Wells on the complexity of conversion and the danger of eliciting “decisions” without soul-travail

A significant part of the evangelical world encourages us to think of a simple, all-embracing, momentary crisis as the standard form of conversion. But conversion, our turning to God, is better understood if we view it as a complex process. The process involves thinking and rethinking, doubting and overcoming doubts, soul-searching and self-admonition, struggle against feelings of guilt and shame, and concern as to what a realistic following of Christ might mean, whether or not it culminates in a personal crisis that will afterward be remembered as “the hour I first believed.” Sometimes, of course, it does so culminate…

Some decisions that occur within the structural pattern of revivalist evangelism are preceded by little of this soul-travail. As we know, many of these decisions prove hollow, and if 10 percent of the professed converts in  a crusade are still faithful after a year, evangelists and pastors pronounce it a great success. What is touted in the press–the victory that is so easily declared–obscures the spiritual depression and confusion that are also sown. What happens to the substantial number of people who “decide” for Christ but find that their decision was apparently empty of spiritual reality? And who is to accept the responsibility for this situation–the person who made the decision or the person who elicited it? We would be wise to consider this matter more carefully than we have in the past.

David Wells, Turning to God, p. 69-70


About cteldridge

A beggar trying to tell other beggars were the Bread is.
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