Churchianity: A good chunk of Christianity consists of people who are not actually converted but who think that they are converted. I think that this is particularly true in the Bible Belt of the U.S., where much of Christianity seems largely to be a socio-cultural phenomenon.
The reasons for false conversion are varied. Here I note some thoughts that have been circulating in the the back of mind on this issue. I may explore this in the future.
Conversion after the Conversion:
~ Pandita Ramabai – a nun long before actually becoming a believer.
~ John Wesley: missionary long before becoming an actual believer. He was later on led to faith by the Moravians.
~ Thomas Chalmers – check on this…
The Holy Club of Oxford set up by John Wesley, Charles Wesley in 1729 consisted of:
– John Gambold – bishop of the Moravian Church
– John Clayton – distinguished Anglican churchman
– James Hervey – noted religious writer
– Benjamin Ingham – famous evangelist in Yorkshire
– Thomas Brougham – secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
– George Whitefield – famous clergyman associated both with the First Great Awakening in the United States and the Evangelical Revival in England
While they were members of the Holy Club, none of these folks were believers. They thought they were. The rest of Oxford University thought so too and they were reviled by fellow students. However none of them were believers in spite of their punctilious attendance to religious matters. They would admit to this later on in life.
Deconversions (The following left and became Religious Pluralists):
~ Ninian Smart
~ John Hick
~ Langdon Gilkey
~ Kalafi… from WhatsHisNames’ biography?
~Dr. Carson stories…
~ Eschatological prophesy-freaks (the wrong narrative)
~ Converts to Theological system – Intellectual Convert (You can give mental assent to the propositions of Christianity).
~ Converts to a culture
~ Converts to rituals
~ Converts to aesthetics (e.g. the aura of a beautiful church building, with incense and artwork, etc.)
~ Converts to Legalism
~ Conversion to a religion
~ Conversion to an identity
~ Conversion to a cause… I need a cause…
~ Conversion to a false narrative … up above.
~ Conversion to a structure – e.g. My friend Hope joining the army and then a legalistic church ~~> “My life is out of wack…I need structure so I will join a church.”
~ Conversion to a fad (e.g. large #’s of the hippies from the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 70s fell away.)
~ converts to the namby pamby play-dough jesus of the media culture or the New Age movement.
~ Knowing about Jesus vs. actually knowing Jesus
~ fruit of the Spirit are a sign of conversion, gifts are not necessarily, including faith or even speaking in “tongues”
~ religion vs. relationship
~ Jonathan Edwards’ sense of the heart
~ distinguishing a revival vs. an awakening. One takes place within the church and the other outside of it.