Religious conversion

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Religious conversion is the adoption of new religious beliefs that differ from the convert's previous beliefs. It involves a new religious identity, or a change from one religious identity to another. Conversion requires internalization of the new belief system. It implies a new reference point for one's self identity and is a matter of belief and social structure—of both faith and affiliation.

Quotes[edit]

  • If it is meant by the statement that the form of religion is something permanent and unchangeable, then it cannot be accepted. But if religion here means one's way of communion with the Divine, then it is true that that is something belonging to the inner being and cannot be changed like a house or a cloak for the sake of some personal, social or worldly convenience. If a change is to be made, it can only be for an inner spiritual reason, because of some development from within. No one can be bound to any form of religion or any particular creed or system, but if he changes the one he has accepted for another, for external reasons, that means he has inwardly no religion at all and both his old and his new religion are only an empty formula. At bottom that is I suppose what the statement drives at. Preference for a different approach to the Truth or the desire of inner spiritual self-expression are not the motives of the recommendation of change to which objection is made by the Mahatma here; the object proposed [by Dr. Ambedkar] is an enhancement of social status and consideration which is no more a spiritual motive than conversion for the sake of money or marriage. If a man has no religion in himself, he can change his credal profession for any motive; if he has, he cannot; he can only change it in response to an inner spiritual need. If a man has a bhakti for the Divine in the form of Krishna, he can't very well say, ...I will swap Krishna for Christ so that I may become socially respectable.
    • Sri Aurobindo commenting on the following statement of Gandhi in response to a call by Dr. Ambedkar for mass conversions among the depressed classes: 'But religion is not like a house or a cloak which can be changed at will. It is more an integral part of one's self than of one's body. Religion is the tie that binds one to one's Creator, and while the body perishes as it has to, religion persists even after that.'
    • Sri Aurobindo, October 19, 1935, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [1]
  • During my travels, I find a general belief that to turn a Christian is to turn European; to become self-willed, and give up self-restraint, use only foreign cloth, dress oneself in European style and start taking meat and brandy. But I think the fact is, if a person discards his country, his customs and his old connections and manners when he changes his religion, he becomes all the more unfit to gain a knowledge of God. For, a change of religion means really a conversion of the heart. When there is a real conversion, a man’s heart grows. But in this country one finds that conversion brings about deep disdain for one’s old religion and its followers, i.e., one’s old friends and relatives. The next change that takes place is that of dress and manners and behaviour. All that does great harm to the country.
    • Mahatma Gandhi in Mahadev Desai, Day-to-Day with Gandhi,Volume 7, Varanasi, 1969, as quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytising. It is the cause of much avoidable conflict between classes and unnecessary heart-burning among the missionaries… In Hindu households the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drink. … The other day a missionary descended on a famine area with money in his pocket, distributed it among the famine-stricken, converted them to his fold, took charge of their temple and demolished it. This is outrageous. The temple could not belong to the converted, and it could not belong to the Christian missionary. But this friend goes and gets it demolished at the hands of the very men who only a little while ago believed that God was there.
    • Mahatma Gandhi The Collected Works Volume 61, Ahmedabad, 1975, p, 46-57. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • Conversion in the sense of self-purification, self-realization, is the crying need of the hour. That, however, is not what is meant by proselytising. To those who would convert India, might it not be said, ‘physician heal thyself’?
    • Mahatma Gandhi The Collected Works Volume 46, New Delhi, 1971, pp. 28-29. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • It is no use trying to fight these forces [of materialism] without giving up the idea of conversion, which I assure you is the deadliest poison which ever sapped the fountain of truth.
    • Mahatma Gandhi The Collected Works Vol 46, p. 203. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • This is always the way in which the reality of Christian conversion evidences itself. It makes the selfish man charitable: the churlish, liberal; and implants in the soul, which hitherto has cared only for the things belonging to himself, a disposition to seek also the things of others.
  • In every sound convert the judgment is brought to approve of the laws and ways of Christ, and subscribe to them as most righteous and reasonable; the desire of the heart is to know the whole mind of Christ; the free and resolved choice of the heart is determined for the ways of Christ, before all the pleasures of sin, and prosperities of the world; it is the daily care of his life to walk with God.
  • Conversion by the Holy Spirit is a spiritual illumination of the soul. God's grace lights up the dark heart. And when a man has once been kindled at the cross of Christ, he is bound to shine.
  • "Follow me!" The publican "rose up." This implies immediate action. It was now or never with him. So you must act with prompt obedience. He did the first thing Jesus bade him do. Are you willing to do as much? If not, you are deciding against Christ, and that means death.
  • Every man or woman who turns to Christ must bear in mind that they are breaking with their old master, and enlisting under a new leader. Conversion is a revolutionary process.
  • Conversion is the act of joining our hands to the pierced hand of the crucified Saviour. The new life begins with the taking of Christ's hand, and His taking hold, in infinite love, of our weak hands.
  • A man to be converted has to give up his will, his ways, and his thoughts.
  • The time when I was converted was when religion became no longer a duty, but a pleasure.
  • Conversion is not, as some suppose, a violent opening of the heart by grace, in which will, reason, and judgment are all ignored or crushed. The reason is not blinded, but enlightened; and the whole man is made to act with a glorious liberty which it never knew till it fell under the restraints of grace.
  • My observation continues to confirm me more and more in the opinion, that to experience religion is to experience the truth of the great doctrines of Divine grace.
  • You cannot find, I believe, a case in the Bible where a man is converted without God's calling in some human agency — using some human instrument.

External links[edit]

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