"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Absolutely Embarrassing Is the Only Phrase to Describe the "Evangelism Service" at the Southern Baptist Convention's Closing Night

Wednesday night one of my favorite singing groups performed at the Southern Baptist Convention, Casting Crowns, and the worship was fantastic. I wish I could say as much for the preaching. The evangelist, whom I choose not to name, preached what he called a "salvation" message and offered an "invitation."

The only problem was the evangelist's message contained as much gospel as there is caffeine in water. In other words, there was no good news proclaimed of what Christ has done for sinners, but there was an insistence that the sinner must follow a methodological religious ritual to save himself. This ritual consisted of praying a rote prayer by repeating the words of the evangelist, then holding up a hand to "confess" because you only "meant it if you mention it," and finally the plea for all who meant it to move to the front of the auditorium to "publicly declare your private prayer." The entire twenty minutes of manipulating a listener to follow the God dishonoring ritual was preceeded by the mantra "if there's never been change, then something's strange." The notion that people who struggle with sin in their lives are somehow cured by following this peculiar ritual presented at the Southern Baptist Convention Wednesday night is more Roman Catholic than Roman Catholic mass.

I was embarrassed. Massive damage is done to the substance of evangelical Christianity when adults and mostly children are somehow led to believe salvation is tied up in their ritualistic walk down an aisle than it is in the performance of Jesus Christ at Calvary. More dishonor is given to the name of Christ when an evangelist short cuts the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction, illumination and conversion. Leading someone through a religious ritual, then convincing them that the ritual magically conveys salvation, instead of
patiently explaining the message of good news in Jesus Christ and urging the hearer to simply believe on Christ, is turning the gospel of Christ's kingdom into a carnival sideshow.

If this is what the Southern Baptist Convention has turned into,  then it does not represent our history as conservative, evangelical apologists. It may represent the the Fundamentalist, Arminian, legalist brand of evangelicalism, but it doesn't represent what we have historically believed biblical Christianity is all about. Could someone have actually been "saved" at that "evangelism service?" Sure. God spoke to Balaam through a donkey, He can speak through our perverted religious rituals. But He moves in spite of our errors, not because of them. Someone who was actually at the service and not simply watching it like I was, tweeted two messages:

@sbcmessenger: Oh, goodness sakes! If you didn't see it, Bobby Welch came forward at the invitation. #SBC2010


@sbcmessenger: 200+ SBC evangelists meet. 132 of them respond 2 the invitation. 129 decisions for Christ, 3 baptisms. #SBC2010

At least the comic relief softened the pain.

160 comments:

Amy said...

Wade,

I hope you are sitting down for this comment, especially seeing that it is coming from someone who rarely agrees with your positions. But I absolutely agree with you.

When I share the Gospel I never will do a "repeat after me prayer". I once threw away some evangelism material because the prayer at the end was so bad. I even once told a student of mine that I wasn't going to let them pray when we finished chatting because they wouldn't mean it and their soul was not going to be on my conscious. BTW -- he came back 3 days later and told me that I was right and really wanted Jesus this time. He walked away the second visit a true believer in Jesus.

I also detest the statement, "I led ??? to Christ." However, I will save that rant for another day.

Tom Chantry said...

I cannot imagine how this strikes anyone who has not grown up in the altar-call system. It is so transparently manipulative that I cringe to think how it makes the gospel appear to any skeptical unbelievers.

But to those who grew up with it it is an indispensable necessity. I had a roommate in college - a Southern Baptist and a very godly young man with a heart for evangelism that humbled me - who asked me once, "If you don't have an altar call, how does anyone get saved?" I answered simply, "by the blood of Jesus Christ who died for sinners." He sighed in exasperation and said, "Well I know that, but how do they get saved?" He honestly couldn't seem to separate the saving work of God from the ritual he had always seen at the end of church, and he couldn't imagine the Spirit of God saving anyone without the help of the altar call.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Wade - thank you for expressing your thoughts on this spectacle. I thought I was watching Jan and Paul Crouch on TBN. "Embarrassing" is exactly the right way to express how I felt watching the performance.

I will also add: since the revelation of Ergun Caner's kaleidoscope testimony, I am now wary of these "evangelists" and their conversion story. This is probably wrong on my part, but honestly I just don't believe these traveling preachers anymore and their stories, especially when they include the most awful of conditions before Christ.

As I blogged last month, there were two Erguns: the traveling Ergun, and the stay-at-home Ergun. The embellisher was the traveling Ergun, who perhaps knew these people have limited knowledge of his real testimony and he could tell his grand stories, paint himself as an "olive skin" minority immigrant, giving him the ability to then use his racial jokes. Stay-at-home Ergun did not embellish as much in Lynchberg, as he knew people that had more intimate knowledge of his past were listening.

So I just...don't....trust....these SBC traveling evangelists and their stories.

One exception: I do trust Junior Hill.

Darby Livingston said...

It's good to know that Bobby Welch is saved now... or rededicated... or consecrated... or sold out for service... or stretched and warmed up for a marathon... or... whatever it is he was trying to accomplish by coming forward. Unfortunately, many try to "prime the pump" by coming forward so that those in need of salvation don't feel so weird for doing it. In fact, this is a prescribed method at crusades. Typical of many ministries today - shoddy preaching built on shallow exposition compensated by showy stagecraft.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

And I'll add:

This is precisely the thing that Matt Chandler has been preaching about for a long time that has hurt our youth for decades - this "magic pill" prescription to have your sins removed by raising your hand and coming forward, then to find that you're still sinning and not conforming perfectly to what a Christian is supposed to be and do - so something must be wrong - so you rededicate or rebaptize - but still you're a sinner....and then they realize the formula doesn't work and they leave the church.

Anonymous said...

When you think about it, everything in the typical worship service is manipulative:

We follow an order of worship that begins with a high-energy, feel-good song or two, led by musicians who really put their hearts into it. Then there is usually another song that's somewhat less energetic, to bring people down slowly to the next event: a "pastoral" prayer. Now the people are ready to accept whatever the trained orator dumps into their brains. And does he ever! He's worked on this speech for at least a week, and tweaked it and honed it to a neat 3-point alliterated outline, which the people dutifully fill in on their bulletins. Then comes the long priestly prayer, followed by the finale: the slow, soft, emotional music with its endless repeated 4-word lyrics:

repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat,

... till the desired (nay, demanded) number of browbeaten souls cracks.

"And my people love to have it so."

Anonymous said...

COSBE will be trumpeting this for years to come!!

Trust me on this one

Pastorbill

Bob Cleveland said...

I had been tied up with other things Wednesday night and tuned in right at the invitation. I turned it off as quick as I heard what it was he was doing.

Reminded me of the last .. and well known .. "evangelist" who preached a "revival" at FBC .. which seems to have left no after-effects, by the way .. when he preached "The Five Reasons Satan Doesn't Want You To Walk This Aisle". That one was disturbing, too.

Karen in OK said...

I didn't watch that, but I was disturbed Tuesday night when Jerry Rankin ? painted a picture of Christians standing before Christ about to enter into joy but they are accosted by people entering hell who WOULD HAVE come to Christ if only they had been told, and Christ expressing His sorrow that they had not been told.
Kind of reminded me of the book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" in that God cares, even a lot, but He is kind of powerless.
I know that I have great responsibility and privilege to share the Gospel, but in some way my faithfulness or lack thereof is surely not the deciding factor?

Thy Peace said...

CRBC Pastoral Blog [Tom Chantry] > Encountering Charles Finney

CRBC Pastoral Blog [Tom Chantry] > Charles Finney’s Stepchildren

James Hunt said...

Tony Nolan.

Why the secrecy, Wade? If the guy's goin' public with this manipulative dung then expose him.

James

Christiane said...

I think about 'walking the aisle' and the only comparison I can make to the way of my faith might be the prayers of the Way of the Cross, the 'Via Dolorosa'.

If the fundamentalists want to get people closer to Our Lord, and they want to use a liturgical 'ritual', perhaps they might suggest for people to walk and pray the 'stations of the Cross' in the Holy Land, along the ancient pathway that Our Lord, carrying the Cross, walked, stumbled, fell, on the Via Dolorosa, marking each event in His journey.

The 'aisle' He walked in Jerusalem is the only 'aisle' I know of that leads to our salvation, a place of Sacrifice at Golgotha. And HE was the One who walked it, for us.

A strange 'ritual', to 'walk the aisle'. But if it has some meaning for a person reaching out towards Our Lord, I am not one to judge them or condemn the way that they reach out for His Help.

Christ meets us where we are.
In an 'aisle'.
In the Holy Land.
In the quiet moment of a vigil prayer.
He comes to us when we are led by the Holy Spirit to turn our faces towards Him and seek His healing.

If our 'ways' of turning to Him seem strange to one another, then we must ask the Holy Spirit for the gift to understand that another's need for Christ is always greater than our limited ideas of the 'acceptable' ways we 'should' go about seeking Him.

We are very limited in how we understand this on our own.
We need to pray for understanding.

Be peaceful.

Thy Peace said...

2010 SBC Annual Meeting > Program - June 16 Evening Session.

James Hunt said...

What's equally embarrasing is the way the leaders all promoted the CP as Southern Baptist's way of supporting missions...when, if the truth were exposed where monies are truly distributed most average SBC-ers would think you're lying or exagerating the truth.

I saw a banner on a stand in the main concourse hall that pictured a grave yard with gravestones all around a freshly covered over (dirt mounded) grave. The caption? "Two people die every second...one without Christ - every number has a story" At the bottom it was promoting the CP.

The problem with the picture and most of the CP talk I heard from leaders is that it's manipulative and deceptive...AT BEST!

I'd be so bold as to say much if not most of CP dollars does not go to evangelism or missions.

Castigate me if you will...but do the research.

Bob Cleveland said...

I suppose someone ought to point out that, in a "denomination" in which "walking the aisle" seems to be the preferred method, we can't seem to find something over half the people who did just that in our churches.

Interesting.

Richard said...

Wade,

An evangelist MUST have a sufficient mastery of the core of the Biblical Gospel--also must be solid on the message and presentation of the Gospel. The evangelist's sermon you reported clearly shows an utter lack of learned Biblical Gospel message. It just shows the shallowness of the messenger and the triump of gimmicks over Gospel in SBC.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Wow. As I watched the "show" last night I was struck by the same feelings, but I tried to convince myself it was just the cynic in me. Seeing and reading the last few years about all the politics and spiritual abuse in the SBC I admit I've become cynical. I made this comment to someone in an e-mail discussion last night.

An "evangelist" named Tony Nolan (never heard of him) just preached. It's all about emotion! My gosh! He's manipulating these people. "Pray the prayer. Did you really mean it? Now raise your hands. Now come forward! {fake tears} Give it up for these folks!" {applause} "Let's just marinate in this moment!" {fake tears} Ugh.

Then I found those two "tweets" and thought, okay, it's not just me.

One exception: I do trust Junior Hill.

I'm not sure I do. I've heard Junior Hill preach exactly once which is admittedly not much to go on, but during his sermon he repeatedly referred to "walking the aisle" and "getting saved." He even told a story about his brother coming to one of his services and sitting in the back, but his brother couldn't make himself "walk the aisle," so he died without Christ. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but the fact he never "walked the aisle" is not why he died without Christ, if indeed he did. The odd thing was, he droned on and on and never once told people how to be saved. You would have thought walking the aisle was all it took. He used the same tactics Tony Nolan did last night. When people didn't exactly flood the aisles during the invitation he ramped it up, saying we're going to sing one more verse and this may be your last chance to ever receive Christ.

I've been in the Baptist church all my life, and every church I've ever been in has been like this. I remember one man who'd "walk the aisle" every Sunday. Some Sundays he'd talk with the pastor for several minutes and go back to his seat. Other times he stay down front, presumably to fill out yet another card, and was rebaptized several times.

The "Roman Road" tracts, EE... they all read like the recipe for a cake. Step 1, Step 2, pray this prayer and really mean it, Step 3, you're saved! It always seemed so... clinical.

We were sitting in a service at Bellevue a few years ago when the baptismal service began (they do it before the service starts), and there in the baptistry about to be baptized by one staff minister was another staff minister. They even flashed his name on the IMAG! "_______, Minister of ______." Seems he'd been saved as a child and was baptized but then decided several years later he wasn't really saved. So then he got saved again and had been for many years but wanted to get his baptism "on the right side" of his salvation (which hopefully "took" this time).

Honestly, I am almost to the point where I don't know what it really means to be "saved" anymore. I just know I'm tired of all the emotionalism and manipulation that has resulted in bloated church rolls full of people who walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, filled out a card, got dunked, and are never seen again.

Does this "tweet" from last night tell you anything?

@johnnymhunt: @tonynolanlive has preached passionately,2see others saved @#SBC2010.@GCResurgence is starting as we end.

Sadly, I am only more convinced the GCRTF was not really about the GC at all, rather it was about nickels and noses. Control of the nickels and getting more noses onto the rolls for bragging rights. Yes, I'm sorry to say I am cynical.

Anonymous said...

Here's how I would present the gospel:

Do you want to be reconciled with God-- to be on good terms with Him?

If the answer is no, then we need to find out why. Are they mad at God? Think He's irrelevant? Etc. But if the answer is yes,

Then trust only in Jesus to reconcile you. But you have to know which "Jesus" this is, because He said He is the only way to God. This Jesus' coming was predicted; He was born of a virgin, lived the sinless life we couldn't, rose from the dead, and returned to heaven to prepare a place for us. If you believe all that, and reject all other gods, you will be reconciled to God.

Either one of those bolded statements is incomplete by itself. The first is ecumenical, and the second is a cold fact that even Satan believes. But together they form an unbreakable bond, and a foundation nothing can topple.

