Friday, February 16, 2007

Are Altar Calls Justified by Founders' Founder, Ernest Reisinger?

Brother Bob Ross looks at what the founder of the Flounders conceded about altar calls.

Charles
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
ARE ALTAR CALLS JUSTIFIED BY FOUNDERS' FOUNDER, ERNEST REISINGER?

Bob to Charles:

Although the creator of the Founders Ministries, Ernest Reisinger, says in his book on "Worship" that "the invitation system has no place in the church that seeks to be biblical" (page 110), I am strongly inclined to believe that Ernest's rather broad exposition of the "regulative principle" (page 11) at least contradicts the deprecation of the normal use Baptists make of altar calls or invitations.

In fact, while Ernest's conclusions about "the invitation system" may hold true in any particular case where an altar call is misused and made to mean something which violates the truth of the Gospel, yet in regard to what I observe to be the normal practice in Baptist churches, I believe Ernest concedes enough to actually justify the normal Baptist altar call.

Yes, Charles, this may come as a surprise to some of the anti-invitationists, but what Ernest says in this book appears to be quite sufficient to legitimatize the use of invitations (or altar calls) -- at least as they are used in most Gospel-preaching Baptist churches with which I am acquainted. Notice the concessions, all of which are supportive of the use of altar calls --

1. Ernest says there is nothing "intrinsically evil" involved in altar calls (page 150).

2. Ernest approves of using an altar call or invitation as a "way" whereby a person can express his desire for baptism (page 150). He says, "There is no valid reason why it cannot be done in response to an invitation from the pastor. Those who believe themselves to be recipients of saving grace can surely be invited to come forward and present themselves as candidates for baptism" (pages 150, 151).

3. Ernest says that invitations are neither "commanded" nor "forbidden" (page 151). Consequently, invitations neither add to nor take from anything revealed in the Word of God.

4. Ernest approves of "inviting hearers to respond to the gospel message by faith and repentance" (page 90). He says that lost people "should be invited to come to Christ" and this should be done "before, during, and AFTER the sermon. They should be invited to faith and repentance before, during, and after the worship service. They should be invited to come to Christ," he says, "AT WHATEVER TIME, WHEREVER THEY ARE. Today is the day of salvation! . . . We believe in GIVING AN INVITATION to respond to the gospel message in faith and repentance" (page 91).

5. Ernest says that "God commands people EVERYWHERE to believe the gospel" (page 92). This would of course include those who hear the Gospel preached in a church or evangelistic service, and who are encouraged by the preacher to immediately obey the Gospel by believing it, and coming forward to confess their faith in Christ as Saviour.

6. Ernest iimplies that millions have been saved where invitations were used. His book says there are 15.8 million Southern Baptists and "most of these" became church members "by walking down an aisle" (page 102). Of these 15.8 million members, according to Ernest's calculation 32.7 percent attend worship services. Since attendance and non-attendance of worship services seems to be regarded by Ernest as an indicator or mark of a person's spiritual state, this would imply that millions who responded to invitations in Southern Baptist churches and attend church services are presumably saved people -- according to Ernest's own figures.

7. Ernest says, "As long as the implication is eliminated that coming forward is required for salvation, the altar call can serve a useful and appropriate purpose" (page 151).

8. Ernest says that Scriputral support "does not have to be direct to be true" (page 33). He cites the "trinity" as an example, noting that the word "trinity" does not occur in the Bible. He says that evidence supporting a matter "is not subject to simple proof-texting" (pages 33, 34). In other words, we do not have to have a "prooftext" which specifically names an item in order for it to be approved, according to the "regulative principle."

I think, Charles, that at least these eight items are sufficient to justify the use of altar calls, inviting an unsaved person to believe on Christ and come forward to profess his faith. The only valid objection to altar calls that Ernest appears to have is his objection to their being presented as a "requirement for salvation." I personally have never heard an invitation in which that requirement was set forth.

16 Comments:

At Friday, February 16, 2007 10:17:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Brother Bob, Hello!

You wrote, The only valid objection to altar calls that Ernest appears to have is his objection to their being presented as a "requirement for salvation." I personally have never heard an invitation in which that requirement was set forth.

Nor have I. It's the typical straw man argument made by the Reformed crowd. Par for the course.

