theology


I’m sitting here at my desk, pondering my sermon for this week, and I’m wondering, is the concept of “conversion” a completely Christian concept? What has spawn this thought? I just read an article about a small, rural church that has blossomed into a thriving church. They have started several ministries to reach out to all kinds of people. As a result of these ministries, they say, over 80 people have been “converted”. I can’t help but wonder, converted from what? From another faith, from no-faith at all, or from their own selfish ways.

I guess my problem with the concept of “conversion” as we often understand it is that it seems to go against a process understanding of salvation. It suggests that salvation occurs in this big, one-time conversion experience. But, isn’t being saved more complicated than that. At least for me, there has not been a one time conversion experience, so much as many little conversions along the way. And really, I don’t feel like I’ve left anything behind, so much as God has carried me through some things, using some crappy mistakes to develop me into the person Christ has called me to be. When someone “converts” from being a Muslim to Christian, is this a conversion or simply another step on their faith journey (And I’m not suggesting people should convert from being a Muslim).

I don’t know if I’m making sense. For a while I’ve done my best to avoid the term “converted” because of all the baggage I see it carrying. Is there a better term we can use when someone makes that step of commitment to Christ. Or, is “converted” a fine term and I’m just speaking nonsense?

Am I wrong for thinking,

“Yeah, eight Alabama kids dying in a tornado really sucks, but that’s nothing compared to the *insert exponential number* of kids who die every *insert time period* from *insert horrible cause of death* in *insert deprived country*.”

Ann Nicole Smith dies, and we talk about it until the resurrection. An uncle makes some preschool kids smoke pot, and it’s all over local and national news. Some kids die from a tornado, and it’s a top story. But some African kids get abducted and either killed or forced to be soldiers, or they die of horrible, yet easily treatable, diseases, and the news acts like they haven’t even heard of Africa. Even the nice soldiers who died this morning in Iraq will be quickly forgotten, their names never known by the national public. If it wasn’t for Ann Curry, we wouldn’t have even known they were dead.

Don’t get me wrong. Eight kids dying is bad, really, really bad, but when shit like this happens, we act like it’s never happened before, like our country is the only place in the world that knows about suffering. We obsess over the details, having a hard time understanding how God could let such things happen. Yet, this is nothing compared to the pain parents all over the world feel when their children are senselessly killed by other humans, not natural disasters. If my kid died in a tornado, that would really suck. But if my kid died because some messed up guy shot him/her, or because a small portion of the world was hording the resources my family needed to live, then that would be really, really fucked up .

Am I out of line?

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”– Anne Lamott