- Is it when he's introduced to Jesus? Andrew introduces his brother to Jesus, who tells him that one day he'll be called "Peter" - is he converted here? Might someone who subscribes to predestination believe this is the big reveal?
- Is it when he confesses he's a sinner? After fishing all night with no success, Jesus tells Peter to do it again. He does, brings in many, and falls to his knees to declare he's a sinful man. Is he converted here? Confessional-oriented groups might like to think so.
- Is it when he proclaims Jesus is the Messiah? Jesus asks who people say He is, and Peter erupts with the confession that "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." Credal believers would really appreciate this and recognize this as the critical step.
- Is it after the death and resurrection of Jesus? Peter denies Jesus three times, then after the resurrection confesses His love for Jesus three times. Is he converted here? And if so, which time - when he confesses Phileo love or Agape love? Many who hold to the importance of the veil being torn and the Law being released would claim this was the moment.
- Is it after he (and the others) receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? This is after he is boldly preaching to others, then followed by more bold preaching to others. Is he converted here? Surely the Charismatics would think so.
- Is it after his vision on a rooftop? Here he realizes that the circle of who is considered clean and unclean gets widened when God corrects his understanding. Is he converted here? Spiritual social activists would state this is the moment.
- Is it when he's crucified upside-down (according to tradition)? Here he would fully identify with Jesus as one last act of surrender. Is he converted here? Extremists would like to think so.
- Or is it after His baptism? And if so, when is that exactly?
The "moment" of all of this seems questionable by different schools of thought, but the process seems clear:
- Peter is lost in life.
- Peter is introduced to Jesus by Andrew.
- Peter suspects Jesus might be the Messiah.
- Peter is invited to follow Jesus, and he does.
- Peter recognizes Jesus as someone profoundly superior.
- Peter confesses Jesus is the Messiah (but still disagrees that the Messiah should suffer).
- Peter perceives the Messiah must suffer.
- Peter confesses his love for Jesus three times.
- Peter realizes Jesus is Messiah for the Jews and the Gentiles.
- Peter embraces Jesus' life as a paradigm for Christian living (hence, the writings of Peter in the Bible).
So how do we chart this? And do we need to? (Which is a question in itself.)
Where is the spike on the graph? Or are there several? And if so, which is the biggest?
Keep in mind, I ask these questions to grow in my understanding of how you think about God so that I might grow in my understanding of how I think about Him as well. I'm not trying to stir up a pot without purpose - I have no doubt Peter was converted and have my own idea of when... there obviously is some defining moment in all of this.
I guess my questions are about how we can tell...
if we can tell...
and why the need to tell seems so important to people besides the person who takes that step.
(Especially churches needing to fill out denominational reports on "how many" did "this or that"... which I really don't miss doing, because it gives me more time to connect with those folks in person.)