by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/8/18.
Personally I use the term “spiritual transformation” because it is a more precise descriptor for the often over applied term “conversion.” In fact here are just a few of the ways that the word conversion can be applied today:
“Conversion to Christianity… There is an abundance of literature dealing with different types of conversion and the author is indebted to Richard Peace for classifying these varieties (1).
> Secular conversions, where a drug addict might be transformed from drug dependence to a drug-free lifestyle.
> There are manipulative conversions, where coercion is used by a cult (2) or a government (3).
> There is conversion between religious worldviews, for instance the conversion from Sikhism to Hinduism that is taking place in India.
> And, there is conversion from one Christian denomination to another, for instance when popular Catholic priest Rev. Alberto Cutie (nicknamed “Father Oprah”) converted to the US Episcopal denomination.”
The term “spiritual conversion” is thus a more precise term though perhaps not precise enough to always designate conversion to Christ. However in lieu of a more precise term and to not muddy the meaning too greatly, I usually embrace the term “spiritual transformation” or “spiritual transformation in Christ.”
Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 & 7 and read more in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Abingdon Press, 2010) (Please remember, if you enjoy the free download please consider supporting the author and the publisher who invested in this book by purchasing a copy)
(1) Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 7-11.
(2) For more on manipulative conversion see Flo Conway and Hi Siegelman, Snapping America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1978). For an overview of the New Testament milieu of conversion, and varieties of conversion in secular life, see A. D. Nock’s classic historical treatise Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 1933).
(3) Robert Jay Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China (New York: Norton, 1961).