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mikebr
Jul 3rd 2008, 08:22 PM
Altar calls and invitations:Is this biblical?

RabbiKnife
Jul 3rd 2008, 08:24 PM
Creations of culture.

Nothing wrong with them, unless they are used improperly to manipulate.
Nothing right with them, unless they are used properly to invite.

Altar calls and invitations are creations of the evangelism movement and should be understood in their cultural setting.

Works some places; does not in others.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 3rd 2008, 08:35 PM
No, but it doesn't really matter. There is no prescription for them in the Bible, so they are not necessary.

My own point of view is that I prefer them not to exist - if I were a pastor I wouldn't have them. I actually currently attend a church that doesn't have an alter call. People are encouraged to see the pastor after the service if they have questions.

I won't go any deeper than that, however, since the OP simply asked if they're Biblical.

They aren't Biblical in that they aren't mentioned or prescribed - but they aren't anti-Biblical either.

cross crusader
Jul 3rd 2008, 08:45 PM
Altar calls and invitations:Is this biblical?
i will agree they are not in the bible as pertaining to the church. but old testament where did people pray for there sins? they made an altar. throughout the old testament the altar was significant, and used for the very reason and purpose that most altar calls take place for the cleansing of sin. Is there anything wrong with them? i would say no. are they neccessary? sometimes. can you be saved without it? yes. can you be healed without it? yes.

Literalist-Luke
Jul 3rd 2008, 08:56 PM
Creations of culture.

Nothing wrong with them, unless they are used improperly to manipulate.
Nothing right with them, unless they are used properly to invite.

Altar calls and invitations are creations of the evangelism movement and should be understood in their cultural setting.

Works some places; does not in others.Excellent. :yes:

tgallison
Jul 3rd 2008, 10:50 PM
Altar calls and invitations:Is this biblical?

I believe Paul would say yes.

Romans 11:14 "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them."

1 Corinthians 9:22 "To the weak became I am weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some."

Every man should be told they are lost and going to hell without Christ, and now is the accepted time.

terrell

talmidim
Jul 3rd 2008, 10:55 PM
Calls to repentance (renouncing your own way and turning back to the instruction of Elohim) is a common theme throughout scripture. Take John the Baptist for example. Making a prayer-bench the focal point and calling it an altar are relatively new developments. But this may very well be due to the changed nature of sacrifice. Scripture tells us the nature of an acceptable sacrifice. So whether it's, 'Take me to the river' or 'Unburden your heart at the altar'; it's certainly seems scriptural to me, provided it's done for the right reasons.

9Marksfan
Jul 3rd 2008, 11:43 PM
They're an invention of Charles Finney's and the revivalist movement in the 19th century and are a distortion of the gospel. The gospel isn't an invitation, it's a command! - and becoming a Christian isn't a decision - it's a spiritual resurrection!

They're more about the preacher boasting about how many souls he saved and giving many folks a false sense of assurance (although I accept that some people are genuinely saved at them - doesn't make them right, though).

Here's a thought - if we believe in sola scriptura, shouldn't we ONLY follow the evangelistic methods laid down in Scripture and not make up our own?

mikebr
Jul 3rd 2008, 11:56 PM
Thanks folks. We have a big evangelistic youth event every year with about 1500 kids. With that many kids we have them every night who come to get saved. I struggle with this every year. I wish we could show them Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do His thing.

Brother Mark
Jul 4th 2008, 01:24 AM
Here's a thought - if we believe in sola scriptura, shouldn't we ONLY follow the evangelistic methods laid down in Scripture and not make up our own?

What do you mean Nigel? How would that apply to this verse?

1 Cor 9:19-23

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 23 And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
NASB

The gospel message never changes. But surely God inspires men to creativity in their approach to win men by becoming all things to all men. (Just so you know I am not referring to seeker friendly churches.)

As an example... I have a friend whom God told to build a skate park. This was a very small church with limited funds. They built the skate park anyway. They invited many neighborhood kids to come and skate. The only condition was they had to listen to a 5 minute sermon before being allowed to skate and then of course, there were rules of decency. The kids were never able to give back. But over the course of a couple of years, over 600 kids were saved. Parents called my friend asking what he had done to their kids! They were amazed at the radical change that took place in them. Where once was rebellion, there was now submission. The church didn't reach the parents and many of the saved kids moved off when their parents moved. But these kids were saved because a small church decided they wanted to serve the neighborhood they were in and provide the kids with a place to skate. The rest of the town was passing laws to prevent the kids from skating and for good reason. This little church reached out and used a "method" not mentioned or taught anywhere. But it was something God gave them in times of prayer and fasting as a way to serve their neighbors. When God did give it to them, he gave them a part of society to reach that couldn't pay them back, or give big donations. It was a section of society that would only cost them. But in the end, it was very successful in the kingdom work of God.

Of course, I don't think altar calls were given but that little bitty Baptist church reached a bunch of lost souls. I have set through many an altar call and remained lost.

As a side note, Finney had an amazing ministry! Many towns were radically changed as a result of his preaching and evangelistic outreach.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 4th 2008, 03:37 AM
They're an invention of Charles Finney's and the revivalist movement in the 19th century and are a distortion of the gospel. The gospel isn't an invitation, it's a command! - and becoming a Christian isn't a decision - it's a spiritual resurrection!

They're more about the preacher boasting about how many souls he saved and giving many folks a false sense of assurance (although I accept that some people are genuinely saved at them - doesn't make them right, though).

Here's a thought - if we believe in sola scriptura, shouldn't we ONLY follow the evangelistic methods laid down in Scripture and not make up our own?

While I wouldn't go as far as you do on the issue, it is appropriate to point out that Charles Finney was the main propagator of alter calls (and introduced pragmatic Christianity to America...which has ruined American Christianity).

ravi4u2
Jul 4th 2008, 03:41 AM
i will agree they are not in the bible as pertaining to the church. but old testament where did people pray for there sins? they made an altar. throughout the old testament the altar was significant, and used for the very reason and purpose that most altar calls take place for the cleansing of sin. Is there anything wrong with them? i would say no. are they neccessary? sometimes. can you be saved without it? yes. can you be healed without it? yes.Is there anything wrong with them? YES!!! It reinforces the mosaic system of priests over people. In the new, all disciples of Christ are included in the priesthood, with Christ Himself being the chief priest. In the new, God is Emmanuel (in us). In the new, they had to go somewhere to meet God. Even some of the psalms of David are obsolete. In one of the psalms, David says, "because the Lord is at my right hand, I will not be moved". In the new, the Lord is not at the right hand, He is in us. If we cannot be moved when he was at the right hand, how much more, when He is in us? Another one is, "it is better for me to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord, then to be elsewhere". In the new, we have become tht house of the Lord.

watchinginawe
Jul 4th 2008, 07:42 AM
Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

These two in Jesus' parable were come in to the TEMPLE to pray. Why did the publican come to the temple? Why didn't he just humble himself before the Lord at home? This surely is an endorsement by Jesus for having a house of prayer where we can come and seek the Lord. Jesus also infers that the same house of prayer will have those who shut up their bowels of compassion against those who need the Lord.

Here is another passage I like on this subject:

Acts 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

"For, behold, he prayeth". Saul prays and the Lord is quick to hear and summon His servants.

Here is a passage regarding the sanctity of a personal altar where one speaks with God:

Genesis 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

That altar was nothing more than a pile of stones. Yet it was the LOCATION of where God appeared to Jacob. We even see that Jacob commanded all those in his household to wash up and put on their "Sunday Best" to go up to Bethel. :)

I hope that the Churches of today are still a place where a man can come and humble himself before the Lord.

God Bless!

9Marksfan
Jul 4th 2008, 08:45 AM
While I wouldn't go as far as you do on the issue, it is appropriate to point out that Charles Finney was the main propagator of alter calls (and introduced pragmatic Christianity to America...which has ruined American Christianity).

I agree. O for REAL revivals again - like the one under Edwards!

apothanein kerdos
Jul 4th 2008, 04:58 PM
I agree. O for REAL revivals again - like the one under Edwards!

I would agree with this as well. America hasn't had a real revival since the First Great Awakening (the Second was merely a spiritual revival...this is also where we saw the advent of the modern alter call).

Unfortunately, many people do see a need for the alter calls because it provides an "in the moment" and emotional decision for Christ. People tend to think that so long as they can get people to say a prayer, the person will be committed.

I tend to fall on the side that believes people are called by God and, because of this, will come forward and ask the pastor (or other relevant ministers) about the Gospel after the service. They will likewise be committed because they have been called. Who knows, maybe I'm extreme. ;)

cross crusader
Jul 4th 2008, 05:13 PM
Is there anything wrong with them? YES!!! It reinforces the mosaic system of priests over people. In the new, all disciples of Christ are included in the priesthood, with Christ Himself being the chief priest. In the new, God is Emmanuel (in us). In the new, they had to go somewhere to meet God. Even some of the psalms of David are obsolete. In one of the psalms, David says, "because the Lord is at my right hand, I will not be moved". In the new, the Lord is not at the right hand, He is in us. If we cannot be moved when he was at the right hand, how much more, when He is in us? Another one is, "it is better for me to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord, then to be elsewhere". In the new, we have become tht house of the Lord.
i dont even know how to respond to that. i agree with everything except the first statement, it reinforces nothing.

Brother Mark
Jul 4th 2008, 05:18 PM
Before we get too hard on Finney, I think it would be very wise to look and see what kind of an impact he had on bringing the gospel. Many, many were saved through this man's ministry. He was a great "revivalist" during his day.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 4th 2008, 05:24 PM
Before we get too hard on Finney, I think it would be very wise to look and see what kind of an impact he had on bringing the gospel. Many, many were saved through this man's ministry. He was a great "revivalist" during his day.

He was a HORRIBLE revivalist in his day. I've read his works mate - the guy was horrible. People weren't so much "saved" as they had an emotional experience that they could attribute to Christianity. Finney is one of the greatest disasters to American Christianity in the record of American Christianity.

