Transforming Conversion: Rethinking the Language and Contours of Christian Initiation

Overview

Exploring the Ecology of Faith

Gordon Smith contends that both in the church and in discussions about contemporary mission, the language of conversion inherited from revivalism is inadequate in helping to navigate the questions that shape how we do church, how we approach faith formation, how evangelism is integrated into congregational life, and how we witness to the faith in non-Christian environments. We must rethink the nature of the church...

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Transforming Conversion: Rethinking the Language and Contours of Christian Initiation

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Overview

Exploring the Ecology of Faith

Gordon Smith contends that both in the church and in discussions about contemporary mission, the language of conversion inherited from revivalism is inadequate in helping to navigate the questions that shape how we do church, how we approach faith formation, how evangelism is integrated into congregational life, and how we witness to the faith in non-Christian environments. We must rethink the nature of the church in light of how people actually come to faith in Christ.

Transforming Conversion offers much-needed contemporary theological reflection on the phenomenon of conversion and transformation. Smith's robust evaluation covers the broad range of thinking about conversion across Christian traditions and addresses global contexts. After drawing on ancient and pre-revivalist wisdom about conversion, Smith delineates the contours of conversion and Christian initiation for today's church. He concludes with a discussion of the art of spiritual autobiography and what it means to be a congregation.

"Transforming Conversion is a welcome addition to the growing literature on conversion. With great skill, Smith explores the fields of biblical studies, theology, church history, and religious biography to develop new language to capture the complexity of conversion. Unwilling to be confined to the outdated and inaccurate language of revivalism, Smith articulates a holistic understanding of conversion to guide renewed modes of outreach for a church often paralyzed toward evangelism in the twenty-first century."—Richard Peace, Robert Boyd Munger Professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This is an important book and full of surprises. What appears to be a simple historical survey of 'conversion literature' turns into a serious work on the theology of conversion. Transforming Conversion is of ecumenical interest because Smith's attention to the doctrinal and sacramental aspects of conversion goes far to bridge the divide separating evangelicals from Orthodox and Catholic believers. It is heartily recommended."—Patrick Henry Reardon, senior editor, Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801032479
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon T. Smith (PhD, Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University) is president of Ambrose University College and Seminary in Calgary, Alberta. He is also the president of reSource Leadership International and has taught at Regent College, Vancouver. He is the author of many books, including Beginning Well and A Holy Meal.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 The Language of Conversion: Revivalism and the Evangelical Experience 1

2 Conversion and the Redemptive Purposes of God 21

3 Chapters in the History of an Idea: Part 1 43

4 Chapters in the History of an Idea: Part 2 63

5 To Be a Saint: Conversion and Spiritual Maturity 87

6 The Contours of a Christian Conversion 111

7 The Penitential Dimension of Conversion 127

8 The Sacramental Dimension of Conversion 139

9 Spiritual Autobiography and Conversion Narrative 157

10 What Then Does It Mean to Be a Congregation? 179

Index 205

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