is a writer now) with the life stories he shares. A good ...more
Aug 27, 2008 Abby rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Recommended to Abby by: My husband
This is a book for everyone. Whether a person of faith, or a person who doesn't feel as if they have ever spent time thinking about faith, you will be engaged (as I was) by the insights Dave shares. His perspective of having been an atheist for the first half of his life offers a unique perspective. The faith that Dave talks about isn't about being right/wrong or good/bad, it's about a connection with a communicative Jesus that offers a life that is more "joyful, purposeful, and ...more
Aug 11, 2008 Julie rated it did not like it
About the only thing I got from this book was the author has a very high opinion of himself and his relationship to God. Perhaps that is because it is hard for me to imagine having that same open line of communication with God. I guess that is my loss. Nor can I imagine dropping everything and running off to save the world, neglecting those things God has already left me in charge of. I much prefered "Blue Like Jazz" which gave a far more practical application to our Christian faith.
Aug 03, 2011 Bruce added it
This is an unusual book. It is written by a former atheist that is now a pastor of a charismatic church (Vineyard) in one of the most secular areas of the United States (Boston around Harvard and MIT). It is especially interesting to read how Dave, having grown up in a secular culture and ministering to a secular culture, expresses his faith. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fresh and charismatic insight to what it means to be connected to a communicative God.
Daniel Lovett
Jul 25, 2011 Daniel Lovett rated it really liked it
It was pretty good book. Id recommend... however I would caution against pride. It does pit people against one another. The "truly spiritual and enlightened ones" vs. "those ignoramuses bound up in religion". I just fear that most who read it will now be blinded to their own pride and and have an air of superiority which is just as revolting and alienating to God as religious pride. I do agree that religious pride is dangerous and caustic but so are all other forms of pride.
Dec 11, 2012 Stephanie added it
Recommends it for: If you liked Blue Like Jazz... I liked this more.
Recommended to Stephanie by: Wendy
Shelves: christian, nonfiction
It's so good, you guys. Kind of chatty, but it's worth it to be so approachable, especially as it doesn't sacrifice depth. All sorts of real questions, asked honestly, thought through thoroughly, and reminding that the answers our souls most deeply hope for are outrageous, baffling, simple, challenging, and lovely beyond belief.
Jeff Raymond
A short non-fiction book about a man who was an atheist, found God, and now runs a church out of Cambridge, MA. I’m still a little fuzzy on exactly how he came back to the church and whether he was really a committed atheist to begin with, but it’s always good to read the other side even if it’s a flawed attempt.
Dec 31, 2008 Molly rated it really liked it
Within the first few chapters, this book had given words and explanation to my spiritual journey of the last 10 years, in a refreshing and engaging way. I think that Schmelzer is very in touch with what this generation is thinking and feeling about faith. The book was thought-provoking and challenging.
Mar 21, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it
Not the Religious Type is a funny, relaxed, eye-opening look into a way of looking a God that is more relational and experiential than rules/religion based. It was a very quick read that I would recommend to anyone.
Jul 30, 2008 Alice rated it really liked it
Dave Schmeltzer's book is very similar to "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. It's another memoir-type book that will appeal to the postmodern "seeker" type. Short, quick to read, VERY humorous! yet very thoughtful.

Sep 23, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
A good book for an introduction to concepts about bounded set vs. centered set and spiritual stages of growth. It's often written in a humorous manner that move the book along nicely. I don't agree with everything, but enjoyed it nonetheless.
Nov 02, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it
This book was incredibly entertaining and insightful. It's the true story of an atheist who is now a pastor in Cambridge, MA. He's a great writer and it's a book that made me want to keep reading and think about it throughout the day.
Stephanie Christensen
I liked this because I) he spent time in Lebanon (I've never met him) and 2) his comment that he feels he has more in common with secularists than many Christians resonated.
Suraj Reddy
Sep 14, 2011 Suraj Reddy rated it it was amazing
An atheist mind on Jesus, God and Spirituality. I loved it! I'd recommend it if you're interested in stages of spirituality.
Jul 11, 2008 Becca rated it really liked it
A quick but meaty read. I particularly appreciate the view that faith is about a relationship with God and not a set of rules or doctrines.

Disclaimer: I know the author.
Feb 12, 2009 Hillary marked it as to-read
This book is still sitting on myself. I hate to say this but I moved on to bigger and better things. Maybe I'll pick it up again soon.
Jan 10, 2014 Katharine rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, and how the author wrestles with faith. Thanks to Kate for recommending it!
Pghgranola rated it did not like it
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