Med segerhjärtat kämpa mitt livs kamp : Omvändelseberättelser i baptistisk årskrönika Betlehem kristlig kalender 1886 till 1980

Detta är en Magister-uppsats från Teologiska högskolan Stockholm/Teologiska högskolan Stockholm

Sammanfattning: That conversion is a central concept for Baptists and narrative an important part of their culture is made clear by Betlehem kristlig kalender, a yearbook published from 1886 to 1980.The aim of this thesis is to survey and analyse conversion narratives within the Baptist movement as reflected in Betlehem, by investigating what narrative expressions form the body of the stories, what is given precedence, emotional or cognitive expressions, their soul, and finally what theological themes are developed around the concept of conversion.The method employed is, following a reading of all the issues of Betlehem, to distinguish and extract the stories that are narrative in character according to Hindmarsh’s criteria. That is to say, stories that point beyond the individual to a larger principle of meaningfulness and that are powerfully thought-provoking, with a sense that their beginning, middle and end form a unified whole. The texts extracted are further analysed to find the distinguishing characteri-stics of the material in the light of the dissertation’s aim.The results of the study show that the narratives in Betlehem contain a good deal of drama. They have a clear direction from something to something, with the actual conversion forming a climax. The darkest situations are transformed, following a struggle, to the most ethereal light when morning comes, bringing peace and assurance that conversion has taken place. Women often serve as models, having already experienced conversion. It is their husbands and sons who are the object of their attention and are led towards conversion by their entreaties, arguments and also tears. Salvation, as the experience was often called, clearly changes people’s personalities. Following conversion, individuals take greater responsibility for their own and their family’s situation and it is not unusual that, in their new lives, they start to tell others of their experience.The narratives in Betlehem show a marked preponderance of the emotional over the cognitive for the first 60 years, up to the 1950s, when feelings make way for reason and good examples. One reason for this change could be that the instantaneous conversion of revivalism is replaced with an emphasis on a rational, planned decision and commitment. Another reason could be the ecumenical realities of the time, with church membership based on baptism rather than a confession of faith. The cognitive aspects, as well as postmodernism’s loss of belief in metanarratives, may be mentioned as further possible explanations.The Baptist process of conversion, its “golden chain”, interpreted through the constitution of the first Baptist church in Borekulla and the Betlehem narratives, can be defined as anthropocentric and summed up as comprising the following stages: (1) The individual is awakened from their indifference and realises their sinfulness. (2) The individual senses a danger in their sinful state and turns to God. (3) The individual accepts Jesus Christ in faith and receives forgiveness and assurance. (4) Faith is brought to life in transformative discipleship. The theology of conversion broadly follows those of other revivalist groups.

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