October 1980 · Vol. 9 No. 4 · p. 2 

In This Issue: Conversion

Delbert L. Wiens

This spring the Mennonite Brethren Board of Christian Literature published Conversion: Doorway to Discipleship, edited by Henry H. Schmidt. This fall Herald Press published Christian Conversion in Context by Hans Kasdorf.

This issue of Direction is intended to call attention to these books by Mennonite Brethren, and to explore further some of the issues which have been raised concerning this important aspect of our theology and practice.

One important reason for all this theological attention is that, historically, conversion has been much emphasized in Mennonite Brethren faith and life. A more immediate reason is that being “born again” has become so popular. It is probably true that never before in North American history has so large a proportion of the North American population claimed to be converted. Yet few would contend that our culture is now at its most godly. The article by Al Dueck suggests one reason why modern experience of conversion may be seriously deficient.

But if the “radical” conversion of our earlier generations led them to found Christian communities which changed the conditions which made these sorts of conversions possible, then how can succeeding generations have the same sort of experiences? Gerry Ediger traces the Anabaptist and Mennonite teaching on conversion and ends with that disturbing contradiction.

George Konrad summarizes the biblical, theological, and psychological aspects of child conversion, another phenomenon which has arisen in succeeding generations and which has often been subjected to trenchant criticism.

When new experiences force new questions, then we are led also to rethink older experiences. Harold Dyck, in a lead essay helps us to look again at one of Christendom’s greatest “turn-arounds,” the story of Paul on the road to Damascus.

Harold Dyck’s assistance in planning, coordinating, and editing this issue is gratefully acknowledged.