(Note: This is a post from Steve over at Triablogue. I just edited the format to fit my blog space.)
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim 3:6).
Conversion stories can be edifying. And to some extent, Christians have a duty to bear witness to their faith.
However, the Christian media has a bad habit of touting celebrity converts. When a celebrity converts to Christianity, they often become instant spokesmen (or women) for their newfound faith. They are interviewed in both Christian and secular venues. They appear at Christian events as keynote speakers. That sort of thing. But there are three or four obvious problems with this:
- If they are new to the faith, they lack the theological knowhow to be a spokesman for the faith. Minimally, they need at least a few years to bone up on basic Christianity theology and ethics. Bible study.
- In addition, they may simply lack the intellectual aptitude to be a public spokesman for Christianity.
- But there’s a deeper problem. Today’s novice may be tomorrow’s apostate. New converts are too unstable to parade around. They need some shakedown time. Time to get rooted in the faith. Time to develop a tested faith. The passage of time is a winnowing process. It deepens the faith of some converts while weeding out rootless converts. Seed time is not a good time to distinguish the tares from the wheat. Wait to watch them grow. Do they flower or wither? Are they fruitful or fruitless?
- The very act of showcasing a newbie convert is destabilizing. This positions them for the fall. They aren’t ready for the spotlight. Too much attention can be destructive.