The Larger View Of Conversion -- By: John E. Kuizenga

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 084:336 (Oct 1927)
Article: The Larger View Of Conversion
Author: John E. Kuizenga

The Larger View Of Conversion

John E. Kuizenga

IN all there are only five subjects for the psychology of religion to study,—to-wit, man as man, the child, the convert, the saint, and the religious group. American students of the subject, under the leadership of Starbuck and James, were chiefly interested in the convert. Later attention turned more to the child and the group, and still later to the saint. It is very certain that this larger view of the subject will lead to a better estimate and understanding of conversion.

One of the best recent descriptions of conversion is from the personal life of Dr. Rufus M. Jones:

I hesitate to speak of such sacred things as inward experiences, but it is manifestly impossible to touch the heart of one’s religion, even in boyhood without a few words of personal confession. They shall be as simple, direct and honest as I can make them. . . . I have already told how, little by little, I found myself living a divided life. I was utterly dissatisfied with myself, and yet I did not know what had happened. I had passed a boundary. I was no longer a careless happy-go-lucky boy, satisfied if only I had enough to eat and could play as many hours as I wanted to. There was a flaming sword at every path which led back to the old Eden of peaceful, happy, innocent childhood. Nobody understood me any more, but the worst of it was that I did not in the least understand myself. I gave up all hope of trying to be good. The harder I tried, the more I knew I was failing. I was in truth a double personality, for I hated sin. I loved goodness . . . yet I went to bed night after night with the heavy feeling upon me that I was farther than ever from my goodness.

While I was in this crisis—with an old self not dead and a new self not born, and ignorant what these sunrise streaks on my chaos really meant—we had a new kind of meeting in our little school-house. At first we boys went for “fun”—it soon ceased to be fun, and grew more serious, for I saw that I was approaching an unescapable conviction. Each night it became clearer that there were only two kinds of lives—with two distinct issues. What had been dim and vague in my long struggle had suddenly become sharp and clearly defined. At length one night there came a bursting point, and with every artery throbbing and my heart pounding so

hard I thought everybody must hear it. With a tremendous effort I made my tongue say, “I want to be a Christian.” I knew I had won my first spiritual victory.”1

One of the best things about this description is the suggestion given that conversion cannot be ...

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