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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Sociology of ReligionAlthough everyone comes to Christian faith in different ways, says religion professor Scot McKnight in Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels, conversion stories don't typically reflect that diversity. In fact, each Christian group "shuffles all oddities to the side and sanctifies only a certain ordered experience." Drawing on the personal stories of 19 men and women who embraced the Christian faith across a wide variety of traditions (mainline Protestant, Catholic and evangelical), McKnight pleads for "each of us to pause long enough to hear the stories of all Christians and not just those who frame their stories as do we." This is a well-reasoned, persuasive call to recognize "diversity" in a rather unexpected way.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Scot McKnight is Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664225144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664225148
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,219,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Southern Illinois, came of age in Freeport, Illinois, attended college in Grand Rapids, MI, seminary at Trinity in Deerfield, IL.

Now a professor at North Park University.

Two children.

Kris, my wife, is a psychologist and the greatest woman on earth.

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Morine VINE VOICE on July 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Scot's book deals with the conversion narrative of modern conversion accounts as well as the gospel accounts. He highlights the various stages of the conversion process. The book is interesting and thought-provoking. His insights into allowing freedom into a person's conversion is needed. Everyone is different, and my conversion motivations or background will be different from yours. One of the interesting aspects of the book was his lack of emphasis on the book of Acts. We always go to this book for conversion accounts, but a study of the gospel conversions can also be beneficial to understanding how people come to the Lord. This is not a pleasure read, but a deep read into a needed topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin A. Simpson VINE VOICE on March 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Conversion is an important area of Christian reflection, and discussion as nuanced and well balanced as Scot McKnight's in this book, Turning to Jesus, is rare. For this book I am thankful. Christian people, as followers of Jesus and his way, are called to issue a clarion call to conversion--one way of being to another way of being--and in some corners of Christianity this reality is simply assumed and not actively reflected upon. McKnight stirs our thinking.

Early in the book, McKnight points out common approaches to conversion, which he labels socialization, liturgical process, and personal decision. Though I will not explore each category here, as someone who has moved from the Baptist world into the Methodist world in America, these distinctions helped me to more clearly delineate between different traditions and their understanding of conversion. McKnight evaluates these categories in light of Scripture and the Christian tradition, and notes the sociological ways of understanding these approaches to conversion in clear, readable prose.

McKnight draws predominantly on the work of Lewis R. Rambo and Gauri Viswanathan to support his sociological approach to conversion, noting that there seems to be a line along which people move in finding themselves "converted." This progress, outlined by McKnight, is that of context, crisis, quest, encounter, commitment, and consequences. McKnight is clear that this process is not always linear, and lacks uniformity between one person and the next. Any stage could be experienced for days, months, or even years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hebrewman on February 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most people who read about Jesus in the gospels tend to look only at the biblical information and draw their conclusions only from there. McKnight challenges the thinking by taking a sociological perspective and applying that viewpoint to what else we know about Jesus. This is a good book, worth the reading of anyone who wants to meditate on the work of Jesus in conversion.
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I love Scott McKnight's stuff, but this was a tough go. McKnight holds up sociology of religious conversion to New Testament accounts of conversion for comparison/contrast. Here are the highlights:

1) Conversion is an individual process.
2) Conversion involves formation of the self aligned with central claims of a religion.
3) There is no uniform pattern of conversion.
4) Jesus knows conversion is an individual process, which is why he guides people in the Gospels in sick diverse ways.
5) There are three models of Christian conversion: socialization, liturgical process and personal decision.

Point one is the main point. Even though he treats the three models evenhandedly, McKnight really wants to politely challenge the personal decision model. It's quite dominant in the U.S. and prone to misuse.

The book was a tough go because it seemed poorly organized. One minute we're swimming in sociological theory, the next personal biographies. It was whiplash.

Read the opening chapter and conclusion. If you're interested in sociology and conversion, read the Rambo book McKnight is fond of.
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Format: Paperback
MacKnight does a great job in explaining the many facets or types of conversions in the world. A great socoligical approach to a great topic.
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