Topic 7- Conversion

Conversion means to change in form, character or function; to cause a person to change beliefs. e.g., St Paul, who was a Jewish man heading to casue chaos in the chritsianity communtiy when he was confronted by a burning bush and converted.

Those who have studied conversions in religious experience generally aggree there are 3 conditions that should be met if an 'experince' is to be classified as 'conversions'. These are

  • context - this is a past context of disaffection, depression, introspection, anxiety, doubt.
  • encounter - this is a willingness to give a religious interpretation to an experience.
  • commitment - a resulting change, visible to others.

Some conversion experiences tend to follow a pattern although some can be dramatic and intense and others slower to develop.

William James American scholar of the nineteenth century. In work 'The Varieties of Religious Experience' examined closely many case of conversion.

According to James, conversion means that religious ideas, beliefs, practices become the animating focus of an individuals life. 

Types of coversion

  • Tradition transition- example of this is an individual converting from the Jewish faith to the Islamic religion.
  • Institutional transition- involves the change of an individual or group from one community to another within a major tradition. e.g., member of the Baptist Church decides to transfer to the Anglican Church.
  • Affiliation- movement of an individual or a group from no commitment or minimal commitment to intense involvement with a community of faith. e.g., of this would be an individual…


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