Revelation and Conversion

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  • Revelation & Conversion
    • Revelation
      • In religion, revelation refers to truths about God and His will being revealed to human beings.
      • God reveals himself by..
        • 1. Words
        • 2. Appearances
        • 3. Through other people
        • 4. Nature
        • 5. Visions
        • 6. Written words
      • We have faint but probably distorted ideas about God, who reveals to us what we are capable of understanding
      • Traditionally, Christians believed that truths about God - His nature and teachings - were contained in the Bible.
      • Little distinction was made between...
        • 1. Scientific knowledge
        • 2. Intellectual reasoning
        • 3. Spiritual awareness
      • To theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, the Bible could tell you all you needed to know about life, the universe and everything.
        • This kind of revelation is known as propositional. Scripture contains propositions or statements as nuggets waiting to be dug out by the determined seeker after truth.
          • Combined with this idea was the belief that God's nature, influence and actions could be seen in Nature and History.
            • There appears to be so much design in Nature that there must have been a clever designer behind it. This is known at the Theological argument.
      • Many Christians believe that human reasoning, although limited in its scope and fallible in its power, is nevertheless given by God to human beings, to be used as an aspect of religious life, complementary to His revelation
        • The main Christian beliefs of the relationship between Revelation and Reasons are as follows:
          • 1. Human Reason is limited in its scope and usefullness
          • 2. It, nevertheless, has value for a Christian
          • 3. It allows access to certain types of knowledge and understanding
          • 4. It is a useful addition to revelation but cannot and should not replace it.
          • 5. It is a necessary addition to revelation
          • 6. No philosopher can defend reason on its own, using reason.
          • 7. Reason is dependent on intelligence levels. Revelation is not
          • 8. Trying to know about God through reason alone is not enough for true spiritual life
    • Conversion
      • The word 'conversion' comes from a Latin word 'convertere', meaning 'turn around' or 'change direction'
      • A definition from William James in 'The varieties of Religious Experience' (1901) is...
        • 'To be converted... (is) ... the process, gradual or sudden, by which a self, hitherto divided and consciously wrong, inferior and unhappy, becomes unified and consciously right, superior and happy, in consequence of its firmer hold upon religious realities.
      • Converting from one spiritual state to another occurs in most religious traditions, but it appears to be most prevalent in Christianity.
        • In the Anglican & Roman Catholic churches, conversion is seen as a gradual process of initiation from participation in the sacraments.
        • In the evangelical and charismatic churches it is seen as a personal experience of giving your life to Christ and being baptised in the Holy Spirit-a 'born again' experience.
      • Religious psychologists tend to see conversion as a process.
        • Rambo and Farhadian identify 7 'stages' of conversion.
          • 1. Context: This is the environment and background in which the conversion takes place. It is not strictly a stage but it has effects on the other stages, and other stages impact on the context.
          • 2. Crisis: This can be any experience which threatens, shakes or ruptures the balance of the person concerned.
          • 3. Quest: Rambo and Farhadian analyse three factors in the quest stage - Response style, structural availability and motives.
          • 4. Encounter: This is the stage of interaction between the convert and the converter.
          • 5. Interaction: When people convert to particular religion or sect, they learn the roles, behaviour and attitudes expected as a result of conversion.
          • 6. Commitment: This is the central aspect of conversion. It is when the convert makes their change to the new way of life, and it might be at a point in time, or be a gradual process.
          • 7. Consequence: Conversion is usually seen as the start of a continuing process. The validity of conversion can be judged on the continuing adherence to the new-found belief system, and its benefits, as seen from the Church's criteria.

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