Writing for Christianity Today, Gordon Smith sees that Evangelicals are gradually losing confidence in their model of conversion. He describes that model as being confronted with "spiritual laws," coming to accept Christ from them and an assurance of salvation based on a moment pinpointed in time.
However, he sees evangelicals drawing closer to Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant models of conversion that are gradual and emphasize sacramental markers of membership in a spiritual community. How do you think the process by which someone comes to self-describe as Christian?
From the article:
Evangelical Christians are deeply concerned for those who do not know God and have yet to experience conversion, through faith and repentance, to Christ Jesus. Nothing I've mentioned here about the "sea change" has altered this vision and commitment. And yet, at their best, evangelicals have always recognized that people are converted not because they have come to terms with "spiritual laws" or questions that might be asked "when they get to heaven," or even "evidence that demands a verdict"—but because they experience the transforming grace of God through an encounter with the risen and ascended Christ.
The only question that remains, then, is whether evangelicals will trust these instincts and devote themselves to Christ-centered worship and kingdom-oriented mission. Will this be evident in deep trust that God will do God's work in God's time? To trust the work of God is to trust the Spirit and this necessarily means that the church trusts the Word—the Scriptures preached—as the essential means of grace and conversion.
Read it here.