Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Convert zeal

A story on NPR's All Things Considered this afternoon focused on concerns about radical Islamist terrorism in the Phillippines. One of the concerns is that many of these extremists are recent converts from Christianity to Islam. The commentator noted that it is common, not just to Islam, but across all religions, that converts are more zealous than those born in the faith.

Is this true of Mormonism? If so, why is it the case? Is it something that we should consider good or bad?


  1. When I was a wee young thing of 8 yrs old I decided that converts were more spiritual or stronger than regular old mormons. All the ones I knew seemed so much more into things than the regular people. I even wished that I could be a convert instead. 20 years later, I think converts have more appreciation for the church than us old folks and I would say that generally they are more spiritual but I don't know if I would use the word zeal. Converts I've known weren't usually over zealous, they just seem to have more passion and excitement.

  2. I think it's easy for people in the church to be complacent. After all, they don't have to look for the truth - it's handed to them on a silver platter. Converts, on the other hand, have had to undergo a searching process, they've had to overcome pre-conceptions and old ways of thinking. So, naturally they're more active in their faith.
    Of course, once in the mission field I had a companion ask me if I was a convert to the Church. I responded that I had been brought up in the Church, so no, I wasn't a convert. His comment? "Then may I suggest you become one." Needless to say, the comment reflected an underlying tension in the companionship, but he made a good point - it goes back to your T&S post about esotericism, and your question as regarding spiritual preparation. We all need to be actively preparing spiritually, seeking faith-promoting experiences, seeking confirmation through the Spirit, acting on promptings, etc.

  3. I think it's good in Mormonism to the extent that any enthusiasm is good -- a recent convert's enthusiasm for the Gospel can, for instance, incite a long-standing but quite complacent member to reexamine his or her own testimony and enthusiasm (as illustrated in Zach's comment).

    If, on the other hand, convert enthusiasm led to radical Mormon terrorism, I would start backpedalling very quickly.