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Testament ‘…suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice’. Paul’s conversion and subsequent radical life change was based on a direct religious experience, rather than the authority of the Church or intellectual debate. The Christian twentieth century evangelist Billy Graham agreed that conversion did not have to be an instant dateable experience, but it did have to be a conscious experience, a real experience ‘..you cannot tell the exact moment when night becomes day, but you know when it is day-light’ (world Aflame, 1996). Again, the conversion experience is understood from a psychological perspective by Williams as when self divided becomes unified. He sees this aspect illustrated by two types of the divided self, both reflecting an awareness of incompleteness. He states two types of the ‘divided self’, the first being ‘sick souls’ which are those who are driven by a feeding of two lives, the natural and the spiritual. He quotes from John Bunyan’s autobiography as an example ‘..and now I was sorry that God has made me a man. The beasts, birds, fishes etc. I blessed their condition..’, the second type of the ‘divided self’ is ‘healthy minded’ which are those who see two selves, one actual and one ideal. The battle is to strive for the ideal. James expresses it as ‘happiness and religious peace consist in living on the plus side of the account.. And eliminating the minuses from life.’ James also talks about the case of self-surrender whereby the individual must give up, relinquish, his or her personal will, although an individual may resist, it is not until the surrender that the conversion takes place. James notes that often in these instances, the state of sin is such that the individual is obsessed with escaping from it and only self-surrender will achieve it. Finney’s experience is an example of volitional conversion and is cited by James ‘I finally ceased to resist, and gave myself up, though it was a hard...
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