Religious Conversion, a Bio-Psychological Study

By Sante De Sanctis; Helen Augur | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
TYPES OF CONVERSION

ALL writers, whether they be historians or psychologists, divide conversion into two categories: the fulminant or lightning type, and the progressive type. If I am not mistaken, Starbuck's classification of conversion into the impulsive and the volitional types is a mere paraphrasing of the classic division. I may state that from my own direct personal observation and critical reflection I would regard such a division as applicable only to the duration (rapid or slow) of the conversional process. As to the manner of the conversion, there is only one. But let us proceed more slowly.


1. Conversion: Fulminant and Progressive: The Unconscious

All writers are agreed that fulminant, or lightning conversions occur for the most part in connection with some important or trivial event of the external or internal life: a plastic vision, voices, a luminous nocturnal phenomenon, or some other less significant circumstance. The subject testifies to having experienced a sudden overturning of his whole being; the entire course of his life is changed. St. Paul is the classic example of the lightning type of conversion. Also the old religious books describe all religious conversions in the same way as they describe 'cures' miraculously effected at the touch of the magician, the rabbi, or the saint. It is not,

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