Item description for Beginning Well: Christian Conversion & Authentic Transformation by Gordon T. Smith...
Overview How can Christians grow to maturity unless their conversion experience takes them past sin's consequences to true spiritual transformation? The key, says Gordon Smith, is Beginning Well. His challenging and provocative survey of Scripture, spiritual autobiographies, and a range of conversion theologies (Protestant, Catholic, Reformed, Wesleyan) takes you beyond "minimalist" views to one that recognizes seven elements necessary for authentic transformation. A must-read for pastors, evangelists, and spiritual directors.
Publishers Description "Saints are made by good conversions." In this challenging and provocative book, Gordon T. Smith contends that a chief cause of spiritual immaturity in the evangelical church is an inadequate theology of conversion. Conversion, he says, involves more than a release from the consequences of sin--the goal is spiritual transformation. But there is little transformation without a complete and authentic conversion. The key is beginning well. In this age of false starts and stunted growth, maturing Christians need help reflecting on and interpreting their own religious experience. Christian leaders need to rethink the way that conversions happen. Beginning Well is a catalyst toward this end. Surveying Scripture, spiritual autobiographies and a broad range of theologies of conversion (Protestant and Catholic, Reformed and Wesleyan), the author seeks to foster in the Christian community a dynamic language of conversion that leads to spiritual transformation and mature Christian living. In the process he moves us from a short-sighted "minimalist" view to one that recognizes seven elements necessary for good conversions. This book--a stirring call to rethink the relationship between conversion and transformation--is a must read for pastors, evangelists, spiritual directors, seminary professors and others who are concerned about the nurture and development of Christian converts, and the nature of authentic religious experience.
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Gordon T. Smith (PhD, Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University) is president of Ambrose University College and Seminary in Calgary, Alberta. He is also the president of reSource Leadership International and has taught at Regent College, Vancouver. He is the author of a number of works in theology and the spiritual life.
Gordon T. Smith currently resides in Vancouver. Gordon T. Smith was born in 1953.
Reviews - What do customers think about Beginning Well: Christian Conversion & Authentic Transformation?
Most Important Christian Book in 2001 Apr 11, 2003
So many steps that the Church needs to take are explained concisely and forcefully in this wonderful book. There are 2 main arguments made in this book:
(1) Conversion is a process of working out one's conversion, not necessarily a single, conscious moment of conversion. Paul exhorts us to "work out our conversion in fear and trembling". Smith writes that the "punctilear moment" model of conversion does not jive with the honest experience of most Christians, for whom it is more like flying over the Rockies; there is a moment when the plane has crossed the Rockies, but the passenger doesn't know exactly when it is. Rather, conversion is an often lengthy process of transformation and of understanding the work that God has done in one's life. Testimonies, Smith writes, are as a result hugely important, because they provide they structure within which Christians learn to work out their own conversions.
(2) One cannot work out one's conversion within a single denominational tradition. This is fascinating. Smith, far from being a "non-denominationalist" or a superficial ecumenicalist, writes that the major denominational traditions each emphasize something critical to a complete conversion - e.g. faithful reliance on God's sovereignty, taking responsibility for one's spirituality, and being filled with the Holy Spirit - such that Gordon Smith's brand of ecumenicalism relies heavily on appreciation of various denominational traditions.
For those, like me, who have moved between denominational traditions (from Southern Baptist to United Methodist to Willow Creek to Assemblies of God in my case), and for those who have lived within a single denominational tradition, this book is a wonderful midwife to working out one's conversion.