For too long we've only legalistically done the second one, or swung to the other extreme to "Jesus Lite". We need them both to be saved. And then we need to nurture and teach these spiritual newborns instead of leaving them to the wolves or feeding them spiritual pablum.

Anonymous said...

Oops... not quite sure how I left out "died for our sins" before "rose from the dead".

Anonymous said...

Oops... not quite sure how I left out "died for our sins" before "rose from the dead".

Lydia said...

Let me see if I have this straight. Our churches sent adult messengers to a Baptist Convention to vote who were not saved? Or, did they not know they were not saved until this service?

Mind boggling.

Christiane said...

I have heard the term 'Jesus Lite' but always written by someone who assumed everyone understood what it means.

From the 'contexts' of the many statements about 'Jesus Lite', I can only see that people are not always in consensus about what it means.

Hence, my confusion.

For a Southern Baptist, what is the meaning of 'Jesus Lite' ?

Is it similar to the phrase, 'Christianity Lite'?

Anonymous said...

Very few SBC churches have "invitations" any longer--and probably rightly so--but look how the number of baptisms has declined.

I would be open to hearing thoughts about how a person actually goes about getting saved in a Baptist church.

Somehow I doubt that Jesus would make them go through a class.

Anonymous said...

If God can use the jawbone of an ass, surely He can use a Baptist to lead an unbeliever to faith in Christ. That is not to demean the work and power of the Holy Spirit but God still can and does use human instruments to accomplish His work and will.

Timothy Bonney said...

Wade, I don't understand why you compared this side show evangelism to Roman Catholicism. I don't see Roman Catholics performing any such manipulation. Also I don't this has anything to do with being "arminian." American Baptists are arminian and United Methodists are arminian and neither perform these kind of services.

All that being said, I did see this kind of preaching in revivals as a kid in the SBC and I have always found it offensive.

Anonymous said...

To me, "Jesus Lite" means a Jesus of one's own making, a Jesus who is only one of many ways, never says anyone is a sinner, never cares about truth. This 'Jesus' can be added to one's existing beliefs/list of gods or forces, and is either just another teacher or not like the war God of the old testament. This 'Jesus' is the alter ego of the he-man 'Jesus' who only wants to "make somebody bleed" as a certain preacher has said.

Tom Chantry said...

"Jesus Lite" is one dimensional. He's the guy in the kiddie devotional book with a warm smile on his face and a couple of cute kids sitting on his lap. Sometimes instead he's cuddling with a lamb.

Of course the real Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and He does love children. It's just that He is much more than that.

"Jesus Lite" is never seen doing battle with the tempter and coming out victorious. He wouldn't be likely to tell a self-righteous questioner to keep all the commandments of God, or to call a foreign woman a "Gentile dog" - not even to get them to see their need of salvation. He doesn't rebuke people or call them to repentance, and he certainly never chased anybody with a whip. It is inconceivable that he could return with the angels and cast some into outer darkness and the lake of fire, or, as the other, biblical Jesus once put it, cut them up in little pieces and throw them out in the field.

"Jesus Lite" is too nice for all that, and he's too busy hugging babies anyway.

The problem is, it's a real leap to imagine "Jesus Lite" undergoing strenuous torture and then being painfully executed for the crimes of other people. It's hard to see him rising in power and giving life to his people. He just isn't the Jesus of the gospel.

Lydia said...

"I would be open to hearing thoughts about how a person actually goes about getting saved in a Baptist church.
"

How did it happen in the NT ekklesia?

Christiane said...

Hi TOM CHANTRY,

Thank you for responding.
Looks like you have made the acquaintance of the C.S. Lewis character 'Aslan' in the Narnia Chronicles. I am thinking . . . 'He is not a tame lion . . but he is good'

Thanks again. :)

BTW I much admired your five-page essay on the plight of Ergun Caner. I found it to be written with a piercing focus on the truth interwoven with a profound compassion for the humanity of the situation. That you can only do when you are Christ-centered.
That kind of writing is NOT a product of what I consider 'Christianity Lite'. Instead, it is something that people of my own faith can deeply respect.

Christiane

Tiffany Thigpen Croft said...

You haven't heard from me in a while...though I am still reading :)
I must step up here and say a word about this post regarding Tony Nolan.

I agree that many "invitation calls" within churches use guilt and fear tactics or seemingly fake emotions. While the messenger/Pastor may start with a real heart for the lost, sometimes along the way it becomes theatrical or "watered down" or insincere.

BUT, in regards to this particular man, Tony Nolan, I must say that his intentions are sincere and his heart IS for the lost.

I have known him for more than 20 years, since just after his own salvation. I know his wife and was present throughout their courtship, and eventually was maid of honor in their wedding. I know about his family history and of his abuse, things weren’t great following his adoption either. He was one of those that truly are a walking miracle. All that he was set up for in life and all that he was exposed to, he should not be the happy, passionate, addiction free, family man that he is. ONLY by the grace and miracle of God is he the man he is and has been growing into since the moment of his salvation. I know their (he and his wife) hearts and know that few people really give their lives for the purpose of winning souls as they have. This is literally their life's passion.

Unfortunately, there are few people in ministry that I have known that I have not been disappointed in, I see the human nature play in so often. As most of you know through my Darrell Gilyard debacle and recent blog. It is so hard not to become cynical about Pastors and evangelists and leaders in our society today. We need to have our eyes wide open.

I am not proclaiming Tony Nolan to be saintly or perfect...I am just saying from experience that he is real, not performing, not insincere, NOT your typical southern baptist boy...he is quite the opposite of all of those things. He would boldly stand up against the word being distorted or misused in any way. He is a strong personality and God Bless his wife, she has a full time job. 

His personality is not for everyone, but his heart is one of the few pure, true “seeking Jesus” hearts I have ever seen. Truly. In fact their faith and ministry are one of the few that I don’t hold my breath, waiting to be disappointed (that cynical, jaded part learned from experience).

I have been behind the scenes following a Casting Crowns tour concert, just after Tony led the decision time – which is the heart and highlight of a Casting Crowns concert – and let me tell you, there is excitement over the souls that come. Tony especially is one of those infectious, contagious, hyper people who is overjoyed anytime a person receives God’s gift. He feels that it has nothing to do with him or his message.
Copied these from their own posts…

Tony Nolan: Highlight of yesterday? Seeing tears falling down the cheeks of the forgiven! #fb 5 hours ago via Twitter •

Tammy Nolan: "Hosea put it well:I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved" http://read.ly/Rom9.25.MSG

Wade Burleson said...

Tiffany,

Thanks.

That's one of the reasons I chose not to use the evangelists name.

I cannot, nor will not, question his heart for the lost, his sincerity and his character--which I accept as superb based on your testimony.

It is his methodology that is all out of kilter.

Tom Chantry said...

Christiane,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm not sure what I think about Aslan. I don't know exactly where he fits on the continuum of pseudo-Jesuses, but he's not the real thing, either.

That, however, was a good quote.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Wade (and anyone else "in the know"),

I know I haven't been in a Southern Baptist church in a couple of years and I haven't been to Convention in several, but why are we/they holding an "Evangelism Service" at all? I don't remember this aspect of Convention from when Ronnie and I went. Certainly, I think the cross of Christ should be proclaimed at every opportunity and I have no problem offering God's reconciliation to non-Christians. But, what's the reasoning specifically for the Convention?

Thanks,
Emily

Weezie said...

I was not at that concert last night, but my husband was and he was sickened by what he saw. I have heard Tony Nolan "preach" at Casting Crowns concerts in the past, and I felt sickened as well.

Oh well, at least we got to begin the GCR with great numbers. :(

Debbie Kaufman said...

Emily's question is the same one I am asking. :)

Tiffany: I agree with Wade. It's not the heart that is being questioned but the method. In fact I am doing more than questioning it, I am condemning it. The passage he had everyone turn to was not used one time. Not once. And his method leads to false conversions which is seen in long term not short term. It's the long term that shows whether someone has been truly born again not the short term. It only leads to more Darrel Gilyard and Ergun Caners who get caught up in the moment and applause. Again Emily has a great question that I was wondering too.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Oh, and just a personal side note about "altar call" evangelism:

When Ronnie and I would take youth to Falls Creek for summer camp, every night we were asked by adult volunteers and prayer warriors back home how many students "got saved." Our answer was always the same: "We don't really know. We'll find out in the next few months."

Although this answer wasn't nearly as gratifying as knowing the number of kids who "checked a box," it was the truth. And, thankfully, many of the students who responded did, in fact, prove the sincerity of their encounter with Christ in the weeks and months to come.

Jack said...

Let me get this straight...a man preached, an invitation was given, people responded...and there are a bunch of you guys that are really ticked about it...

listen, It may not be the way I extend an invitation, but the man was not overly manipulative...and in fact the numbers, whatever that means, were not large.

Wade, I am sorry you are embarrassed by a fellow Southern Baptist preacher extending an invitation. Your embarrassment and indeed scorn towards all things Southern Baptist is duly noted. Maybe you ought to extend the same grace towards the SBC you desired from the critics when you had Paul Young in your church (I was not one of them by the way)

I thank God He is bigger than my pharisaical, judgmental,and often times sectarian attitude.

Jack

Richard said...

Wade,

Methodology is something relative to many things (e.g. personality, etc.); so methodology is not a big problem--it is the content that is of paramount importance, re.: Gospel of Grace. The faith response to the Gospel is the way of salvation (Jn3:16,18; 5:25; etc). Any response to the evangelist's performance apart from the message is not a Biblical salvation even if it fits Baptistic practice.

If many responded based on or to method(s)and not the Gospel message, then they have been deceived into something other than the Gospel.

Richard

Christiane said...

Hi TOM CHANTRY,

It's me, Christiane

I'm not at all surprised by your question about how Aslan fits in as a 'pseudo-Christ'.
This question has shown up a lot among the 'literati', and was even addressed by C.S. Lewis himself:

"I wrote fairy tales because the Fairy Tale seemed the ideal Form for the stuff I had to say. Then, of course, the Man in me began to have his turn. I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralysed [sic] much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could. "
C.S. Lewis

Diane Singer, who frequently comments on Lewis's idea of 'sneaking past those watchful dragons' has written:
"One result of this desire to “steal past those watchful dragons,” of course, is Lewis’ marvelous seven-book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, which continues to delight and teach children of all ages about heroism and cowardice, friendship and betrayal, love and sacrifice, forgiveness and redemption, and such weighty topics as creation, the fall, substitutionary death, salvation, eternal life, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

Of course, Lewis admits that he did not start out with some grand Christian theme in mind when he began writing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Instead, he started with images (a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion); and in the “bubbling up” process that all writing entails, the Christian element “pushed itself in of its own accord.”
While the Narnia tales have a distinctive Christian flavor to them, they are not overtly Christian: Jesus and His work are portrayed symbolically, rather than realistically, through Aslan. The message of the incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection is woven into a seemingly simple children’s story, a story which has the power to astound and delight even those who have never heard about Jesus."
(Diane Singer's comments)

My own comment is that if allegorical writers like Tolkien and Lewis could 'sneak past those watchful dragons' that keep people from coming alive to the wonders of the Christian mystery, then maybe those dragons (boring theologians, authorities on doctrine, etc.) aren't really introducing Our Lord with a powerful enough witness to enable us to awaken to Him and His teachings..in the fresh way that we need to: as if for the first time.

:)

Jon L. Estes said...

It is my understanding that any one who responded and came forward were taken aside and explained the gospel salvation message in its entirety (or enough to be responded too).

For me, what TN did was give an appetizer and the main meal was with highly trained mature believers.

It was different (highly youth oriented) but for me the critique would need to be for what the counselors did when they took these people aside.

But I guess Billy Graham manipulated millions when the strategy was to have his counselors walk the isle during the invitation to compel others to follow. I knew Graham's methodology was suspicious.

Wade Burleson said...

Emily,

Good to hear from you! I'm not sure the answer to your question. The evangelist said Johnny Hunt asked him to preach an evangelist service.

Wade Burleson said...

Jack,

"Let me get this straight...a man preached, an invitation was given, people responded...and there are a bunch of you guys that are really ticked about it..."

It sounds like you are talking about something which you have not seen.

Jack, when you wish to denigrate me and others, it would be helpful to type a comment that shows you have some knowledge of the content of the post.

Tom Chantry said...

Christiane,

I must say (at the risk of drifting even further from the point of Wade's post) that the quotes you supply only confirm my suspicion of Lewis and his allegorical work. Those who would remind us of a biblical definition of Christ's person and work are "dragons" to be evaded? This is exactly how "Jesus Lite" appears. We allow ourselves to forget who He really is and what He really does and we are carried away by our fantasies. Perhaps that's why Aslan only died to satisfy the devil, while Jesus died to satisfy a righteous God. If serious theologians are "dragons," then let them breath their fire at us! We need Christ as He is offered to us in the gospel, for the biblical Christ is the only sure rock of our faith.

And that (to try to get back to the point here) is exactly why insubstantial preaching and a biblically unsupportable invitation (to what!) is a tragedy in any Christian meeting. It leads away from Christ rather than towards Him. If the meeting last night was as Wade says (I admit that I did not see it), then they needed a few of those dragons hovering over the pulpit to remind the preacher to give them Christ - the real Christ - as He is offered in the gospel.

Jack said...

Wade said

"Jack, when you wish to denigrate me and others, it would be helpful to type a comment that shows you have some knowledge of the content of the post."

Wade, really? I disagree with you and feel your being judgmental yet that's me 'denigrating' you? Maybe I just disagree strongly with your post and your position. That is no surprise here, you and I are one in Christ but miles away when it comes to the majority of the content of your posts. By the way, I saw the same thing you did Wade, watched it on the same feed, so why would you think I do not have knowledge of that in which I speak? Because I disagree with your conclusions? Wow! Its funny that you chide me on 'denigrating' you then you turn around and do the same thing to me. O well, it's fine...we disagree...no secret there. But since you bring up denigration perhaps you would classify this remark

"Could someone have actually been "saved" at that "evangelism service?" Sure. God spoke to Balaam through a donkey, He can speak through our perverted religious rituals"

Your right wade, I need to tone down my degenerating rhetoric, and your posts is simply filled with grace and truth...my bad! (tongue firmly planted in cheek) : )

Jack

Bob Cleveland said...

