Conversion Stories: Navigating Between Scylla and Charybdis

Care and balance are always needed here:

I suppose I need to begin by explaining things for those not fully up on their Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were a rock shoal on one side of a strait and a whirlpool on the other (depicted as two sea monsters). Sailors had to learn to navigate between the two hazards, or risk losing everything. Going too close to either one could be disastrous.

As I have said so very often now, the Christian constantly needs to do the same: we need to avoid dangerous extremes and seek the biblical balance. Let me offer one broad example of this, and then a more specific application of it. As to the more general principle, Christians need to avoid these two unbiblical extremes:

-They should not be gullible, foolish, lacking in discernment, and just believe everything they hear. They need to test all things and prove that which is right and true.
-They should not be so hyper-critical and sceptical and doubting that they never believe anything or anyone. They need to be open to what God might be doing, and that God is in fact much bigger than the narrow little box they are in.

The specific example of this has to do with reports of someone’s conversion. We have seen a lot of celebrity conversions of late or claims to that effect. And we have heard about many public figures who at the very least seem to be on a genuine spiritual journey. I have written often about these folks of late.

Just think of Russell Brand or Rob Schneider or Jordan Peterson or Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Candace Owens. In these and other cases I have had to navigate between the Scylla and Charybdis with my various Christian friends. Some are so cynical and sceptical that they doubt that any of these folks have become Christians, or perhaps even could become Christians!

Then some other friends are ready to welcome them into the fold with no questions asked. They just accept what they hear and seem to have no need to ask a few hard questions and wait and see how things pan out. As I so often say, both approaches are unhelpful and unbiblical, and both should be avoided.

As I also so often say, there are two things at least all believers should do when they hear of such conversion tales. One, they should not expect the person to become a deep theologian or super devout believer overnight. If they did indeed have an encounter with Christ, it will take time to grow and mature as a believer. I am still growing after being a Christian for a half a century, so I surely need to cut new converts some slack.

Two, we can at least pray for these folks. Anyone can be an armchair critic, and act as judge, jury and executioner. It is easy to take pot shots at others, and just criticise all the time. It is much harder – and much more important – to pray for these folks. Thus I pray daily for people like Ali and Peterson and others.

So why do I write all this once again? Do I need to keep repeating myself on this? Well, yes, in light of something I was just alerted to. A friend shared a post from some evangelist I have never heard of. The social media post had said this:

Jose The Evangelist

Praise the LORD! Let us pray for our sister Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who I just led to faith in the LORD JESUS CHRIST and prayed for her at Ronald Raegan International Airport, Washington Dc. Thank you to my dear brother Philip Renner Ministries / Renner Worship for planning this amazing ministry trip. GOD bless her and America.




OK, so here we go again. My reply to my friend was short and sweet: “Hmm, we shall pray and we shall see!” And let me lay my cards on the table at this point. If in recent times I have been a bit harder on the critics and the cynics over various conversion stories, here I probably fall a bit more in their camp!

As most folk would know, AOC is one of the most radical, far-left, America-hating, pro-abortion politicians around. I have written before about the New York activist and her constant attacks on all that is good and right. And she is also part of “The Squad,” a group of progressive Democrats, some of whom are hardcore Muslims, such as Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. These characters take “I hate America” to a whole new level.

So given how bad AOC is, and given that we just have this one evangelist’s short post on this, I will not drop everything and say, ‘Welcome to the family of God’. Nothing may come of it all. But if a real conversion has taken place, then I can say the following:

I will indeed want to see some real fruit if she has in fact come to Christ. Yes, that will take time. But if after a while she is still ferociously in support of baby killing and hating America and pushing pro-Islam and pro-homosexual agenda items, then I will have every right to question if she really did experience a genuine conversion.

But I also will not foolishly say it is impossible for someone like her to get saved. God can save anyone. Indeed, if he could save a wretch like me, there is no limit to whose life he can touch. So the issue is not that AOC is beyond redemption. God can indeed reach down and radically change her.

The issue is, however, did a brief airport encounter do the trick? It CAN of course. But we have seen too many cases of those who have briefly claimed to become Christians, only to soon enough leave it all. Kanye West is a case in point. So ‘wait and see’ and keeping her in prayer has to be my approach here.

I will add her to my prayer list. And I will see what happens, if anything, in the days and weeks ahead. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if she really did have an encounter with the living Christ, confessed her sins and repented, and is now on a new journey with the indwelling Holy Spirit? Absolutely.

But it is far too early to say either yea or nay. This may be some one-off thing that an over-excited evangelist has posted, and we may see nothing more on this in the coming months. Or perhaps something really did happen in that airport encounter. I do not know.

I do know that she needs prayer, as every human on this planet does. And I also know that if she did decide for Christ, getting solid, biblical discipling will be absolutely critical. If she was just converted, let us pray that she finds a solid Christian fellowship where the word of God is highly valued and where she will be lovingly yet firmly discipled in the faith.

As I say, that should show up in various ways in the days ahead. I cannot see how a genuine believer can after time still fully support abortion on demand and other ungodly agenda items. So I will be guardedly cautious here indeed. But I will also be guardedly optimistic, knowing that God is in the business of transforming lives. If he could reach down and change Saul who was on his way to persecute more Christians 2000 years ago, he can reach down and save AOC.


If you happen to see this evangelist’s post on Facebook, you will see there have been three main responses to it. The great bulk of those commentating were basically celebrating and cheering: ‘Praise the Lord’ ‘This is great news’ ‘Wonderful.’ And so on.

And then there is a much smaller group that was much more cautious, taking the ‘wait and see approach,’ and rightly saying as Jesus did that we will know them by their fruit. They were somewhat hopeful but somewhat dubious. I think they are correct to be this way.

And a third group may really have been part of the first group. They were quite angry at the second group claiming that this was none of their business and they should not judge, and so on. The very thought that believers should be careful and discerning here was looked down upon by these Christians.

Once again, biblical balance is needed. Yes, at the end of the day, only God fully and infallibly knows the human heart. He knows if AOC is now saved, and/or enroute. But all Christians ARE of course called to judge, to assess, to evaluate, to be wise, to discern, and to test everything.

But we are not simply to just be armchair critics, condemning everyone and everything that does not seem to fit in with the way we see things. So there are errors all over the place to avoid. There are hazards everywhere that we must steer clear from.

There is the Scylla and Charybdis to watch out for. And as should be obvious by now, this is how I will be responding to this news of an AOC conversion:

-It may just be a beat-up that will come to nothing.
-Nonetheless, I will pray for her.
-I will also wait and see, hoping to see some noticeable fruit and changed beliefs if she did make a commitment to Christ.
-I will double down in praying for various other non-Christians that they might come to know Christ.

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2 Replies to “Conversion Stories: Navigating Between Scylla and Charybdis”

  1. I have known persons who have had such a beautiful witness to Christ as to be a joy to see and learn from, but they have now turned away and no longer walk with the Lord. We know so little.

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