Rethinking the Language and Contours of Christian Initiation. This volume offers much-needed theological reflection on the phenomenon of conversion and transformation. Gordon Smith provides a robust evaluation that covers the broad range of thinking about conversion across Christian traditions and addresses global contexts. Smith contends that both in the church and in discussions about contemporary mission, the language of conversion inherited from revivalism is inadequate in helping to navigate the questions that shape how we do church, how we approach faith formation, how evangelism is integrated into congregational life, and how we witness to the faith in non-Christian environments. We must rethink the nature of the church in light of how people actually come to faith in Christ. After drawing on ancient and pre-revivalist wisdom on conversion, Smith delineates the contours of conversion and Christian initiation for today's church. He concludes by discussing the art of spiritual autobiography and what it means to be a congregation.
"This is an important book and full of surprises. What appears to be a simple historical survey of 'conversion literature' turns into a serious work on the theology of conversion. "Transforming Conversion" is of ecumenical interest because Smith's attention to the doctrinal and sacramental aspects of conversion goes far to bridge the divide separating evangelicals from Orthodox and Catholic believers. It is heartily recommended." --Patrick Henry Reardon, senior editor, "Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity"