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Some people can specify the day and hour when they became Christians. Others were brought up Christians and say that, though they are Christian now, they cannot specify exactly when the change took place.

Is it important to be able to specify the moment of conversion?

Update: this is not about remembering the date and time but about being able to specify the moment.

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Possibly related: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/2981/… –  aceinthehole Sep 30 '11 at 12:47
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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I like an analogy that Hank Hanegraaff uses to address this question:

Imagine you're driving from Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California, when you look up and see a sign that says "Los Angeles, 50 miles". Is it important that you remember the moment you crossed the Nevada/California state line? Or is it important that you know where you are now?

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I think another similar analogy is to consider physical birth and spiritual re-birth (believers are born again after all). I don't remember the moment of my birth, but there's ample evidence that it happened and I do recognize certain progressions that I've made which confirm the fact that I'm living and growing. I would contend that Christians, likewise, don't necessarily remember the exact moment we are born again, but the spiritual fruit of our lives gives us evidence and assurance that we are alive in Christ. –  Steven Feb 27 '13 at 16:18
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The question of conversion in Christianity as a whole is very different than when you just look at western evangelicals. For someone raised entirely in a christian family and in a church they stay with their entire lives, there may never be a "conversion" since there may never have been a time when they weren't christian.

Most evangelical churches empasize the need in this situation to "make the faith their own", with a subsequent baptism as a teenager or adult. In these churches making a positive decision at some point to become (or remain) a christian is very important.

For many churches that practice infant baptism, there is generally some confirmation process that serves a similar function to adult baptism in evangelical churches. The difference being that one doesn't choose to be a christian, one has to choose not to remain a christian. You're a christian by default, and it requires an act of apostasy to leave.

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I would argue that the moment of conversion is less important than has been stressed as of late. American Christianity is currently very worked up over the sentimentality of the conversion moment, and that is partly due to the tent revivals of the 1st and 2 Great Awakenings, Charles Darby, and Charles Finney (Darby and Finney, however, have had their hermeneutic questioned and their evangelistic strategies as marked dubious). The truth is more along the lines that Spirit was working in our lives long before we ever recognized His working on our heart. The where and when of conversion is less important than by whom it was initiated and begun (God Himself).

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I don't think it's important for a Christian to know the exact date/time when they became a Christian, but it is important to know how they became a Christian. Individual testimonies can be incredibly powerful, and often being able to tell the story of how one came to faith does involve knowing where and when it happened.

Certainly it's not vital for someone's individual faith to be able to pinpoint what happened, where and when, but its importance stems from its ability to encourage others to take steps on a similar journey. It often provides a "way in" for people who think they're in a situation from which they could never become a Christian.

I for one was raised in a Christian household, but that doesn't automatically make me a Christian. Instead I can point to particular moments that led me to my decision to follow Jesus and it is indeed important to be able to relay that story to others.

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NICE answer. I can't remember the exact date ant time of mine, but I remember the event clearly. I didn't have anyone around at the time, so I didn't think to make it a point to remember the date and time. The thought that the date and time would be something I'd want to remember didn't even occur to me. (then again, I can never remember birthdays, holidays.... I don't do well with dates.) –  David Stratton Sep 30 '11 at 18:19
    
@DavidStratton: this question is not about remembering the date and time specifically, but remembering the event. I will update the question to explain. –  Wikis Sep 30 '11 at 19:15
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