Conversion:  A Dirty Word?

Posted by The_Elves

The following is an excerpt from a lengthy article on the 9Marks website, which I can't recall having visited before, but which has a lot of interesting articles online all focused on helping Christians be better able to defend the Gospel. If you've got a few moments, check out what they claim are the 9 Marks of a church that glorifies God. This definitely looks to be a site this elf wants to browse around further. Note, however, that this is an unabashedly evangelical reformed Protestant site. (Predominantly Southern Baptist, it appears.) I for one find the final line of the excerpt below offensive in how it lumps the Vatican and the WCC together. Nonetheless, in this elf's opinion, this was a worthwhile and thought-provoking read. --elfgirl
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What’s the point of the story? Conversion is dirty word. It’s scandalous in today’s pluralistic and relativistic world to contend for one religious truth over and against another. It smacks of pride, arrogance, disrespect, perhaps hatred, maybe even violence.

This is the consensus among many of the secular elite. Popular television personality Bill Maher believes Christianity can only be explained as a "neurological disorder."[1] Only the most unenlightened, uneducated, and uncouth Neanderthal would both believe and contend for a conversion to religious faith, especially Christianity. It's absolutely what the modern man does not need.

And Maher simply represents what secular humanism as a movement has been saying all along. To quote from their own manifesto, "traditional theism… and salvationism… based on mere affirmation is harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival."[2] Reasonable minds…you can hear the condescension dripping from the pen.

Some go further, of course. They say such attempts at diversion (i.e. conversion) actually breed violence.

[...]

Yet it seems that conversion is even under attack among some professed evangelicals. This ought to strike us as nonsensical. Our English word "evangelical" comes from the Greek word for "good news." What is this good news? It is that we, who are at enmity with God in our sin, can now be reconciled to him on account of Christ’s death and resurrection, when we repent of our sin and believe upon Christ. Conversion from our former way of life and thinking to Christianity is required. This much should be blatantly obvious.

Nonetheless, Brian MacLaren, perhaps the most prominent leader within the emerging church movement, calls for a reconsideration of conversion, if not an outright rejection of it. He writes in A Generous Orthodoxy,

I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (though not all) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, and I agree. But frankly, it's not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many 'Christian' religious contexts, either.[5]


We are told to embrace other faiths "willingly, not begrudgingly." To be fair, McLaren asserts the uniqueness of Christianity apart from other religions.[6] And yet his belief in "a gospel that is universally efficacious for the whole earth," his unwillingness to "set limits on the saving power of God" in reference to the unevangelized, and his belief that we must continually expect to "rediscover the gospel" as we encounter other religious traditions, "leading to that new place where none of us has ever been before," raises significant and serious questions.[7] Frankly, I have difficulty seeing how he is recommending anything Christian, let alone orthodox. In the end, his proposals are eerily similar to those being set forth by the Vatican and the WCC.

The full entry is here. It is really quite comprehensive. The various sections are as follows:
-- CONVERSION—A DIRTY WORD?
-- CONVERSION—A BIBLICAL IDEA?
-- CONVERSION—WHAT IT IS AND ISN’T
-- BENEFITS FOR BELIEVERS
-- CONCLUSION: ONE OF THOSE CHRISTIANS?

(hat tip: TwoOrThree.Net)

Filed under: * Resources & LinksResources: blogs / websites* TheologyTheology: Evangelism & MissionTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)

3 Comments Posted July 12, 2007 at 11:09 am

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