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In the Mormon Church, conversion means "changing one's beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God." It is a "conscious decision to give up one's former ways and change to become a disciple of Christ." Conversion to Christ's Church involves, "repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and continued faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A natural man will be changed into a new person who is sanctified and pure, born again in Christ Jesus" (LDS Guide to the Scriptures).
Many people mistakenly think that being converted is when a sincere individual decides to be baptized. However, when properly used, the term conversion means far more than that, for the new convert as well as the long-term member. With characteristic doctrinal clarity and precision, President Marion G. Romney, formerly a member of the First Presidency, explained conversion:
- Webster's Dictionary says the verb convert means "to turn from one belief or course to another"; that conversion is "a spiritual and moral change attending a change of belief with conviction." As used in the scriptures, converted generally implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings, but also a motivating faith in him and in his gospel-a faith which works a transformation, an actual change, in one's understanding of life's meaning and in his allegiance to God-in interest, in thought, and in conduct. While conversion may be accomplished in stages, one is not really converted in the full sense of the term unless and until he is at heart a new person. Born again is the scriptural term (Look to God and Live, 1973, p. 108-9).
In order to be converted, a person must build his life upon a love of God and always maintain a fixed determination to keep His commandments. True, whole-hearted conversion will transform a person's life.
President Romney describes some of the process of conversion which must be followed:
- Membership in the Church and conversion are not necessarily synonymous. Being converted . . . and having a testimony are not necessarily the same thing either. A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of the truth. A moving testimony vitalizes faith-that is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments. Conversion, on the other hand, is the fruit of, or the reward for, repentance and obedience (Look to God and Live, 1973, p. 111).
Leaders of the Church constantly stress the fact that true conversion is a life-long process, not something that is over once a person is baptized. Members are constantly encouraged to commit to being converted to the teachings and gospel of Christ.