The Centrality and Scope of Conversion

Volume 9
Spring 1981
The Centrality and Scope of Conversion

This article argues that conversion understood as a miracle of the Holy Spirit is not merely the point of entry to evangelical Christianity. On the contrary, it has a centrality that is often overlooked, relative both to the theological program and to the shape and style of the religious life itself. This importance is so far-reaching in scope that when well-meaning evangelical psychologists redefine the miraculous character of conversion, the results are serious and surprising. First, when God'€™s activity in conversion is located in overall significance rather than supernatural causation, the door is opened to a liberal (non-miraculous) understanding of God'€™s acts in biblical history as well. Second, when conversion is understood as a crisis-transformation, a pattern is established which can lead to stereotyped thinking and stunted personal growth. When this understanding of conversion is softened in favor of psychological realism, evangelistic claims for "€œchanged lives"€ are made ambiguous. The dilemma can be solved if one is willing to apply the designation "€œmiraculous"€ only you the saving truth to which one is converted, and not to the process of conversion itself.

R.M. Price
26 - 36
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