Leading to Christ - Poll

Through what agency were you first brought to the knowledge of Christ?

  • I was converted through the work of an ordained minister.

    Votes: 23 39.7%
  • I was converted by some other means apart from an ordained minister.

    Votes: 22 37.9%
  • I am not sure.

    Votes: 13 22.4%

  • Total voters
    58
  • Poll closed .
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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I thought this simple three-question poll would be interesting given the discussion in the Leading to Christ thread, which has more replies than any other current exchange.

Before we take the poll, let us all agree that we do not determine theological doctrine by a poll or vote. That should help us avoid much concern and discussion that is more appropriate on the Leading to Christ thread. Agreed?

Through what agency were you first brought to the knowledge of Christ? Was it by an ordained minister? Or was it through something else, like a friend, fellow employee or a book by an unordained man or women? For instance, to my knowledge, C. S. Lewis was never ordained to the Christian ministry so he would be in the unordained category. (please correct me if I am wrong about this so I can edit my post)
 
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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Ed,
I believe it is almost impossible to nail down when one was regenerated and converted as this is within God's secret counsel; I voted for the ordained position, obviously.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I voted for the ordained position, obviously.

So did I. There was a once drunken man that said to me "seek and ye shall find." I could not get that out of my head for months. That started my quest, but it was not until I read a book by an evangelist that truly understood and my life changed.
 

Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
Ed,
I wasn't sure how to answer. I had an employer who would drive me back and forth to work and listen to D James Kennedy, then discuss. It seems to straddle both territories.
 

Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
That's what I had in mind with option 3, which I just added. Should I make it more clear? Any suggestions?

I think it is good as is. I'll be watching this with curiosity. If this were an evangelical board, I would expect 90% in the "apart from an ordained minister" category, because of the extremely weak ecclesiology and disdain for the offices.
 
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Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I thought this simple three-question poll would be interesting given the discussion in the Leading to Christ thread, which has the more replies than any other current exchange.

Before we take the poll, let us all agree that we do not determine theological doctrine by a poll or vote. That should help us avoid much concern and discussion that is more appropriate on the Leading to Christ thread. Agreed?

Through what agency were you first brought to the knowledge of Christ? Was it by an ordained minister? Or was it through something else, like a friend, fellow employee or a book by an unordained man or women? For instance, to my knowledge, C. S. Lewis was never ordained to the Christian ministry so he would be in the unordained category. (please correct me if I am wrong about this so I can edit my post)
I watched Billy Graham all through my teen years, as never attended any church, and read some CS Lewis, Mere Christianity and Screw tape letters, and was witnessed to by a man studying in College to be a SBC pastor, so would say unordained.
Would say the majority in my current church were saved by the witness of non Pastors.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I was saved at 36 years old, as I've mentioned elsewhere, reading the Bible. The Holy Spirit enlightened the eyes of my understanding and I came to a saving knowledge of the truth of salvation through Christ Jesus.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
My mother was the instrument that God used to expose me to the Gospel. I head the Gospel when I was grade school age, but I'm not sure I was regenerated. I was 17 when my mother came to faith in Christ. Through her faithful, persistent witness, I finally heard the Gospel preached and became a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). It just so happens my mother came to visit us for the next two months. Praise God!
 

TrustGzus

Puritan Board Freshman
Mine is apart from an ordained minister. I was a teen. I was raised Roman Catholic. Trusted in the system and my own righteousness. But due to RC teachings, I believed the Bible was the Word Of God. Two other teens that had placed their trust in the finished work of Christ showed me what the Scripture said truly about my sinful state and what it says about works and the death of Christ. When they showed me what the Scripture taught, I immediately gave up trust in myself or the RCC. I had never even met a Protestant minister up to the point, heard a Protestant sermon or read a Protestant book.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Scott:

All things are ordained within God's secret counsel.

Regeneration is an inner work of God's Spirit in which we are passive and is not itself seen (John 3: likened to the wind, which we do not see). But we do see its effects (as we see the effects of the wind), chiefly, faith and repentance, i.e., conversion.

Some people have some sense of initial conversion (while many may not know when they first repented and believed), particularly if they came to repent and believe as adults.

I don't doubt that you agree with what I just said, but to say flatly that it is "almost impossible" to ascertain such seems overstatement. I was converted as a teenager and can recall being awakened and converted. The agency, of course, is that of the Holy Spirit, ordinarily through the appointed means (in some fashion).

In my case, preaching played the primary but not exclusive role (as often is the case). I am a clear three-office man, having published a thing or two in that regard. At the same time, I think it unwise overly to dichotomize these things: the Lord does customarily work through the appointed means, especially the preaching, but I see little reason to draw this too sharply.

