Tuesday, October 20, 2009

5 Elements of Conversion (Joel Green on 1 Peter)

I have so many possible things to post today my head is spinning. Here is a quick and dirty one, about all I can justify this morning:

Working through Green's 1 Peter commentary with a class. Here are five elements of conversion he mentions in his treatment of 1:22-2:3 (1 Peter [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007], 50-51):

1. In antiquity, it might refer both to event and to process and connote either transition from one religion to another or moving deeper into one's own religion.

2. Conversion entails autobiographical reconstruction--reformulation of who you think you are.

3. Conversion is a profoundly social act with immediate and far reaching social consequences.

4. Conversion involves incorporation into a new community with its distinguishing practices.

5. Conversion involves the adoption of a new symbolic universe, the valid one, a new way of looking at the world. Green elsewhere uses language of the conversion of the imagination (the title of a collection by Richard Hays, reminds us of Charles Taylor's social imaginary, taken over by James Smith in Desiring the Kingdom). Green defines the imagination in this context as, "a basic image-schematic capacity for ordering our experience" (26).


Angie Van De Merwe said...

With due respect, imagination is personal. And there must be belief in this "personal knowledge" for there to be commitment to its "reality".

Though the Church has used imagery to form their "reality", there are differences as to the 'meaning". And those that try to impose their meaning onto another have tragic results...ending in heresy trials, buring at the stake...Nowadays, we just shun or exclude those we feel spritually superior to...

There is no difference to any other exclusivistic tradition. This is why our nation's values of religious freedom or freedom of conscience is an important one. Otherwise we will have the problems that result from imaginations run wild....

(This is to say that one cannot base thier existance on beliefs of "eschatology" because we just cannot know for sure what "that world" is or will be...)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The real question should be, what kind of society should we value and why?

I think that our Founders found a right balance to liberty, and order.

Ken Schenck said...

Angie, you're hilarious. I once opened up one of your comments and told another person in the room what I expected. Your comment would start with some superficial connection to what I had posted, usually without really engaging what it was talking about. Then you would quickly turn to the importance of freedom in America and how great the liberties of our nation are.

Needless, to say, my prediction did not disappoint. :-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Paul used imagery to "lead" others to "commit" to a "spiritualized kingdom" (at least this is the Church's purpose, conversion.)

The "kingdom" is understood in "terms" of image-bearing myth. And myth is not "real" but an aspect of making meaning or grasping a concept.

The material world is the "real world", and those that transcribe their "meaning" in a universal or absolutist way, do disservice to the individual's "meaning making mind".

So, if one thinks of the material world as the "real world" (in opposition to those that think that the "real world" is ethereal), then the political realm and political philosophy is the realm of "real world" meaning.

Unfortunately, there are those that think that the material world and what we know of it now is all that needs to be known in making policy decisions. The unfortunate result in men making political decisions for others without their input or understanding is tyranny. And tyranny was what our Founders fought against.

1 Peter was written to those who had no political power, and who had to live under tyranny. Is it good for the "Pauls" to "help" those under tyrannical systems to submit, and learn to "see God" in these situations, or should there be work to alleviate these political situations? And certainly in free societies men must not submit or further the ends of tyranny.