Brother Mark
Jul 4th 2008, 05:27 PM
He was a HORRIBLE revivalist in his day. I've read his works mate - the guy was horrible. People weren't so much "saved" as they had an emotional experience that they could attribute to Christianity. Finney is one of the greatest disasters to American Christianity in the record of American Christianity.

I read some of his works. Many were saved through his ministry.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 4th 2008, 05:29 PM
I read some of his works. Many were saved through his ministry.

And many have been saved through LSD trips, near-death experiences, and TV Revivalists that have later to be shown corrupt. This doesn't mean such methods are preferable or that we should accept them. Likewise, Finney relied on an emotional response - people coming to Christ through His revival merely enforces the sovereignty of God and His ability to use anything to bring people to Himself - it attributes nothing to Finney and his pragmatic and damaging methods.

Brother Mark
Jul 4th 2008, 05:36 PM
And many have been saved through LSD trips, near-death experiences, and TV Revivalists that have later to be shown corrupt. This doesn't mean such methods are preferable or that we should accept them. Likewise, Finney relied on an emotional response - people coming to Christ through His revival merely enforces the sovereignty of God and His ability to use anything to bring people to Himself - it attributes nothing to Finney and his pragmatic and damaging methods.

Have you read his testimony? It was anything but emotional, though emotion was involved.

Finney was a spirit filled man and preached with power.

threebigrocks
Jul 4th 2008, 05:44 PM
Let's lay out the doctrine of what Finney taught and show how it's scripturally supported or disproven - not attack Finney himself. ;) Carry on!

apothanein kerdos
Jul 4th 2008, 05:56 PM
Have you read his testimony? It was anything but emotional, though emotion was involved.

Finney was a spirit filled man and preached with power.


I have read Finney's testimony and even read his theology - which is why I was left scratching my head when he brought out his pragmatic doctrine.

Finney taught the concept of the "hot seat," of setting the mood for alter calls, or pressuring people, of prolonging alter calls in order to bring people to Christ - his methods were horrible and, I would argue, anti-Biblical.

This is the same man that taught salvation wasn't a miracle. ;)

Brother Mark
Jul 4th 2008, 05:59 PM
I have read Finney's testimony and even read his theology - which is why I was left scratching my head when he brought out his pragmatic doctrine.

His testimony was truly an act of God.


Finney taught the concept of the "hot seat," of setting the mood for alter calls, or pressuring people, of prolonging alter calls in order to bring people to Christ - his methods were horrible and, I would argue, anti-Biblical. Not aware of those methods. I do know of how he went into a factory and God moved through the whole factory as folks got saved.


This is the same man that taught salvation wasn't a miracle. ;)Never heard that either. For in his testimony, he states it was a miracle.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 4th 2008, 06:09 PM
His testimony was truly an act of God.

And I'm not talking about the person or what happened to him personally. I'm talking about his pragmatic methods in theology.

YOU say it is an act of God, his testimony, but his theology was anything but.



Not aware of those methods. I do know of how he went into a factory and God moved through the whole factory as folks got saved.

Again, this is an assumption. As Christians, we are too quick to assume that if someone says a prayer they're somehow saved. I would ask, how many of those factory workers experienced an actual change?

Chances are, not many. Finney didn't even believe revivals were a miracle:

"It [revivals] is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. it is a purely philosophical result of the right use of constituted means - as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means." (Lectures of Revivals of Religion, Charles Finny).

Thus, he was relying on methods and procedures to produce revival, not the Spirit of God (in fact, he wrote all of this as a response to Jonathan Edwards' Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God where Edwards states that revival is purely a miracle of God and not something humans can produce).


Never heard that either. For in his testimony, he states it was a miracle.

Yet, in his Lectures on Revivals of Religion, he states, "When mankind becomes religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth."

Thus, salvation isn't a miracle - it's simply something humans choose to do in their natural state.

I know he did a lot of great things, but it is very difficult to look to the positive aspects of his ministry when his ministry is really what began a slow degenerative decline of Christianity in America. He introduced pragmatism to Christianity and, subsequently, modernism.

talmidim
Jul 4th 2008, 06:11 PM
I am surprised at the perspectives that are being voiced in this thread. And while I understand the nature of the question, I do not understand the nature of your answers. Many of you speak as though you believe that people come to the Lord by their own doing or the actions of others. What folly. You speak as though you understand the nature of revival, the ways of the Lord or the hearts and minds of men. You criticize others as if you have or could have done any better. And now we are back to the same argument that Paul had to settle in 1st Corinthians:

1Co 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas;

It has been clearly revealed that those that come to the Son are those that are given by the Father. And it has been declared by the Master that it is better to come to Him as a child. So the child - does it make an intellectual or emotional decision for the Lord? And has that child been given to the Son by the Father or by the hand of man? And does the Spirit turn the heart of man by rational argument or coercion or fear?

Some people prefer dying for Messiah. Some people prefer killing for Him. He doesn't want either. He would rather you live for Him and each other. The dying part isn't optional anyway.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 4th 2008, 06:15 PM
So the child - does it make an intellectual or emotional decision for the Lord? And has that child been given to the Son by the Father or by the hand of man? And does the Spirit turn the heart of man by rational argument

Yes. The Spirit uses the intellect, emotions, rationality, the whole of human to come to Christ. After all, if a person doesn't intellectually believed Christ actually existed, that person cannot be saved.

Though God draws believers to Him (I am Reformed, hence my problem with Finney), it doesn't mean we should simply allow any method to be used. We still have a responsibility to God's glory in the presentation of the Gospel. We cannot just use any method willy nilly - we must seek and implore God when we share the Gospel.

mikebr
Jul 4th 2008, 06:56 PM
Getting back to the original post, it seems to me that we tend to think that everyone must come to Christ in a like manner. Manipulation and fear are often used to get people to go through an action that may or may not lead to a relationship with Jesus.

watchinginawe
Jul 4th 2008, 07:53 PM
Getting back to the original post, it seems to me that we tend to think that everyone must come to Christ in a like manner. Manipulation and fear are often used to get people to go through an action that may or may not lead to a relationship with Jesus.I agree about getting back on topic. :yes: Good point.

I understand your point about how we think coming to Christ should be. But we see people in the New Testament in attendance to preaching and they are saved. There is a pattern there. It is not universal, but prevalent. Paul says that it is the preaching of the Gospel that is the power of God unto Salvation.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Paul wanted to have fruit among the Romans. Not "of Paul", but of the Gospel.

Is the Gospel preached in our Churches today? That is somewhat controversial. I have asked that question before and some said of course not. Church is for those already converted. I can see this point and I agree that there needs to be expounding on the scriptures, but even that may prick the heart of the lost.

So let me ask it another way. Is it Biblical for someone to attend preaching of the Gospel and be saved? Can that happen at Church? Of course it can.

If someone is seeking the Lord and decides that a trip to church is worthwhile for that purpose, then I think an altar call or invitation is completely in order. Consider Phillip's preaching of the Gospel and invitation to the Eunuch:

Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

The lost need to know "what prevents them" and those who are pricked in their heart need an opportunity to ask "what shall we do". We should never let someone undone by the Spirit to just walk away without answering "what shall we do".

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.
...
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

God Bless!

davidandme
Jul 4th 2008, 09:34 PM
Altar calls and invitations:Is this biblical?
I don't think it is. But just because something is not in the bible doesn't make it necesarily wrong. The word Trinity is not in the Bible either. God bless.

ravi4u2
Jul 6th 2008, 12:26 PM
I don't think it is. But just because something is not in the bible doesn't make it necesarily wrong. The word Trinity is not in the Bible either. God bless.So...what does make something wrong?

mikebr
Jul 6th 2008, 09:16 PM
I'm thinking about the thousands that believed in Acts when Peter preached at Pentecost. I just can't see those three thousand sitting in the grass somewhere with Christian counselors "leading them to Christ" or going through the ABC's of salvation. Most Calvinists believe in total depravity. If this is true (questionable) then God has drawn those people before they can ever respond to an alter call. If so what point is that person who responds saved. Are they saved when their are drawn?, when they pray?, when they repent?, or when they have proven themselves to be saved?

watchinginawe
Jul 6th 2008, 09:28 PM
I'm thinking about the thousands that believed in Acts when Peter preached at Pentecost. I just can't see those three thousand sitting in the grass somewhere with Christian counselors "leading them to Christ" or going through the ABC's of salvation. There must have been something like that going on since all 3000 were also baptized.
Most Calvinists believe in total depravity. If this is true (questionable) then God has drawn those people before they can ever respond to an alter call. If so what point is that person who responds saved. Are they saved when their are drawn?, when they pray?, when they repent?, or when they have proven themselves to be saved? Regarding Calvinists, I suppose the answer would be from the foundation of the world.

God Bless!

apothanein kerdos
Jul 6th 2008, 09:32 PM
I'm thinking about the thousands that believed in Acts when Peter preached at Pentecost. I just can't see those three thousand sitting in the grass somewhere with Christian counselors "leading them to Christ" or going through the ABC's of salvation. Most Calvinists believe in total depravity. If this is true (questionable) then God has drawn those people before they can ever respond to an alter call. If so what point is that person who responds saved. Are they saved when their are drawn?, when they pray?, when they repent?, or when they have proven themselves to be saved?

None of the above.

Traditional Calvinism doesn't teach that salvation is a one time occurrence, that you say a prayer and "boom," you're saved. Instead, it teaches a progressive idea of salvation, meaning salvation is split into three parts; justification, sanctification, and glorification.

When a person is justified, this means all sins - past, present, and future - are forgiven and the person is then brought into a relationship with God. God has drawn them and this justification occurs at the moment the person has acknowledged that Christ is who He is and that the person needs to depend upon Him.

Salvation continues through sanctification, which is the "good work begun in us." As we live, we continue to grow and change toward Christ.

Salvation is culminated and completed (at this point, one can say they are truly saved) in glorification, or at death, when they are free from their sin nature and their fallen body, ready to receive a new glorified body.

If you want to be technical, the elect were "saved" from before the foundation of the world.

That is the traditional Calvinist view. Not trying to start a debate on Calvinism, just answering the question.

davidandme
Jul 6th 2008, 11:17 PM
So...what does make something wrong?
If it is incosistent with the teaching and principals of the Bible.

davidandme
Jul 6th 2008, 11:19 PM
I'm thinking about the thousands that believed in Acts when Peter preached at Pentecost. I just can't see those three thousand sitting in the grass somewhere with Christian counselors "leading them to Christ" or going through the ABC's of salvation. Most Calvinists believe in total depravity. If this is true (questionable) then God has drawn those people before they can ever respond to an alter call. If so what point is that person who responds saved. Are they saved when their are drawn?, when they pray?, when they repent?, or when they have proven themselves to be saved?
I don't believe in calvinism, because God said: Choose who you will serve" In other words we have free choice.

adgerald
Jul 7th 2008, 05:10 AM
My two cents worth. An altar call is a call for public display of a commitment to Christ. There can be no private Christian. Like others have said before me there is a place for it. It should be used with adults who can make decisions for themselves.
God Bless

ravi4u2
Jul 7th 2008, 09:21 AM
If it is incosistent with the teaching and principals of the Bible.Well said...But what if soemthing is consistent with the old covenant, but not with the principles of the new?

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 01:49 PM
Yeah... perish the thought of someone actually going to an altar call and actually getting saved. I mean hey... must not be real because no where do you see a person in the Bible coming to an altar and getting saved! So... here is what we learn so far. Because Finney "created" this altar call thing... because it reminds folks of the Old Testament because it uses the word altar (God forbid) and because there isn't any such mention in Scripture... IT's not real and everyone who has done it needs check their faith because they have been deceived and therefore aren't likely really saved.

My goodness y'all. Cough up that wee gnat and gobble down the camel. :rolleyes:

It wasn't Finney that destroyed anything. It is stuff like this that does.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 01:57 PM
Yeah... perish the thought of someone actually going to an altar call and actually getting saved. I mean hey... must not be real because no where do you see a person in the Bible coming to an altar and getting saved! So... here is what we learn so far. Because Finney "created" this altar call thing... because it reminds folks of the Old Testament because it uses the word altar (God forbid) and because there isn't any such mention in Scripture... IT's not real and everyone who has done it needs check their faith because they have been deceived and therefore aren't likely really saved.

My goodness y'all. Cough up that wee gnat and gobble down the camel. :rolleyes:

It wasn't Finney that destroyed anything. It is stuff like this that does.

This oversimplifies and creates a strawman of what was actually being said. No one said that people weren't actually saved at the alter calls - but this doesn't validate them. There have been multiple people saved at a KISS concert, on an LSD trip, after a near-death experience, at Woodstock, or even (in my father's case) while hallucinating off a bad drug trip. This does not mean, however, that these are preferable.

What is being argued against isn't necessarily the idea of an alter call - having those that are willing to accept Christ come forward - but instead how they are done in the modern day. Finney did create problems because he invented the idea of the 'hot seat.' This is nothing more than a pragmatic and emotional method - you hold out the alter call and let people that if they don't come at that moment, they could be killed on the way home, so it would be best for them to come forward and accept Christ (that is an example, not a verbatim observation). It relies on people making an emotional acceptance of the Gospel, even if they somehow doubt that Jesus even existed. It leads to a very weakened form of Christianity (is it any coincidence that after Finney became a leader in revivals and people began implementing his methods that Christianity in America began to fall away? Not in terms of numbers, but in terms of content).

Thus, if a church wants to hold an alter call, it is often best that if the person coming forward is a first time visitor or unsure about the history of the Gospel or exactly what the Gospel is - instead of leading them in a prayer that they don't fully understand so we can put another notch on the church's belt, it would be better to stay and discuss with the person the decision they are contemplating making.

This modern method (introduced by Finney, which is why he's dangerous...if people understood pragmatism they would hardly have anything good to say about Finney's methods), however, is generally a "tag 'em and bag 'em" approach. The people come forward, they get herded off to a counselor (sometimes 3-4 people per counselor), say a prayer, sign a card, get introduced to the congregation, and mazel tov! Hope we get to see them next week. This is not to say people can't be saved this way, but merely that such a method isn't God honoring or preferable.

Whispering Grace
Jul 7th 2008, 02:07 PM
This is not to say people can't be saved this way, but merely that such a method isn't God honoring or preferable.

If, as you believe, God is the one who saves (and it is not a free-will choice), how is such a method where people CAN and HAVE been saved (By God) not God-honoring?

Granted, I am not a fan of the "repeat this little prayer after me and *POOF* you're saved" methods, but I'm not understanding how God can save a person and not be honored and glorified by it.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 02:14 PM
If, as you believe, God is the one who saves (and it is not a free-will choice), how is such a method where people CAN and HAVE been saved (By God) not God-honoring?

Granted, I am not a fan of the "repeat this little prayer after me and *POOF* you're saved" methods, but I'm not understanding how God can save a person and not be honored and glorified by it.


From the counterfactuals I listed above (e.g. coming to Christ on an LSD trip, finding Him at a KISS concert, or hallucinating about your own death because someone spiked your marijuana), this argument you are presenting would then validate these actions as God honoring. The person coming to Christ is certainly God-honoring - the method or means in which He comes to Christ, however, may not be so.

Whispering Grace
Jul 7th 2008, 02:20 PM
From the counterfactuals I listed above (e.g. coming to Christ on an LSD trip, finding Him at a KISS concert, or hallucinating about your own death because someone spiked your marijuana), this argument you are presenting would then validate these actions as God honoring. The person coming to Christ is certainly God-honoring - the method or means in which He comes to Christ, however, may not be so.

If God is so offended by the methods being discussed (and I am not talking about LSD trips, etc...those really have nothing to do with the discussion), why does He choose to save people via those very methods? Why not lead the person to a God-approved Reformed church? Is His arm too short to do that?

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 02:29 PM
If God is so offended by the methods being discussed (and I am not talking about LSD trips, etc...those really have nothing to do with the discussion), why does He choose to save people via those very methods? Why not lead the person to a God-approved Reformed church? Is His arm too short to do that?

Again, you cannot remove the LSD from this equation (I know people that were saved on an LSD trip).

Secondly, could you please drop the condescending attitude? I never said Reformed Churches were God-approved or that non-Reformed churches somehow weren't God-approved. It is my belief that Reformed theology and that style of Church is closer to Scripture, but it is entirely possible that I am completely wrong in that belief, thus I would never dare say Reformed-theology and churches are somehow more approved of by God than non-Reformed ones.

Third, I've never argued that God can't save people through any method. He calls us in His preferred time - sometimes He allows us to come to Him through the oddest means. This does not mean churches are subsequently free to practice these means just because some people have been saved through them. If you are correct, then it means churches that swindle people out of their money for faith-healing are fine, because a few people have actually been saved.

Just because God calls us in any circumstance (such as in a foxhole in a war - again, not exactly a preferable method to save someone, putting them into combat) does not mean we are free to use any circumstance. Our call isn't to save people - it's to glorify God by loving Him and to share His truth to the world in a manner that honors Him. Leave it to Him to do the saving - our job is merely to tell the truth in a glorifying manner. You can believe that whether you're Reformed or not. ;)

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 02:30 PM
This oversimplifies and creates a strawman of what was actually being said. No one said that people weren't actually saved at the alter calls - but this doesn't validate them. There have been multiple people saved at a KISS concert, on an LSD trip, after a near-death experience, at Woodstock, or even (in my father's case) while hallucinating off a bad drug trip. This does not mean, however, that these are preferable. Okay let's play with this analogy you are using compared to the altar call.

The altar call has been used by many churches over the last many decades now. What... let's draw a comparison to the many that fell to their knees there and repented and liken it to folks tripping on LSD at a Woodstock concert who had a near death experience... yes, let's liken it to that and nevermind the fact that statistically you are comparing an apple to an okra in regard to "preferred method." And then let's talk about a straw man argument. :rolleyes:



What is being argued against isn't necessarily the idea of an alter call - having those that are willing to accept Christ come forward - but instead how they are done in the modern day. Finney did create problems because he invented the idea of the 'hot seat.' This is nothing more than a pragmatic and emotional method - you hold out the alter call and let people that if they don't come at that moment, they could be killed on the way home, so it would be best for them to come forward and accept Christ (that is an example, not a verbatim observation). It relies on people making an emotional acceptance of the Gospel, even if they somehow doubt that Jesus even existed. It leads to a very weakened form of Christianity (is it any coincidence that after Finney became a leader in revivals and people began implementing his methods that Christianity in America began to fall away? Not in terms of numbers, but in terms of content). Yeah sure... I mean what do you expect though? America and Americans are the fault of pretty near everything so let's allow nothing to be sacred! And be it known now... Finney wasn't the beginning of America's "falling away." That is just beyond the scale of rationality that I can't even respond much to it.


Thus, if a church wants to hold an alter call, it is often best that if the person coming forward is a first time visitor or unsure about the history of the Gospel or exactly what the Gospel is - instead of leading them in a prayer that they don't fully understand so we can put another notch on the church's belt, it would be better to stay and discuss with the person the decision they are contemplating making.Many churches do that very thing. But hey... it is easier to watch television and then make such broad-brushed comments as if that is how it goes in every church in the country.

While there is certainly a lot of fault in churches across the WORLD... an altar call isn't the problem. The problem usually lands on the person doing it. There was nothing even wrong with Finney "holding out" and whatnot. This example you used of Finney letting them know they could possibly get killed when they left so it is best to not wait... now there ya go. And then you praise Edwards and guess what Sinners In The Hand of an Angry God did? It scared the pudding out of folks and they repented. The method was somewhat different yet the message the very same. The end result was also the same.... many were saved. Instead of rejoicing though... we pick apart the method. It is truly amazing.

Tell me this. What is wrong with a doctrine that says... you might die tonight and go to hell if you don't repent and turn to God? Is that wrong doctrine? Are we promised tomorrow? Will we not die and go to hell if we don't repent and turn to God? Isn't today the day for Salvation?

Whispering Grace
Jul 7th 2008, 02:35 PM
Our call isn't to save people - it's to glorify God by loving Him and to share His truth to the world in a manner that honors Him. Leave it to Him to do the saving - our job is merely to tell the truth in a glorifying manner. You can believe that whether you're Reformed or not. ;)

And how, exactly, is the Truth of God's Word not being relayed in churches that use alter calls?

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 02:37 PM
Again, you cannot remove the LSD from this equation (I know people that were saved on an LSD trip).

Secondly, could you please drop the condescending attitude? I never said Reformed Churches were God-approved or that non-Reformed churches somehow weren't God-approved. It is my belief that Reformed theology and that style of Church is closer to Scripture, but it is entirely possible that I am completely wrong in that belief, thus I would never dare say Reformed-theology and churches are somehow more approved of by God than non-Reformed ones.

Third, I've never argued that God can't save people through any method. He calls us in His preferred time - sometimes He allows us to come to Him through the oddest means. This does not mean churches are subsequently free to practice these means just because some people have been saved through them. If you are correct, then it means churches that swindle people out of their money for faith-healing are fine, because a few people have actually been saved.

Just because God calls us in any circumstance (such as in a foxhole in a war - again, not exactly a preferable method to save someone, putting them into combat) does not mean we are free to use any circumstance. Our call isn't to save people - it's to glorify God by loving Him and to share His truth to the world in a manner that honors Him. Leave it to Him to do the saving - our job is merely to tell the truth in a glorifying manner. You can believe that whether you're Reformed or not. ;)Why do you think our call isn't to save people? We are often told to do that very thing... although I know folks have a tough time bypassing the religious speak such as "only God can save them." In doing that... they totally miss the point.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 02:42 PM
I wonder - can anyone discuss this topic without being rude or condescending? Saying, "Oh that's just beyond reason" adds nothing to the discussion. Can anyone here actually discuss the topic without throwing arrogance and condescending attitudes into it? Am I asking for too much?


Okay let's play with this analogy you are using compared to the altar call.

The altar call has been used by many churches over the last many decades now. What... let's draw a comparison to the many that fell to their knees there and repented and liken it to folks tripping on LSD at a Woodstock concert who had a near death experience... yes, let's liken it to that and nevermind the fact that statistically you are comparing an apple to an okra in regard to "preferred method." And then let's talk about a straw man argument.

It's not a matter of statistics though. The simple truth is, if we justify alter calls by "people have come to Christ through them," then anything that has brought someone to Christ is then viewed as preferable. It doesn't matter if one person has come to Christ through it or one million - the fact remains that the logic applies to both.


Yeah sure... I mean what do you expect though? America and Americans are the fault of pretty near everything so let's allow nothing to be sacred! And be it known now... Finney wasn't the beginning of America's "falling away." That is just beyond the scale of rationality that I can't even respond much to it.

Rudeness aside...

This is a hyperbolic exaggeration of what I said. Considering that pragmatism is an American philosophy, it shouldn't surprise us when the problem of pragmatism is attributed to Americans. Would it be wrong of me to attribute liberal Christianity (i.e. the miracles and resurrection never happened) to Germany since that is where it began? Likewise, is it wrong for me to attribute pragmatic Christianity to America (specifically Finney) considering that is where it began?


While there is certainly a lot of fault in churches across the WORLD... an altar call isn't the problem. The problem usually lands on the person doing it. There was nothing even wrong with Finney "holding out" and whatnot. This example you used of Finney letting them know they could possibly get killed when they left so it is best to not wait... now there ya go. And then you praise Edwards and guess what Sinners In The Hand of an Angry God did? It scared the pudding out of folks and they repented. The method was somewhat different yet the message the very same. The end result was also the same.... many were saved. Instead of rejoicing though... we pick apart the method. It is truly amazing.

Again, this is an over-simplification of the issue.

Finney didn't believe that salvation was a miracle or something that was supernatural (as I previously quoted). In other words, it was up to the presenter to use the methods available in order to get the person saved. This seemingly contradicts the Scriptures and, more importantly, denies the power of the Holy Spirit in the regeneration of the sinner and the calling of the sinner (something both Calvinists and non-Calvinists can agree on).

Edwards, however, did not create Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in order to scare people - he was merely stating a spiritual truth and presenting the Gospel. His intention wasn't to scare people (and it's an urban legend that people came to Christ out of fear from his sermon). Furthermore, we can read numerous other sermons of Edwards where he makes the appeal that we shouldn't' come to Christ out of fear, but instead out of love. Thus, even if some people did come to Christ out of fear from his sermon, it was not his intention and he also spoke out against such tactics and reasons. Apples and oranges mate. :)


Tell me this. What is wrong with a doctrine that says... you might die tonight and go to hell if you don't repent and turn to God? Is that wrong doctrine? Are we promised tomorrow? Will we not die and go to hell if we don't repent and turn to God? Isn't today the day for Salvation?

From my reading of the Scripture it's an iffy doctrine. I happen to believe that God calls us, thus if He intends us to be saved, it will occur.

From the opposite view, even then I would say that it's questionable. It's telling people to come to Christ on pragmatic reasons (e.g. it might be true, therefore you should accept Christ just in case) rather than out of love. We must question if such "conversions" are legitimate in the eyes of God. Even from the opposite viewpoint of my own, I would still see a problem with the "hot seat."

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 02:44 PM
Why do you think our call isn't to save people? We are often told to do that very thing... although I know folks have a tough time bypassing the religious speak such as "only God can save them." In doing that... they totally miss the point.

Name one scripture where it says "go and save people, it's your job to save people." Instead, the idea presented is that it's our job to present the Gospel and if someone comes to Christ, to mentor that person. It is not up to us if people accept or reject the Gospel.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 02:45 PM
And how, exactly, is the Truth of God's Word not being relayed in churches that use alter calls?

In the examples I've presented, they're using pragmatic means in order to get people to come forward. Pragmatism is putting the emphasis on us and our power, it ignores the power of the Holy Spirit. How could that possibly be of God?

Whispering Grace
Jul 7th 2008, 02:59 PM
Likewise, Finney relied on an emotional response - people coming to Christ through His revival merely enforces the sovereignty of God and His ability to use anything to bring people to Himself - it attributes nothing to Finney and his pragmatic and damaging methods.

Can not the same be said of any man?

Can we attribute Edwards' success to Edwards? Was God not also sovereignly working through Edwards' ministry?

watchinginawe
Jul 7th 2008, 03:00 PM
In the examples I've presented, they're using pragmatic means in order to get people to come forward. Pragmatism is putting the emphasis on us and our power, it ignores the power of the Holy Spirit. How could that possibly be of God?Now that isn't necessarily true. Who says that Pragmatism isn't of the Holy Ghost? I've presented scripture in this thread that has largely gone ignored. So the question I pose you is this. What are we to say to those who ask: "What shall we do?" after hearing the Gospel? Please offer your answer in a non-pragmatic response. Perhaps we should do as Mikebr offers, to just let the Holy Ghost do His thing and tell them to go home and wait for the promise of the Father. The problem with that is that assumes that our actions are not part of what the Holy Ghost is doing.

God Bless!

mcgyver
Jul 7th 2008, 03:03 PM
Altar calls and invitations:Is this biblical?

I wanted to address the OP, so I brought this forward...A couple of things I'd like to present as "food for thought".

When we think of "Altar calls" or "Invitations" we automatically have a picture in our mind, based on what we see or experience in church.

The question is: "In the final analysis, what is an "Altar call/Invitation"?

IMO it is nothing more than asking people to make a public decision (laying aside for the moment the different "methods" from church to church).

In this, although we don't see "Altar calls" as we have come to understand them; I believe that we do have certain precedents in scripture for an "Altar call" or "invitation".

For example:

Joshua in chapter 24 of the book bearing his name gave a great "Altar call" when he told Israel to "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.." and the people responded with a public declaration that they would serve the Lord.

Josiah, after the Book of The Law was read to him re-instituted worship of God and in 2 Chronicles 34:32 we see that: "And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand..." Once again a public declaration.

John the Baptist demanded a public decision in the Gospels: e.g. Mark 1:4-5 where the people were publicly baptized, Confessing their sins.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter demanded a decision. When the people were moved by Peter's great sermon and asked what they should do...Peter didn't say "come and see me privately" but demanded they make a decision to repent and believe in Christ.

Therefore, if the intent of an "Altar Call" or "Invitation" is to give people opportunity to make a public decision...Then I don't have a problem with it. JMO

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 03:05 PM
Can not the same be said of any man?

Can we attribute Edwards' success to Edwards? Was God not also sovereignly working through Edwards' ministry?

Did I ever say any different? The reason we look at Edwards isn't because people came to Christ through him, but because he did it in a God-honoring manner. It is an example we should follow. As Christians, though elect, we still have the will to do things in a God-honoring (or dishonoring) manner.


Now that isn't necessarily true. Who says that Pragmatism isn't of the Holy Ghost?

The Scripture. Pragmatism is relying on methods and man's autonomous reason - it is a result of modernity. It teaches that man is nothing more than a machine and that we need methods, not personal interaction, to change who we are. Likewise, in pragmatism the ends justify the means. Are we to say that this is approved by the Spirit when the Scripture clearly says we are to trust in God and not lean on our own understanding?


What are we to say to those who ask: "What shall we do?" after hearing the Gospel? Please offer your answer in a non-pragmatic response. Perhaps we should do as Mikebr offers, to just let the Holy Ghost do His thing. The problem with that is that assumes that our actions are not part of what the Holy Ghost is doing.

It's up to each individual person. Some people will fall on their knees after hearing the Gospel and proclaim Jesus is Lord. Others will seek out the evidence, to see if what Jesus claimed is true. Each response will vary. With that in mind, as Christians presenting the Gospel, we need to be prepared to walk with true seekers after they hear the Gospel. There is no method to is, we can't give them a "12 step program to understanding Christ," or believe that if we do certain actions it will somehow bring them over (i.e. the "hot seat"). We just need to be patient with them and work with them in the way the Holy Spirit guides us.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 03:07 PM
I wanted to address the OP, so I brought this forward...A couple of things I'd like to present as "food for thought".

When we think of "Altar calls" or "Invitations" we automatically have a picture in our mind, based on what we see or experience in church.

The question is: "In the final analysis, what is an "Altar call/Invitation"?

IMO it is nothing more than asking people to make a public decision (laying aside for the moment the different "methods" from church to church).

In this, although we don't see "Altar calls" as we have come to understand them; I believe that we do have certain precedents in scripture for an "Altar call" or "invitation".

For example:

Joshua in chapter 24 of the book bearing his name gave a great "Altar call" when he told Israel to "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.." and the people responded with a public declaration that they would serve the Lord.

Josiah, after the Book of The Law was read to him re-instituted worship of God and in 2 Chronicles 34:32 we see that: "And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand..." Once again a public declaration.

John the Baptist demanded a public decision in the Gospels: e.g. Mark 1:4-5 where the people were publicly baptized, Confessing their sins.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter demanded a decision. When the people were moved by Peter's great sermon and asked what they should do...Peter didn't say "come and see me privately" but demanded they make a decision to repent and believe in Christ.

Therefore, if the intent of an "Altar Call" or "Invitation" is to give people opportunity to make a public decision...Then I don't have a problem with it. JMO


Thank you very much. I'm glad that someone here sees that there is a way to do alter calls without being dishonorable to God.

I merely bring up that emotional appeals and the "hot seat" and the pragmatic way in which alter calls are done is not God-honoring; you would think I was suggesting we get rid of the Bible by the response. ;)

Instead, I agree with what mcgyver posted - there is a God-honoring way to do these things. It doesn't mean, however, that all alter calls are God-honoring or preferable.

watchinginawe
Jul 7th 2008, 03:16 PM
What are we to say to those who ask: "What shall we do?" after hearing the Gospel? Please offer your answer in a non-pragmatic response. Perhaps we should do as Mikebr offers, to just let the Holy Ghost do His thing. The problem with that is that assumes that our actions are not part of what the Holy Ghost is doing. It's up to each individual person. Some people will fall on their knees after hearing the Gospel and proclaim Jesus is Lord. Others will seek out the evidence, to see if what Jesus claimed is true. Each response will vary. With that in mind, as Christians presenting the Gospel, we need to be prepared to walk with true seekers after they hear the Gospel. There is no method to is, we can't give them a "12 step program to understanding Christ," or believe that if we do certain actions it will somehow bring them over (i.e. the "hot seat"). We just need to be patient with them and work with them in the way the Holy Spirit guides us.We have an example in scripture and it probably passes the test of pragmatism. As Peter finishes his Gospel presentation, those in audience ask "what shall we do?":

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.

Peter led them to Christ. Not a 12 stepper, just a 4 stepper. Repent, believe, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost. Now that isn't a formula or a pilgrimage. It simply characterizes a response that would be honored by God for salvation. The result of which would have the converts trusting in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

Now, what if Peter would have just said: "Let the Holy Ghost do His work on you". Or, "It is up to each of you individually what you shall do". But instead, a pragmatic response to the pricked heart by way of the Gospel is offered. "Do this now, while your heart is yet pricked, before the enemy comes and snatches the word from your heart". That is how I see it.

God Bless!

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 03:34 PM
I wonder - can anyone discuss this topic without being rude or condescending? Saying, "Oh that's just beyond reason" adds nothing to the discussion. Can anyone here actually discuss the topic without throwing arrogance and condescending attitudes into it? Am I asking for too much? There was neither arrogance or condescending attitude in that comment. It is beyond reason.



It's not a matter of statistics though. The simple truth is, if we justify alter calls by "people have come to Christ through them," then anything that has brought someone to Christ is then viewed as preferable. It doesn't matter if one person has come to Christ through it or one million - the fact remains that the logic applies to both. MANY people have. And no it doesn't apply to both. That is like saying we shouldn't take airplanes to minister in Africa and only go by boat because the only mention of travel in Scripture (preferred method) is going by ship. Therefore, while airplanes will get you to Africa, it is not biblical therefore not the preferred method of transportation in doing the Lord's work. Same logic. It is flawed.


Rudeness aside...nothing rude about it either. There is no rational response to someone that says that Fintney was the start of America's decline.


This is a hyperbolic exaggeration of what I said. Considering that pragmatism is an American philosophy, it shouldn't surprise us when the problem of pragmatism is attributed to Americans. Would it be wrong of me to attribute liberal Christianity (i.e. the miracles and resurrection never happened) to Germany since that is where it began? Likewise, is it wrong for me to attribute pragmatic Christianity to America (specifically Finney) considering that is where it began?Spoken just like folks like Sproul etc... in other words... Calvinist and yes... the despised Finney. Sproul even concludes that Finney wasn't even saved himself because of his doctrinal disagreements with Calvinism. So there ya go... This is an issue with Calvinist I suppose but most prefer the more simplistic approach. Post number two in this thread was the best thusfar. Read it... ponder it... tell me if it actually makes sense to you?


Again, this is an over-simplification of the issue. Naturally. :rolleyes:



Finney didn't believe that salvation was a miracle or something that was supernatural (as I previously quoted). In other words, it was up to the presenter to use the methods available in order to get the person saved. This seemingly contradicts the Scriptures and, more importantly, denies the power of the Holy Spirit in the regeneration of the sinner and the calling of the sinner (something both Calvinists and non-Calvinists can agree on).

Edwards, however, did not create Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in order to scare people - he was merely stating a spiritual truth and presenting the Gospel. His intention wasn't to scare people (and it's an urban legend that people came to Christ out of fear from his sermon). Furthermore, we can read numerous other sermons of Edwards where he makes the appeal that we shouldn't' come to Christ out of fear, but instead out of love. Thus, even if some people did come to Christ out of fear from his sermon, it was not his intention and he also spoke out against such tactics and reasons. Apples and oranges mate. :)Right... Edwards was right because he was Reformed. Finney was wrong because he wasn't Reformed. Oversimplistic perhaps... but truth.

As to Finney not believing the Spirit had anything to do with man's salvation... that's a total misrepresentation of Finney truth be told and stuff talked about by Reformed guys that speak out against churches today that aren't reformed.



From my reading of the Scripture it's an iffy doctrine. I happen to believe that God calls us, thus if He intends us to be saved, it will occur.

From the opposite view, even then I would say that it's questionable. It's telling people to come to Christ on pragmatic reasons (e.g. it might be true, therefore you should accept Christ just in case) rather than out of love. We must question if such "conversions" are legitimate in the eyes of God. Even from the opposite viewpoint of my own, I would still see a problem with the "hot seat."You mean like when Peter preached in Acts 2?

Simple fact. Finney was a revivalist. It is no different with other Revivalist. They go somewhere and they preach a week... two... three. Then go. Even Finney understood that MANY of those people fit the parable of the soils. He sowed the seed and then left. There lies the problem in that there wasn't much to do with watering and picking at the weeds. Unfortunately, many a revivalist today hasn't learned that lesson.

But many (MOSTLY REFORMED too truth be told) totally misrepresent Finney and they love grabbing his teaching on Revivalism to do so. Finney wasn't teaching the gospel to preachers. Preachers reading that should ALREADY know the gospel. Finney wasn't discounting the work of the Spirit of God. Preachers should ALREADY know the Spirit draws men to Christ. Finney was teaching on the HOW to conduct a revival successfully. There is a VAST difference. It wasn't a theological work he was putting out. Simple truth... Reformed folk despise Finney's teaching about as much as they despise mine. It's a reality. ;)

Now what would be interesting... have you ever read some of his letters near the end of his life when he critiqued his own Revival meetings? Where he actually speaks of the fact that the vast majority only held onto this for a season? How the majority did fall away from the truth of Christ? How the mass revivals are worthless unless they have teaching from the full counsel of God's Word?

And again... certainly Finney was not the beginning of the decline of America. Again... that is just beyond any reasonable reasoning. I know that is hard for Reformed folk because Finney was very opposed to the Reformed doctrine and taught that. So while I understand your dislike for his theology... it's a far stretch to say he was the beginning of America's decline or as Sproul says... Finney wasn't even a Christian.

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 03:47 PM
Name one scripture where it says "go and save people, it's your job to save people." Instead, the idea presented is that it's our job to present the Gospel and if someone comes to Christ, to mentor that person. It is not up to us if people accept or reject the Gospel.Romans 11:13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.
15 For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?


1 Corinthians 7:15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.
16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

1 Corinthians 9:20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law;
21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.
23 And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

James 5:19 śMy brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back,
20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

Jude 1:22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 03:51 PM
Can not the same be said of any man?

Can we attribute Edwards' success to Edwards? Was God not also sovereignly working through Edwards' ministry?It is funny... I remember the first time Paul Washer (as Reformed as can be) was when I put a link to one of his sermons on here. The greatest grief that I received was from either the UR folk or the Reformed folk. The UR because he mentioned eternal hell and that just frost their shorts... the Reformed because of his "style and method." Never mind the fruit of the ministry.

I think folks forget that Jesus preached to MULTITUDES. Had a bunch of disciples too. 70 left and only 12 remained. Must have been a method problem otherwise more would have been saved.

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 03:55 PM
We have an example in scripture and it probably passes the test of pragmatism. As Peter finishes his Gospel presentation, those in audience ask "what shall we do?":

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.

Peter led them to Christ. Not a 12 stepper, just a 4 stepper. Repent, believe, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost. Now that isn't a formula or a pilgrimage. It simply characterizes a response that would be honored by God for salvation. The result of which would have the converts trusting in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

Now, what if Peter would have just said: "Let the Holy Ghost do His work on you". Or, "It is up to each of you individually what you shall do". But instead, a pragmatic response to the pricked heart by way of the Gospel is offered. "Do this now, while your heart is yet pricked, before the enemy comes and snatches the word from your heart". That is how I see it.

God Bless!And that is exactly how it should be seen too.

Paul preached differently than Peter who preached differently than James who preached differently than Stephen etc. Styles varied. Message was about Christ. I still say that the issue here is less anything else other than difference of doctrine and dislike for someone in opposition to the "preferred" doctrine. That ain;t going to change this side of eternity but shoot... how obvious it becomes on such simple topics.

Buck shot
Jul 7th 2008, 04:06 PM
I wanted to address the OP, so I brought this forward...A couple of things I'd like to present as "food for thought".

When we think of "Altar calls" or "Invitations" we automatically have a picture in our mind, based on what we see or experience in church.

The question is: "In the final analysis, what is an "Altar call/Invitation"?

IMO it is nothing more than asking people to make a public decision (laying aside for the moment the different "methods" from church to church).

Therefore, if the intent of an "Altar Call" or "Invitation" is to give people opportunity to make a public decision...Then I don't have a problem with it. JMO

:agree: I would also like to add a few more thoughts to what an alter call or invitation is as it seems many have a warped sense of understanding what a true invitation is.

1. I will start in saying that I was saved during an invitation, not in the front with the preacher, but from where I stood. I then went forward to profess what the Lord had done for me and in me. This is very biblical in that you are given to oppritunity to publicly confess with your mouth.


Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

2. The invitation allows folks the opportunity to come to our Lord in prayer while He is dealing with us, they do not have to talk to the preacher at all but can go directly to their knees at the alter.

3. The invitation allows folks the opportunity to seek prayer from another (could be the preacher or anyone else in the church) for an issue that our Father is dealing with them about.

4. The invitation allows a time to put your arm around someone who our Father pokes you in the heart that you need to reach out to and pray for.

These are only a few things I have seen happen at the time that we are drawn really close to our Father. The invitation (in my opinion) is the focal point of the service where our Heavenly Father is allowing us to seek Him weither it be for salvation, for rededication, for help, or just open hearted conversation. As a congregation we have sang praises to Him, we have prayed to Him, we have heard His word, and now is the time to get one on one with Him.

I know you can have times that you get one on one with God outside of the invitation time but in my busy schedule it is rare that I get to dedicate hours of worship prior to my prayer time. I am so thankful for the time that I am able to get on my knees at His alter when I have been focussed on Him for over an hour.

This is what an alter call is to me...

Thanks, Myrton

mcgyver
Jul 7th 2008, 04:38 PM
Thanks for that testimony, Buckshot!

Seems to me (unless I'm confused) that the consensus of opinion is that Altar Calls/Invitations can be supported scripturally, as long as they are done in a Christ-honoring manner.

So, what in your opinion constitutes a "valid"/"Scriptural"/"Christ-honoring" Altar call or invitation?

If you were in the pulpit, how would you approach it?

I'll start:

At our church, the invitation is multi-faceted.

1. There is a call to respond to the Gospel. This is done in the manner of Kerugma...a statement of facts of the Christian message. That we have all sinned against God, we can not save ourselves by "being good" or "doing good things"...That we must repent and be born-again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (short form)...(Rom 3:23/6:23/10:9-10, John 14:6/3:3)

2. There is a call to Christians who may need to repent of something, or to re-dedicate their lives to the service of the master.(1 John 1:9 e.g.)

3. There is the opportunity for those who wish to join the church, who feel called to the Gospel ministry, etc. to publicly make it known.

4. There is the opportunity simply to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit in anything else.

Although there are those who come in tears, emotionalism per se is avoided, and the preacher always mentions "counting the cost", and "denying oneself, picking up the cross daily" to follow Christ.

How is it done/Would you do it in your church?

Buck shot
Jul 7th 2008, 05:02 PM
Howdy Mcgyver,

That's a hard question to answer. I used to think that I needed a plan for the message that would end in a dynamic planned alter call. That was many years (and classes) ago while I was trying to figure out the "right" way to lay out the service.

Now, I just let God lead. When I feel that He stops giving me what to say, I close the message in prayer. At this time the song leader knows it's time to open the invitation with a hymn that most folks know so that they are not having to read the song books.

As folks sing, I wait upon the Lord for the words. Sometimes they are something along the lines as you wrote, "we have all sinned...." and don't wait any longer, other times "don't you think it is time that you got your life back on track...", or "take this time to lift up _______ in prayer", and some times there are very few words and we are lead to close the invitation by holding hands in prayer for _______.

I hope I answered what you were asking.:)

mcgyver
Jul 7th 2008, 06:13 PM
Yes Sir, you did. Thanks :)

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 06:23 PM
We have an example in scripture and it probably passes the test of pragmatism. As Peter finishes his Gospel presentation, those in audience ask "what shall we do?":

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.

Peter led them to Christ. Not a 12 stepper, just a 4 stepper. Repent, believe, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost. Now that isn't a formula or a pilgrimage. It simply characterizes a response that would be honored by God for salvation. The result of which would have the converts trusting in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.It is a bit of a stretch to say that this resembles a modern day alter call. For one, there was no call to come forward. Secondly, there was no emotional plea. Thirdly, they didn't sing all 456 verses of "Just As I Am" ;).

My point being, I have never on this thread said that every single alter call in every single situation is wrong or anti-Biblical. I merely said that the modern alter-call (simply calling people forward who want more information or want to make a profession) can't be found in the Bible, but this doesn't negate such a practice because its not anti-Biblical either.

Secondly, what I have been arguing against is the Finney-style alter call where we use pragmatism, emotions, and put the power in ourselves to convince someone of the Gospel. We are never called in the Gospel to convince anyone of anything - merely to present the Truth and let the Holy Spirit work from there.


Now, what if Peter would have just said: "Let the Holy Ghost do His work on you". Or, "It is up to each of you individually what you shall do". But instead, a pragmatic response to the pricked heart by way of the Gospel is offered. "Do this now, while your heart is yet pricked, before the enemy comes and snatches the word from your heart". That is how I see it.Of course with my beliefs I don't believe that the Word can be snatched away if God has elected the person. Regardless (as it is irrelevant what I believe in terms of how a person is saved), I always teach an active passivity.

What I mean by this is simply that we are called to minister to people and to counsel them as well. This does not mean it is our responsibility to save them, but instead that the Spirit works through us. I even stated in a previous post:

It's up to each individual person. Some people will fall on their knees after hearing the Gospel and proclaim Jesus is Lord. Others will seek out the evidence, to see if what Jesus claimed is true. Each response will vary. With that in mind, as Christians presenting the Gospel, we need to be prepared to walk with true seekers after they hear the Gospel. There is no method to is, we can't give them a "12 step program to understanding Christ," or believe that if we do certain actions it will somehow bring them over (i.e. the "hot seat"). We just need to be patient with them and work with them in the way the Holy Spirit guides us.

Now what in there is disagreeable?



Mcgyver,



So, what in your opinion constitutes a "valid"/"Scriptural"/"Christ-honoring" Altar call or invitation?One that doesn't attempt to make an emotional plea or leaves the intellect out of the process (alternatively, one that is solely intellectual and attempts to discourage or eradicate emotions is equally fallacious). One that recognizes that the Holy Spirit might be calling His elect in this manner, thus a person is allowed to come forward and express their questions or faith. It is one that allows people to come forward and find help, find people to answer much needed questions for them - and one that doesn't attempt to "set the mood" or anything else.



1. There is a call to respond to the Gospel. This is done in the manner of Kerugma...a statement of facts of the Christian message. That we have all sinned against God, we can not save ourselves by "being good" or "doing good things"...That we must repent and be born-again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (short form)...(Rom 3:23/6:23/10:9-10, John 14:6/3:3)

2. There is a call to Christians who may need to repent of something, or to re-dedicate their lives to the service of the master.(1 John 1:9 e.g.)

3. There is the opportunity for those who wish to join the church, who feel called to the Gospel ministry, etc. to publicly make it known.

4. There is the opportunity simply to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit in anything else.

Although there are those who come in tears, emotionalism per se is avoided, and the preacher always mentions "counting the cost", and "denying oneself, picking up the cross daily" to follow Christ.
I believe that if a church is to have an alter call, this is the best way to do it.

mcgyver
Jul 7th 2008, 06:32 PM
Thanks for your thoughtful reply! :)

Joe King
Jul 7th 2008, 06:47 PM
I think Altar calls are necessary because if someone is moved to call Jesus Christ their LORD and savior, it should be done as soon as possible. Any time in between that will definitely be used by the enemy to raise doubts.

I strongly believe that ministers need to follow up strongly with new believers and minister to them and explain salvation.

ProjectPeter
Jul 7th 2008, 07:03 PM
It is a bit of a stretch to say that this resembles a modern day alter call. For one, there was no call to come forward. Secondly, there was no emotional plea. Thirdly, they didn't sing all 456 verses of "Just As I Am" ;).

My point being, I have never on this thread said that every single alter call in every single situation is wrong or anti-Biblical. I merely said that the modern alter-call (simply calling people forward who want more information or want to make a profession) can't be found in the Bible, but this doesn't negate such a practice because its not anti-Biblical either.

Secondly, what I have been arguing against is the Finney-style alter call where we use pragmatism, emotions, and put the power in ourselves to convince someone of the Gospel. We are never called in the Gospel to convince anyone of anything - merely to present the Truth and let the Holy Spirit work from there.

Of course with my beliefs I don't believe that the Word can be snatched away if God has elected the person. Regardless (as it is irrelevant what I believe in terms of how a person is saved), I always teach an active passivity.

What I mean by this is simply that we are called to minister to people and to counsel them as well. This does not mean it is our responsibility to save them, but instead that the Spirit works through us. I even stated in a previous post:

It's up to each individual person. Some people will fall on their knees after hearing the Gospel and proclaim Jesus is Lord. Others will seek out the evidence, to see if what Jesus claimed is true. Each response will vary. With that in mind, as Christians presenting the Gospel, we need to be prepared to walk with true seekers after they hear the Gospel. There is no method to is, we can't give them a "12 step program to understanding Christ," or believe that if we do certain actions it will somehow bring them over (i.e. the "hot seat"). We just need to be patient with them and work with them in the way the Holy Spirit guides us.

Now what in there is disagreeable?



Mcgyver,


One that doesn't attempt to make an emotional plea or leaves the intellect out of the process (alternatively, one that is solely intellectual and attempts to discourage or eradicate emotions is equally fallacious). One that recognizes that the Holy Spirit might be calling His elect in this manner, thus a person is allowed to come forward and express their questions or faith. It is one that allows people to come forward and find help, find people to answer much needed questions for them - and one that doesn't attempt to "set the mood" or anything else.


I believe that if a church is to have an alter call, this is the best way to do it.
Define "emotional plea?" That is too broad a phrase and can be interpreted many ways.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 07:14 PM
MANY people have. And no it doesn't apply to both. That is like saying we shouldn't take airplanes to minister in Africa and only go by boat because the only mention of travel in Scripture (preferred method) is going by ship. Therefore, while airplanes will get you to Africa, it is not biblical therefore not the preferred method of transportation in doing the Lord's work. Same logic. It is flawed.

I don't see how the analogy applies to what I'm saying. I'm arguing that just because a method might bring someone to Christ, it doesn't necessitate that the method is God-honoring. I'm not arguing for solo scriptura (the solo is intentional, not meant to be sola).

I'm stating that the Finney-like alter calls (maybe I should have clarified) are not God-honoring. Thus, regardless of how many people come to Christ through them, it is not a justification for their existence.


nothing rude about it either. There is no rational response to someone that says that Fintney was the start of America's decline.

I stated that Finney's revivals and pragmatic theology began a decline in American Christianity. Finney himself, later in life, acknowledged that he went about it the wrong way. "Deathbed Confessions," however, are hardly enough to change the course of what has already been done.


Spoken just like folks like Sproul etc... in other words... Calvinist and yes... the despised Finney. Sproul even concludes that Finney wasn't even saved himself because of his doctrinal disagreements with Calvinism. So there ya go... This is an issue with Calvinist I suppose but most prefer the more simplistic approach. Post number two in this thread was the best thusfar. Read it... ponder it... tell me if it actually makes sense to you?

I don't see how this relates to what I said in any way, shape, manner, or form. I was arguing that we can attribute Christian pragmatism to Finney because that is where it stems from. This doesn't mean Finney is saved.

I have no problem admitting that Calvinists can say the darnedest things. Some of the most arrogant, bombastic, and absurd Christians I've ever met have been fellow Calvinists. Anyone doubting the salvation of Finney, in my opinion, doesn't properly understand what it is to be a Calvinist (that is, though elect, we can still stumble). Finney never said anything that would lead me to believe that he wasn't a Christian. This does not negate, however, that Finney brought more harm than good to American Christianity (though certainly not intended - he was merely a product of his times).


Right... Edwards was right because he was Reformed. Finney was wrong because he wasn't Reformed. Oversimplistic perhaps... but truth.

It is over simplistic and not true (not to mention unnecessary - there is no reason to cut this down "party lines"). Finney was actually considered a Calvinist and even called himself so, thus your argument doesn't make much sense.

With that said, Finney was wrong because he took a pragmatic and antibiblical approach to his revival meetings. When Finney taught a "scary" message about Hell, the intent was to scare people into Hell. Edwards stated that this wasn't his intention at all - this is why I note the difference, not because of their theological alignments.


As to Finney not believing the Spirit had anything to do with man's salvation... that's a total misrepresentation of Finney truth be told and stuff talked about by Reformed guys that speak out against churches today that aren't reformed.

I'm sorry that you hold such a grudge against your Reformed brothers (I'm sure many of them have actually acted like jerks, which has brought on this attitude), but I would ask that you drop the rhetoric in this discussion. It's not going to get us anywhere.

How was Finney misinterpreted? I supplied a direct quote where he says it's not a miracle and that it's something man is fully capable of accomplishing himself. How did I misinterpret it?


You mean like when Peter preached in Acts 2?

That's reading quite a bit into the Scripture ;)


Simple fact. Finney was a revivalist. It is no different with other Revivalist. They go somewhere and they preach a week... two... three. Then go. Even Finney understood that MANY of those people fit the parable of the soils. He sowed the seed and then left. There lies the problem in that there wasn't much to do with watering and picking at the weeds. Unfortunately, many a revivalist today hasn't learned that lesson.

Shouldn't this be further evidence of the problem with Finney's method?


But many (MOSTLY REFORMED too truth be told) totally misrepresent Finney and they love grabbing his teaching on Revivalism to do so. Finney wasn't teaching the gospel to preachers. Preachers reading that should ALREADY know the gospel. Finney wasn't discounting the work of the Spirit of God. Preachers should ALREADY know the Spirit draws men to Christ. Finney was teaching on the HOW to conduct a revival successfully. There is a VAST difference. It wasn't a theological work he was putting out. Simple truth... Reformed folk despise Finney's teaching about as much as they despise mine. It's a reality.

That's the problem - he's teaching how to conduct a revival successfully. In it he specifically states that it is something we do and it is not a miracle - i.e. the Spirit does not need be involved. We can plan it, we can accomplish it, it's up to us.

This completely goes against the idea that the Spirit moves on the Father's Will.


Now what would be interesting... have you ever read some of his letters near the end of his life when he critiqued his own Revival meetings? Where he actually speaks of the fact that the vast majority only held onto this for a season? How the majority did fall away from the truth of Christ? How the mass revivals are worthless unless they have teaching from the full counsel of God's Word?
Absolutely, but as I stated previously, deathbed confessions don't do much in changing what a person did. Furthermore, if Finney saw the fault in his ways, why are you defending the ways that he recanted? ;)


And again... certainly Finney was not the beginning of the decline of America. Again... that is just beyond any reasonable reasoning. I know that is hard for Reformed folk because Finney was very opposed to the Reformed doctrine and taught that. So while I understand your dislike for his theology... it's a far stretch to say he was the beginning of America's decline or as Sproul says... Finney wasn't even a Christian.

Not at all - he was the beginning of the decline in American Christianity. Whereas the First Great Awakening taught the importance of submission to God, the Second taught the importance of the "priesthood of the believers," but did this on complete autonomy. It allowed people to create their own doctrines, their own beliefs, and allowed German Higher Criticism to enter into American Christianity.

I leave my Reformed beliefs at the door when critiquing Finney and his approach to Christianity - I was critiquing him when I still believed Calvinism was a heresy. :rolleyes:

apothanein kerdos
Jul 7th 2008, 07:16 PM
Define "emotional plea?" That is too broad a phrase and can be interpreted many ways.

I admit that it is vague and can really be subjective. The best idea I can give is when people say, "Just believe, just accept, because you could go to Hell if you don't." Or, on the alternative end, "Jesus just wants to love you and give you the best life you can have. He's there with His arms outstretched, waiting for you."

Though both are true statements, they neglect the intellect in favor of the emotions. There has to be a balance between the two (since both make up the whole of man - we are neither more emotional or more intellectual, to be a complete human we rely on both). It needs to state the truth of the matter, but do so in a way that wouldn't neglect the emotions.

mikebr
Jul 7th 2008, 09:17 PM
Now that isn't necessarily true. Who says that Pragmatism isn't of the Holy Ghost? I've presented scripture in this thread that has largely gone ignored. So the question I pose you is this. What are we to say to those who ask: "What shall we do?" after hearing the Gospel? Please offer your answer in a non-pragmatic response. Perhaps we should do as Mikebr offers, to just let the Holy Ghost do His thing and tell them to go home and wait for the promise of the Father. The problem with that is that assumes that our actions are not part of what the Holy Ghost is doing.

God Bless!

Which is exactly what Jesus told them before Pentecost. Jesus didn't tell them to do anything but wait.

adgerald
Jul 8th 2008, 12:48 AM
An altar call is useful where the audience is mainly non Christian.
Then you fulfill what Jesus said "Who ever confesses me before men . him I will confess before the Father " I cannot remember the reference and my quote maybe wrong/incomplete
You see generally people who have decided to follow Jesus without counting the cost and have been convicted of their sins go forward. This serves to counsel, pray and introduce them to mature Christians who become their mentor. Unfortunately in many places, no followup is done and those who have decided to follow Christ are left on their own
In a Christian environment, the danger is that many people think they are born Christians without realizing that they have to make a public commitment. ( I was feeling unsure about my salavation although I was baptized as an infant and had given my life to Christ until I answered the an altar call . Answering the altar call put an end to this uncertainity) In some countries even today going to Church and saying you are a Christian is to invite hardships.
I think this fact is equally important Different cultures require different solutions.
I think we should bear in mind this forum is multi cultural in fact worlwide..

ProjectPeter
Jul 8th 2008, 12:58 AM
I don't see how the analogy applies to what I'm saying. I'm arguing that just because a method might bring someone to Christ, it doesn't necessitate that the method is God-honoring. I'm not arguing for solo scriptura (the solo is intentional, not meant to be sola).

I'm stating that the Finney-like alter calls (maybe I should have clarified) are not God-honoring. Thus, regardless of how many people come to Christ through them, it is not a justification for their existence. And again I will ask you what was asked before... if people were truly saved then how is it not "God honoring?" Let's go even further. If a person did leave that place that night and died without excepting Christ then would they go to hell? Sure answer is yes. Keep in mind that Finney was not a Calvinist so he didn't figure it was a hand picked no matter what you want sort of doctrine. In other words... he wasn't Reformed. So his plea for them to accept Christ was totally sincere and if he could draw it on and even give a bit of an extra ten minute plea about the horrors of hell... the only difference between that and Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God is that Finney was a bit firey in his delivery where Edwards was very soft-spoken. But both scared the snot out of folks. Many people don't realize that one of the members of the church where Edwards first preached that sermon... he went home and slit his own throat. People actually fainted during the sermon because it scared the pudding out of them. So Finney giving a bit of a push with an emphasis on hell is different how? One can only complain about the others theology because you know... the message and results were in fact the same. Both were considered Hell Fire and Brimstone preachers and that is simply a historical fact. Funny thing is... Those not Reformed complain about Edwards and those Reformed complain about Finney. Why? Simple answer... doctrinal differences and that's the ultimate truth.


I stated that Finney's revivals and pragmatic theology began a decline in American Christianity. Finney himself, later in life, acknowledged that he went about it the wrong way. "Deathbed Confessions," however, are hardly enough to change the course of what has already been done.Uh... one he was older but it was far from a deathbed confession.

