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Finding God: A Treasury of Conversion Stories.

Finding God: A Treasury of Conversion Stories.

Edited by John M. Mulder and Hugh T. Kerr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. Pp. xxii, 396. Paperback $22.

A new revised and expanded version of Hugh Kerr and John Mulder's 1983 book Conversions: The Christian Experience is now available. It traces conversion through a number of cases in one of the major streams in Christianity, the Western Catholic and Protestant tradition. Taking the apostle Paul as archetype and starting point, the book presents, among others, Constantine, Augustine, Luther, Ignatius Loyola, and Teresa of Avila, as well as John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, and Oral Roberts, concluding with Bono. Also included are a number of noteworthy instances of conversion from outside the Western mainstream: the black American woman and former slave Sojourner Truth, the Indian Brahmin female convert Pandita Ramabai, and the Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

The book is easy reading and truly a joy. Conversion stories are fascinating. But after having read the book, I have a critical question: Who is the intended reader? There are indications that the intended reader is not a scholar trying to grasp what Christian conversion might entail. Even if short but well researched introductions preface each vignette, neither method nor theoretical framework is spelled out. In consequence, what is presented is a florilegium of conversion stories contextualized by introductions, but stories nevertheless.

There might be good reasons why the subject is treated without a clear method or framework. But whatever those reasons may be, they are not academic. The motivation behind the book as presented in the afterword hints that good personal reasons laybehind the compilation of these conversion stories. Readers would have been helped to evaluate what is presented if the afterword had been made part of the introduction.

Thus the book remains a bouquet of flowers, rather than a scholarly treatise that could supply a theoretical understanding of the meaning of these conversions.

Jonas Adelin Jorgensen is General Secretary of the Danish Mission Council, Frederiksberg, Denmark.

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Author:Jorgensen, Jonas Adelin
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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