Growing up in a revivalist Southern Baptist tradition skewed my personal understanding of salvation and conversion. Countless revival preachers came giving stories of the fellow who repelled every previous attempt to "share the Gospel" but finally and wondrously came to trust Jesus as "he and the pastor" went calling. I believe these stories to be true. Yet, they were not true for me.
I was boring. Too fearful of the consequences of my actions I generally towed the line. Friends in high school hoped I would loosen up a bit and "be a normal person." The thought of coming home in a stupor from some illicit drug or alcohol terrified me as I thought what my parents would both do and think.
Reflecting on my own experience of grace I always thought I could be more effective if with great fanfare I could describe a "Gutter to the Gates of Splendor" salvation experience. My "testimony" was never as "good" as those I heard. What have I got to share in comparison? No story to write a book about. No "Cross and the Switchblade" here.
This morning Lyndl and I discussed our understanding of God and how from time to time we think we have everything so neatly packaged we could answer any question posed. I shared with Lyndl of a talk Dallas Willard recently gave wherein he talked about salvation and conversion.
Years later I think I have overcome the feelings of inadequacy because I cannot describe a "tragedy to triumph" experience. I believe I understand things a bit diferently than before and do not need a "once backslidden choir boy" story to illustrate the grace of God. Hannah’s story is much like my own.
Hannah came to my office this year. She had been talking with her parents about trusting Jesus. All she knew was she had seen her parents live out a life of faith and trust in Jesus and she wanted to express that same trust and be baptized. I told Lyndl today given the un-grace in our world it was indeed a striking experience of grace for Hannah to be born and raised to parents who would not only talk about but live out a confident trust in Jesus. Her experience of grace is no less supernatural. It is no less powerful. It is no less significant. We will help her understand the grace of God in this way so maybe she and others will avoid a skewed understanding of the grace work of God in her life.
5 comments on “Striking conversion …”
Talking about salvation…
I’m reading a book, “Why Men Hate Going to Church,” by David Murrow.
One of the things he believes puts men off from church is the language…especially the language we use about salvation.
Two words in particular:
Saved – Guys want to be the knights, saving the damsel in distress. They don’t want to be the damsel.
Lost – Guys are never lost, that’s why we never ask directions. 🙂 Only girls ask directions. 😀
He also points out that Jesus usually uses terms like, “follow, sacrifce, give it up.” Saying that these terms are more geared towards a male psychi anyway. Now, I don’t know how much of that is true, but it has made me think. My church isn’t exactly over burdened with testosterone, and I bet other churches are in as similar position.
What do you think?
Oh, and one other thing that caught my attention…
You know how the NT refers to the Church as the “Bride of Christ.”
Well, some guys may take that personally, and not corporately. How many guys do you know that grew up thinking, “Man! I get to wear a pretty white dress in eternity!”
Just a thought.
I have not read Murrow’s book but have seen it referred to a bit lately. If one of his premises is that language is a barrier for men, I may agree except. Some of the themes he picks up on, “Bride of Christ”, don’t get much billing except in dispensational circles. I am not suggesting the metaphor is not useful for other eschatologies, it is just that I have not heard it often used by those holding other views as an evanglizing tool or hopeful, imaginative picture of the future. The problem lies in our reductinistic use of language. We don’t take the time to flower the metaphors of Scripture. As such they appear dead and lifeless and barriers to communication.
How would men today be different in Paul’s day? Less bravado? More lost (willing to ask for directions)? Metaphors work when creatively used. It sells books to suggest a man has not thought of wearing a wedding dress and likes to do the saving rather than beings saved, don’t hold a lot for me here.
That said, I do think language is our problem. We may well have lost the art of dramatic oration, creating pictures with words or using medium for more than proving/making a point. I have not finished Kevin VanHoozers, The Drama of Doctrine, but recently read a quote wherein he suggests preaching is the best way to dramatically challenge the images/pictures/metaphors of our day. It takes work not many would consider taking when our sermons are distillations to three points and a poem.
What do you think?
Yes, I agree with you on the possibility of language being a barrier. I ran into it at both HPU and Truett. That is where it first came to my attention. Usually it is brought up (at least in the circles I run in) having to do with the masculine language. You know, refering to God as “father” may have an adverse affect on people that had dads that abused them.
I understand that, but I’m still not going to call God, mom.
I never really gave the idea much thought that perhaps some of the language we are using may also be an inhibitor to men. It never even occurred to me that the way we do church may have a more feminine bias, one that may actually put off the average guy.
What got me asking questions was the obvious lack of men in my own church. Surely, God must love men as well, right?!?!?!
Most of the things that happen in church speak deeply to my spirit. However, I don’t pretend to be the average “joe” on the street.
I tend to not care about sports. I love music, especially singing. I just don’t understand guys that don’t like to read. I’m not overly aggressive, and I’ve only “grunted” when I was making fun of those macho guys.
Well, after reading a little bit, it seems that I may be the odd ball out. Those things that I find deeply meaningfull may actually turn off the average male that enters into our sanctuary.
So, I’m living and learning. I’m trying to pay more attention to the masculine within Scripture. I’m trying to use words that speak to both men and women. I’m a novice, I’m an amature. But, I believe that it is vitally important.
I so desperately want the sermon event to gain in prestege and honor. I want it to be oh-so important. But, I can’t get over one small thing…
Most people in the world tend to be tactile/visual learners. That means if they see it and play with it, they tend to learn it best.
Only a thin majority are auditory learners…meaning, most people don’t get anything out of a lecture or other Rhetorical methods of education.
I’m afraid that the sermonic event, though the highlight of my week; may be a stumbling block to those wanting to come to Jesus.
I hope that isn’t heresy. I don’t mean it to be. But, right now I’m questioning a lot about “how” we do church. Mainly, because churches seem to have been loosing ground over the past few hundred years.
There are ways to combine the tactile with the sermon. Sure some may do a double take when it is first introduced but you make a significant point. Add to the reality more and more people are functionally illiterate and now the language of the sermon must be considered further.
I think you are asking good questions, important questions.
Should you like to carry on in more specifics etc., feel free to e-mail me.