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Christian conversions

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by James_Lai, Dec 2, 2021.

  1. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    Your thoughts about the below??

    One striking difference I find between Christian and Muslim practice is conversions… (Or reverting as Muslims like to say, who consider all infants to be originally born Muslim).

    In a protestant Christian church, when there are public conversions (or at least confessing/declaration of conversions), it’s a low-key event. Yes there could be clapping and some happy exclamations, but it all basically culminates with presenting a lootbag of books to the new believers. In some cases, there would be an Alfa course to attend afterwards. Or if you leave and never come back, chances are, you’re forgotten. In Orthodox or Catholic church, I’ve never witnessed a public conversion, only baptisms which are done postfactum. So I have no idea how it’s supposed to happen, probably simply a mental decision in private. Or perhaps the baptisms are the conversions for them. I know there’s some studying involved before you can join the faith, such as “The Law of God” course in the EO churches. For protestants, they love to lead new believers in a short “sinner’s prayer”… But not always. Some only require accepting the fundamental truths of the Gospel by faith.

    Well, Muslim public conversions, on the other hand, are always a big deal. Probably the biggest of all… The whole mosque would rhythmically repeat in unison “Takbir - Allahu Akbar!” The conversion would be highly emotional, with the convert crying 9 out of 10 times during the Shahada, even if it’s a rugged man…The imam could be sobbing too, as do half of the mosque…

    Then the whole mosque would want to congratulate, hug and kiss the man/woman…. (well, pre-2020). They would be so eager to tell you, “Oh brother, I envy you because today you are pure, cleansed of all your previous sin, in a better standing than all of us here who have been sinning, you have a clean slate”. The people really impress this thought upon you. They would welcome the new Muslim to their homes, invite for lunches, throw parties, shower with gifts (even poor people), provide advice on following the Din and growing in the Iman, joke about a new Muslim name for you, suggest how to dress etc… Genuine and cute. Overall, they immediately surround you with a robust network of support as a closed-knit community. They’re especially extatic if you’re not from a traditionally Muslim nation, firmly believing one day Islam would be accepted world over… A big deal for them… I experienced that, though honestly I never really accepted Islam in its entirety, all I wanted was to try it out. I did have some sincerity.

    So…. this tells me that Islam is practiced way more deeply and sincerely than Christianity…. Christians can sit on pews and check their emails on smartphones during service…. You can’t imagine a Muslim reach for their phone during a Juma salaat…. Islam is an all-encompassing mindset and way of life to many Muslims, but Christianity is often a nominal Sunday activity for Christians…

    In Muslim countries, it’s Islam or mostly Islam that directs the public and private life. In Christian or post-Christian countries it’s just an add-on of convenience to otherwise secular life, an add-on that’s mostly kept private.

    Muslims want to know your religion first second they meet you, and learning you’re part of the umma, they turn on the “you’re one of us” mode on high gear, kinly opening up to you… Or, the “let me tell you what you’re missing” mode if you’re not. Christians can work with you side-by-side for 10 years and you’d never even once suspect they’re a Christian….

    Of course, how apostasy is treated in these two religions today is a whole different subject :) An ignorant kafir or an ex-Muslim kafir, well, not the same thing… no more ir-Rahman ir-Raheem!
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
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  2. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    I don't see any reason to think that.

    Not from the information in your post which led up to this statement.
     
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  3. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    Very possible, maybe I’m missing something. Could you elaborate, please?
     
  4. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    Different cultures show feelings in different ways. The overt partying and effusive congratulations characteristic of Muslims in the situations you described don't show us anything in particular about being "devout."
     
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  5. Phronema

    Phronema Orthodox Christian Supporter

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    This very closely describes my experience of being an Orthodox Christian, and what it was like when I was baptized, and chrismated.

    Having spent years in Muslim countries, and conversing with Muslims I can tell you that not all Muslims treat Islam, or converts to Islam the way that you've described. In addition not all Christians are so deeply involved in every church you'll visit. YMMV depending on where you go.
     
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  6. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    I understand.

    It’s not that in particular. In some Christian churches the outward reaction could be equally or even more dramatic, but… I’m more talking about what the convert is going through and the follow-up support of the faith organization and community. Sitting on a pew and raising a hand as opposed to crying your heart out… In any culture. India or Canada, I see similar kind of experience.

    So it’s more about how deep and genuine the experience is. I’m generalizing a common scenario from my personal observations, of course individual experiences can be greatly different.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  7. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    Thank you a lot for sharing your personal experiences! Yes, I generalize to the extreme, but if we try and take a bird’s view of the religions, would you agree or disagree? I’ve been to a few so called Muslim and Christian countries and both mosques and churches there too, so I understand exactly what you’re talking about.
     
  8. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    I'm not dismissing what you said here, but I have to wonder what kinds of Christians you've been observing or associating with...because there are many who are the exact opposite of what you've described here.

    And BTW, I too would be shocked to see someone playing with his phone during the service. If there were a person doing that, it absolutely would be out of character for the congregants as a whole.
     
  9. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    Maybe it’s the Canadian and Western European churches and elsewhere Christianity isn’t as dead? The ones in Asia I’ve been to closely mimic the American Evangelical model in my understanding (so-called International churches). Very superficial and insincere… Social clubs! Maybe I’m too soon jumping on conclusions based on my limited exposure
     
  10. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    Well it doesn’t have to be smth like that. A person could be well disciplined, but as dead as one can be spiritually nevertheless
     
  11. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    I wouldn't put it totally on the nationality involved. Some denominations tend to value dignity in the house of God and when the people are participating in the sacrament of the altar. Others are characteristically more effusive. Some are even frenzied in their form of worship, and they consider it to be God-pleasing.
     
