A self-described ``shaky atheist,'' Bryan ( Dogleg Madness ) in 1989 enrolled in Criswell College, a Baptist Bible school in Dallas, to pursue the truth about evangelical Christianity, espoused by an estimated 50 million Americans. The school embraces a conservative, informed Christian worldview that thrives despite the recent scandals which have beset flamboyant evangelicals. Bryan was not indoctrinated at Criswell and departed months later, still rejecting the ``truth claim of biblical Christianity.'' Yet he was impressed by the liberal, multifaceted views espoused in the classrooms and by other aspects of the evangelical world, having participated in such events as a mission trip to El Salvador and a preachers' conference at which Jerry Falwell of the discredited Moral Majority found an unresponsive audience. This insider view of the world where literal interpretation of the Bible prevails is respectful and enlightening. (July)
Scenario: agnostic journalist Bryan attends classes in Texas Bible college with permission to report on mainstream evangelical faith, its intellectual life, and mission tours. The result is neither conversion nor deeper disbelief, but a fair-minded exploration of American evangelical Christianity. It is refreshingly objective and free from shallow denigration of many who feel biblical infallibility to be untenable in today's world. Bryan allows faculty and students to speak for themselves with intelligence and grace, as he skillfully reviews a wide range of issues in religious history and scriptural exegesis in a readable and literate fashion. Bryan is both detached and at times deeply engaged in the struggle to live out an answer to the question, ``Who do you say that I am?'' Neither the author nor his subjects backs away from such hard matters as liberation theology and political involvement on behalf of the poor. This could serve as a prompt for discussion groups. Recommended for general religious collections.-- Anna M. Donnelly, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, N . Y .