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Poll
Question: What do you think the Orthodox stance is?
Yes! You can not have new life without new birth/beginning - 7 (63.6%)
No. This is something that only Protestants believe - 2 (18.2%)
I am not sure - 1 (9.1%)
What is 'Conversion'? - 1 (9.1%)
Total Voters: 11

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Author Topic: Personal Conversion - Is it necessary?  (Read 823 times) Average Rating: 0
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sprtslvr1973
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"Behold I stand at the Door and Knock" Rev. 3:20


« on: December 06, 2010, 03:25:40 PM »

Well, it Christmas time again and that means some version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol can be found somewhere on TV throughout the month of December.  I just watched the 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart on Youtube. The story revolves around Scrooge's self awareness, repentance, and ultimate redemption (salvation?). This made me wonder: as Protestants many of us remember could remember a similar moment, or at least a period of time that we'd identify as conversion (getting saved, being born again).
It is my understanding that while this moment in our Christian life is not focused on as much in Orthodoxy, it is not anathema but is indeed revered. One of the first sermons I heard from my current Orthodox priest was that 'you have to make the faith your own.' Additionally, while I have never read many of his works I understand that Dostoyevsky's writings often alluded to a sort of Christian awakening.
I am curious to hear other people's insights.
In Christ,
Ian who has taken the Christian name of John the Apostle
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2010, 03:37:00 PM »

I don't think that there has to be a moment you can point to specifically, but even if faith is cultivated gradually from the first stages of life, I still think a Christian needs to have a story about God working in their life in some way; some kind of conviction about their faith and love for God. In that regard, I would have to say that simply going for rituals at Easter, Christmas and then for baptisms, weddings and funerals, with no engagement of God outside of these things, is not the Christian life at all. But God is the one who forgives sins, and I hope that we all cooperate with that forgiveness. So I would say that you're incorrectly equating personal conversion and a moment in time. Personal conversion takes a lifetime.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2010, 03:38:15 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
sprtslvr1973
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"Behold I stand at the Door and Knock" Rev. 3:20


« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2010, 04:05:43 PM »

Point taken. Though I don't believe the two concepts are inherently opposed to each other either. You stated that one has to have a true relationship with God which should naturally have a testimony as with any relationship, correct?
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2010, 04:06:15 PM »

Personally, I feel like I'm always converting. I sin, I repent, I sin, I repent, etc. I pray to die in a state of repentance.
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2010, 04:08:20 PM »

Personally, I feel like I'm always converting. I sin, I repent, I sin, I repent, etc. I pray to die in a state of repentance.

Exactly my opinion.
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2010, 04:50:13 PM »

Personally, I feel like I'm always converting. I sin, I repent, I sin, I repent, etc. I pray to die in a state of repentance.

Exactly my opinion.

Agreed.

I have held my beliefs as far back as my memory goes and knew that I was on a journey as I repented most days early on in my life. I am so thankful to have met my Orthodox girlfriend who introduced me to Orthodoxy 33 years after I was baptized at the age of 15 when I decided it was time to be baptized. Conversion? Still repenting ... and now I have learned of the Mysteries.
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2010, 05:04:37 PM »

Personally, I feel like I'm always converting. I sin, I repent, I sin, I repent, etc. I pray to die in a state of repentance.

Amen, brother!

Isn't living the Christian life (or trying to, at any rate) a process of personal conversion, by the grace of God?
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2010, 02:31:16 AM »

I don't think that there has to be a moment you can point to specifically, but even if faith is cultivated gradually from the first stages of life, I still think a Christian needs to have a story about God working in their life in some way; some kind of conviction about their faith and love for God. In that regard, I would have to say that simply going for rituals at Easter, Christmas and then for baptisms, weddings and funerals, with no engagement of God outside of these things, is not the Christian life at all. But God is the one who forgives sins, and I hope that we all cooperate with that forgiveness. So I would say that you're incorrectly equating personal conversion and a moment in time. Personal conversion takes a lifetime.

Agreed!
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2010, 05:06:48 AM »

Here is the moment of conversion as Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, Russian Archbishop of London, experienced it in his life...

"Bloom speaks of his early years as years of out-and-out unbelief. He affirmed nothing of the gospel and wasn't even interested in investigating it. In his mid-teens he joined a boy's club in Paris. The club happened to meet in a church. Out of idle curiosity he picked up a pamphlet containing Mark's gospel that he had found lying around, and began to read it in contemptuous amusement. Expecting nothing but silly entertainment, he began to sense a presence; the presence of him of whom the gospel speaks. But let Bloom tell you about this in his own words:

"I knew that Christ was standing on the other side of the desk, and the impression was so clear and so certain that I looked up the way one looks round in the street when one has the impression that someone is looking at your back. I saw nothing, perceived nothing with my senses, but the certainty was so great that I knew I had met Christ alive; and if I had met Christ alive, then all the gospel was true."

http://www.victorshepherd.on.ca/Sermons/Modern%20Prophets%20and%20Saints.htm
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2010, 08:07:11 AM »

I think being baptized is the first step in the conversion process, so long as you were baptized in the name of the Trinity.



« Last Edit: December 07, 2010, 08:07:57 AM by Ortho_cat » Logged
Benjamin the Red
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« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2010, 12:06:39 PM »

Yes and no. Orthodoxy has a completely different approach to this than most of Western Christianity.

To speak of the "decision theology" of such Protestants as Billy Graham...that one isn't a Christian then, upon making a conscious and rational decision, one becomes a Christian...is not Orthodox.

Being a Christian is not always about making an intellectual decision. Infants do not choose to be baptized, their parents profess the Creed and promise to raise them in the Faith. Being a Christian is about the taming of the passions and the forgiveness of sins. This is begun in baptism and continues as theosis, or dieification, through the sacramental life (mainly Confession and Eucharist) of the Christian. Salvation is a life-long co-laboring (synergism) between God and the Christian through asceticism and sacramental mystery. While the sacramental relationship begins at baptism officially making one an Orthodox Christian united to Christ and His Church, the journey to Christianity began long before that, as you were a catechumen (and maybe longer if you have converted from another Christian tradition) and long after as you continue to struggle with Christ for your salvation.
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sprtslvr1973
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2010, 02:14:40 PM »

I was looking for a similar article by Peter Gillquist but could not fin it online. Anyway I think Fr. George speaks well if forcibly.
http://www.stgeorgecathedral.net/sermons/01_1014.html
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2010, 03:18:50 PM »

Well, it Christmas time again and that means some version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol can be found somewhere on TV throughout the month of December.  I just watched the 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart on Youtube. The story revolves around Scrooge's self awareness, repentance, and ultimate redemption (salvation?). This made me wonder: as Protestants many of us remember could remember a similar moment, or at least a period of time that we'd identify as conversion (getting saved, being born again).
It is my understanding that while this moment in our Christian life is not focused on as much in Orthodoxy, it is not anathema but is indeed revered. One of the first sermons I heard from my current Orthodox priest was that 'you have to make the faith your own.' Additionally, while I have never read many of his works I understand that Dostoyevsky's writings often alluded to a sort of Christian awakening.
I am curious to hear other people's insights.
In Christ,
Ian who has taken the Christian name of John the Apostle
The existential interpretation to what you are describing is recanted during baptism. It's when the baptized turns from west to east while they or there god parent/s are blowing and spitting at the devil. The act is not an end onto itself, but rather a beginning from which one gathers momentum towards sanctification.
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