My parents, especially my mother, played no small role in my conversion, and I would account her as the greatest spiritual influence on me. I've also been formatively influenced by a number of godly ministers and teachers. I appreciate your high view of the preacher and preaching (as I said, I am print in more than one article or review defending such), but would not want to discount other saints, including unordained ones, in shaping me spiritually (all by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who is always our true teacher).

Peace,
Alan
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
I was not saved via a minister, my weightlifting partner preached the gospel to me until I stopped working out with him, then in the middle of the night God saved me. I had not attended church in years, but at that point I had been baptized three times.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
I voted, Im not sure. It has two parts. Short version...

Part 1, regeneration. I honestly dont know at what point I had a radical, regenerating transformation. I think about this often. Was I regenerated at 5? Or 18? Im not sure.

I can tell you when I really, truly, unashamedly believed the Gospel.

It was the end of the first quarter of my bible college degree. I had 2 weeks "off" before classes started again. Aside from devouring my bible, almost literally, I wanted to read something about the cross. I went into the school bookstore (keep in mind this is a Pentecostal, militantly Arminian school), and I grabbed a book off the shelf with a captivating title. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen. I knew nothing about this fellow but the title of his book grabbed my attention. It was the only copy in the store. Yes, the one with Packer's introduction. Half way through the book, I pondered Owen's exegesis on John 3. I was standing in the middle of the campus, reading this book as I walked the concrete paths of the school, and said out loud, "Who in the world wouldn't believe this?! I believe this."

That book, no doubt, was in that bookstore just for me. And yes. Owen was an ordained minister if that helps at all.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Pastor Strange,
In the absolute, I stand on what I said. No one can actually know the actual time and date-again, absolutely or perfectly. In my case, I am pretty sure when it all happened for me, but who knows as I was in an Arminian setting for quite awhile.

Practically speaking, one can know when we agreed to repent and ascended to certain biblical facts; that helps. However, when does conversion actually happen in time? After we ascend to those facts? What facts exactly? Do we all have to come under the same truths to be converted or did u have to only understand a few things, less than I did or more? How can one actually know this? Sure, there is definite speculation, but to know absolutely, I disagree.

I will add, I am of the position that the ordo is logical and sometimes can be chronological; this may help in understanding how I have come to my conclusion.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
I think it is a loaded question, I consider many ordained ministers Baptist/charismatic/Pentecostal/Mennonite as laymen. Many of these people cant possible be considered lawful ministers, self promoters, self taught, self appointed, self ordained.

**not talking about Reformed baptists***
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
My parents (one of whom was a preacher). Preaching. The Scripture. The church family. All of these seem to have played a role and been used by the Spirit.

To pick just one would be to shortchange the many gospel-pointing influences in my life as a child. So I guess the only way for me to vote is "not sure."
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Scott:

As I said, I don't think that we're far off. If you mean that we cannot fully discern and fathom the secret work of God, I agree. But conversion is not secret, even if we don't know when it first happened or if its first fruits are hard to recognize.

Not sure what you mean respecting the ordo salutis, which sets forth the logical order with respect to the Spirit's application of salvation. If you mean that items in it may be coterminous and not chronologically divided, that's standard. No proper understanding of the ordo sees the items as necessarily chronologically separated (effectual call/regeneration, faith/repentance, justification, adoption, and definitive sanctification--if one affirms such an aspect as well as a progressive one--may well all occur at the same time). Some Reformed theologians would, in fact, insist that they all occur at the same time (and are always tied to outward means, especially preaching), though I believe that regeneration may proceed faith chronologically (I think that's been debated here before).

I do appreciate, as I said before, that PB has a high view of preaching. I do not think that that stands in competition with an appreciation of all the ways that the Lord works in a life, particularly as it would be consonant with and supportive of sound preaching. My mother's lips and life certainly supported the preaching that I was hearing.

Peace,
Alan
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I was faithfully witnessed to by my late wife, Gloria, whom God used to bring me to salvation. This was very early in our relationship before we were officially a couple. She had already been a Christian for about four years at that point.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I became a Christian through my uncle and a friend who was recently converted. The church I was once at when first a Christian didn't talk much about the gospel.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Since the gospel is primarily given to the church and to be able to flawlessly define when one was actually regenerated and or converted, the chance that one was actually converted at a particular time, may have been in the context of a church setting, more likely. The fact that one's eyes were opened at a particular time (most likely outside of the church walls) can be misinterpreted as conversion when in fact, it was most likely regeneration, the person being converted when he was inside the church walls.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
The fact that one's eyes were opened at a particular time (most likely outside of the church walls) can be misinterpreted as conversion when in fact, it was most likely regeneration, the person being converted when he was inside the church walls.

