Review of “I was a Minister in the Nation of Islam” by Alexis Johnson

I Was a Minister in the Nation of IslamI Was a Minister in the Nation of Islam by Alexis Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read many books by ex-Muslims over the years, as religious conversion from Islam to Christianity is one of my main areas of academic research. But I had never happened across a book quite like this.

First, I did not realize how different and heterodox the Nation of Islam (NOI) is. The most interesting aspect of the book for me was learning about the NOI and what I found to be frankly bizarre stories about its founding figures. I would have liked some more quotations directly from NOI sources, but I always say this about conversion narratives. I want to read a well-documented, properly researched treatise, the convert wants to tell their story.

Second, the main purpose of the author in this book is clearly to warn American churches and Christians and black people against what he sees as the propaganda of the NOI and specifically Louis Farrakhan. He spends a good amount of the book explaining why, in his opinion, the NOI and Minister Farrakhan are not what they appear.

Another goal of his is to offer a salvation that is not based on race or ethnicity. The universality of the offer of salvation in Christianity is balanced by a very real awareness of injustices suffered by black and brown Americans, and the sometimes patronizing (if well-intentioned) behavior of white Christians. Thus he avoids the trope of self-victimization while also not ignoring the reality of racial injustice in the past and the present.

Strengths are the material on the founder of the NOI and the rather graphic and gritty description of his life in the drug trade before his conversion to the NOI. Weaknesses are his lack of sourcing his material (sometimes) and a rather disjointed final chapter.

People interested in the Nation of Islam, racial relations and religious conversion will find this engaging and well-crafted book of interest.

Duane Alexander Miller
Nazareth Seminary, Israel

(Originally Published as a NETS Book Review at nazsem.blogspot,com.)

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Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog ( or page for more information.

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