Theologia vitae

Volume 4 (year 2011), issue 1

Life and Conversion

    Christian Conversion and Analogous Experiences in Other Religions
The Conversion to Judaism: A Theological-Religious Outline

    (David Beňa)

The article offers an overview of the rabbinic discussions—in history as well as today—about the conversion to Judaism. The Judaism is not a missionary religion, it tends to protect its own “Yiddishkeit”, the special Jewish shape of life; the approach to the conversion and to the converts is almost cautious, however it is different in the particular denominations. The conversion is possible and not seldom; it consists of the circumcision, immersion and teaching. The polemics today concern the problem of intermarriage, and in Israel, the reciprocal approval of conversions performed in different denominations.

    Christian Initiation Rites in 2nd and 3rd cent. CE related to Initiation Rites in Greek Mysteries
    (Jiří C. Klimeš)

The text offers a comparison of Christian initiation and Greek mystery cults in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Being aware that the early Christian thinking of the day still kept a lot of Jewish inheritance as well, Jewish initiation was also included.

The comparison shows that archaic and Jewish thought stand in contradistinction, which is more than a mere intellectual opposition termed Athens vs Jerusalem as the clash was between a cyclical and a linear way of thinking.

That is why the study is based on a proposition by Paul Ricoeur as applied and treated by Pavel Hošek, which understands this polarity as controversy between manifestation and proclamation of the sacredness, specifically as a non-reducible complementarity of both approaches.

This point of view helps us then explore what is new and authentic in Christian initiation, and what in turn Christianity takes over from Greek mysteries or the Jewish initiation, respectively.

The study concludes in extending the proposition to the contemporary religious scene. It claims that the contest among archaic and Judeo-Christian thought goes on with consequences the study tries to discover.

    Religious Cultures and the Conceptual Meaning of Conversion in the Countries of Central Europe During the Last One-and-a-Half Century (1861–2011)
    (Tomáš W. Pavlíček)

The article attempts to present the problem of the ambiguity of the religious terms religiousness, secularisation, and conversion. To research those, a social scientist, a theologian or a demographer uses different methods. But the result of their research can differ from the way the historical agents themselves would describe their own spiritual experience. A historian cannot talk to the agents about their conversion, but he/she can study individual aspects of the religious culture they lived in. The author presents variability of the historical processes which either caused or accompanied religious changes, secularisation and conversion in Central Europe in the modern era. To do this, he first defines the term Central Europe.

The author poses a question whether a conversion is a change of religion, a change of confession, a lifestyle change or a spiritual change. One of the possible answers is provided by the definition of conversion created by two great theologians of the 20th century, Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan.

A conversion is always a new start, but the convert should not forget or cut off the heritage of their past. A conversion always happens in a specific, historical and social, reality. Historical realisations and changes of the meaning of the term conversion presented in this article cover a longer period of time and are exemplified with different Central European regions, which show various continuities and discontinuities of modern history.

In its conclusion, the article points out that the general tendency is not towards global secularisation, but a varied religious culture, which is undergoing a revival. This can be also proved by the change in the theological semantics of religious conversion in the modern times. The aim of the study is to observe a historical agent in their context. Let us allow the converts to convert according to their cultural background!

    Psychology of Conversion and Conversion of Psychology as Viewed from Empirical Research and the Theory of Object Relations by Donald Winnicott
    (Marek Macák)

The article provides an overview of the experience of conversion, from the standpoint of empirical psychological research and from the perspective of Donald Winnicott’s psychoanalytic theory. Empirical research shows that conversion generally does not lead to statistically significant shifts in basic personality traits as defined by the Five Factor Theory of Costa and McCrae. However, we should expect shifts in the content of motivational dynamics and values of the person, irrespective of the general stability of major personality traits. Research on human attachment supports the compensation theory of conversion, showing that problematic early attachment generally leads to adult’s stronger relationship with God. However, it is probable that the course of this relationship is rather dynamic and nonlinear, and that it cannot be satisfactorily expressed by simple correlation of early attachment and later relationship with God.

A more detailed, clinically and qualitatively based view of conversion comes from Winnicott’s psychology of object relations. This theory shows how human infant, in his early interaction with the primary caregiver, comes against the limits of his omnipotent fantasies, stemming from his drives and experienced needs. The frustration of these needs naturally leads to destructive aggression directed at the primary object. If this object survives the aggression, without retaliation, a new mental space opens, which makes room for deeper mutuality and relatedness with the Other and with the outer reality. This leads to positive growth in the integrity of personality and to greater maturity. This dynamics is parallel to the dynamics of conversion and subsequent spiritual growth, differentiation and integration of human subjectivity in their relation with God.

In conclusion, we point out that it is necessary to reflect on psychological theory from the perspective of theology and spirituality. All theory needs to be seen in the light of special revelation, and theological perspective should never be reduced to mere derivative of immanent processes proposed by psychological theory.

    Conversion of Children: A Dimension of Theology in Approaching Catechetics
    (Noemi Bravená)

The submitted study deals with the issue of the conversion of children from the perspective of Catechetics as a science of religious education and training. The current problem which the authoress deals with is how to approach the conversion of the children in the age of 3–12 years. Main problems are presented here in six sections. First the concepts are defined: the child and the conversion. Systematic-theological standpoint (i.e. soteriological and hamartological problems) concerning the conversion of children is introduced in section two. Next follows the Biblical point of view on a child as a donum (OT) and an exemplum(NT) including key Biblical texts. The section four of the paper approaches the conversion of children on the background of child and baptism, belief against reason and active faith in the history of Catechetics. Section five considers two aspects about the present catechetic discussion—interdisciplinarity, meaning of the development stages of faith (Fowler) and religious opinion (Oser, Gmünder). The concluding section deals with the relationship of ecclesiastical workers to a child. Here are introduced some of the prejudices of the mature toward a child conversion, the service of catechizers as companions, and subjective experience of believing and conversion. Didactic aids as well as the value of two catechetic methods in the education (theologizing and Godly play) are also assessed.


    Krizové situace v česko-slovenském kontextu po roce 1989
    Czech-Slovak Crises After 1989
    eds.: Zuzana Jurechová and Pavol Bargár
(Michaela Moravčíková)

    Ole Hallesby – der Fels aus Norwegen
    The Life of Ole Hallesby
    transl. & ed. Joachim Rieger, ed. Manfred Rieger
(Marek Říčan)

    Jaroslav Franc on John A. Saliba
    – yet to be published in Studia theologica when ThV was in print
(Jiří C. Klimeš)

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