Let me give an example of the depths to which this "walk the aisle" mentality can lead:

I heard a (Southern Baptist) preacher tell of a revival in which a lady sat with her husband, on the front row, crying every evening. When the revival preacher asked the local pastor about her, he was told that the woman was the wife of the chairman of their deacons, and she wanted to "go forward and get saved" but her husband wouldn't let her.

My goodness, what they'd need to unlearn to straighten that out.

Whether that story was true, or told to encourage people to walk the aisle, is irrelevant. What I've seen in people who've equated walking the aisle with getting saved is that they have much in common with folks who use a Satellite Navigation System. They know what they did to get there, but nothing else ... nothing about the route or the geography or the landscape.

The Apostle Paul never walked an aisle, and in fact, never "prayed the sinner's prayer". We could use a whole lot more of whatever he did have, though.

Jack said...

From Baptist Press

"An estimated 20 people responded to the invitation."

Sounds like high power manipulation for the sake of numbers to me!

(smiles)

Christiane said...

Hi TOM,

I LOVE the works of Tolkien and of Lewis. Their allegorical works do not threaten or diminish my faith (Catholic) at all.

I CAN believe that their writings might genuinely cause some from other Christian traditions to be concerned, as I have read about that;
and as, now, you share your own concerns about C.S. Lewis.

Christiane

Wade Burleson said...

Jack,

You missed my point.

You are commenting, and defending, something you have not seen.

It's obvious.

Tom Chantry said...

So Christiane, let me ask this. (And I base the question solely on what has been said here.)

Does your religion point you to Christ as He is offered in the gospel, or does it allow you to perceive Him according to whatever conceptions of Him you may imagine or whatever visions of Him may be engendered by authors and other artists?

And I'm asking Christiane, who knows her religion well. I'm not asking anyone else to answer on her behalf.

Lydia said...

"It is my understanding that any one who responded and came forward were taken aside and explained the gospel salvation message in its entirety (or enough to be responded too)."

I am still taken aback that there were unsaved messengers sent from SBC churches at the convention.

I also think Emily asked a great question.

"..., but why are we/they holding an "Evangelism Service" at all?"

Bueller? Anyone?


Tom Chantry,

" It is inconceivable that he could return with the angels and cast some into outer darkness and the lake of fire, or, as the other, biblical Jesus once put it, cut them up in little pieces and throw them out in the field.
"

With a sword in His mouth, too. Great responses to Jesus Lite. Thank you.

Jack said...

Wade

How utterly arrogant of you! I did see it. I watched it just as you did. I do not use the same methods as Tony, but to say it was overly manipulative is an overstatement in my opinion.

1) I saw it
2) I do not believe it to be overly manipulative
3) You were way out of line attacking it the way you did using the pejorative language that you used

Thats my opinion - if you don't like it thats fine, but do not dismiss me by saying I have not seen it when I have.

Again Wade, to accuse me of denigrating language really is the proverbial pot calling the kettle black, don't you think?

On another note, I believe the purpose behind a evangelistic service is due to the crossover Orlando efforts. If only 20 came forward as reported it would seem that if manipulation was the goal it failed miserably.

Jack

Thy Peace said...

This is an interesting post.

I used to listen to Pastor Mac Brunson sermons awhile ago. I too listened to the "alter call" and prayed to accept Jesus as Savior.

I did pray those prayers. More than once. Actually innumerable times. For I felt I was not really, really saved. I thought the more times and earnestly I prayed, I might be saved or there might be a confirmation in my soul that I was saved.

Talk about being lost!

For reasons that are familiar to FBC Jax Watchdog readers, I stopped listening to Pastor Mac Brunson sermons. Please note he is a gifted speaker. I used to listen to each of his sermons at least 7 times. But for some reason I was not being filled.

After a time, I started listening to Pastor Wade Burleson's sermons. I have began to be filled and slowly I realize what is missing.

I do not claim to not have doubts. But my doubts fade when I look at Christ as He is. I am also learning to have "conversations" with God daily. Or I am more conscious of God in my days and nights.

It is almost like a jigzaw puzzle being assembled in my mind. It is not complete yet.

Christiane said...

Hi TOM,

My Church points me to the Christ who has existed from the Ages to the Ages.

Here is a description of Him from an early Bishop of Sardis:


"This is He who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed humanity in the beginning,
Who is announced by the Law and the Prophets,
Who was enfleshed in a Virgin,
Who was hanged on the Tree,
Who was buried in the earth,
Who was raised from the dead,
went up into the heights of heaven,
Who is sitting at the right hand of the Father,
Who has the authority to judge and save all things,
through Whom the Father made the things which exist,
from the beginning to all the ages.

This One is
“the Alpha and the Omega,”
this One is
“the beginning and the end”
the beginning which cannot be explained
and the end which cannot be grasped.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is He who has risen from the dead.
This one is He who sits at the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
To Him be the glory and the power to the ends of the ages."

Tom, the 'Gospel' is the Good News.
The 'Gospel' IS CHRIST:
Christ, the Living Word.
He alone has the words of eternal life. He alone is the Logos, The Word, and He has existed from the ages:

'in the beginning was The Word' . . .
That is the Christ my Church points me towards.

Tom Chantry said...

The gospel, according to St. Paul, is that Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He rose on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He was seen by many.

The bishop said many good, biblical things about Christ. But Christ as He is presented to us in the gospel is neither uncomprehended nor ungrasped. He is rather the One who did two things: He died and He rose. He did these things in accordance with the Scripture, which is to say they may be understood as the Bible explains them. Specifically, He died for our sins, which is to say that He died in the place of sinners, having become sin for them, and that His death is sufficient to break the rule of sin.

It is in this gospel which St. Paul says we must hold fast and stand if we are to be saved. So to know Christ is more than to know who He is (although that cannot be denied, and on that point I would largely agree with the bishop as quoted), but also what He did and why He did it.

This is where Lewis (to take an example from among the many artists who have depicted Jesus according to their own thoughts and imaginations) can be so dangerous. If he does not depict Christ as both being and doing what the Bible says He is and does, then he misleads us.

So I'm glad you affirm that Jesus alone has the words of eternal life, but what are those words? If your faith does not point you to the gospel Jesus preached - salvation through His death for sins and His resurrection - then it, too, must be more closely examined.

Richard said...

Jack,

The invitations ritual following Baptist speakers' sermons and the ensuing numerical reports are PARTS of the Baptist Gospel.

It is hard and indeed there are very few Baptists who don't include altar call as PART of the Gospel. Most Baptist pastors think: if they don't give invitation and people don't walk aisles mean they have NOT preach the Gospel.

This tradition does not have anything to do with salvation at all. It has everything to to with the spirit of competition by means of numerical reports as measure of pastoral success in church building--the record of how many people tell the pastor they believe in Jesus.

I suggest that Baptist pastors preach the Gospel of salvation and tell the audience NOT to tell him or anyone else, if and when they believe in Jesus (urge them to tell it directly to God).

Most pastors I heard have a wrong view of Romans 10:9-10 and misapplying it to mean public confession in front of people (church). The context does NOT have anything with church service at all. Zero!

If we don't define salvation clearly, then, the altar call tradition is mistaken as part of the Gospel.

Richard

Christiane said...

Hi TOM CHANTRY,

In my Church's canon, we do not have a 'Gospel of St. Paul'.
If you are referring to the Letters (epistles) written (or credited to) St. Paul, they are a part of our Canon, yes.

Very likely, some portions of the Pauline letters are interpreted and emphasized differently in your faith than in mine. I don't know this, though.

The Pauline letters are interpreted in my Church through the lens of Christ. We find meaning in the Pauline letters only in so far as the letters correspond to the teachings of Our Lord. Any interpretation of any denomination that sees St. Paul's letters contradicting or superseding the Words and teachings of Our Lord, my Church would, of course, not be in agreement with. I am aware that such denominations do exist.

I've enjoyed our dialogue, Tom.
Have a good evening.

Christiane

Tom Chantry said...

Christiane,

"Gospel" as you know means good news. If words have any meaning "gospel" does not mean "Jesus," but the "gospel" is a message - news - from and about Jesus.

The passage I refer to is of course not the Gospel of St. Paul, but the place in which that Apostle most clearly defined the gospel. His words are found in I Corinthians 15 - the first four verses. In them he says quite plainly that the gospel is the death and resurrection of Christ - a death "for our sins" and a death and resurrection which happened "in accordance with the scripture."

So you see, it isn't a matter of how a denomination chooses to interpret Paul's words, or Jesus' words for that matter. Paul says that Scripture itself explains the gospel - the death of Christ for sins and His subsequent revelation. It is only in this way that we can understand Christ as He is offered to us in the gospel.

I find it a little backwards to say that Jesus Himself is the lens through which the gospel is understood. Our whole point here is that various people have explained Jesus in various ways - some better than others - and that we need the correct explanation if we are to have any foundation for our faith. When I asked you if your church pointed you to Christ as He is offered in the gospel you quoted not Scripture, but the Bishop of Sardis. His explanation isn't all bad in my view, but neither is it Scripture.

What the Apostle says in I Corinthians is that the Scriptures explain the gospel - the good news about Jesus which was also proclaimed by Jesus. So if we would know the real Jesus - who He is and what He did and how He saves - we must look first and foremost to Scripture.

And that is why I asked my initial question: does your religion point you to that Jesus - the one offered in the gospel as it is explained by the scripture - or to some Jesus or Jesuses expressed by the thoughts and imaginations of men?

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

Your comment is probably more of an encouragement to me than anything I've read in a long time. Nobody, however, need worry that I'll get a big head. God has sent me Jack.

Jack said...

Wade

: )

I am glad that God has used your preaching to bless Thy Peace and help in his/her spiritual growth.

Your preaching has indeed blessed me also. I certainly applaud your emphasis on the gospel. Did you hear Matt Chandlers message at the pastors conference? He hit it out of the park. I mean, I guess I can say that...unless you say I did not see it and am thus unqualified to comment on it. : )

Thy Peace said...

Founders Ministries Blog [Tom Ascol] > Getting the Gospel Right [JANUARY 06, 2009]

RRR said...

So I guess that this preacher is being primed to assume the position of President of the SBC after Wright?

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I am now a Reformed Christian is because I love the emphasis on God drawing the sinner to Himself. I grew up in a fundamental baptist church and to this day I HATE invitations. They've always made me uncomfortable and felt manipulative. Many of the people going forward do not understand the gospel and think the prayer saves them. I hate it when I hear people criticize Calvinists and say they aren't evangelistic...I think the Reformed churches I've been in care MORE about people learning the gospel and having changed lives. I often feel very cynical during invitations...it's good to hear I am not the only one!

Byron said...

Sometimes I wish we could totally do away with altar calls. The sermon itself is the place for inviting to Christ. If the invitation to Christ does not come until the end of the sermon, then it is very possibly not genuine or blessed of God.

Mary Ann said...

Anonymous at 3:30 pm:

You said: "Very few SBC churches have "invitations" any longer--and probably rightly so--but look how the number of baptisms has declined."

I live in Alabama, and if the invitation has been "retired," it's a well-kept secret. I realize I'm not aware of every church, but I've never heard of one in my area that doesn't have an invitation. Yes, I could be wrong. But it seems that invitations are alive and well around here.

How did you arrive at your conclusion?

Alan Paul said...

When we judge (be it right or wrong), we bring judgment upon ourselves. Better make sure your judgment is right.

Anonymous said...

The sermon itself is the place for inviting to Christ.

Is the sermon for spreading the gospel (which all believers are to do) or teaching (which cannot be done to unbelievers)? We don't seem able to make up our minds.

Teaching is for believers, and evangelism is for unbelievers. The teachers should keep reminding the saved what the essentials of the gospel message are, so they can go out and reach the lost.

Byron said...

Anonymous Thu Jun 17, 11:24:00 PM 2010 said:

"Is the sermon for spreading the gospel (which all believers are to do) or teaching (which cannot be done to unbelievers)? We don't seem able to make up our minds."

I am sorry, Anonymous. But I don't follow you. I would say both. And, if a preacher is led by the Spirit of God, it matters not if his mind is made up, or even what it is made up to do. The Holy Spirit will evangelize unbelievers and teach believers as He sees fit.

I don't know about evangelism happening to believers (except as a form of teaching and improving the believer's knowledge). But unbelievers can certainly be taught all forms of theology, soteriology and otherwise. A person can learn religion and theology, saved or unsaved. But without the Holy Spirit, there is no life in what is learned.

Byron said...

And since we cannot see into people's hearts, we really cannot tell who is truly a believer or not, so we cannot know if evangelism or teaching is necessary, so we can do both and trust the Holy Spirit for the results. I am not a professional preacher, so I just say that as a personal opinion.

Richard said...

Alan Paul,

Concerning the content of their Gospel sermons, I see the uniformity of content among Baptist preachers, whether of the Calvinistic or Arminians persuasion.

Most Baptist are anti-Calvinist Arminians (e.g., Jack Graham, Ergun Caner, Paige Patterson, etc) in theory but not in practice. They preach the same Gospel.

Those are some of the big names Arminians (they claimed to be moderate calvinists) or calminians.

Some Baptists are calvinists (e.g., Albert Mohler, Wade Burleson, etc).


Some Baptist preachers of the Arminian persuasion preach the Gospel in a fashin of Kirk Cameron's the Way of the Master: They overloading or front-loading the Gospel with many requirments beside faith alone in Christ alone.

