Friday, August 20, 2010

The Motivations for Conversion

In an article written for Themelios titled "Pastoral Pensées: Motivations to Appeal to in Our Hearers When We Preach for Conversion," D.A. Carson reflects on many of the motivations which, Biblically speaking, we ought to appeal to when ministering the gospel to someone - specifically to non-Christians.

The motivations Carson points to:
  • Fear (Heb. 2:14-18)
  • The burden of guilt (Ps. 51:4)
  • Shame (He argues shame and guilt are bound together)
  • The need for "Future Grace" (this is not exclusively a need for Christians)
  • The attractiveness of truth (John 19:35)
  • A general, despairing sense of need
  • Responding to grace and love (Gal. 2:20)
  • A vague desire to be on the side of right
Carson is careful to clarify that this list is neither exhaustive, nor is it a list of either/or propositions. Although the modern tendency is to appeal exclusively to God's grace and love, Carson points out in this well reasoned piece that as Christians we do not get to emphasize one of these at these at the exclusion of others, but rather that our responsibility is to reflect the whole range of human need in our preaching, teaching, and evangelizing. In Carson's conclusion he states,
The point to be made is simple: any failure to appeal to the full range of biblically exemplified and biblically sanctioned motivations not only means that there are some people we are not taking into account, but, more seriously, that there are elements in the character and attributes of God himself that we are almost certainly ignoring.

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