As the release date for the book draws near, rumors of criticism and reports of fears concerning its charitable nature have been expressed by some close to the authors of the book who are associated with Southern Evangelical Seminary. This is completely understandable, as books written by religious “ex’s” are often full of rancor and seem designed to tear down whatever group the writer is an ex-member of – but such is not the case with Evangelical Exodus.
In fact, part of the reason the book was written was to dispel any suggestion that it was anger toward the school or its staff that somehow drove the contributors into the arms of the Catholic Church. (One author, in fact, stated that should the book turn into “SES bashing” he would leave the project!) Many of the contributors actually came to Catholicism years after their association with SES had ended, and few had negative dealings with SES at any time. What criticism there is in the book concerns SES’s doctrinal teachings – not personal issues with its faculty or staff (even if such exist). Such discussions, therefore, should not be taken personally even when they concern specific teachings of individuals associated with SES.
As will hopefully be evident from disclaimers like this and the individual stories themselves, the contributors to Evangelical Exodus remain fond of their time at SES, and wish no ill toward their past colleagues (one of whom wrote an endorsement for the book!). As some have noted, it was often taking the principles we learned at SES to their logical conclusion that brought us to the banks of the Tiber in the first place.
I close with the appropriate words of Richard John Neuhaus:
“To those of you with whom I have traveled in the past, know that we travel together still. In the mystery of Christ and his Church nothing is lost, and the broken will be mended. If, as I am persuaded, my communion with Christ’s Church is now the fuller, then it follows that my unity with all who are in Christ is now the stronger. We travel together still.”