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Turning to God
Reclaiming Christian Conversion as Unique, Necessary and Supernatural
by David F Wells
Publisher:Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
The emphasis of this book on conversion is clearly betrayed by the sub-title. David Wells is unrepentant in the narrowness and exclusive nature of his understanding of Christian conversion. As a priest who experiences conversion on a daily basis and is frequently brought closer to God by the divine working through non-Christians (including those of other faiths) Wells’ book is always challenging, but sometimes offensive.
Wells’ perspective is premised on an understanding of Christianity that is tightly aligned to a Western, capitalist and evangelical world-view rooted in a conservative reading of scripture. I find it hard, for instance, to keep reading a book that describes other faith traditions as the enemy of Christianity.
Yet for all this, Wells has a point that should be heard. The experience of conversion is the exclusive work of God (grace), it is unique (to the experience of the individual believer) and it is culturally contextual. Furthermore, it cannot be separated from the question of discipleship. ‘The test of conversion is a life of convertedness’. Above all, it is not about us, but about God.
All this would be affirmed by a majority of Christians. What a shame then that Wells must frame an otherwise helpful contribution to the missionary task of the church in language that is at times arrogant, presumptuous and negative towards cultures and traditions other than his own. The God I believe in is far bigger than this.
Reviewer: David Ford (24/08/12)