I read an interesting piece in the Washington Post today about how the World Council of Churches is moving towards a code of practice on religious conversion. The movement towards this statement involves the the WCC and the Vatican. It seems particularly concerned with the issue of conversion in South American. It is of course well known that the Catholic church is concerned about the haemorraging of its numbers in South America.
It is interesting to note that amongst the participants in this process are not only the WCC and Vatican but also Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Jews. Can you imagine Paul sitting down in such company to draw up a code on conversion? Also the boast is that there is also participation by evangelicals. What kind of evangelical worth his salt is going to draw up a code on conversion?
A report makes a recommendation that ‘all should heal themselves from the obsession of converting others.’ Its some way short of Paul saying ‘Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel’ or ‘I have become all things to all men that I might win some.’ Or even Henry Martyn saying, ‘Give me India or I die.’
The whole exercise smacks of the religious imperialism that it is allegedly seeking to avoid. For it takes religious expression and conviction out of the hands of individuals and puts it in the hands of those religious establishments who want to protect their own turf.
Its all a far cry from Jesus own explanation of conversion not as a human endeavour but as a sovereign action of the Spirit of God, ‘The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound but you do not know where it comes or where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’