Conversion converted : a new model of Christian conversion in light of Wesleyan theology and nonreductive physicalism
The doctrine of conversion is central to Christian community life. There are
a number of issues that influence how one conceives the phenomenon of conversion.
Among these are one's view of spirituality, human nature, and basic notions of the
'self'. This thesis begins with the claim that contemporary views of Christian
spirituality, particularly in the American Evangelical tradition, disproportionately
emphasise the interior and individual nature of spiritual experience. This has a direct
influence on doctrines of conversion in that their salient feature emerges as the
redemption of an inner self or `salvation of the soul'.
In order to promote a Christian community life that places discipleship at a
premium, the author argues that a new model of conversion is needed within
American Evangelicalism. Resources for such a model are found in the Wesleyan
theological tradition as well as gathered from philosophical and scientific insights
found in a nonreductive physicalist view of human nature. This thesis represents an
integrated work in science and religion in that the author considers` data' from both
theology and science.
The author claims that Christian conversion is a process involving normal
human biological capacities. It is characterised by a change in socio-moral attitude
and behaviour, and is best understood as the acquisition of virtues intrinsic to
Christian faith. Such acquisitions are facilitated through social interaction and
participation in practices inherent to the Christian community. Furthermore, the
conversion process should be viewed as the co-operant result of Divine grace and