Charles

 
At Tuesday, February 20, 2007 11:30:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

EXPERIENCE OFTEN CONFLICTS WITH
SUBSEQUENT THEORETICAL IDEAS


Bob to Charles:

I have often said, Charles, that most of the anti-invitationists seem to have been saved in circumstances where invitations were used.

Another example of this has come to my attention.

Today, on Phil Johnson's "Pyromaniacs" blog, one of the "teampyro" writers gives his testimony of how he became a Christian. Among other things mentioned, Dan Phillips says:

>>
But my conversion featured some aspects that probably raised an eyebrow or three hundred. . . . I "walked the aisle," . . . .I "prayed the prayer."
>>

Dan goes on to say:

>>
There is no one method of evangelism. Which is the right way to deal with people? . . . To be specific, I believe God has used street preaching. He's used "cold" evangelism, that doesn't necessarily have much more context than, "Nice day. So, has anyone ever told you about Jesus Christ?" God has used tracts (even bad ones), videos, books, billboards, "friendship" evangelism, door-to-door. And He has used altar calls. . . .

God saves perfectly through imperfect means. It's odd that I should need to make this point to Reformed readers, yet here we are. Who saves? We Reformed loudly shout, "God!" God is the one who foreknows, calls, justifies, glorifies (Romans 8:29-30). God is the one who draws, gives live, redeems, saves.

But He does all this through means (Romans 10:13-17), and those means are without exception (except, I suppose, in cases where someone is converted reading the Hebrew OT or the Greek NT, alone) imperfect means. . . .

There is, to be sure, irony in the fact that God used means in my conversion that I myself would not use today, in evangelism. . . . .

But NONE of those things made an impact on me, because GOD was using the truth in them to save me.
>>

The entire article is at http://teampyro.
blogspot.com/


This is just another example, Charles, of the fact that "altar calls" are not the Big Bad Wolf that the Reformed anti-invitationists so frequently depict them to be. While Phil Johnson has an anti-invitation message entitled "A Close Look at Invitations and Altar Calls," here it is today on Phil's blog, the testimony is given about one of his team's being saved where an "altar call" was used.

I dare say again, Charles, that if the facts were known, it is very likely that the majority of the anti-invitationists -- including those in the
"Flounders" -- made professions of faith in connection with an "altar call" and/or praying "the sinner's prayer."


So Dan Phillips is not an "exception." Other anti-invitationists include such Internet personalities as Fred Zaspel [www.biblicalstudies.
com/anniversary.htm] and
Michael Spencer, both of whom relate their profressions of faith to "altar calls."

 
At Wednesday, February 21, 2007 12:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry guys but Ernest has a point.
Salvation happens apart from invitation time. It is a moment between God and the person who he has saved. Public profession can take place in various manners - one being the invitation time. I pray that we do not rest on praying a prayer and walking an aisle. It could be that many professed in this manner because there wasn't any other option taught - you know we don't choose the family nor denomination we are brought up in so when God moves on the one he has saved to profess it is done according to the tradition you happen to be associated at the time and much of that is based on the above.

 
At Wednesday, February 21, 2007 2:21:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

ERNEST'S "POINT"
Anonymous said...


Sorry guys but Ernest has a point. . . . I pray that we do not rest on praying a prayer and walking an aisle.

In my comments on Ernest, I stated that --

The only valid objection to altar calls that Ernest appears to have is his objection to their being presented as a "requirement for salvation."

Any minister who tells an audience that responding to an invitation is a "requirement for salvation" is in error.

I personally have never heard any minister say that to an audience. If you have heard that, perhaps you can "name" the man, and he can be confronted about his error.

 
At Thursday, February 22, 2007 1:41:00 AM, Blogger Mopheos said...

C'mon Bob, you know the "invitation altar-call" is never presented as a necessity in the terms you suggest, i.e. a "requirement for salvation." The good baptists (and others) who employ the favored technique are usually smart enough to avoid, for example, the pit into which baptismal regenerationists fall.

You would, however, be some kind of patsy to suppose that altar calls are not regularly characterized and utilized as the "way" a person gets saved. The not uncommon gradient coaxing ("slip those hands up in the air," "look me in the eye," "say this prayer after me," "stand to your feet, if you really meant it!" "step out into the aisle, come take my hand if...") of people out of their seats to some supposed altar is standard fare in far too many ecclesiastical circles.