After allegedly presenting the pure Gospel they turn around and add PUBLIC CONFESSION (altar call, etc) as requirement for salvation. So it is FAITH-WORKS, or FAITH THAT WORKS, or FAITH ALONE BUT NOT ALONE.

The Way of the Master says that to go to heaven we must turn from all our sins once and for all, give our lives to Christ, and promise to obey Him for the rest of our lives (http://www.wayofthemaster.com/watch/witness_gangmembers_low.html.)

Some calvinistic Baptist pastors, such as John Piper are doing exactly the same thing, their Arminian counterparts are doing-- ADDING EXTRA REQUIREMENTS FOR SALVATION.

For example, John Piper teaches: "…These are just some of the conditions that the New Testament says we must meet in order to be saved in the fullest and final sense. We must believe in Jesus and receive him and turn from our sin and obey him and humble ourselves like little children and love him more than we love our family, our possessions, or our life. This is what it means to be converted to Christ. This alone is the way of life everlasting.” (John Piper, Desiring God (Sisters, OR; Multnomah Publishers, 2003), 69-70.)

I think front-loading or back-loading the Gospel with all kinds of requirments in order to be saved are in essence are different ways to pervert the Gospel. Both camps are teaching salvation by human works. No works = no salvation.

This is a basic and yet a paramount issue. It is a thousand times more important than preaching methodology or liturgy.

Richard

Anonymous said...

Byron,

What I mean is that we have no clue what believers meet together for. Scripture says "to build each other up", sharing our gifts, being a community. Unbelievers may observe, and if they see Christ in us they may get saved. But when we say we preach the gospel to the group because some may not be saved, we're saying we are so out of touch with them that we don't know them. And the reason we can't tell who's saved and who isn't is because (1) we are unsure ourselves exactly what it takes to be saved and (2) we don't combine that with the fruit of the Spirit.

How is it possible that we can't tell real believers from fakes? Can't we ask them any questions? Can't we tell their behavior from ours? Can't they know whether they have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus alone?

You understand that teaching the lost theology is a waste; that's what I mean by we cannot teach them. We cannot teach unbelievers per 1 Cor. 2:14-- "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." We cannot judge unbelievers per 1 Cor. 5:12-- "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?" We cannot fellowship or partner with unbelievers per 2 Cor. 6:14--15- "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" Is this the Body of Christ, or is it the "harvest field"?

We need to stop trying to bring the world into the church, and start bringing the gospel to the world. Salt isn't something you dip your food into, but something you put into or onto the food; it spreads out if it's to be useful. This is why I don't see the big focus on making the "sermon" evangelistic, since its primary purpose is to teach the saved. We need to turn our attention when we meet together to doing a much better job of "equipping the saints", instead of always being stuck in spiritual infancy per Heb. 6, just because their might be lost among us.

Weezie said...

(By Lydia)
"I am still taken aback that there were unsaved messengers sent from SBC churches at the convention.

I also think Emily asked a great question.

'..., but why are we/they holding an "Evangelism Service" at all?'

Bueller? Anyone?"

Kids were brought in for the concert. However, salvation was preached at another time at the convention, to the messengers.

Byron said...

Anonymous, I agree with you on a lot of what you are saying. But unless we could look into a person's heart (and we can't) we could never be absolutely sure (and we can't). We can be reasonably certain, because with spiritual discernment we can tell the nature of the person by their fruits over their lives (so it's more a long-term thing than a short-term thing I think). But many false professors can look genuine for a time, too. I remember a sermon once about wheat and tares looking alike until the time came for harvest and then the differences were noticeable: tares stand upright almost as if proud, while wheat is more "humble" in appearance. I am not a farmer or a botanist, so I have no idea, but I do remember the illustration.

But this is a personal issue for me. I have at least three friends, who according to outward appearances, were all strong Christians (so I thought). Today they are all unapologetic apostates. And they had a better grasp of theology than I did. I chalk it up to my immaturity and lack of spiritual discernment for not being more wary, but I am not sure even if I knew then what I know now that I could have told the difference. The proof is in the pudding, so they say, so whenever they're finished "cooking" it finally becomes obvious what they are (and were all along).

I am not sure what you mean by we cannot teach unbelievers according to 1 Cor 2:14. Sure, Scripture is right, and there is no life in the religious doctrine that is learned. They do not truly learn of Christ, because they are not able to partake of the spiritual things of God. Ultimately, it is foolishness to them. But they can profess religious truths even with joy for a time, according to the parable of the sower and the seed. And yes we do not judge unbelievers outside of the church, but these unbelievers are inside of the church, and church discipline can be a tool of restoration for a believer or of judgment for an unbeliever. And I cannot partnership or truly fellowship with unbelievers because the spirit of Christ is not in them. I am not sure what your point here is, but I think we agree much more than we disagree (if any).

A sermon can still be evangelistic, because it does not have to take place inside of a building. And it could possibly include teaching, even if it is outside of a building. If I understand Acts correctly, most evangelistic preaching occurred outside, and most teaching inside. But I see God doing all the work of choosing, calling, and separating. You are right about salt, and that is what we are in the world: salt and light. And I think our Christianity is too often self-restricted to buildings and assigned meeting times and places, when true Christianity is something we both are and do, no matter where we are. I believe that evangelism and teaching can and often are distinct, but expository preaching can be both (though perhaps it is primarily didactic in intent).

Dunno, but maybe you can see where I am coming from?

Anonymous said...

SBC turning into cult - no doubt about it.

Byron said...

I could be truly cynical and say a cult turned into the SBC. But I don't truly believe that. There were and are still many fine men and women of God in the SBC. But some of what I see in the SBC deeply troubles me, and makes me wonder how long it will last.

Anonymous said...

Byron,

I think we're talking past each other to some extent. The point I'm trying to get across is a matter of focus or emphasis, not trying to draw a hard line between what we do among believers and what we do in the world. What I'm saying is that we have turned primarily to evangelizing among the "saved", and neglected to go deep into theology for them because we don't know who they are.

Also, I'm not saying we can play God and judge people's eternal fate, but that we are called to discern on the basis of what we can know: testimony and behavior. We should be able to use those two things to get a much more accurate picture of just who is a believer and who isn't. Because if we can't do that, we can't witness, since we are basically blind to the difference.

This problem of discernment shows itself in conversations online when some present a different tradition or faith or whatever they call it. I've seen some pretty shocking things said in this blog over the years, and nobody said a word. This tells me we are unsure of the gospel ourselves. That's why we see evangelistic messages at conventions that are supposed to be attended by the clearly and unmistakeabley saved, since they are our "leaders". How can this happen, unless we can't define the gospel?

Anonymous said...

• One in 10 people in the world is an active Christian (in 6 million Christian churches)
• 90,000 people become Christians daily worldwide (20,000 in Africa; 15,000 in India)
• 35% of Korea’s population is Christian (56% of Russia’s and 15% of Indonesian’s)
• Largest English-speaking mission field in the world: United States of America
• 100 million Americans are unchurched (in no religious services during last 6 months)
• American churches on average: need 85 members to win one soul for Jesus Christ
• Each day, 411 Americans convert to Islam, 872 become Mormons (Buddhism growing)
• 69% of all SBC congregations were plateaued/declining numerically in 2006 (30,470)
• 2006: 27,521 of 44,223 SBC congregations reported 0-5 baptisms (274 reported 100+)

SBC churches: PLEASE all of you, extend SOME KIND of invitation to unsaved people to become Christians---including, not including, or whatever walking an aisle! Just tell more people about Jesus, and do better at it!!

Byron said...

Thanks for clarifying. I agree 100%. Except, I think some "evangelism" is just in the business of obligating God to salvation and targeting those we like. Or simply for show. In the SBC case recently (I didn't see it), perhaps it was mistaken zeal and belief that evangelism works like a formula and always accomplishes salvation when done right. Oh, and that most "decisions" are actually real. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

That 44,223 SBC churches---69% of which were plateaued/declining in 2006: each led by a senior pastor; none led by a minister of education---probably the problem.


;-}

RRR said...

Why do people continue to submit comments under the name "Anonymous"? Seems kind of like calling yourself "nobody".

And where do they come up with all these statistics (takes 10,000 Christians to win one soul, etc.) and what difference does it make?

And why are people so upset about other people asking people if they want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior?

And given that God uses amazing diversity to bring about His purpose why do so many get their feathers ruffled, like Wade, when a preacher senses that he should preach an evangelistic sermon to a crowd of Christians and then invite people to come forward if they want to accept Christ? Maybe he's promoting his crusades.

How would Wade feel if we all began taking shots at him for the way he doesn't give invitations or ask people if they want to accept Christ because he figures God has already settled that score?

What ever happened to Wade thinking that God uses many ways and methods and we shouldn't be insistent that everyone do it our way?

And why am I even asking all of these questions because I, like all of us, have already decided what "I" think about these things?

Guess it's just fun to chat.

Joe G. said...

As a former Baptist and student at SWBTS, I find your article amusing. "If there's never been change, then something's strange" is a perfectly fine mantra to say at a Baptist altar call.

But then I guess I'm biased...and I do actually believe in rituals more and more since I became a Roman Catholic.

One Salient Oversight said...

Here's the logic from my position.

1. Nolan's evangelistic sermon did not contain the Gospel.

2. Without hearing the Gospel, no one can actually respond to it in repentance and faith.

3. Those who therefore "responded" were not responding to the Gospel.

4. Therefore no one was saved.

Anonymous said...

After reading the comments this morning I was just wondering what God thinks of this pathetic discussion. To say we have cheapened His Son's sacrifice is an understatement.

Shirley Taylor said...

Sounds like Ray Stevens in the "Mississippi Revival" when the squirrel got loose.

Chris Riley said...

Cheapened his sacrifice? The discussion streams around the tension that many ministers are feeling between Christ's commands to make disciples and a conventions measuring stick of "# who walked the aisle." Maybe if churches would measure the number of Christlike people they produce rather than just how many start the process, we would have a greater idea of where we are as the body of Christ.

Jon L. Estes said...

It just came to me. Is it highly possible that many preachers don't have invitations or altar calls because the 5-45 minutes they speak they don't leave anyone with anything to respond too?

I can tell you from personal experience if Bobby Welch was there, as someone said, to counsel anyone who cam forward they got a clear gospel presentation.

Anonymous said...

RRR,

1- We ARE nobodys. And this way, people have to respond to the argument, not the person. Personally, if I had made some slanderous charge against someone, that person would have every right to demand to see the face of their accuser. But I haven't done that.

2- To clarify, I'm not the Anon who posted the stats. How about you call me Ann Nonnymouse? Or Anwar Nemouse? Or Rumplestilskin? I know… I'll start signing my comments as Nobody. :-)

3- Nobody (pun intended… well, er…) is upset about spreading the gospel. It's the FAILURE to even know what that is, that's the problem.

4- Those who are called Christian leaders must know and have accepted the gospel. That so many of said leaders "went forward" to be saved is shocking and inexcusable. And as pointed out already, there was no clear gospel to be found in this "invitation".

5- Excellent question about taking our own medicine. I've seen people on both sides of a dispute dish it out. Remember that "Look at me, I'm Peter Lumpkins" tirade? The mockery? Why did only one person point out the hypocrisy of that-- a lowly "anon" (it wasn't me, BTW)? Where were all these "pastors" then? Where was "grace"?

6- If this were about style only, you'd have a point. The problem is much deeper.

7- Therein lies the problem.

8- Fun… or obsessive. We're human.

--- Nobody

Anonymous said...

Gene in NC says:

Did I understand that the invitation was to "publically declare your private prayer life?"

What does that mean??? Are they standing up to say, "I pray in tongues despite the demands of the IMB to missionaries?"

I remember a time like this--after I was viciously--and in a sneaky fashion--fired from the Noonday Baptist Church just south of Johnny's Woodstock church. Again at the Loris (SC) FBC. In both cases I was preaching accurately and plainly what the Bible says. I was also refusing to cow to a corrupt element in both churches which was using their position (Deacon / Choir) to "look good" despite corrupt business dealings in many ways. At Noonday, it was personal sexual indescreations of many!

That "big show" of renewal was but a cover up for lies told about me and my wife / failure to bring the problem directly to me / a desire to control the church over letting members decide what they wanted---an opportunity to turn down my resignation, if they wished.

The worst sinners were the Deacons themselves!!!

Did a public show offset their private molestation of my family and career?

Not one of them came to me in public or private to apologize for their hateful behaviour or lies!

I think you are totally right, Wade--the act of walking an aisle is used to put on a show of the Pharisee rather than the simple man beating his chest and uttering, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."

Anonymous said...

I was sitting on the 4th row during the spectacle. I did not see anything that happened behind me, but what I did see was highly disturbing. It appeared that the children who came forward were being shepherded by adults as they came. Again, I did not see them leave their seats to come, but I did see the expressions on the faces of the young children. They seemed confused and intimidated. My perception was that the adults had orchestrated the whole thing.

Richard said...

Joe G,

Ritual has meaning if you are saved (in Christ) by faith alone in Christ alone. But faith in rituals and participation in these to gain Christ is idolatry. Because rituals are just like wrappers, Christ in the soul is the reality, the absolute point of reference--ritual without reality is meaningless.

You have rituals, Baptists have their own devised sacrament, which is the so called "altar call"--it is a ritual also.

I believe a person can get saved without participating in any rite at all--just believe in Christ Who died and paid for his/her sins (Jn3:15-18; 5:24; Acts 16:31; Rom4:4-5; Gal2:16). It is faith APART from works. It happenned in the soul at the moment someone put his/her faith in Christ (Rom10:9-10; Eps2:8-9). No rite(s) needed.

