Sunday 24 October 2021

Choosing to believe - the changing nature of Christian conversion experience

In the pre-modern past, the usual way to become a Christian was unconsciously, by assimilation - through the normal processes of 'socialization'.  

This is nowadays possible only to children and with a particular combination of devout family and some isolation from the anti-Christian cultural mainstream. 

But this kind of Christianity usually washes-out at adolescence, because the adolescent innately becomes detached from socialization, become self-aware, and must choose. But what choice?

As of 2021; apostasy is rewarded in the short-term, and the socialized Christian is vulnerable because his Christian belief has never been an active choice and is bound-up with the unconscious passivity of childhood. His Christian beliefs and justifications are necessarily those of childhood, and unexamined.

Broadly speaking, a reliance upon socialized Christianity is no longer a viable option in the current world; because the secular world is anti-Christian, increasingly dominant, and increasingly aggressive.

It has become almost impossible to create a sufficiently Christian sub-culture that is sufficiently isolated; and sooner or later - adolescence, college, the workplace - the passive and unconscious Christian will be put in a position of absorbing a very different and opposed ideology, and will be short-term rewarded for doing so; because it is more socially functional.   

In a nutshell; when Christianity has been unconscious and passive - it naturally assimilates conscious and active evil; when that evil is prevalent  and dominant - as now.  

In more recent decades; the conversion experience has been reported in terms of an individual being suddenly overwhelmed by conviction of the truth of Christianity; and by having accepted Jesus as Lord. 

This mode of conversion seems to have faded greatly in both frequency and strength - and the results seem to be insufficiently robust in face of the continual and escalating pressure from mainstream culture.

I think this is because the sudden conversion - while ending with a conscious choice to choose Jesus, is still rooted in passivity. It is based upon a primarily receptive state, in which the convert has first been overwhelmed by the divine - before he chooses whether or not to accept this experience as life-changing. 

It seems that very large numbers of such Christians have - often un-consciously - since early 2020 become primarily secular (and Leftist) in their belief and orientation; and have taken the side of the anti-Christian, indeed demonic, global Establishment. 

That is, they have joined the side of Satan in the spiritual war. 

In the context of 2021 - at least in The West; the Christian needs to withstand continual and escalating hostility from multiple directions (including most self-identified Christian churches). 

The evil of secular culture is both implicit (covert, implied), and explicit; and explicit evil usually works by subversion, by discrediting, by attacking all types of Christian assumption. 

My feelings is that the modern Christian needs therefore to be conscious and active to an unprecedented degree. He cannot depend on an unconscious influences - because these nearly-all oppose Christianity; modern culture is pervasive, and is against Christianity, and indeed purposively evil. 

A modern person is far more likely to be 'overwhelmed' by Leftism (which is, now, an instrument of purposive evil) than by Christianity. 

The 2021 Christian cannot, in other words, depend on anything external. More-and-more of the external is in the hands of the Enemy - and this external world is more and more directed against Christianity. 

The motivations of the Christian need to be internal; the Christian needs to be as conscious as possible, and to have made an individual and active choice for all essential aspects of his faith. 

The Christian who retains real faith in 2021 will probably therefore have a faith, and a conversion-experience, of a very different kind than a convert from even a few decades ago.  

A 2021-Christian needs to be able to sustain his faith from within and consciously, and to acknowledge that his faith is his own continuing choice

Such a Christian is indomitable - even in 2021; so long as he continues to wish primarily for Resurrection into Heaven, and will follow Jesus.   

But the path to this kind of Christianity - the path to conversion - is extremely different from those of the past. Each individual must take full responsibility for his own spiritual goals and knowledge. 

He needs to find out what he most wants - not just from mortal life, but eternally; and needs to investigate Christianity actively, and guided by intuition.

And the anticipated end-point of conversion is a conscious and personal choice. 

Because; becoming a Christian is a beginning - not the end.  


Pletho's Ghost said...

Yes. You have essentially described my own experiences, both in my childhood and my return to Christ. Raised in a devoutly Catholic family, fell out of the faith in adolescence and have recently returned. My return was precipitated by a peak experience in which I caught a mere glimpse of the Holy Logos, just a sense of It. It felt like coming home. It was a moment of supreme clarity and ever since my faith has been unwavering.

Outwardly, my life hasn't changed much, but there are sweet fruits in the process of ripening within my heart and soul. As I've mentioned before, I'm on a quest for Christian spiritual perfection (Theosis) and I'm carefully tending to those seeds I have planted inwardly. I pray to God that I reap a sweet harvest after I pass through the gate of death.

To be honest though I don't struggle with my faith. That glimpse I caught gave me such grace and strength that I no longer doubt or second guess my devotion to the Lord. His presence and His teachings inform everything I do. Now, I do struggle with temptation and sometimes succumb and I often find myself thinking un-Christian thoughts about my fellow man and I worry a lot about things that I shouldn't, but I'm in it to win it and I pray a lot which keeps me sustained through thick and thin.

And yes, the workplace can be a most ant-Christian environment and co-workers often are hostile and provocative. In a recent workplace I openly stated that I was a Christian and afterwards there was a quite noticeable shift in the psychic atmosphere. Things got un-chummy very quickly. One of my fellow workers was an actual genuine Satanist who would sometimes wear clothing adorned with Satanic and demonic imagery and quotes taken out of context from the Holy Bible to make a mockery of the Word of the Lord.

Would he have done that with the koran? Ha! I think not!

Of course I live in Portland OR and this city is overrun with the demonic so this is to be expected. You can sense it here, the evil that is, if you have the slightest sensitivity to the spiritual realm. It's usually very subtle, but occasionally it becomes oppressive and nigh on to overwheming. This is a city of the Dead. The murder rate here is rising high, though still far short of my hometown of St. Louis.

There is a sizable minority of sincere Christians here, believe it or not. But most churches have capitulated to the forces of evil and one is hard pressed to find any non Catholic or non Orthodox Church downtown not adorned with rainbows and BLM flags.

I really enjoyed this post, very well written.

Thanks Dr. Charlton!

Blessings! 🙏

Francis Berger said...

"The motivations of the Christian need to be internal; the Christian needs to be as conscious as possible, and to have made an individual and active choice for all essential aspects of his faith."

Great post. You've addressed a crucial point here - one that all Christians must focus on. I'm not sure if this is valid, but I often think God is arranging the world in a way that makes this (the internal over the external) the only viable option going forward.

Our task is to acknowledge this and embrace it. Christians who depend on the external to sustain their faith will find it increasingly difficult to do so - if they haven't already.

Also, I get the sense that God requires us to do the heavy lifting here. At the risk of sounding overly radical, this concentration on the internal will likely mark the beginning of a much needed shift in the orientation of Christian consciousness - one that may prove revolutionary if it is successfully maintained.

Andrew Fisher said...

This is great! I highly value this insight.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank "I often think God is arranging the world in a way that makes this (the internal over the external) the only viable option going forward."

I agree. In broad terms, this is exactly what is happening. And I can see that it is the best way to encourage those many whose hearts are hardened against God to take responsibility for their existential choices in life.

This was, pretty much, how I began to become a Christian - by being confronted (in small as well as large ways) with the consequences of my Not being a Christian.