Conversion and Redemption

Gordon T. Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195369441
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Conversion and Redemption

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It is not be an overstatement to say that evangelicals are experiencing a “sea change”—a paradigm shift—in their understanding of conversion and redemption, a shift that includes the way in which they think about the salvation of God, the nature and mission of the church, and the character of religious experience. For evangelicals up until at least a generation ago, the language of conversion was the language of revivalism; it shaped and in many ways determined their approach to worship, evangelism, and spiritual formation. The focus of conversion was the afterlife: one sought salvation so that one could “go to heaven” after death, and the assumption was that “salvation” would lead to disengagement from the world. Revivalism strongly emphasizes human volition, on the one hand, and “technique” for effecting conversions, on the other. Evangelicals have tended to separate baptism from conversion and assume that conversion comes before baptism or, in the case of infant baptism, that it is only a witness to a conversion that is yet to come.

Keywords: God; conversion; redemption; evangelicals; salvation; church; baptism; religious experience; revivalism; human volition

Article.  5863 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity

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