Since you are a former SWBTS student you must already know Eps2:8-9 that the phrase "are saved" is a state resultant from PAST ACT of saving--in passive and perfect tense = the act happenned once in the past with the result going on forever. Since it is in the passive, you are acted upon by the Holy Spirit by means of the Gospel. There is NO repetition of the act of salvation by means of rituals--they are celebrations of the fact of salvation. But not necessary to pursue salvation. You either have it or not--rituals do not impart salvation. Communion is a celebration of salvation.

I see rituals benefitting you AFTER salvation but NOT for salvation. Such as communion--you take communion NOT in order to be saved, but because you ARE saved (Eps2:8-9)--the event happenned to you in the past, and the resultant product is the phrase translated = you are saved. You have been saved is a better translation I am sure.

So ritual without reality is meaningless exercise. Ritual after salvation is meaningful. You can only be in Christ by faith and not by any rite.



Richard

Richard said...

Anon,

Re. the orchestrated altar call and the confused kids--it is a blasphemy. A blasphemy by making a mockery of Christ and the Gospel by well-meaning people. They think Christ needs to be glorified by gimmicks of people raising hands and walking around the hall.

It was an exercise to cater to the egos of those planning the event, to make it evangelistic and spiritual; so that they can report the numbers of people raising hands, walked aisles, etc. It is an idolatry of a Baptist tradition gone extreme.

A demonstration of a shallow theology of salvation in general and the way of salvation in particular. Even in seminary chapels they give invitation to salvation to each sermon they preach--no matter what subject it is. In the NT it is the people who asked "What shall we (I) do" to be saved; in the SBC hall it was "what you should DO to be saved;" hence they have to orchestrated those gimmicks.

Richard

Ken Fryer said...

AMEN!

Anonymous said...

RRR, because we can!

and why is everyone getting bent out of shape because some people get saved?? If they don't then that's between them and God. Allow God to use what He wants...He will anyway. Do what you do and let Him use that too.

Somebody

Christiane said...

Hi TOM CHANTRY,

it's me, Christiane

I was very confused by your comment concerning the Holy Name of Jesus:
'If words have any meaning "gospel" does not mean "Jesus," '
so I thought about it this morning for a very long time.

I think that we see the Holy Name from different traditions. My own tradition recognizes the Holy Name as given by angelic proclamation:

It is often translated as "He saves," to conform with Matthew 1:21: "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins"

I believe that you are of the Reformed faith, so I took the time to find a wonderful site for you:

http://www.prca.org/sermons/matthew_1_21.htm

Tom, this is a sermon on the Holy Name of Jesus written by a Reformed minister. I think it may be something that you can find meaning in, and I hope that, if you read it, you can begin to connect the dots as to why a Catholic woman would say that 'Jesus IS the Gospel'. And why Catholics bow their heads slightly when they say the Holy Name of "Jesus".

You may not be able to make that connection, and I understand if you cannot do that.

At least, maybe we can both acknowledge that the Holy Name of Jesus was given to Him from Heaven, for a reason.
And that 'reason' is the very heart of the Gospel message:

'He shall save His people'.

Be peaceful.

Bennett Willis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

The historical 'connection' between 'confessing Christ' and altars:


"Martyrs were Confessors of the Faith — Christians who "confessed" Christ before men at the cost of their lives — hence the name confessio was applied to their last resting-place, when, as happened frequently from the fourth century, an altar was erected over it. Up to the seventh century in Rome, as we learn from a letter of St. Gregory the Great to the Empress Constantia, a strong sentiment against disturbing the bodies of the martyrs prevailed. This fact accounts for the erection of the early Roman basilicas, no matter what the obstacles encountered, over the tombs of martyrs; the church was brought to the martyr, not the martyr to the church. The altar in such cases was placed above the tomb with which it was brought into the closest relation possible. "

I got this from New Advent: history of Christian altars

I knew that Churches were built over the sites of martyrs deaths and burial places, but until I read this, I did not realize that 'instead of bringing the martyr's remains to a Church, they built the Church over the remains, so as not to disturb the resting place of the martyrs, who had died because 'they confessed Christ'.

A strange connection . . .
not direct, and perhaps not meaningful to Baptist faith, but a connection never-the-less:

in ancient days, many who 'confessed Christ' did so at the cost of their lives, and were honored by having a Church with its altar built over their resting place. The altar at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is thought to be built directly over the bones of St. Peter, who was martyred by being crucified upside-down, as he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Our Lord.


Christiane

New BBC Open Forum said...

It just came to me. Is it highly possible that many preachers don't have invitations or altar calls because the 5-45 minutes they speak they don't leave anyone with anything to respond too?

I think Jon makes a good point. Wait! Was that a pig that just flew over?

Anonymous said...

Throughout the years the altar call has been used by God for people to publicly profess their faith in Christ. Just look at the millions who made genuine faith commitments through the Billy Graham ministries.

Just because you don't like the way some guy did it at the SBC is not a reason to disparage the whole thing.

Some of you are wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water--and I still haven't heard anything from anyone that is better than a public altar call.

Richard said...

Hello pastors,

Sunday preaching and teaching time are/is designed NOT for unbelievers or backsliders--it is designed for believers' growth (Eps4:11-16). It is a continuous teaching of the whole counsel of God. NO DECISIONS needed Sunday after Sunday. What is needed is constant positive mental attitude to disciplined Bible teaching. It is NOT designed for backsliders. BELIEVERS do not need altar call earch Sunday. Altar call every Sunday defeats the purpose of continuous growth towards maturity--it reduces Sunday teaching moment to become evangelistic rally for people to get saved again and again every Sunday.

Unblievers don't care to come to church unless you all use gimmicks to draw unbelievers. So, evangelism must take place OUTSIDE church services. Sunday Worship is NOT for unbelievers nor backsliders. Sunday worship is designed for growing believers.

Hence, altar calls and calling for decisions repeatedly just shows a skewed view of Eps4:11-16. To use Sunday teaching moment for evangelistic invitations shows a confused theology of preaching for believers.

The purpose of Sunday worship is NOT to record and to publish HOW MANY people get saved.

Richard

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall something in the Bible about a ritual being tied to salvation -- but it wasn't an altar call.

What did the Saviour say?

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

And St. Peter: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

And Ananias to St. Paul: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

But of course, anyone who holds to the scriptural understanding of baptism is unable to serve as a missionary in the SBC.

As it is written: "This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

Kelly Reed said...

Wade,

I saw a post recently about the number of those saved at your church without an alter call. That is awesome and wonderful to hear.

For those who believe that people can't get saved without an alter call--this is good proof otherwise.

I have not seen the video nor have I have not read all of the comments so forgive me if this has been covered.

I see another extreme that could equally arise is that the entire concept of an altar call is wrong. I trust you don't believe that.

I agree that it is irresponsible to emotionally manipulate crowds just to increase numbers.

So my question is, what should a responsible message and altar call include--not just bad examples.

Byron said...

People who get baptized in order to earn salvation are simply getting wet. They profit more from a good, hot shower with deodorant soap. If it takes water to wash away sins, then we need a much more powerful God than the god being offered. And maybe a shower, too. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Wade,

I asked you this question in another post. You may have not seen it or chose to ignore it. But could you share your conversion experience. Was it at a church? Was it during an altar call? Just curious.

Pastor Michael

Anonymous said...

"Throughout the years the altar call has been used by God for people to publicly profess their faith in Christ."

Isn't that Baptism?


" Just look at the millions who made genuine faith commitments through the Billy Graham ministries."

How do you know "millions" made "genuine" commitments? How would they measure this after they leave town? Read Evangelicalism Divided by Ian McMurry for info on the Crusades and those 'decisions' for Christ.

"Some of you are wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water--and I still haven't heard anything from anyone that is better than a public altar call."

I know some who simply say they will stick around if someone wants to talk, has questions or pray together.

Baptism is the public declaration. Why do we need the altar call which can easily turn into emotional manipulation and a numbers game.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this site because I was captured by the words "absolutely embarrassing" and "Evangelism Service" in the same title.

It is very clear that the people on this blog "hate" (some use the word) invitations. I find that strong language.

Also, how is it that so many (dozens, I didn't count) of you know who gets saved and who doesn't, simply because of the "method" that is used to initiate the encounter.

I'll add my lonely anecdote to the dozens (maybe hundreds) that state it is impossible for someone to be truly saved if an inviation is used. This is a little long, but I'll not respond to the attacks I feel coming, so I'll save space that way.

About 13 years ago a boy came to our revival (very SBC) and responded to our invitation. He came forward. I prayed with him, followed up with him, loved him and preached to him. He was about 12 years old living in the shed outside of his mom's small house because his drunken father beat him when he stayed in the house.

Years have gone by. Every now and again I'll get a phone call from somewhere in the US (he's a truck driver now) and he will thank me for "leading him to the Lord." I've always assumed that his changed life and joy about the Lord was evidence he was truly saved. According to Wade and most of you, that cannot possibly be the case.

Incidently, his two sisters and his drunken father eventually also "walked the aisle."

This is just one anecdote from a no-name never asked to preach at a convention small church pastor.

Anonymous said...

"I'll add my lonely anecdote to the dozens (maybe hundreds) that state it is impossible for someone to be truly saved if an inviation is used."

Whoever says they believe what you have quoted above is as misguided as you are.

Your little story is touching. Why you are choosing to highlight what he did (walk the aisle) as opposed to what he became (changed) is telling.

Thanks for not responding.

gary dilworth said...

Richard,
You said, "For example, John Piper teaches: "…These are just some of the conditions that the New Testament says we must meet in order to be saved in the fullest and final sense. We must believe in Jesus and receive him and turn from our sin and obey him and humble ourselves like little children and love him more than we love our family, our possessions, or our life. This is what it means to be converted to Christ. This alone is the way of life everlasting.” (John Piper, Desiring God (Sisters, OR; Multnomah Publishers, 2003), 69-70.)"
--------------
"The great error I am trying to explode is the error that says, ["Faith in God is one thing and the fight for holiness is another thing. You get your justification by faith, and you get your sanctification by works. You start the Christian life in the power of the Spirit, you press on in the efforts of the flesh. The battle for obedience is optional because only faith is necessary for final salvation."] Faith alone is the instrument that unites us to Christ who is our righteousness and the ground of our justification. But the purity of life that confirms faith's reality is also essential for final salvation, not as the ground of our right standing, but as the fruit and evidence that we are vitally united by faith to Christ who alone is the ground of our acceptance with God. The battle for obedience is absolutely necessary for our final salvation, because the battle for obedience is the fight of faith...because that battle is the battle against unbelief...I hope you can see this is a greater gospel than the other [bracketed] one. It's the gospel of God's victory over sin, not just his tolerance of sin. The victory over sin is not the ground of our eternal acceptance with God. Christ is. Our sin is bourne by Him; His righteousness counts for us. This standing we have by faith alone before we defeat sins. Then, by this same faith and on this rock-solid position of acceptance, we put to death our sinful inclinations by the mighty grace of God...'Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace Rom. 6:14"...The faith that saves is the same faith that sanctifies" (Piper Battling Unbelief pg 138-139).

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous,
I’ve read all the letters and many are very good like Christiane saying:

“If our 'ways' of turning to Him seem strange to one another, then we must ask the Holy Spirit for the gift to understand that another's need for Christ is always greater than our limited ideas of the 'acceptable' ways we 'should' go about seeking Him.”

I wasn’t going to comment on this subject as I consider Wade’s post as unnecessary as you can get, but there was something about your comment of being “misguided” brings out in me – ‘SAYS WHO?’

Sure there are a lot of people that ‘walked the isle’ for the wrong reason, but don’t condemn the ones that accept Jesus. Don’t tell the Holy Spirit He can’t speak to someone during an alter call.

To contribute the working of the Holy Spirit to something else like the devil is getting close to the unpardonable sin.

Anonymous said...

Who said you CAN'T be saved if you walked an aisle???

Those of you who think someone said that, identify the comment.

Let me try to say this once more:

Rituals of ANY kind can take on a life of their own. It happens with "walks down the aisle" as well as liturgies, church buildings, clergy/laity hierarchies, or anything else we may do. They may have started out with good intentions, but any aspect of Christianity that can remain even when the people are unsaved is DANGEROUS.

What this all started out about is that a "gospel-free" invitation was given. Gospel-free... and PASTORS "went forward"!!! Get it? See the problem? How can't you?

Many have come to the point of mistaking this "walk", or saying certain words, or performing certain rites, as the object of their worship. They cannot imagine worshiping without these things. The proof is in what kind of Christian you would be without them. Try it sometime... go without "church" for two months. I'm not saying stay away from all your friends, or stay away from God, but from your (or anyone else's) usual religious practices.

Having trouble making it for two months? Why? I realize habits can be strong, but do you feel like you're away from God? Why... if those activities and habits are not what you worship? And pastors, try going two months without letting anyone use your spiritual gift as a title or office. Give up the privileges and being the center of attention on Sundays.

There is a saying: you don't know what you've got till it's gone. The flipside is what I'm talking about now: you don't know where your faith is grounded till you take away religion.

Richard said...

Anon,

Piper is talking from both sides of his mouth or contradicting himself.

Free = costly.
Faith = works.
No works = no salvation
No fruit = no root

Piper says "The faith that saves is the same faith that sanctifies" (Piper Battling Unbelief pg 138-139).

Anon: If you read EARLY Calvin, he agreed with Luther on Justification by faith alone APART from works (sharp break from Sanctification); Only after PRESSUSES from the Catholics, then, Calvin reverted back to the Catholic teaching of JUSTIFICATION-SANCTIFICATION. This is the root of the problem plaguing Calvinism until today.

This is exactly the main reason Francis Beckwith returned to Catholic church several years ago (his reasoning: If JUSTIFICATION-SANCTIFICATION then there is no difference in essence with Catholic's view; and he returned to the Catholic faith).


