When people change their beliefs, do they become more mature? This was a discussion I was having with someone today.

There are all sorts of converts in the world. There are atheists who become fundamentalists, and there are fundamentalists who become atheists. And some people convert to Buddhism, or Islam, or Judaism, or from one brand of Christianity to another.

In many cases, conversion can lead to greater maturity. Atheists who converted from fundamentalism may look at their fundie days as times when they were dogmatic, closed-minded, naive, enslaved, afraid of life, manipulative of others in their attempts to proselytize, hateful, deluded, superstitious, and maybe even inauthentic or just plain hypocritical. Christian converts may look at their non-Christian pasts as times when they were self-centered, hedonistic, aimless, bitter, devoid of hope, and empty.

If any one religion or philosophy provided all of the answers and satisfaction to life, then why is there such a variety of conversions? Not all Christians are satisfied with Christianity, not all Jews are content with Judaism, etc. What about their previous belief system are they leaving behind, and what are they hoping to get in their new belief system?

Sometimes, people become better people when they convert from one belief system to another. At other times, they remain the same, as they carry their personal strengths and weaknesses into their new way of looking at things. And then there are times when converts become even worse than they were before (e.g., Matthew 23:15).

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Conversion

  1. sole4sail says:

    Interesting. I’ve been all over the spectrum in my journey for the truth. I try to always keep an open mind and never stop asking questions.
    Not sure where my maturity level is, though.


  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Same with me, Sole4sail. For me, a good indicator is what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, etc. But those are goals for me, not so much where I am right now (though I hope I’m progressing in that direction).


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