W. Robert Godfrey
Reviewed by: Diane Olinger
Date posted: 08/14/2005
An Unexpected Journey: Discovering Reformed Christianity, by W. Robert Godfrey. Published by P&R Publishing, 2004. Paperback, 150 pages, list price $9.99. Reviewed by Diane Olinger, a member at Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pa.
An Unexpected Journey is the story of one person's attraction to Reformed Christianity. That one person is Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, professor of church history and president of Westminster Seminary California.
Dr. Godfrey first learned about Christ and Calvinism when he was a junior at a public high school in California. On long walks home, a friend on the swim team talked to him about his faith and invited him to attend the local Christian Reformed Church. Godfrey was attracted to Calvinism's message of a great and sovereign God who was in charge of all things.
As a church historian, Godfrey believes that one of the ways of seeing the vitality of a form of Christianity is through the autobiographies of its adherents. He writes this book, then, to "clarify Calvinism's value and vitality on a personal level" (p. 11). Although this book is decidedly and intentionally non-technical, it does contain simple and succinct descriptions of many Reformed teachings. Also, in telling of his own experience, Godfrey examines a number of current issues in American churches, including contemporary worship styles.
An Unexpected Journey is a good introduction to Reformed Christianity for friends and family. It would also make a good gift for graduates, encouraging them to appreciate Reformed Christianity, as seen through the eyes of one who came to it from the outside. Of particular value to those readers would be Godfrey's chapter entitled "Callings," in which he examines the question, "How can you know God's will for your life?" (You can't!) Those pursuing higher education will benefit from Godfrey's insightful exposition of Colossians 1 and 2, the foundation from which he discusses the Reformed view of education, the pursuit of knowledge, and Van Til's presuppositional apologetics. Godfrey challenges Reformed scholars to be neither anti-intellectual nor accommodating intellectuals.
An Unexpected Journey traces the path of God's grace in one man's life. This path is Reformed Christianity, not merely an inherited tradition or an intellectual exercise, but "the best, fullest form of biblical religion" (p. 11).