The Place Of Conversion In The Life Of A Christian -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 02:3 (Aug 2001)
Article: The Place Of Conversion In The Life Of A Christian
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

The Place Of Conversion In The Life Of A Christian

John Warwick Montgomery

M. Phil. In Law (Essex), Ph.D.(Chicago), Th.D. (Strasbourg)
Of the Middle Temple and Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister-At-Law;
Member of the CA, WA,VA, DC and US Supreme Court Bars;
Emeritus Professor of Law & Humanities University of Luton, ENGLAND;
Professor Apologetics and Vice-President for Academic Affairs-UK & Europe, Trinity College and Theological Seminary, Newburgh, Indiana

Only when Christian conversion is treated in a purely descriptive or statistical manner do the facts of psychology assume the place of central importance in the discussion. The present essay attempts to deal with Christian conversion from the normative or imperative (rather than the descriptive) standpoint, and for this reason reliance is placed, first and foremost, on the Christian Scriptures; the data of modern psychology are viewed as contributor to, but in no sense final for, the determination of norms in Christian experience.1

At the outset, the term conversion shall be defined simply on the basis of its etymology. This will provide a useful working definition which will not at the same time prejudice the discussion by introducing unwarranted preconceptions. In brief, the word conversion derives from two Latin words, verto (versus), meaning turn, and con (cum) which here has an intensive or strengthening function, and is perhaps best translated completely/thoroughly/altogether. Conversion, then, has the etymological meaning of a thorough turning, or (which is the same thing) a turning completely around.2

The present study will be organized in terms of four key questions, the answers to which should considerably clarify the general topic set forth in the title of this paper. The four questions are as follows, and will be discussed in the order listed: (1) Is conversion necessary in the Christian life? (2) Is conversion properly a once-for-all act in the Christian life? (3) What are the characteristics of true Christian conversion? (4) What are the practical consequences of the preceding discussion for the work of the church?

Is Conversion Necessary in the Christian Life?

That the phenomenon of religious conversion is not limited to the Christian faith is too well known to require documentation. Moreover, conversions of a purely moral character are not uncommon (e.g., in the case of Alcoholics Anonymous), and interesting cases of conversion from (rather than to) Christianity have been recorded in the fields of psychology, biography, and belles-lettres. A comparison of non-Christian conversions with conversions to the Christian faith reveal...

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