And of course it could change the course and did with many who actually know the history and writings of Finney. If not then rest assured that many Pentecostal pastor's would be revivalist and not pastor's. \


I don't see how this relates to what I said in any way, shape, manner, or form. I was arguing that we can attribute Christian pragmatism to Finney because that is where it stems from. This doesn't mean Finney is saved.It has much to do with it because it is a VAST majority of the Reformed mindset. Sproul, McArthur, and other very reknowned Reformed teachers today say it as did many in the past.


I have no problem admitting that Calvinists can say the darnedest things. Some of the most arrogant, bombastic, and absurd Christians I've ever met have been fellow Calvinists. Anyone doubting the salvation of Finney, in my opinion, doesn't properly understand what it is to be a Calvinist (that is, though elect, we can still stumble). Finney never said anything that would lead me to believe that he wasn't a Christian. This does not negate, however, that Finney brought more harm than good to American Christianity (though certainly not intended - he was merely a product of his times).You keep saying that but it again is just so way out there that it is almost laughable. There are likely very few Pentecostal folk (and that is all who would pay attention to Finney by and large) who even know anything about him. If you attempt to lay Charismaticism at his footsteps then that is even grosser error. No one in that movement would have anythign to do with Finney. He preached holiness way too much and if most the Pentecostal's knew that Finney was likely POTS then they'd have nothing to do with him... and yeah Nigel... HE struggled with Perseverance of the Saints and NEVER spoke against it because that is what he believed. He simply preached holiness and if you did sin then you needed to repent otherwise you were in danger. Never did he preach NOSAS because of that struggle. One would have to get passed all of the bad teaching on his doctrine to actually see that though. And yes... there is TONS of misrepresentation of his doctrine and again... mostly by Reformed teachers. I've heard plenty and they grab a sentence here and there and make him sound like he has 666 on his forehead. Leading teachers of today and times past I might add.

It is relevant in that regard. Remember... I didn't bring the Reformed teaching on Finney up... you guys did. ;)


It is over simplistic and not true (not to mention unnecessary - there is no reason to cut this down "party lines"). Finney was actually considered a Calvinist and even called himself so, thus your argument doesn't make much sense.No blah. Finney WAS a Calvinist and folks knew he WAS a Calvinist because he spoke of ONCE being a Calvinist and a pastor at the time. But Finney was totally opposed to most of the points of Calvinism save the "P" in the flower. So if you think that then
check your history about Finney. You are simply wrong on this one.


With that said, Finney was wrong because he took a pragmatic and antibiblical approach to his revival meetings. When Finney taught a "scary" message about Hell, the intent was to scare people into Hell. Edwards stated that this wasn't his intention at all - this is why I note the difference, not because of their theological alignments. When Paul spoke to Felix and his wife in Acts 24 and spoke to him about the judgment to come... what does Scripture say? It frightened him. Also Finney didn't try to scare anyone into hell but tried maybe to scare the hell out of them and get them into heaven. Again... you well may not like his approach just as many Calvinist don't care for Paul Washer (today much along the same lines) because of his style and approach. To each his own. Rest assured that much of Edwards message was extra-biblical as well and I would challenge anyone on that. Not that it wasn't effective nor was it bad... I rather think it one of the best sermons EVER preached and likely will be preached on hell.


I'm sorry that you hold such a grudge against your Reformed brothers (I'm sure many of them have actually acted like jerks, which has brought on this attitude), but I would ask that you drop the rhetoric in this discussion. It's not going to get us anywhere.

How was Finney misinterpreted? I supplied a direct quote where he says it's not a miracle and that it's something man is fully capable of accomplishing himself. How did I misinterpret it?I have no grudge at all. I simply think the doctrine error. Even gross error. As to the misinterpretation... as I said. A quote out of Finney's Revival teaching is not quoting his theology but simply his method. To say Finney didn't think the Holy Spirit had anything to do with anyone's salvation is just not fact. Finney's teaching on Revival was not intended to be a breakdown in theology... it was simply a way to do a revival. As to asking me to drop the rhetoric... it isn't rhetoric. It is simply fact that you disagree with. That happens. Thing is... that doesn't make it rhetoric.


That's reading quite a bit into the Scripture ;)Not even in the least bit.


Shouldn't this be further evidence of the problem with Finney's method? Sure... to a degree. But only a degree. Not much different than Billy Graham and many other "revivalist" that didn't learn from his mistakes. Imagine the man being crucified even years later and yet he said to folks... listen... learn from my mistakes. But hey... to err is human. To forgive... that isn't many a Christian's policy any longer. Finney didn't apologize for preaching what he did. He simply made it clear that without discipleship... it was doomed for failure with most folk.


That's the problem - he's teaching how to conduct a revival successfully. In it he specifically states that it is something we do and it is not a miracle - i.e. the Spirit does not need be involved. We can plan it, we can accomplish it, it's up to us.

This completely goes against the idea that the Spirit moves on the Father's Will. You keep saying this but show me the quote where Finney said the Spirit doesn't need to be involved. Don't give us a page where someone said this is what Finney says. Show me this direct quote you keep speaking of.


Absolutely, but as I stated previously, deathbed confessions don't do much in changing what a person did. Furthermore, if Finney saw the fault in his ways, why are you defending the ways that he recanted? ;)Really? A sincere confession TOTALLY erases what he did. Understand that and you might actually understand agape... that divine God like love that we should all hope to achieve.

And I am not defending his ways... I am simply defending against a bunch of error that is crossing these pages and much of it simply born out of doctrinal differences. Much of those differences I totally AGREE with. ;) And again... Finney didn't repent of his revivals nor his message. He just came to the realization that many of the "believers" fell away. Little Bible fact too... Paul came to that same realization as did Christ teach.


Not at all - he was the beginning of the decline in American Christianity. Whereas the First Great Awakening taught the importance of submission to God, the Second taught the importance of the "priesthood of the believers," but did this on complete autonomy. It allowed people to create their own doctrines, their own beliefs, and allowed German Higher Criticism to enter into American Christianity.

I leave my Reformed beliefs at the door when critiquing Finney and his approach to Christianity - I was critiquing him when I still believed Calvinism was a heresy. :rolleyes:Yeah... it is easy to criticize... no matter one's belief.

ProjectPeter
Jul 8th 2008, 01:05 AM
I admit that it is vague and can really be subjective. The best idea I can give is when people say, "Just believe, just accept, because you could go to Hell if you don't." Or, on the alternative end, "Jesus just wants to love you and give you the best life you can have. He's there with His arms outstretched, waiting for you."

Though both are true statements, they neglect the intellect in favor of the emotions. There has to be a balance between the two (since both make up the whole of man - we are neither more emotional or more intellectual, to be a complete human we rely on both). It needs to state the truth of the matter, but do so in a way that wouldn't neglect the emotions.
Well that sort of preaching is utter nonsense. If that is what you are likening Charles Finney's messages too then I know you know nothing of his preaching. Finney was hard core on holiness. To say otherwise is to grossly and even ignorantly mis-characterize his teaching and preaching. I certainly hope you have more knowledge of his teaching to recognize that he'd have nothing to do with that nonsense. If not then WOW!

ProjectPeter
Jul 8th 2008, 01:06 AM
Which is exactly what Jesus told them before Pentecost. Jesus didn't tell them to do anything but wait.
Uh... the disciples left were already saved. Come on Mike!!!!

Whispering Grace
Jul 8th 2008, 02:14 AM
For anyone who has a problem with Finney (or anyone else who was/is out on the front lines trying to win souls for Christ), what are YOU doing to advance the Kingdom?

I'm betting Finney did more in a day than many of us do in a year toward reaching lost souls for Christ.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 8th 2008, 03:19 AM
For anyone who has a problem with Finney (or anyone else who was/is out on the front lines trying to win souls for Christ), what are YOU doing to advance the Kingdom?

I'm betting Finney did more in a day than many of us do in a year toward reaching lost souls for Christ.

For one I'm not spreading pragmatic methods.

Two, if we go by the quanity argument, Finney did more for the kingdom of Christ than Jesus did (Jesus didn't reach nearly as many people in His day).

Third, I prefer to look at quality. If we do that, then I'd argue quite a few people do more than Finney on a daily basis.

Whispering Grace
Jul 8th 2008, 03:26 AM
For one I'm not spreading pragmatic methods.

Two, if we go by the quanity argument, Finney did more for the kingdom of Christ than Jesus did (Jesus didn't reach nearly as many people in His day).

Third, I prefer to look at quality. If we do that, then I'd argue quite a few people do more than Finney on a daily basis.

I'm not talking about results because, as you said, those are up to God.

I'm talking about actively being out on the front lines serving God as opposed to sitting on the side lines critiquing those who do (and I am speaking generally here, not to any one person).

watchinginawe
Jul 8th 2008, 04:16 AM
Which is exactly what Jesus told them before Pentecost. Jesus didn't tell them to do anything but wait.Mike, do you think they were waiting on Salvation? Also, since you brought it up, what were they doing in there waiting in the upper room? That would be an interesting study for this topic.

God Bless!

watchinginawe
Jul 8th 2008, 04:25 AM
Of course with my beliefs I don't believe that the Word can be snatched away if God has elected the person.Well, I guess that explains a lot. We have had threads on this before. I suppose Jesus was just showing how God prevents the non-elect from believing then when He explains the parable of the sower in Luke:

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

God Bless!

mikebr
Jul 8th 2008, 01:18 PM
Uh... the disciples left were already saved. Come on Mike!!!!


Project Peter, Does salvation in anyway have anything to do with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

ProjectPeter
Jul 8th 2008, 01:25 PM
Project Peter, Does salvation in anyway have anything to do with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?
No Mike. If that was the case then think on this. Very few of the Old Testament folks would have been "saved."

The disciples couldn't be indwelled by the Spirit until Christ left the earth. Remember in John where Jesus tells them... it is good that I go because THEN the Comfortor can come to you. So their salvation was in Christ and not the indwelling of the Spirit. Today... we have that promise but that promise didn't come until after the resurrection of Christ.