I have had numerous conversations with church members who were convinced of their spiritual safety - all empirical evidence to the contrary notwithstanding! - by their trip(s) to the "altar." I have seen at least one church suffer turmoil under the tragically mistaken delusion that to end "altar calls" would strip the church of her opportunity to call men to salvation. And here I thought that the gospel was the power of God unto salvation! Paul was no doubt grossly mistaken when he declared, "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

Too bad Paul wasn't nearly as savvy as us moderns, he'd a had a lot more to show for his labors if he only could've had our keen psychological insights into human behavior.

Every person who has ever been genuinely saved during an "altar call" was so saved in spite of it...and every person who has ever had their hope of forgiveness pinned on a "move" they made - whether by hand, eye or foot - is yet without hope. Hell is a horrible price to pay for misplaced hope, don't you think?

To think otherwise is to take credit where it is not due, from One who does not share credit for what is His only to perform. I hope to live to see the day dawn when true measures of faith and repentance reflect the churches confidence in the power of the message preached to save those who simply believe.

 
At Thursday, February 22, 2007 11:07:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

INVITATIONS - SALVATION
Mopheos said...


C'mon Bob, you know the "invitation altar-call" is never presented as a necessity in the terms you suggest, i.e. a "requirement for salvation."

If you will again read my post, Mopheos, you see that I was simply quoting the terms used by Ernest Reisinger. He said, "As long as the implication is eliminated that coming forward is required for salvation, the altar call can serve a useful and appropriate purpose" (page 151).

If you will examine the conversion experiences recorded in Scripture, I think you will find that some physical act was simply expressive of one's inner repentance and faith in their acceptance of Christ. The physical act was not what saved them, but in the experience of being brought to Christ by the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, they reacted in a physical manner.

I would dare say that you cannot give the name and address of any person who ever said that they were "saved by the act of coming forward." I have never heard a Gospel preacher say, "If you will come forward, you will be saved," or "You cannot be saved if you do not come forward." The only places you hear that kind of thing are in the anti-invitation articles and books which are written against invitations.

 
At Thursday, February 22, 2007 3:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What has Billy Graham been doing all these years? Many people state if you will just come down front repent, pray a specific prayer not only can you be saved but you then are now members of the place you have walked the aisle.

Really Bob!!!

 
At Thursday, February 22, 2007 6:22:00 PM, Blogger Mopheos said...

You might dare say what you like, my brother, but as I noted already, I have had personal conversations with fellow church members who honestly believe that their salvation is inseparably connected to their physical response to an altar call. While they may not speak of the experience of "going forward to be saved" in the exact terms of your own phrasing, I have nevertheless heard repeatedly the confused sentiment that lifting one's hand, going forward, or even praying the sacred "sinners prayer" was the description of, and basis for, their confidence of going to heaven when they die. This can be a subtle, but potentially deadly misunderstanding.

But we are agreed on at least a couple of things, Bob. First, there are undoubtedly a countless number of genuine Christians who became so in the context of an altar call of some sort, and I am not one to think I am able to either verify or falsify their conversion experience. But I can say with confidence and the assurance of Scripture that the altar call had categorically, absolutely nothing to do with their being saved. That is the exclusive domain of the Spirit of God working through the foolishness of the message preached, heard and believed. The object of faith is Christ, and Christ alone, and the heart of man is "moved" to repentance and faith, but that is the only "movement" attached to salvation.

Second, we agree that salvation includes and involves our bodies as well as our hearts - I assuredly did bow on my knees the night God saved me, and I did gladly confess with my mouth, and I did willingly submit to baptism shortly thereafter - none of which (save baptism) occurred in a church, at an altar or in the presence of another person, and certainly not as a result of any physical move I made. But it was being made to see and understand and embrace the cross that was the substance and seal of my redemption.

 
At Thursday, February 22, 2007 11:14:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

THE POINT?
Anonymous said...


What has Billy Graham been doing all these years? etc.

If you will examine the post at the beginning of this thread, it has to do with Ernest Reisinger's
book, specifying his concessions which would justify using an invitation.

You have not focused on the points which I have mentioned, but on an unknown and unnamed "many people" and what they allegedly "state." You give no specifics, no references to back up you assertion, and therefore your comment of no consequence.

If you want historical information on Billy Graham, perhaps Dr. Al Mohler at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary can be of help, as they have a school of missions and evangelism named in honor of Billy Graham.