This is EXACTLY what the Arminians have been saying all along for centuries: NO HOLINESS = NO SALVATION. NO FRUIT = NO ROOT. NO SANCTIFICATION = NO JUSTIFICATION.

So: Calvinism is really the other side of Arminianism in this regard. This is exactly what Don Carson says: "Thus at their worst, the two approaches [Calvinism & Arminians] meet in strange and sad ways." "Reflections on Christian Assurance," Westminster Theological Journal 54(1992)

Richard

Tom Chantry said...

Christiane,

I will try to read that sermon next week. I will only say this today, and then it's back to my own study:

The name of Jesus is salvation, in that "Jesus" points to the fact that "He will save His people from their sin." That still leaves the question of how. St. Paul wrote (in I Corinthians 15) that you are saved if you stand upon and hold fast in the message of salvation - not just the name "Jesus," but the truth that He died for sins and rose again, all in accordance with the scripture. So yes, Jesus is salvation, but it also matters to understand the how. That is what is behind my initial question: does your faith point you to Christ as He is offered in the gospel? Many will call Him "Lord, Lord," and be lost at the last day. None who genuinely trust in His death for sins and His resurrection will ever be lost. So it really does matter what we believe about Jesus. Knowing who He is is never enough; we must also trust in what He does.

Anonymous said...

Hi TOM,

If you continue to ask your question, it confirms that you did not look at that site.

It WAS a reformed site.

I'm sorry that you were unable to see it at this time.

In Christ, peace

Christiane

Anonymous said...

I think the real reason Tom keeps asking the question because it hasn't been answered, or even faced, but only sidestepped.

-- Nobody

Tom Chantry said...

Christiane,

I didn't claim to look at the site. As I wrote, I cannot possibly read someone else's sermon on a Saturday. (Preachers have a different week/weekend split than most.) I will try to read it next week.

My concern about clarifying the gospel - that is isn't just about the person of Christ, but also about the character and nature of His work - remains unchanged. I hope to find that I am in agreement with the author of that sermon.

Thy Peace said...

I am blessed with the conversation between Christiane (L's) and Tom Chantry. I did not take the conversation as who has won or who has lost. I did want to ask Tom Chantry those very questions (which he himself raised). So to me this is a working of The Holy Spirit. I did read the whole conversation many times, for it has "weight" or gravitas to it.

Anonymous said...

There are many good points made in this blog but they are all overshadowed by the tone of the originator.

Wade initiated a blog about the most important event in a person's life with an attitude of snide mockery because of bitter feelings (perhaps justified) toward a certain "type" of believer. It is sad when Wade, or anyone gets pleasure out of disparaging other believers.

Byron said...

The accusation that Wade or anyone else is getting pleasure out of disparaging other believers is false in its entirety. It asserts a false premise and a false conclusion. People do get saved in deficient evangelical Arminian machinations of the gospel. The point is not attacking those who genuinely believe, but the falsehood, deception, and deficiency of the means of presenting the gospel and encouraging a response to Christ. It is particularly pathetic when children are religiously indoctrinated and manipulated into becoming salvation statistics and baptismal pool occupants. The better way is to simply preach Christ in all His glory, majesty, and dominion, and patiently explained that He died for sinners and rejects no one who truly comes to Him. That won't put the right statistics into the bean counters logbooks, or necessarily put more "tithe" money in the Baptist coffer. But we all rejoice when someone is truly converted and follows Christ with a real devotion to the things of God, real love to the fellow believers in Christ, and gives with a real spirit of generosity in the Lord to the church.

Gene S said...

Since my last comment, I am surprised that no one has picked up the important thing about THIS Altar Call at THIS last session of the SBC meeting. I would assume that those attending should be faithful leaders and members of Baptist churches to be messengers.

To be a member of any church requires one to have accepted Christ publically as Saviour. If people came forward, does this mean we had numbers of attendees who are representing churches without being a follower of Christ??

To me an altar call in this setting is superfulous and meaningless!!!

What always troubled me as a Pastor is how few people are there on any given Sunday who need to be saved! Why????

(1) Nobody invited them to "our clubhouse."
(2) The Pastor's sermon was just a "good promotional talk" (like several at the Pastor's Conference) rather than an exposition of Scripture which invites somene to follow something inspired by the message.
(3) They at church are just going through the motions with no intention of doing anything different during the next week.

Harry Emerson Fosdick and Leslie D. Weatherhead were 2 of the greatest and most intelligent preachers during the horrors of WWII. In both cases these men called people to a relationship with God in hard times.

Fosdick and Weatherhead viewed their presentations as group counseling based on the needs they had encountered during the week.

Is it possible today's preachers are so remote in their studies putting together their next Sunday's entertainment that they perceive no real needs and settle for little sermons with little spirituality addressed to little spirits who have no impact on those they meet after supposedly meeting the Master at church???

Christiane said...

The 'Christ' of the Gospels.
The 'Christ' of 'the gospel'.

These two expressions seem to be interpreted as different by some.

I see no difference at all.

I remember an exchange of comments I had once with our dear Joe Blackmon. And, either out of 'frustration' (Joe can do that to you sometimes :)
or out of 'inspiration' (not sure about this either),
I wrote to Joe:
'Maybe it's JESUS who does the saving' . . . ;
this after much discussion on Joe's part of what a person 'had to do' to 'be saved'.

Our Debbie commented, with amusement, that a Catholic me had written that statement to a Reformed Joe. The irony is that my statement rings true in both the Catholic faith AND in the Reformed faith.

Jesus has to 'speak but the word' and we shall be healed.
Are we worthy? We are not.
Do we ask Him for His help?
Yes.
We ask CONFIDENTLY, knowing we will receive it.
'Confidently' is a word from the Latin, meaning 'with faith'.

Richard said...

Gene,

Pastors' duties each Sunday is to teach the word of God--teach Bible doctrine. It is up to the believer to apply these doctrines to his/her life. When Bible doctrine impacts the situation(s), then the need(s) is addressed. Once the Bible doctrine has been taught, it is the responsibility of the believer to take it to his/her life situation. This doctrine is based on Eps4:11-15; 1Pet5; Rom12.

Pastors are first and foremost are teachers--in Eps 4:12 it is pastor-teachers. The equipping of the saints (Eps4:12) is by means of Bible teaching; and the goal is the fullness of God (Eps4:13). Pastors are not entertainers, clowns, administrators, or counselors in the first place.

Richard

Richard

Anonymous said...

But we all rejoice when someone is truly converted and follows Christ with a real devotion to the things of God, real love to the fellow believers in Christ, and gives with a real spirit of generosity in the Lord to the church.
-------------
So, do we come to you for validation of who is and who isn't saved. I, too read many of these posts and there is more than one "disparaging, caricaturing" remark about what took place at the Convention.

We all know--Wade got his feelings hurt. He repeats this over and over as do his faithful followers. I get that. I'd be mad at the SBC, also perhaps.

But, being mad at the SBC and making fun of the "altar call" and questioning who is or who is not saved based upon "your" evaluation is "blasphemous."

No post I've read to this point has suggested that "manipulation" is an acceptable evangelistic technique, but you might want to research the word, "compel," before you post Jones' hyper-Calvinist treatise against "pressure."

Byron, I'm certainly glad you are not God. I don't think you would have approved of my conversion.

Byron said...

Sorry, Anonymous. I am not trying to offend you, or question your conversion. You are right. I am not God, and in fact, that is part of my whole point. We are not God.

God cannot be manipulated into providing or owing salvation. I believe the intent of Wade's post is not to disparage believers who truly come to Christ, but to warn against deceptive evangelism that disparages the Gospel and often falsely assures of salvation (I walked the aisle and prayed Jesus into my heart!). The human side of the experience is very much so that "we have found the Messiah" (part of John 1:41). But the truth is, God finds us and woos us by the Holy Spirit (as we see in John 1:43-44 etc). So if you are truly saved as you confess to be, then praise God! He was rich in mercy and grace to you.

It is not a blasphemy to question and criticize the effectiveness (or lack thereof, actually) of certain Baptist evangelical inventions (though sadly, not restricted to Baptists). I think it is a blasphemy in using some of these deficient means of evangelism to think that they somehow obligate God for someone's salvation. The key distinction here is what is said and endorsed in the Scriptures. Ultimately, it is not about the SBC (which has many fine people in it), or Wade Burleson, or you, or me, but Christ.

I hope you can understand what I mean here.

Byron said...

BTW, A five pointer I may certainly be, but I am not a hyper-Calvinist. And I do not know what your Jones reference is regarding. I did not say so, but I think some of these evangelists' hearts are a lot better than their practical theology proves to be. But the same could be said of me and every other believer if we are truly in Christ.

Gene S said...

Richard--

I think you may have put your finger on the reason the SBC has become such a bore and so remote from helping people in real ways!

I cannot think of anything more boring and ineffective than "Doctrine." Paul, to whom you refer was trying to bring wayward churches and believers back in line.

Jesus, on the other hand, was trying to share a part of God Himself through word and deed. He always focused on love and forgivness over the Pharisees' doctrine and sacrifices which were never enough!

Think seriously on this: Jesus walked and talked and touched with his hands.

Pharisees played little Gnostic mind games with people and got so involved in their blog of the day that they forgot people just wanted to know clearly "what God is like and how to find Peace and Love."

Jesus showed them simply--the Pharisees made the dependent on tithes and offerings along with Temple attendance which never quite gave them the Peace and Love Jesus gave.

Try more of Jesus and less of Paul. I think your people will appreciate you more and profit from your pulpit work!!!

Anonymous said...

Byron, you definitely managed to avoid the issue: how do you know who is saved and who isn't?

You very clearly imply, "but do not state," the "efficient means" you use to "bring someone into a saving encounter with Christ." Of course, if you are indeed a hyper-Calvinist, your answer is God needs no human means. In that case, I concede that this conversation is meaningless -- which is always the case when discussing theology with a hyper-Calvinist.

And, some (many) of the remarks are disparaging (one man using the word, "hate." But, of course to admit this would be disparaging to the disparager, Wade, and no follower of his will allow that. Why just admit that some of these comments are out of place.

And, the invitation is a biblical model, not the figment of Finney's imagination. What is the imperative, "come," if not an invitation. In fact, is not the entire Bible a written invitation to "receive God's sovereign grace?"

Finally, if you have ever witnessed to someone and they have come to faith, you have used "means." If any part of that means involved you, you used "human means." Unless you retreat to hyper-Calvinism (such as passionate 5 point Calvinism) you must admit to some human means in salvation. Otherwise, as I said, any discussion is meaningless.

It is always easier to point a finger than lend a hand. I think that is where this blog went South.

Formerly Known as Anonymous

Richard said...

Gene,

There is no need to pit Paul against Jesus.

At the Gospels' stage NO church existed yet. Jesus said "I will build my church. . . " (Mt 16:18).

Jesus gave Paul (and others) His revealed doctrines in the Epistles & Revelation as the source of Church doctrine and practice.

The main purpose of the gift of pastor-teacher is to equip believers to THINK like Christ--the fullness of Christ (Eps4:13); that is the meaning of the have THE MIND of Christ in 1Cor2:16. Believers are encouraged by and to think like Christ = to have the mind of Christ (Phil2:5).

The purpose of the church is NOT numerical throngs having exitement and or events and programs--it is to be like Christ = to have the thinking of Christ (the mind of Christ, which is thinking Bible doctrine).

Having said that, touching lives might be the result or the outcome of being like Christ in thinking. That is why Paul asked believers to imitate him because he imitated God. How? In thinking God's thoughts = Bible doctrines.

As far as doing things for people Gene: you don't have to be a believer in order to do good. Oprah gave people scholarships money that change their lives forever. Bill Gates and his foundation has been giving billions wanting to transform Africa in the first place. And many more.

I would say: stick with what Paul teaches and you will know more about Christ (His mind). Pauline doctrine is most Christlike.

Richard

Scott said...

I want every pastor who has ever hosted a "Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames" or a "Judgment House" or any myriad of other programs of this nature to check their numbers.

How many "decisions" for Christ did you have?

How many "rededications" for Christ did you have?

How many volunteers came out to work these events?

How big was your "bump" in attendance the Sunday following? How two weeks? A month? Six months? One year later?

Let me guess, attendance on a sunday morning is round about the same, isn't it? Let me also guess that your overall membership total went up of course, yet most of these "harvested" during these types of programs usually have an absenteeism of between three to six months since they last attended, not counting Easter or Christmas of course.

My argument here, is that "scare tactics" ministry produces numbers, not disciples. There is no change of heart, there is no change in the people, and there definitely isn't a change in the church or surrounding community.

Why?

Because we've been trained to walk an aisle, sign a card, say a prayer and done. We're in. That's it.

We're not taught the relationship and discipleship aspect, that all requires work.

We've distilled it down to here is the base minimum to get into heaven and let us count you in our latest report either to the personnel committee or that local pastor's breakfast I attend from time to time.

I'm sorry, but with what I've seen in these types of ministry, we do more harm than good in this type of outreach

Scott said...

Now, for my other point.

I worked in church media for a number of years. The reason I got out is because churches tend to have no clue of the work that goes into quality media (videography, printing, mailouts, editing, photography, scheduling, shooting, etc.) yet hold church media people to almost a higher standard than other positions.

However, as a media person, we also tend to get to see things most other people miss out on from time to time.

Pastors leaving their mics in bathrooms.

Pastors forgetting the names of those at a wedding.

Pastors acknowledging hands being raised during an invitation while no hands are moving at all.

Pastors calling for more verse of the invitation just in case that does it.

Pastors judging each other by their numbers.

When the invitation became one of the qualifying factors by which we judge pastors and/or evangelists, then the alter call ceased being biblical.

There's no other way to state it.

Besides, the Southern Baptist Convention does an extremely lousy job of discipleship and educating its congregants after people accept Christ into their heart as well.

