Jesus Creed

A final thought on Peter.

Let us accept that there are sudden or at least cataclysmic conversions like Paul’s. We know little about Paul’s experience prior to his conversion, but it is entirely possible that he had heard the gospel before his life-changing trip to Damascus. Even if that is the case, his conversion made his eyes twitter and his body shake and his soul wrench.

And let us also accept that some people, as my former colleague, Perry Downs, used to teach by getting his students to read Horace Bushnell, are nurtured into the faith gradually.

Such persons convert the way the shadows soft-shoe across the backyard as the evening takes its stroll into the night — they go through a life-long series of gentle nods of the soul. Never needing a massive shift, never wrestling much with God like Jacob, never warring with the Lord the way Solomon did, never falling away and then coming back the way Peter did, but just gently nodding the soul to the Spirit’s promptings as life goes on. Not perfection, to be sure, but gentle nods of the soul.

At one time I didn’t believe in such stories, but I had a seminary friend who is now pastoring who told me his story once: he was the sort who always did his Sunday School lessons and liked the teachers, who always went to church, and who always knew that he was to follow the Lord — and by and large did it. I tell the typical story of a student of mine that is along these lines in Turning to Jesus.

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