  12. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    2 aspects here that you would want to know.

    When someone you are with side by side with extensive communication over time is supposed to be Christian and you don't even know whether they are Christians after 10 years (or even 2-3 months for that matter if you are around them a lot, dozens of hours already) would be pretty dangerous for that person on the day of final disposition after this life, where Christ said that for those who are unwilling to be recognized as His that He in turn would be unwilling to recognize them as His (as we hear Him say to us in the gospel of Mark, 8:38, and in Luke 9:26). Christians aren't (all) required to constantly evangelize, but also they will openly let themselves be known to believe and follow Christ (if they do).

    (And, also by the way, the joyous welcome of new converts does happen in some churches -- I've seen that with my own eyes, so it's fact.)

    But, here's the other aspect that will help you see what has been the way in the U.S. at least (and many nations) --> Christians have for centuries been in the overwhelming majority...and Muslims largely absent and/or being a very small minority (e.g. under 10% for example) from many of those nations until very recently --

    So that has a couple of natural consequences you will instantly see once pointed out.

    First, that Christians that grew up surrounded by other Christians would not be in the habit of evangelizing immediately around themselves traditionally in those nations back when almost everyone was putatively Christian and attended churches (that's within our lifetimes for many of us, back in the 1960s still generally the case), and 2nd, that Muslims would be the exact opposite of course: a tiny minority seeking to bring more into their fold.

    And one more aspect: when most everyone is putatively Christian, but in reality Christ said that only "few" would really follow Him, then that means that many are in a church (in the case when overwhelming majorities of the population attends) without fully believing, because it's the majority culture of that time and place.

    See?

    And that won't entirely disappear of course even when there is a shift, so long as the generations when that was the case are still alive: many of them would certainty continue to attend a church as their social hub, even without faith.

    But, of course, just as you'd guess when thinking about it, for the smaller portion that does fully believe, they welcome the stranger very warmly and celebrate when someone comes to faith.
     
  13. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Same for mosques - more relaxed or more solemn… Still, I’m emphasizing sincerety vs formality aspect…
     
  14. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    Okay, but as far as I can tell, sincerity is not necessarily what's being demonstrated if the people are physically expressive...and lacking if the church service is dignified, thoughtful, meditative, and etc. Many people would, I'm sure, argue that it's just the opposite.
     
  15. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I understand the historic background and modern more globalized world with increased migration mostly from the Muslim to the Christian world and not in the opposite direction.

    Again, I just look from the outside and I can’t help and compare. Conversions, proselytism, okay. Well, in my place of work no Christian ever even wanted to talk about their faith (assuming at least one of them might be). I think all Muslims at one point at work made it known to me that they’re Muslim and kind of investigated my stand there. During work trips Muslim workers shared about their faith almost daily, for example, when refusing alcohol or gelatine candy. It was some part of conversation out there with them, because it’s a huge and sincere part of their life. Also, all Muslim employees know each other and sometimes share Muslim activities in their private life.

    So it’s more than just one or two episodes you can point your finger at, it’s manifesting on so many levels constantly.

    I was preached to by Toronto Muslim cab drivers so many times, it’s almost an expected experience for me, but not once by a Christian one ever (I could only guess by an icon or cross on the dash and somewhat by the name).
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
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  16. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    I agree. You can’t tell by the outward appearance what’s inside . Don’t judge a book by its cover. Still, day after day, experience after experience over the years , different kinds of interactions in all kinds of situations, you tend to work out an impression…

    For example, entering a bakery and seeing huge calligraphic inscription Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (I can read Arabic) on the wall, and then the young men serving you emphasizing “no pork because we’re Muslim”, or asking me “are you a Buddhist, brother? Have you heard of One Creator God”? It’s common they could have Muslim information such as tracts or Ramadan schedule out on tables for customers to pick up…

    Common for Muslim businesses. Never ever I had such Christian experience.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  17. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    Don't you really think that a lot of that is a demonstration of their cultural pride? The same can be said of Oriental and Latin (and others) people living in Canada and the US. They maintain their traditions, food preferences, holidays, and tend to live in the same parts of town and shop in businesses owned by their own people. Islam, it cannot be denied, is as much a worldly, cultural movement, as it is a theological one.
     
  18. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    They’re open and they’re sharing. I’m not part of their community. They walk the talk so to speak, be it for cultural or other reasons.

    Yes I totally agree that Islam is a more comprehensive ideology as briefly noted in the OP, but it does have deep theological part as well.
     
  19. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Yes, interesting.

    Sure looks like most people would need to feel that few around have heard a message in order to choose to preach it. If you think the person next to you (in a Christian majority nation) has already heard the accurate message about Christ, then you'd not tell them what you think they already know.

    But, also, we do have a portion of Christians that do continually tell others the gospel message, because it could be that some haven't heard it.

    In contrast, a Muslim here would correctly feel that very few have heard their message.

    To me, what I often find is that some portion thinks they know about the Christ, but actually have a mistaken idea that isn't the same as the real account. That's not most people, but it is still a fair number, more than just 10% I think.
     
  20. James_Lai

    James_Lai Well-Known Member

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    But take me in that case, an immigrant from a non-Christian nation, with a distinctively foreign name and a strong accent. Nobody would assume I’m a Christian. Most people if they ever ask, suggest Buddhism…
     
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