Seriously, it's like we want them to get "saved" and then we dust our hands off and say finished once they do so. The new Christian is left looking around, feeling betrayed and abandoned, and goes right back to doing what they did before they got "saved."

Sundays schools at the four different churches that I've worked for over the years have become cliques more so than classes and you now have the high school experience all over again and it's fostered and nurtured rather than combatted.

Why?

Do you want to upset the young married class with up and coming leaders and money donations?

Don't lie, you know you'd let it go.

Pastors are judged by numbers and numbers alone. We threw quality and we threw education out the window.

Of course, an educated congregation is apparently a dangerous congregation which is why secrecy is still so rampant in our convention, even at the top.

Richard said...

Scott,

Right on target bro. You have touched the core of the problem in the system (SBC)--it is all about numbers no matter what the rhetorics are. The arguments are so shallow normally--it is all about church politics, not truth, integrity and honesty in discipleship. Just look at Ergun Caner's case. SBC is quiet like a mouse.

Richard

Anonymous said...

"I wrote to Joe:
'Maybe it's JESUS who does the saving' . . . ;
this after much discussion on Joe's part of what a person 'had to do' to 'be saved'.

Our Debbie commented, with amusement, that a Catholic me had written that statement to a Reformed Joe. The irony is that my statement rings true in both the Catholic faith AND in the Reformed faith."

If you believe that then why infant baptism? Why magic wafers?

Anonymous said...

Good point: "We're not taught the relationship and discipleship aspect, that all requires work. "

Relationship is WHY we get saved.
Jesus is HOW we get saved.
Discipleship is WHAT we are saved to become.

Coming to Jesus for any other reason than to be reconciled to God is not going to save anyone.

Coming to any Jesus but the one in the scriptures (which means we must know what He said about Himself there) is not going to save anyone.

Coming to Jesus with no intention to learn to please Him and become like Him throws serious doubt on a person's salvation.

--- Nobody

Anonymous said...

"Coming to Jesus with no intention to learn to please Him and become like Him throws serious doubt on a person's salvation.
"

That is right. Another nobody.

Christiane said...

"If you believe that then why infant baptism? Why magic wafers?"

Hi anonymous.
WHY do we baptise infants in my Church? We want them baptized as soon as possible.
I had my three baptized before they were two months old, especially important to me for the one with Down Syndrome and severe medical problems.
For us, holy baptism is a 'sacrament'. You can ask a priest about the meaning of this, if you have questions.

'Magic wafers'? ?
I don't know anything about 'magic wafers'. Sorry.

Byron said...

Anonymous, I did not know I was avoiding the issue of how do we tell who is saved or is not saved, because I was already addressing it implicitly in the form of theology.

How do we know who is saved and who is not? We don't. We trust God to save. We can have quite a bit of confidence that genuine conversion has occurred when observing progressive sanctification over the long term. Even then, that is not iron-clad proof, because sometimes even then apostasy can occur, but as time goes on, thankfully by God's grace I believe apostasy becomes less and less likely.

I am not sure why you bring up hyper-Calvinism. Since neither of us are hyper-Calvinists, what they believe or do not believe is not specifically relevant to the discussion. I also have no idea what you believe I am implying from the sentence you begin this paragraph with, sorry. The means of preaching the Gospel is used by the Holy Spirit to bring in the elect. I don't want to get off on a tangent here, but God can save people in many different ways, such as even an unbeliever simply reading Scripture and God stirring his or her heart to belief in Christ. To say that God does not need means to save people is to wrongly place the emphasis of salvation on some other agent other than God. The focus becomes on what is used of God when He saves, not on the fact that God Himself saves as it should be focused. God saves, and how He does it is up to Him, but He left us the Biblical pattern of the Apostles and their followers in Acts.

Finally, you falsely equate "passionate" five point Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism (which I trust you make in simple ignorance; historically there have been many passionate five-pointers who did not hold to hyper-Calvinism). If you truly believe that five points of doctrine make you a hyper-Calvinist, then you do not understand Calvinism. But first and foremost I desire to be a Christian. So I am a three pointer: death, burial, Resurrection.

I have seen this paint brush before, and even personally found myself on the receiving end of a new paint job thanks to it. This was because when I implied that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for God's glory alone, I place no qualifiers on God's authority and man's incapability in my thinking, and placed no restriction on God's liberty to freely save or freely condemn as He sees fit. I do not deny that man is responsible for salvation even though he is incapable, though, because the Bible does not. And so, the message of turn and repent, trust and believe in Christ goes out to every creature, world-wide as it should.

With that said, should I lend a hand to practices that falsely assure of salvation if someone performs some special ritual, says a magic prayer, and gets dunked in the name of religion? Heaven forbid. If all I am doing is pointing a finger of condemnation towards that, then I am doing too little and sadly, that is often all I do. Some evangelism should be killed off. Maybe even some churches should close their doors. Some street evangelists may need to stop persevering and get a day job. But those that truly love Christ (and no, they are not all Calvinists and thank Christ for that too), will hold fast to Him and to the Scriptures, preach salvation and repentance in His name, and point many to Christ, in buildings of worship, outside in the streets, in workplaces, in homes, and everywhere that true believers proclaiming the Gospel can be found. Thank God! He's God, and He's God everywhere, and no one can shut Him up or out.

That's what I am thankful for.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Since my last comment, I am surprised that no one has picked up the important thing about THIS Altar Call at THIS last session of the SBC meeting. I would assume that those attending should be faithful leaders and members of Baptist churches to be messengers."

Gene,

Lydia made that very point in the 21st comment in this thread on Thursday at 3:09 p.m. It's a good question, but I think someone said they invited kids in for the Casting Crowns concert, so there weren't just SBC messengers there.

Byron said...

Weezie said...

Kids were brought in for the concert. However, salvation was preached at another time at the convention, to the messengers.

Fri Jun 18, 12:46:00 AM 2010

According to Weezie, the kids were not evangelized.

Anonymous said...

I think I know how this evangelist came to speak at the Convention.
Apparently, he is 'the minister' to Casting Crowns.

Maybe he and the musical group came as a 'package deal'?

Big 'maybe', I know.
But it would make sense, as he was traveling with them.

Gene S said...

"Casting Crowns Concert"---cute title. Why does every program these days have a dramatic title???

I think it should make us re-read about media in church. The Living Christmas Tree consumes people in a large church I know, but they can't admit the Gospel could be shared if they showed by their living they are different. It has to be a "jerk 'em to Jesus concert."

Anyone ever hear of Joseph Bayley's "Gospel Blimp"????

It's a cute little parable about these "dedicated" Christians who decide to buy a blimp so they can share the Gospel. They hire a Captain and dress him up / wrap gospel tracts around candy they throw out / have loud speakers which irritate people / have a blow out that covers the homes with a blimp drape! It is hilarious.

One couple notices their next door neighbors, who were the first concern, are getting more pissed off with the antics every day. They bake a pie and go over for a friendly visit. At the last scene they are telling everyone how their neighbors had become Christians.

"What was it that won them--the candy tracts / loud speaker / music?" the blimp people asked.

"NO," came the answer, "We visited them!!!"

Like most things these days, we can't just take up money for the Gulf---we have to have a celebrity concert!!!

GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Also look up the USA Today coverage of the SBC and read that blog---few comments = nobody cares much across America / many comments are totally snide accusing organized religion of being a money making and political influence game these days.

There has to be a better and more authentic way just like Jesus' casting out the moneychangers at the Temple. Pure God worship had become a big business and little more--full of smoke and mirrors!!!

New BBC Open Forum said...

"There has to be a better and more authentic way just like Jesus' casting out the moneychangers at the Temple."

Hey, a Casting Moneychangers concert sounds good to me, but it would have to be free, right?

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Maybe I'll ask it a different way since I've asked it twice with no response: In your personal opinion what do you believe it takes for a person to go to Heaven? Could you share your conversion experience if you've already had one? Thanks

Pastor Michael

New BBC Open Forum said...

Michael,

I'd be interested in hearing that, too, but I doubt Wade will see your question here. I'd repost the question on the latest thread (currently 2 up).

gary dilworth said...

Richard,
You said, "Piper is talking from both sides of his mouth or contradicting himself.

Free = costly.
Faith = works.
No works = no salvation
No fruit = no root

Piper says "The faith that saves is the same faith that sanctifies" (Piper Battling Unbelief pg 138-139)."

-----------

James chapter 2 verses 14 through 20. "What doth...doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and has not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace; be ye warmed and filled,'notwithstanding, you give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, 'Thou has faith, and I have works.' Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well. The demons also believe - and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"
"For it is God," Philippians 2:13, "who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
“For you have been created in Christ Jesus for good works, that you should walk in them,” Paul says just after saying we are “saved by grace through faith…a gift of God” (Eph. 2:8-10).
Titus 1:15, "To the pure, all things are pure. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled, they profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."
1 John 2:4 “The one who says ‘I have come to know Him’ without keeping His commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected.”
1 Peter 1:1-2 “…to the..chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for the sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.”
“…according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ…according to the command of the eternal God, to advance the obedience of faith among all nations-- To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ-- to Him be the glory forever! Amen” Rom. 16-25-26.”
Saving faith is a supernatural faith that not only saves the saint but sanctifies the saint in accordance with the will of God and the saint He works in "both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Because of this principle that actions reveal a person's heart "He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth...Rom. 2:6-8"
"The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who disobeys the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him" John 3:36.

Richard said...

Gary,

Piper says: "...we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", pg 25).

Listen to Piper's own struggle: "But if, over the next ten or twenty years, John Piper begins to cool off spiritually and lose interest in spiritual things and become more fascinated with making money and writing Christless books; and I buy the lie that a new wife would be exhilarating and that the children can fend for themselves and that the church of Christ is a drag and that the incarnation is a myth and that there is one life to live so let us eat drink and be merry—if that happens, then know that the truth is this: John Piper was mightily deceived in the first fifty years of his life. His faith was an alien vestige of his father's joy. His fidelity to his wife was a temporary passion and compliance with social pressure; his fatherhood the outworking of natural instincts. His preaching was driven by the love of words and crowds. His writing was a love affair with fame. And his praying was the deepest delusion of all—an attempt to get God to supply the resources of his vanity.

If this possibility does not make me serious and vigilant in the pursuit of everlasting joy, what will?
http://www.desiringgod.org/library/sermons/96/101396.html

Very recently he is saying the same thing in his lecture to students. In response to a question about our imperfectness in this life, Piper responded: “I know people, and I would say this about myself, for whom the greatest threat to my perseverance and my ultimate salvation is the slowness of my sanctification. It’s not theoretical questions like ‘Did He rise from the dead?’ or the problem of evil. I’ve got answers. But why I sin against my wife the same at age 62 that I did at age 42 causes me sometimes to doubt my salvation or the power of the Holy Spirit… This question is not theoretical.” John Piper, “Why God is Not a Megalomaniac in Demanding to be Worshipped” 60th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Recording available through ACTS Conference Products, # EV08487 (www.actsconferenceproducts.com).

Many calvinists teach salvation by works--contradicting Scripture and their own preaching. Not only John Piper, but others as well.

Charles Hodge, a Calvinist theologian says: "The only evidence of election is effectual calling, that is, the production of holiness. And the only evidence of the genuineness of this call and the certainty of our perseverance, is a patient continuance in well doing. (Charles Hodge, St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, (reprint, 1950; Eerdmans) p 212).

This is precisely what the Arminians have been teaching for centuries: salvation by works which always cast doubt on believers' salvation. Waiting till you die to be saved at the end = final salvation yet to be determined by works = no works meaning no salvation. Regarding these two system of beliefs pertaining to salvation, Trinity Seminary Scholar, Don Carson concluded: "D.A. Carson states, "Thus at their worst, the two approaches meet in strange and sad ways." "Reflections on Christian Assurance," Westminster Theological Journal 54(1992). Meaning they are in essence teach the same theology of salvation by works.

I admire and love to listen to John Piper on many a subjects, but NOT on salvation.

Richard

gary dilworth said...

Richard,
Works are a byproduct of faith. As such works are unavoidable. Whatever a person really believes will show in their habitual pattern of works. Jesus, James, John, and Peter, and Paul imply that works can tell us what we really believe.
Saving faith is a divine gift. A miracle. Being born again is a miracle. Being made by the Holy Spirit into a new creation in Christ is a miracle. "For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" 1Cor. 4:6. Saving faith is divinely implanted in a formerly dead (in trespasses and sin) heart. This faith is supernatural. The Holy Spirit indwells us. We are become a new man in Christ. God is at work in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure. "But there are three elements of faith: knowledge, ascent and trust. And you have to understand those three features of faith: knowledge, ascent and trust. Knowledge is the intellectual element. It is to understand the truth, the Gospel. Ascent is the emotional element. It is to find your heart drawn to what your head has learned. And trust is the voluntary element, or the volitional element. It's when you make the commitment. Real faith involves all three. The mind understands, the emotions are drawn, the will makes the choice. Those three components are there and in the case of those people in John 2 maybe all they had was mind, they saw the miracles and that was it. They had that kind of faith, they had that noticia faith, that knowledge. Maybe in John 6 they had knowledge and they followed Jesus because their emotions were drawn to what their mind grasped and they went into that second, that ascent, but they never got to the third place where their will was enacted to make a commitment voluntarily of their life in time and eternity to Christ. Saving faith has the mind embracing the knowledge, a recognition and understanding of the truth that Jesus Christ saves, the heart then gives ascent, the will responds with a personal commitment to Christ. That's what makes saving faith saving faith.
That final element, trust, the volitional component is the crowning element of believing. And it involves surrender to the object of faith. It is personal appropriation of Christ as Lord and Savior. Saving faith then is the whole of my being. Mind, emotion and will embracing Christ and saying I'm satisfied with Him, I pledge to Him my commitment, my life, my loyalty, my trust. Faith cannot be divorced from commitment. It is what Jesus described in Matthew as a man who finds a pearl of great price, sells everything to get the pearl. Finds a treasure in the field, sells everything to get the treasure” (MacArthur on Hebrews 11:1-3).

