Redefining Conversion

This is a reblog from my friend and colleague in the Utica Presbytery, Rev. Herb Swanson.  Herb is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lowville, NY.  He previously spent 25 years working in Thailand where he was fostering greater understanding and dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism.

Here is an excerpt:

That’s worth thinking about—being a follower of Jesus but not a Christian.  That’s what Paul was.  Peter and the other disciples all died before there was a Christian religion.  They followed Jesus while remaining devout, practicing Jews.  One of the things that seems to be happening in our increasingly secular society is that small groups of followers of Jesus are reinventing the church in ways that make more sense in the 21st century than do traditional churches.  Maybe something we should be aiming for is to be more Christ-like and less Christian.  Worth a thought.

Click here to read the full article on Herb’s blog…

2 thoughts on “Redefining Conversion

  1. brotherbob

    I have found in my conversations with some un-churched people in my area that they are willing to say they are followers of Jesus, and may even be willing to state they believe in his divinity, but refuse to join a religion. Not because they don’t believe, but because they don’t want to participate in a we/they conflict; they perceive all branches of the Western church to be dogmatic, unwelcoming, alienating and symptomatic of what Christ wanted us to be and do. I once heard a theology professor say (out loud and in front of God and everybody) that Satan won the battle when Constantine created the church in his image. The 20 somethings and 30 somethings I manage to talk to feel the truth of that.

  2. reigh

    Some initial and slightly random thoughts:
    There seems to be a blur between being a “Christian” and being associated with all the negativity of the history of the Church.
    I’ve heard someone say that to love Jesus but hate the church is like saying I love my adoptive parents by hate the rest of the family.
    I think being a disciple of Christ includes being in community with other disciples of Christ…even if that body of disciples is dysfunctional at times (like the original 12).
    Acts 11:26 says the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch so one can associate themselves with the period when Christians weren’t whatever Constantine set up?
    If some just accept/believe Jesus as yet another god in their pantheon of gods, isn’t that still idolatry and shouldn’t that be discouraged?
    If Jesus said that to follow Him means to leave your family behind, isn’t that like saying you need to leave traditions/practices that aren’t in line with what it means to be His disciple?
    However, I do understand and appreciate that following Christ is a journey….very thought provoking. Thanks!

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