 
At Friday, February 23, 2007 8:19:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

"REFORMED" ADULT BAPTISMS

Bob to Charles:

It seems that a lot of the "Flounders" and some other brethren of the "Reformed" category like to embellish the
"Reformed" of Presbyterianism. The "Flounders" such as Tom Ascol like to harp about SBC statistics to discredit SBC churches, but what about the "Reformed" Presbyterians?

The Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) is known as the most "Reformed" in theology of the pedobaptists (baby baptizers). R. C. Sproul, for instance, is a well-known ordained minister of the PCA. He was the featured speaker for the "Flounders" Breakfast at the SBC in June 2005, and was a speaker in a few months ago at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Are "Reformed" Presbyterian churches and ministers good examples for Southern Baptists?

According to statistics reported on the PCA website, we learn the following:

1,319 Churches in 2005.

2,448 Adult baptisms in 2005. There were 5,279 Infant baptisms.
Majority of new members added to churches as infants.

Average adult baptisms per church in 2005: 1.86.

331,126 Total membership in 2005.

111,032 (about 33%) Sunday School attendance in 2005.

On the basis of these stats, Charles, it does not appear that Presbyterian "Reformed" theology, so much admired by the
"Flounders," is very productive.

 
At Monday, February 26, 2007 9:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PCA is a very solid group of believers. It is pretty sad that you look at the stats and determine their productivity. It isn't a producted being sold nor the labors of man that builds the church. If we were to compare the individual condition of the PCA vs SBC I am afraid and saddened to say the level of maturity through sanctification would be so much less statistically. PCA concerns themselves with individuals and not size and dollars.
I hope we can learn from them and begin to think biblically and not superficially.

 
At Monday, February 26, 2007 5:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys,

This is my first, and probably last, visit to this site. I have to say, even though I am not a five-point Calvinist and not against altar calls, that constantly referring to the Founders group as "Flounders" smacks of sophomoric, un-Christlike behavior. Don't you think you would actually make more progress if you focused on the issues and refrained from the childish insults?

Please don't respond with - "they do it all the time..." It does not excuse your actions. No pastor (or pastor in training) should so readily insult other image bearers of God. Call them out on their theology. Do your best to question whether they Calvinism prevents real evangelism. Just do it without the name calling.

I doubt this comment will make it to the thread, but maybe the authors will read it.

 
At Monday, February 26, 2007 11:57:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

"FLOUNDERS"?
Anonymous said...

. . . constantly referring to the Founders group as "Flounders" smacks of sophomoric, un-Christlike behavior. Don't you think you would actually make more progress if you focused on the issues and refrained from the childish insults?

I could not diagree more. "Flounder" is defined by Webster as "to struggle to move or obtain footing. . . to proceed or act clumsily or ineffectually."

Who fits that definition any better than the Founders? For instance, their posting the photos of well-known departed Baptists on their website is demonstrative of their "struggle" to "obtain footing" as representing Baptists of yesteryear, while in reality they have adopted a lot of heresy from the Hybrid Calvinist Presbyterians. They are floudering around between Baptist views and Presybterianism.

 
At Tuesday, February 27, 2007 12:04:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

LEARNING FROM PCA?
Anonymous said...

I hope we can learn from them and begin to think biblically and not superficially.

Indeed, we have "learned from them." We have learned that they teach that children born to believers get "regenerated" before or shortly after birth, and therefore are to be baptized and accepted as members of the church.

We have learned that they believe in "born again before faith," just as the Hardshell Baptists believe.

We have learned that the most effective device to proselyte Baptists is the "born again before faith" heresy.

Yes, we have learned a lot from the PCA.

 
At Wednesday, February 28, 2007 3:09:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

JAMES WHITE TACKLES TOMB TALE

Bob to Charles:

Good news for all the "White Lightnin'" consumers, Charles.
I got an email yesterday from a book publisher who has recruited James to write a book refuting the recent tall tale about the tomb of Jesus and family.

Finally, James has something he may be able to successfully handle.

 
At Thursday, March 01, 2007 10:23:00 AM, Blogger Charles said...

Brother Bob, Hello!

You wrote, Good news for all the "White Lightnin'" consumers, Charles.

Yes, I hope he does some good with it. Hopefully it won't go to the good "doctor's" head.

Charles

 

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