Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Review -- The Call To Conversion

In The Call To Conversion Jim Wallis invites his readers to a greater understanding of the meaning, and scope of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. According to Wallis, the Kingdom of God has arrived, and that arrival calls all true Christian believers into a radical change of lifestyle.

Wallis rightly understands repentance as a turning away from an old way of life, priorities, and goals and reorienting ones compass so that the goal becomes a life characterized by the Sermon on the Mount. Wallis contends that America’s individualistic culture has brought us to the point where Christians have relinquished their proper responsibility to share with those in need, and to provide for the needy.

Wallis wrote The Call To Conversion in 1981, but any reader of his more recent and popular work can find the genesis of his thoughts in this book. In this edition, Wallis calls out Christians to re-examine their views on global poverty, war, and community.

Wallis appeals to the early church fathers in his chapter on poverty, and generosity, with quotations that will challenge modern day Christians. In the first few centuries of the church, Christians were known for being a people who shared their belongings with others. They understood the poor to be their responsibility, regardless of their affiliation or proximity to them. A stark contrast is drawn between believers of times gone past, and today’s new batch of Christians. America’s individualism and greed are confronted in this text, and a challenge goes forth to all believers to consider why their faith should never be confined to their private quarters, but must instead reach out and extend to those around them.

This book reads much like Wallis’ later works. Fans of his writing will find this book a helpful basis for his future work. I found The Call To Conversion to be an interesting read, although it clearly does not stack up to Wallis’ later works. The book is well written, but at times simplistic, and it lacks the anecdotal character of some of Wallis’ later work. Overall, it is a worthwhile read, especially for the first time reader of Jim Wallis.

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