"If ever a theologian should provide a memoir of his journey, Tom Oden is the one. A Change of Heart is the record of that phenomenal sojourn intersecting the lives of countless theologians and religious leaders. And as readers of the relentless Oden would expect, the pages of this book fly by on the winds of Oden the wordsmith. This is the montage of a master artist."
"In this memoir Tom Oden explores his theological career with specific reference to his transition from Christian liberalism to evangelical Christianity. In the process he describes the many theological issues that dominated his era, focusing on the World Council of Churches as a lightning rod. Oden's view that theology should not be at the whim of every passing fashion, or that current affairs should not be the litmus test, deserves careful consideration even by those who disagree with him. Oden offers a touching description of the passing of his wife after a bout with cancer. The book is a record of an important theological voice of his generation, one that brings to focus the wide-ranging religious influences of the day."
"Tom Oden's A Change of Heart chronicles his own odyssey through modernity back home to the fathers he never knewuntil he read them, prayed with them and learned the riches of the timeless faith at their feet. This book invites readers to join him in this odyssey. As one who has been privileged to travel the last part with him, I can truly say they will not be disappointed in the journey Tom Oden is inviting them to undertake with him."
"Tom Oden is one of the most remarkable Christians of our time. This is the story of how he has lived through, contributed to and helped to overthrow several revolutions during his long and fruitful life. Deeply rooted in Wesleyan spiritual traditions, Oden shows us the meaning of grace in a human lifegrace that shatters in order to restore and bring joy. Those of us who know and love this great theologian will be delighted to read the story of his pilgrimage thus far. The whole church will be blessed by it."
"Oden provides an engaging account of his life, decade by decade, from the 1930s into the 2010s, as he moves from rural Oklahoma to Dallas and then east to Yale University and Drew University before ultimately returning to Altus, OK. . . . This thoughtful reflection will engage a wide variety of readers and will help promote not only the broadest ecumenical Christianity but also interfaith cooperation."
". . . I would yet close by stating once again what a delightful and insightful book this is. It is a powerful analysis of a broader phenomenon: the movement from the political left to the right, and from an infatuation with novelty to an appreciation of tradition. . . . Unusual for an autobiography, this is not an exercise in ego but rather the testimony of a remarkably talented and yet touchingly humble man. Oden has lived an extraordinary life at the very center of the revival of church interest in both patristic thought and what he so helpfully characterizes as paleo-orthodoxy."
"A Change of Heart takes readers where Thomas Oden has been, bringing them into a conversation with some of the seminal theological minds of the 20th century and walking them through the tumultuous decades of Thomas Oden's lifespan. By any measure, these have been some of the most consequential and controversial in the history of the Christian church. More than anything else, this book will help every preacher come to a deeper understanding of what it means to embrace biblical Christianity despite facing a highly secularized age."
"Over the last 60 years or so, few United Methodist theologians have been as influential as Thomas C. Oden. His pioneering work in pastor theology, pastoral care and counseling, patristic exegesis, Wesley studies, and systematic theology have a profound influence on at least two generations of scholars and clergy. . . .
"Oden's latest work, A Change of Heart, is a personal and theological memoir. In keeping with that genre, the goal of this work is simply to tell the story of a life lived. . . . People from across theological and political spectrums will find in its pages a loving and generous guide eager to take them on a journey that is as much about repentance as it is conviction or certitude. . . .
"[W]hile I have read many of Oden's works over the years, we have never personally met one another. After reading this latest work, there is a real sense in which I feel like we have met. Even better, I feel like I have made a new friend. And isn't that what a good memoir should do?"
"This book is for anyone seeking inspiration or encouragement in the face of the challenges of modernity, to press on in faithfulness to the gospel which was once for all handed down to the saints."
"Thomas C. Oden is a fascinating figure in the history of 20th Century theology, and his new autobiography, A Change of Heart, is a fascinating read. Known for The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and Agenda for Theology, Oden writes a riveting tale about his early commitment to liberal theology and socialism, and then a 180-degree turn as he embraced classic Christianity and conservative thought in the early 1970s. Truly a remarkable story, Oden's work is well worth the time."
"The ecumenical value of Thomas Oden's life work, especially among Protestants, liberal and conservative, would be hard to overestimate. He is not simply an important figure in the subordination of school and denominational theologies to a catholic vision, but because of his courage in separating himself from error, combined with his titanic labors in support of orthodox Christianity, he is the pivotal figure at a critical theological juncture, an icon of the pilgrim on a pilgrimage that many will and must take, and for which he will be thanked by generations of those who will be served and perhaps even saved by his efforts. John Wesley, his spiritual progenitor, called himself a 'brand plucked from the burning.' So is Thomas Oden, and he has given us here not only and account of the wood hardened by fire, but of the fire itself, which will destroy the souls who commit themselves to it if they are not rescued by a Compassionate Jew."
"Oden's Memoir should be a preferred read for anyone interested in twentieth- and twenty-first-century historical and systematic theology, especially as such work has played out in the halls of modernity, evangelicalism, and ecumenical trends, especially in the context of the unfolding exchanges between Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Evangelical Protestantism."
Oden (emeritus, theology, Drew Univ.; Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology) provides an engaging account of his life, decade by decade, from the 1930s into the 2010s, as he moves from rural Oklahoma to Dallas and then east to Yale University and Drew University before ultimately returning to Altus, OK. The author's Christianity moves from evangelical to radical left as he becomes a socialist (and considers becoming communist), with a view of salvation both worldly and focused on human accomplishment. Later, he becomes a mainstream liberal protestant and still views salvation as having a worldly agenda but is focused on self-fulfillment rather than social transformation. Still later, Oden undergoes a slow conversion as Jewish theologian Will Herberg encourages him to reengage the scriptures and insists that he study Saints Athanasius, Augustine, and Aquinas. This was the beginning of a profound conversion that the author describes as a 180-degree turn. Slowly, his faith became more profound as he became involved in contemplative prayer, patrology, ecumenism (mainstream Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, among others), and African Christianity. VERDICT This thoughtful reflection will engage a wide variety of readers and will help promote not only the broadest ecumenical Christianity but also interfaith cooperation.—Carolyn Craft, professor emerita, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA