In this post on conversion, I want to look at the sixth dimension of conversion: consequences.
The first five dimensions, which are not “steps” but dimensions that often are intertwined and dialectical — like any good relationship, are (1) context, (2) crisis, (3) quest, (4) encounter-interaction, (5) commitment, and (6) consequences.
One of the issues that has vexed pastors and Christians leaders for centuries is the problem when Church members, believers by all appearances, have little visible consequence of Christian behavior in their lives. They are good people, they come to church, they do all the things they are supposed to be but … there is something missing.
Something from conversion theory might just help us all think through this problem, along with evangelism and discipleship strategies, and it comes to us through the research of Donald Gelpi. He makes the case for five “layers” or a convert’s commitment, and that a thorough conversion will make for impact in all five areas — again, recognizing that time and process are involved.
1. Affective: emotional/psychological resolutions
2. Intellectual: the “rhetoric” of the Christian faith will satisfy the mind increasingly
3. Ethical: behavioral manifestations of love and holiness
4. Religious: this has to do with a religious revolution in a persons’ identity, etc.
5. Sociopolitical: national and global politics are transcended by Kingdom values, etc.
If conversion is the transformation of our identity in Christ, then that identity will make itself manifest in every dimension of life.
Now, it would be foolhardy for me to suggest what everyone ought to be doing, but let me throw this open to how it would be possible to present the “Christian life” (whatever you prefer to call it) in such a way that the goal of one’s commitment and relationship to Christ (God, others) is total transformation in all areas of life. Consequences are the issue.
Many of you know my Jesus Creed and that it explores spiritual formation through the lens of loving God — heart, soul, mind, strength, and that my forthcoming Embracing Grace will also explore a holistic faith for a holistic gospel. But, I’m curious what others might be thinking.