Invitations: John Broadus vs. The FoundersSouthern Baptists are in debt to Brother Bob Ross for his outstanding work in defense of giving public invitations. As you probably know, most extreme/hybrid/hyper/neo Calvinists oppose the use of an altar call during church services. Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry) has published several items which attempt to paint invitations as unscriptural in an attempt to get Southern Baptist churches to stop the practice despite the fact that God has used altar calls to glorify Himself by the drawing of throngs of lost souls to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
In this article, Brother Bob provides more evidence that John Broadus, one of the founders of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, supported the use of public invitations. Which brings up an interesting question: Why are The Founders against the founders?
If you are new to the debate over public invitations, you may want to read other items by Brother Bob on this blog,
Dangers In Not Giving Public Invitations,
Southern Baptist Founder (J. L. Dagg) Refutes Founders Regarding Public Invitations,
Spurgeon Pressed for "Decisions",
Contrast Between Professor Tom Nettles and the Late John A. Broadus on "Invitations",
John A. Broadus endorsed Public Invitations for Professing Faith in Christ,
and MacArthur's Method?
Also, you should read Dr. Ken Keathley's article, Rescuing the Perishing: A Defense of Giving Invitations.
Subject: JOHN BROADUS ON "INVITATIONS" [07/11--2006]
JOHN A. BROADUS ON THE USE OF "INVITATIONS" TO THE LOST TO CONFESS CHRIST [07/11--2006]
On May 30, 2006, we mailed an item concerning the late Dr. John A. Broadus (1827-1895) and the use of "invitations" following the delivery of sermons. The material revealed that Dr. Broadus was saved during a public church invitation, and he taught the use of invitations in his book on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (page 375).
Now, a few weeks later, Brother Doug Kutilek has sent me the following, which reveals further information about the use of invitations during the life and ministry of John A. Broadus:
Recently, Pastor Rick Shrader, Metro Baptist Church, KC, Mo., brought to my attention the following quotes from A. T. Robertson's Life and Letters of John A. Broadus (1901). In a letter dated September 12, 1863, while JAB was serving as chaplain with the Army of Northern Virginia, he wrote:
"Yesterday morning I went to Blue Run and preached to Col. (John Thompson) Brown's Battery. Much interest there. Dr. J. R. Bagby, our former student, has been holding prayer meetings, and several have professed conversion. Many wept during the sermon, and not at allusions to home, but to their sins, and God's great mercy. . . Gilmer is dreadfully opposed to inviting men forward to prayer, etc., though Lacy, Hoge, and most of the Presbyterians, do it just like the rest of us." (pp. 207-8).
J. William Jones, historian of the great revival in the Army of Northern Virginia, is quoted by Robertson regarding one particular preaching experience by Broadus, a sermon based on Proverbs 3:17, delivered to some 5,000 men, including much of the Confederate high command:
"At the close of the service they came by the hundreds to ask an interest in the prayers of God's people, or to profess a new-found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, . . ." (p. 209). Obviously, an invitation to physically come to the front was made.
These are notable, in view of the resurgence of a hardshell-like perspective and practice among some Southern Baptist theologians--such a point of view is out of harmony with that of one of the great founders of Southern Seminary, and, according to Armitage, the pre-eminent Baptist of America in the 19th century. -- Doug Kutilek
We are grateful to Brother Kutilek for these references. As he says, in our day there is a pernicious and deleterious opposition to the use of invitations by the "super" Calvinists and Hybrid Calvinists of our time. They think the Holy Spirit "can save souls without invitations," and we doubt not that He can. He can also saved souls without the steroidal Calvinists and their emphasis on theological peccadilloes.
Among Southern Baptists, some of those today who profess to be "reforming" things and calling Baptists back to the theology of the Southern Baptist "Founders" such as Dr. Broadus, are actually contradicting Dr. Broadus when they come out against the use of invitations. Men such as Dr. Tom Nettles at Southern Seminary, who opposes invitations, and Pastor Tom Ascol, head of the "Founders Ministries," are misleading some to think that their anti-invitationalism is representative of Dr. Broadus and other founders of the Seminary, but such is not the case.
In my former article on Dr. Broadus, I said:
Dr. Nettles' objections reminded me of how much of a contrast there is between Dr. Nettles' view on this matter and the view of one of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's founders, Dr. John A. Broadus (1827-1895).
In his famous book, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, which I used years ago when I was teaching young preachers, Dr. Broadus has this comment on the topic of invitations in his discussion of the "Conduct of Public Worship:"
"In many churches it is customary to follow every sermon with an 'invitation' hymn, during which any who desire to MAKE A PUBLIC PROFESSION OF FAITH or to become members of the church are INVITED to present themselves by COMING TO THE FRONT" (page 375, 1943 edition by Broadman Press).
Dr. Broadus himself was evidently converted under similar circumstances where invitations were used (Life and Letters of John A. Broadus by A. T. Robertson, pages 33-35). I would not be surprised if Nettles himself was converted under similar circumstances.
Neither Dr. Nettles nor Dr. R. Albert Mohler has replied to my email to them a few weeks ago, inquiring about why a Hardshell Primitive Baptist preacher, Lasserre Bradley Jr., who also opposes invitations, was invited to the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They seem to be having a hard time coming up with an "excuse" for such irresponsible conduct. Or . . . maybe they think that if they simply ignore me, I will forget about it. -- Bob L. Ross