Richard said...

Gary,

I just pointed out what some Calvinists are saying, that is salvation is NOT by faith ALONE; it is by FAITH & WORKS, or FAITH WORKS, or FAITH THAT WORKS. They do not say salvation by faith ALONE. They always qualify it with WORKS, or contingent on works.

In the previous post I simply quoted Piper who affirms that "our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", p 25). Note the phrase CONTINGENT UPON. It means conditioned or based ON subsequent obedience. It is NOT by faith ALONE.

On the contrary the Bible affirms that salvation is "by grace…through faith…NOT OF WORKS" (Eph 2:8-9). Rom 4:5 says that justification is "APART FROM WORKS."

I merely pointing out that some reformed and calvinistic leaders affirm consistently the position of work-salvation. No works no salvation view.

Pink wrote: "Heaven can only be reached by continuing along the sole path that leads thither, namely, the 'Narrow Way.' Those who persevere not in faith and holiness, love and obedience, will assuredly perish" (A.W. Pink, "Eternal Security", chapter 3, online edition). And he continues: "Reader, if there is a reserve in your obedience, you are on the way to hell" (A.W. Pink, "Studies on Saving Faith" Part 2, online).

Theologian Charles Hodge wrote: "Neither the members of the church nor the elect can be saved unless they persevere in holiness. And they cannot persevere in holiness without continual watchfulness and effort." (Charles Hodge, "A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians", h. 181).

That is why I said that reformed Calvinistic view of salvation by obedience and holiness is the same as the Arminian view of final salvation. This is the reason Vance said that Calvinism (on this issue) is THE OTHER SIDE OF ARMINIANISM.

Richard

gary dilworth said...

Richard,
I can agree with Paul here: "On the contrary the Bible affirms that salvation is "by grace…through faith…NOT OF WORKS" (Eph 2:8-9).

And here
Rom 4:5 says that justification is "APART FROM WORKS."

Can you agree with James (2:14) here: "...if someone says he has faith, but does not have works..can his faith save him?" (James means it cannot and does not).

And can you agree with James here: 2:24 "You see a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Do you agree with what James said? Is he absolutely correct, just as Paul is?

Richard said...

Gary,

My simple conclusion from reading some of the reformed calvinistic writers is that, they consistently teaching the same doctrine taught by the Arminians, that is: final salvation to be determined by WORKS NOT BY FAITH ALONE. I have not gone beyond that very point. Do you think reformed writers teach salvation by FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE? They teach salvation by FAITH ALONE, but that FAITH IS NOT ALONE. In short, what they are saying is a pure NONSENSE.

Scripture does not contradicts itself. James agrees with Paul, not contradicts Paul.

Richard

Richard said...

Gary,

Re.: James 2:14-26

James 2:14-26 paragraph is PRACTICAL not soteriological.

FAITH THAT WORKS is the issue, not eternal salvation.

Observe the context: (1) It is written to Christians, not unbelievers. v.1, 5, 14, (2) God's word cannot contradict itself. 2) These believers were described in James 1:17-18 (4) These shows that James 2:14-26 is not referring to eternal salvation.

James 2:14-26 is about a PRACTICAL salvation from an ineffective [useless], dead faith. James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? v. 14. Save him from what? The answer is simple.

It is 2 fold and is found in the context: (1) From a ruined life of sin. James 1:21 (2) salvation from hard judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ. James 2:12-13

Can faith alone save him? The answer simply is "NO!" Faith alone cannot save him from a ruined life and future judgment. V. 15-16 illustrate verse 14.

James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? v. 16. What does it profit in a practical sense, if you are saved but don't exercise that faith and help those in need, whatever the need is. What good is that? It is useless.

2 Important Points: (1) The very fact that James recognizes their faith shows they have it, BUT IT WASN'T PRODUCING!!! That is the issue. (2) The word "dead" does not mean non-existent. It is the word "nekros" and means barren, useless, idle. The root word means "like a corpse." Verse 20 and 26 have the same word. EX. a car battery. We say it is dead. We mean it is not producing. We do not mean that if you look under the hood, you will not find a battery there! (3) WORD DEAD = PRACTICALLY DEAD as in the case of the prodigal son of Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry; and PRACTICALLY [SEXUAL DEATH] in the case of Abraham and the womb of Sarah in Romans 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb

Now James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Simply put James is telling us that faith alone, if it is not manifesting itself by works, is idle and useless. It is dead in that it is showing no signs of life. Our faith won't do anyone any good if we don't exercise it.

THE ISSUE IN JAMES IS THE DANGER UNPRODUCTIVE FAITH OF SAVED BELIEVERS, NOT WORK SALVATION

James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Notice: His actions proved he had a living faith. The Scriptures were fulfilled in that Abe showed his faith by his works. This goes along with James 2:18. His faith stretched and matured through obedience. As a result of his obedience he was called the friend of God.

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Justified in a practical way. We must have a working faith to be justified in this life and to have our lives delivered from destruction, ruin, and judgment. James 1:21, 2:12-13.

Richard

gary dilworth said...

Richard,
You asked, “Do you think reformed writers teach salvation by FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE?”

The ones I have read teach that. Their definition of faith is significant though, such as MacArthur’s which I quoted above.

You said, “ They teach salvation by FAITH ALONE, but that FAITH IS NOT ALONE. In short, what they are saying is a pure NONSENSE.”

But James 2:24 says, "You see a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Teaching on salvation must account for James and Paul. Right?

You said, “Scripture does not contradicts itself. James agrees with Paul, not contradicts Paul.”

And Paul agrees with James.

Look at their two positions again. Paul says, “a man is justified by faith apart from works” (Rm. 3:28; cp. 4:5-6; Gal. 2:16)
That is faith alone.
And James says, “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jms 2:24). That is faith that’s not alone. That’s why reformers teach salvation by faith alone, but that faith is not alone.

[Paul was refuting a Jewish legalism holding that one must observe the law’s requirements in order to be saved, while James was opposing an antinomianism that was twisting faith in Christ so that no expression of works was necessary. They both used Abraham to illustrate their point. When Paul said ‘justified’ he meant saved or declared righteous, but James used ‘justified’ to mean vindicated or authenticated. By ’works’ Paul means ’works of the law’ while James means works that faith produces. Paul was saying that one is declared righteous by God apart from the works of the law. James was saying that a person’s faith produces works that vindicate his faith in Christ as genuine. James used Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac and Rahab’s protection of the spies as examples to show their works authenticated the reality of their faith in God. For James, faith without works was clearly worthless; it must be more than words. Authentic faith will bear the fruit of good works.] Apolgetics Study Bible notes for James (2:14-26).

Richard said...

Gary,

James' readers WERE ALREADY SAVED BELIEVERS. Some of them have FAITH (BELIEF/DOCTRINE) that is IDLE = USELESS = DEAD FAITH/BELIEF/DOCTRINE.

James was not threatening that believers with useless doctrine will go to hell.

They have been saved like Paul said: APART FROM WORKS of any kinds. They have eternal life. They just don't put their DOCTRINE (FAITH = BODY OF BELIEFS) into practice.

These people have justification before God, but not before men.

Richard

gary dilworth said...

Richard,
James was telling the brothers about a faith that will not save. It is a merciless faith that gets a judgement without mercy for it's possessor. (Jms 2:13). That is the judgement for unbelievers, not believers. James was dealing with antinomianism that someone may have been introducing to the church. "James says if you have that kind of false compassion, that at best says I hope you can find some food and clothing, my friend, go in peace, I wish you well, but you don't give them what they need, what good is that kind of faith? That faith that has no works is alone and therefore it proves to be dead.

To look at the words of Jesus one more time and see how He speaks to this issue, we need only turn to Matthew chapter 25.

And here the Lord gives it to us in such clarity that even a fool need not miss this. Verse 31 says, "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels will Him, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory. And the Lord will come in this time of judgment gathering all the nations, separating them one from another as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats."

And, of course, this is the division of men to go into the Kingdom and be shut out of the Kingdom. The sheep go to the right hand, the goats to the left. The king says to those on the right hand, "Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Why? Because you believed...it doesn't say that. He says here's the reason you're coming to the Kingdom, "I was hungry and you...what?...you what?...gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was ill clad and you put clothing on me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."

And the righteous are going to say, "Now wait a minute, Lord, when did we ever do that? When did we see You hungry and feed You or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in or ill clad and clothe you? When did we see You sick and in prison and come to You? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Truly I say you in as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have...what?...done it unto Me." And here it is, the people who enter the Kingdom aren't the ones here who simply are said to believe, they are the ones whose faith is made manifest in true compassion.

On the other hand, the ones who are told in verse 41 to depart because they're cursed to entering everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels are the ones who failed to demonstrate compassion. And they go into everlasting punishment while the righteous go into life eternal. Again the point is judgment is on the basis of works. Not that our works earn salvation but that our works manifest whether our faith is truly saving faith.

And so, James says dead faith is marked by empty confession and false compassion." (MacArthur on Jms 2:14-20).

The bible never calls saving faith dead faith.

"Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother...the one who does not love remains in death." 1 John 3:10&14)

MIke Corley said...

I just listened to the "message" by Tony Nolan, and checked out some video/audio sources on his "preaching". I agree with you Wade, this is embarrasing,its heart breaking and its frustrating. Who in the SBC invited this guy to speak? This is what happens when we mess up two foundationals truths; Who God is...and who we are, and because the convention chose to stay on this easy-believism route, is why friends is why I left the SBC!

Richard said...

Gary,

Please reconsider distancing yourself a few minutes from MacArthur--it is possible that he misinterprets James. If you lean heavily on MacArthur you can be misled. It is a serious possibility. Even John Calvin & Luther have been found to err in some instance.

Consider an alternative study of James 2, especially v17

As a metaphor, dead is often treated as though it could refer to nothing other than the death/life terminology employed to describe salvation from hell.

But every linguist knows that “death” and “deadness” are concepts that have given rise to numerous and diverse metaphors in nearly every language.

English itself has many (“this law’s a dead letter,” you re dead wrong,” “he’s dead drunk,” “he’s a dead duck,” “that idea is dead,” “they navigated by dead reckoning,” etc.). So also the NT language abounds in such metaphors.

In Romans alone, Paul can call Abraham’s body dead while it was still alive, and can attribute “deadness” to Sarah’s barren womb (Rom 4:19). He can say that apart from the law sin was [or is] dead (Rom 7:8; although sin can be quite active apart from the law: Rom 5:13), and then declare that sin revived and I died (Rom 7:9). So too the Christian’s body, in which the Spirit dwells, can be described as dead (Rom 8:10), although the Christian himself is regenerated. The complexity in Paul’s use of the term dead is clearly evident from these texts. A concordance study will yield examples in other parts of the NT as well (e.g., Luke 15:24, 32; Heb 6:1; 9:14; Rev 3:1).

It is simply wrong to think that James’s metaphor about “dead faith” can have only one meaning, i.e., a salvation one. To claim this is to beg the question.

When faith is described as dead in James 2 --it carries the meaning that faith is sterile, ineffectual, or unproductive. The word dead “refers, not to the quality of faith, but to its effect.” Plummer (General Epistles, p. 137) states: “But St. James nowhere throws doubt on the truth of the unprofitable believer’s professions, or on the possibility of believing much and doing nothing.” Dibelius (James, p. 178) is also right to say: “But in all of the instances [in James] which have been examined thus far [sic] what is involved is the faith which the Christian has, never the faith of the sinner which first brings him to God... The faith which is mentioned in this section can be presupposed in every Christian. . . [James’s] intention is not dogmatically oriented, but practically oriented: he wishes to admonish the Christians to practice their faith, i.e., their Christianity, by works”.

It is regarding saved believers' unproductive (dead) belief, not salvation by works.

Richard

Anonymous said...

Why don't you guys go open your own blog instead of writing entire books on Wade's blog?

gary dilworth said...

Richard,
Take care,
Gary

Anonymous said...

Why don't you guys go open your own blog instead of writing entire books on Wade's blog?

Why don't you let Wade run his own blog instead of trying to run it for him? ;-)

The Seeking Disciple said...

When I share the gospel I do ask people to make a decision to either repent and believe or reject Christ but I leave the results to the Spirit (John 6:44). However, I challenge people that if they want to be Jesus' disciple to be baptized (Acts 2:38-39, 41). The first mark of being Jesus' disciple is to be baptized (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12-13, 36-38; 9:18; 10:44-48; 16:14-15, 30-34; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16). Salvation, no doubt, is a work of God by His grace but I do seek to obey Jesus and baptize disciples.

Richard said...

Seeking Disciple,

Good summary of evangelism.

Richard

gary dilworth said...

Seeking Disciple,
You are evangelizing the way Jesus did, it seems to me. The first test is to understand Jesus is God. The second is to admit our sinfulness. The third is to commit to a life centered on Christ alone. And only God can bring a person to do all three so that we build our house on The Rock and not sand (Matt. 7_24-27).

The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have rtreasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

gary dilworth said...

The Rich Young Man passage is Luke 18:16-27.

Mike Shaw said...

Roll Tide to all you Sooners and Longhorns! I am Bob Cleveland's pastor,went to NOBTS with Bobby Welch and Richard Land, and I think Junior Hill is a modern day Barnabas.When I was battling cancer in 2005,Bro. Hill was one man who let me know that he was praying for me and sent notes and called to check on me. Junior Hill is sincere and is real. Bobby Welch probably went down to the altar to counsel those who came forward. Local churches probably brought their youth groups to a free Casting Crowns concert and some of the people who came were probably unchurched. By the way unless I am mistaken the Bible says that "we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ".