What makes a priest of one religion become a preacher of another religion? How could a person embrace a religion suddenly that he or she had up to then opposed? Why would young women risk their reputation and endanger their lives for the sake of newfound faith? How could an alcoholic detest a sip of wine all of a sudden? What drives an atheist to become an ardent worshiper of God? How could an intelligent person relate to God as to an adult human being? Transformative Religious Experience answers these questions with fascinating narratives of conversion. These narratives together show how the transforming effects of conversion permeate the daily lives of converts in a multireligious context.
Joshua Iyadurai analyzes psychologically the mystical turning point in the conversion process and finds that the divine-human encounter entails a cognitive restructuring: a new set of beliefs, values, and desires replaces previously held religious beliefs, values, and desires. By drawing insights from the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and theology, Iyadurai develops an interdisciplinary step model from a phenomenological perspective to explain the conversion process that incorporates the religious practices and social-psychological factors while giving a central place to religious experience.