A friend passed along a Christianity Today article they thought I'd find interesting, and was curious what my thoughts were on it.
How is it that a respectable magazine like Christianity Today can publish some of the same crazy thought's that I've been having. Does this mean I am not as crazy as I thought? Or does it mean there are lots of crazy folks out there? Likely the latter. :)
"Conversion was viewed to be a punctiliar experience: persons could specify with confidence and assurance the time and place of their conversion, by reference, as often as not, to the moment when they prayed what was typically called "the sinner's prayer."
I agree. I used to think the sinners prayer was the way to become a Christian.
However I realize now that when people asked Jesus `What must I do to be saved`, I don`t see him responding `repeat this prayer after me`. For example Mark 10:18-25 and Matthew 25:34-45 don't mention a specific prayer as moment of conversion.
"The focus of conversion was the afterlife: one sought salvation so that one could "go to heaven" after death, and the assumption was that "salvation" would lead to disengagement from the world. Once converted, the central focus of one's life would be church or religious activities, particularly those that helped others come to this understanding of salvation that assured them of "eternal life" after death."I have also converted and repented (changed my way of thinking) on this as well. :)
The gospel message that Jesus and His disciples preached from town to town was that of the Kingdom of God. This reign or rule of God is one that started in those days and can be a present reality for us today. God's power is available to us each and every day. He wants to defeat sin and death in our present lives. He wants to heal and restore our lives to what He intended them to be. We can choose to live in the kingdom of darkness, or in the kingdom of light. I believe there will be a future form of the reign of God as well, but that does not need to be our main focus today.
Further, the church was often defined as in the business of making conversions happen; its life and mission were oriented toward getting more people converted through whatever means possible. Successful congregations were characterized by numerical "conversion growth."
I am discovering that Jesus was in the disciple-making business, and that should be my focus as well. The focus shifts away from an agreement of some doctrine, statement of faith, and a prayer. To become a disciple means to follow the ways of Jesus, and that should also involve finding other followers to journey together with.
The article lists different scholars, theologians, historians, philosophers, and others that are contributing to movement on these topics. I found it interesting to see all the different sources of change within the evangelical community. Change is in the wind.
This begs the question of what it means to be the church. The evangelical tradition is at a fork in the road and, given this sea change in the understanding of conversion and redemption, the most crucial issue at stake is what it means to be a congregation. Evangelicals will only be able to navigate these waters if they can formulate a dynamic theology of the church that reflects the Triune character of God, the means of grace—Spirit and Word—and a radical orientation in mission toward the kingdom of God.Rethinking what the term 'church' meant to the early church is also changing my role with church.
Yikes, yes this article sums up a lot of the process I've been going through.