Thursday 15 November 2012

The long term effect of Christian conversion - A.J Krailsheimer


From A.J Krailsheimer's Conversion (1980) - AJK was the English translator of Pascal's Pensees for the Penguin edition. He was a scholar at Christ Church, Oxford.


Implicit in the idea of conversion is that of forsaking the past unconditionally and accepting in its place a future of which the one certain fact is that it will never allow the previous pattern of life to be the same again...

One result of conversion seems always to be that the past, however apparently blameless before, begins to be revalued, even rewritten. 

The convert will see his newly found identity and response to Christ as real; all that previously kept him from it as shadowy, false, or empty.

The sense of guilt is a natural enough concomitant of a conventionally sinful life, but the sense of emptiness, 'vanity' in scriptural terms, is more fundamental. 

As the new relationship with Christ develops, the earlier time spent without it appears more and more of a waste.



TE said...

I'm a recent convert and have already experienced a little bit of this. I want to thank you, Dr. Charlton, because your writings (and the writers you've recommended) had a lot to do with my conversion.

I also wanted to ask about something you said about conversion earlier-- that once one *wants to be* a Christian, they are already a Christian. This seems to be the case with me-- that in the moment of my conversion what actually happened was that I discovered I had already been a Christian once I started to want to be one-- but that I had finally *accepted* my conversion.

I wonder if perhaps you could expand on this idea a bit... is it perhaps the case that the entire process of long term spiritual development is a continual greater and greater acceptance of being more Christian?

Bruce Charlton said...

@TE - "once one *wants to be* a Christian, they are already a Christian. "

I think I got this from Pascal's Pensees, and it was given extra emphasis by Peter Kreeft's selection and commentary on the Pensees called Christianity for Modern Pagans.

I don't really know; but I suppose it could be that salvation is attained when one seeks earnestly to be Christian; but sanctification/ theosis ('spiritual progress') cannot begin and is delayed until actual conversion.