What is a conversion?
A process of change that alters ones view of the world. It is powerful enough to make someone believe in a God who previously didn't or make someone change their belief about who God is. Conversions often stem from vision experiences, one example of a conversion is Saul, from the Bible.
Types of conversion.
- A unifying of the inner self, this is how William James understood conversions. He saw it in psychological terms rather than a miraculous occurence. the divided self was an awareness of incompleteness.
- From no religion to a faith- An example is Augustine who was a key thinker in the development of the Christion church, he said " as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled".
- From one faith to another faith- Sundar Singh was raised as a Sikh, one day he tried to commit suicide unless a God revealed himself to him when a vision of Jesus appeared to him and he became an active Christian for the rest of his life
- From faith (believing) to faith (trusting)- John Wesley knew he didn't have a faith in God as a personal saviour that others had when one day he records how he felt his heart strangely warmed "I did trust Christ, Christ alone, for salvation, and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away all sins, even mine"
Intellectual and moral.
Intellectual= When you talk about and study religion and philosophy until you find it impossible to not believe in God, For example, C.S. Lewis told a a time in 1931 when he had a discussion with J.R.R. Tolkien about myth and Christianity and he Becme convinced that Jesus was the son of God.
Moral= An existential change within a person, Augustine is an example, he felt challenged when read the word from Romans which exhorts the reader to abandon the works of the flesh and to be clothed with Christ.
- Gradual/Sudden- However, even sudden conversions may have had prior sunconscious development.
- Volitional/Self-surrendering- It was involve the giving up of the personal will, either freely(volitional) or with resistance and an internal battle(self-surrendering)
- Passive/Active- Either the experience comes uppon someone unexpectedly without them deliberately seeking it, or someone might specifically seek a spiritual experience by going to an evangelistic meeting.
- Transforming- conversion might invlove a thorough-going transformation; a new person; a new creation ( a new personality).
1, Sudden conversion is very real to those who have had the experience. They feel that the process has been performed upon them, God causes the conversion.
2, For Methodists, salvation is not truly received unless they have been through a crisis of the sort which is involved in conversion.
3, Those havong a sudden conversion feel it to be a miracle rather than a natural process.
4, Even when James saw conversion as being a natural process, he maintained that it was inspired by the divine.
St Paul/ Saul.
Saul was a persecutor of those who followed Jesus, he was set out on the road to Damascus to go and arrest the Christians. As he went on a bright light appeared in front of him and he fell to the groung. He heard a voice say to him "Saul, why do you treat me cruelly?" The voice was Jesus. He was told to go into Damascus to receive help. When Saul got up from the ground he was blind, and he didn't eat or drink anything for three days. When they arrived in Damascus he was greeted by a man named Ananias who laid his hands on Saul and he was able to see again, from that day on he was a devout Christian who preached the words of Jesus.