Beginnings: Understanding How We Experience the New Birth

Reviewed by: Hope Bolinger, a professional writing major at Taylor University.



Title: Beginnings: Understanding How We Experience the New Birth

Author: Stephen Smallman

Publisher: P&R Publishing

Publication Date: 2015

Format: Print book

Length: 206 pages


Most Christians equate the conversion experience to a mere sinner’s prayer, perhaps uttered at seven-years-old. However, Smallman argues being born again involves a process. Similar to gestation periods, some people might take nine months (or even nine years) of dialoguing about the Gospel before they truly commit their lives to Christ. Furthermore, he dives into the importance of sanctification. Babies must grow after birth. The same rule applies to Christians. Through the examples of Christians ranging from Corrie ten Boom to those in Smallman’s congregation, readers will discover conversion isn’t a one-size-fits-all phenomenon, nor does it stop at a simple prayer.

Aside from some practical illustrations, such as his spiritual birth diagram (which sets in clear terms the steps from justification to sanctification), the book lacks in delivery. It contains a far-too repetitive structure, dwells too much in passive voice and massive paragraphs, and does not assert more than a few paragraphs of novel information. Some of the “case studies” are effective, such as Doug Logan’s story in Chapter Eleven. But, for the most part, the recurring nature of the chapters becomes redundantly tedious rather quickly.


Rating (1 to 5)

3 stars

Suggested Audience

Those interested in comparing their conversion stories to those of other Christians from all walks of life

Christian Impact

Salvation is the most important aspect of a Christian’s life. Whether someone said the sinner’s prayer at a young age or heard the effectual calling at sixty-five, one cannot pursue any part of the Christian walk without this first step. Smallman shows, through anecdotes, how several believers arrived at this point.


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Beginnings - Understanding How We Experience the New Birth

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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