Southern Baptist Founder Refutes Founders Regarding Public Invitations
In this article, Brother Bob Ross refutes another myth put out by the "born again before faith" and/or extreme and/or hyper and/or hybrid and/or Reformed Calvinist crowd, namely, that public invitations were an invention of Charles Finney. These people are the #1 distorters of Baptist history and theology on the scene today and I'm glad Brother Bob is here to set the record straight.
Pity Iain H. Murray and the Founders Ministry (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry). All those books, journals, and web articles have to be recycled thanks to the diligent efforts of Bob Ross.
Subject: PUBLIC INVITATIONS circa 1809 [05/07--2006]
PUBLIC INVITATION USED IN 1809 DURING THE LIFE OF BAPTIST LEADER, J. L. DAGG [05/07--2006]
Several months ago, I wrote several replies to anti-public invitation articles which appear on the Internet. Among the objections that some offer is the false claim that "the practice of publicly inviting people to come forward at the conclusion of a Gospel sermon, did not begin until the time of the 19th century revivalist, Charles G. Finney (1792-1895), who was probably the first to employ this method" (Daryl Erkel).
That this is not the case was again reinforced recently when I was reading the Autobiography of John L. Dagg (1794-1884). Here is an account given by Dagg of a church service wherein an "invitation" was given when he was 14 years of age, which would have been in 1809, many years before Finney even started preaching.
From the AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF REV. JOHN L. DAGG, pages 9, 10:
Accordingly, on the first of January, 1809, before I was fifteen years old, I became the master of a neighborhood school. . . .
Sometime afterwards I was present at a meeting of the Long Branch church when invitation was given, to those who had hope in Christ, to come forward, and relate their experience. I felt strongly moved to accept the invitation, with others who presented themselves; but considerations, with the sufficiency of which I was not wholly satisfied, held me back. At length I adopted an unauthorized method of determining my case. Among the persons who had been expected to offer themselves to the church that day, was an individual who had been my school-mate. I decided, if he went forward, to accompany him.
Several related their experiences and were received by the church; but as my school-mate was not of the number, I felt, perhaps with some joy, released from taking up the cross. But when the pastor rose to dismiss the meeting, the young man started from his seat, and asked permission to tell what the Lord had done for him. This was now unexpected to me and I was now unable to rally, for the performance of duty. I left the meeting unhappy; and many an unhappy day of spiritual darkness and conflict followed, before I publicly professed Christ.
While anti-invitationists would no doubt find some "differences" between this invitation and others to which they object, nevertheless the fact remains this was an INVITATION for the purpose of CONFESSING Christ as Savior, and it was practiced by Baptists before the days of Charles G. Finney.
This is just another example of the misinformation which is frequently offered by those who are influenced by Hybrid Calvinists and pedo-regenerationists such as Iain Murray who campaign against certain methods used in evangelism. -- Bob L. Ross