Two of the Christian thinkers who have the most influence on my reading of Scripture and experience of faith are John Wesley and Will Willimon. Especially in the case of Willimon, I have been led to others – Eugene Peterson, Walter Brueggemann, Karl Barth, Stanley Hauerwas, John Howard Yoder. Through Wesley I have been drawn to read Thomas A Kempis and learn more about Arminianism and Augustine and Calvin than I would have if left to my own reading.
One thing Willimon and Wesley both read in Scripture is conversion. Both – in different ways – argue that being a Christian requires a fundamental and drastic change in who we are and the way we get on in the world.
In my pre-Christian days, I would not have been comfortable with all this talk of conversion. I felt that if you were basically a good and nice person who did good and nice things, God – if God existed – would smile and pat you on the head. Conveniently, this meant that God could pretty much be ignored most of the time.
Methodism once preached a decidedly conversion-oriented gospel.
I do not gather that we still preach conversion consistently or widely.