Hi Scott,

I am a bit confused. Don't you have regeneration and conversion reversed above?
"eyes were opened at a particular time (most likely outside of the church walls) can be misinterpreted as conversion." Isn't the eyes being opened a sign of conversion? Regeneration, being the time of the secret work of the Spirit, which is like the wind blowing-- imperceptible. How can you "misinterpret" regeneration at all since it is a secret work and its beneficiary passive.

I may be reading you wrong. I had to read it over several times.

Ed

From: Regeneration and Conversion,
by Archibald Alexander
It is not necessary to be very exact in distinguishing between regeneration and conversion, especially as the Scriptures appear to speak of both together. But, it may not be amiss to remark, that regeneration, which is the communication of spiritual life, is the act of God; conversion, which is a turning from sin to God, is our act, in consequence of the divine influence exerted on our minds.
 
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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
" Isn't the eyes being opened a sign of conversion?

No....see John 3. Regeneration happens first, the eyes opening to things of the kingdom. Conversion is the ascending to biblical truth
 

PreservedKillick

Puritan Board Freshman
I was saved through the instruction of my family, mostly my grandfather and my mother. My first 18 years of life and ten years as a believer were spent in a church that explicitly rejects an ordained ministry (Plymouth Brethren,) so I can confidently choose the "apart from an ordained minister" option.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
No....see John 3. Regeneration happens first, the eyes opening to things of the kingdom. Conversion is the ascending to biblical truth

Isn't conversion more akin to repentance, i.e. turning around? Certainly that includes the knowledge of certain biblical facts (like the law of God), but I would hesitate to say that conversion is "ascending" to facts. Would you agree with this?

Thanks for clarifying.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Conversion falls under faith and repentance-faith preceding repentance.

Can one repent unless one knows what one is repenting of? Can one have faith in a thing or person if one has no assent to any facts about the matter?

To be converted a few things must be occurring:
1) Notitia
2) Fiducia
3) ascentia
 
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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Isn't conversion more akin to repentance, i.e. turning around? Certainly that includes the knowledge of certain biblical facts (like the law of God), but I would hesitate to say that conversion is "ascending" to facts. Would you agree with this?

Thanks for clarifying.
converslo: conversion; viz., the work of the Holy Spirit according to which the intellect and the will of the sinner are turned toward God in contrition and faith. Conversion can be distinguished into:

(1) conversio passiva sive habitualis, passive or habitual conversion, commonly called regeneration (regeneratio), in which the will, passively, without any motion of its own, receives by grace alone the habit or disposition (habitus, q.v.) toward repentance and new life in Christ. Because the work of the conversio passiva begins in God and passes to the human subject, it is also called conversio transitiva, transitive conversion, a conversion that passes over from one being to another.

(2) Conversio activa sive actualis, active or actual conversion, commonly called conversion (conversio) without modifier, in which the regenerated will actually and actively turns toward God; i.e., the human side of conversion, the actual repentance or metanoia. Because the conversio activa is confined to the human subject, it is sometimes called conversio intransitiva, intransitive conversion, or conversion that does not pass over from one being to another. Conversio activa is sometimes also called regeneratio secunda, a second or further regeneration, belonging to the renovation (renovatio, q.v.) of the individual.

The scholastics also define conversion in relation to its termini, or limits. The terminus a quo (q.v.) of conversion in a formal sense is sin itself, sin as such, while in an objective sense it is the specific objects of or reasons for sinning peculiar to the individual sinner. The terminus ad quem (q.v.) of conversion, formally considered, is faith in Christ; objectively considered, God, to whom the repentant return in and through Christ. The orthodox deny the concept of a homo renascens (q.v.), or man in process of being reborn in conversion, and therefore all notion of a middle condition (status medius) between the two termini of conversion. In other words, conversion is not a process. Thus conversio transitiva is immediately effective as conversio intransitiva, conversio habitualis immediately resultant in conversio actualis. The divine work and the turning of the human heart are inseparable and are distinguished only in terms of the subject of the operation.

Source:
Richard Muller. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (p. 83).
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I cast my vote based on your using the word conversion as well, Ed. My sound conversion was brought about through the ordained ministry, and it goes back to what Scott is saying. I made a profession of faith after conversations with a friend and attendance at a Baptist youth retreat. I always considered myself a Christian after that though I lost sight of it to the point that I lived like an unbeliever. But it seems a solid conversion took place years later when I heard and understood the gospel properly preached and taught, which was via ministers on the radio and online, like Piper, MacArthur and Sproul.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
In other words, conversion is not a process. Thus conversio transitiva is immediately effective as conversio intransitiva, conversio habitualis immediately resultant in conversio actualis. The divine work and the turning of the human heart are inseparable and are distinguished only in terms of the subject of the operation.

Source:
Richard Muller. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (p. 83).

Thanks, that's helpful. Berkhof writes about this too, though I don't think I considered this particular distinction between repentance and conversion regarding the process.
 
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