Dr. Akin on "Invitations"SOUTHEASTERN SEMINARY PRESIDENT
FAVORS USE OF "INVITATIONS"
Bob's Note: The following item is an article I recently sent to my regular email list (02/07/2008). If you are not on my list, I will be happy to add your address. Simply send your email address to email@example.com
A Conference was held in North Carolina last Fall, sponsored by some Southern Baptists, entitled "Building Bridges: Southern Baptists and Calvinism." In taking notice of some of the comments on the Internet in the aftermath of the Conference, I came upon an item which evidently was a report of an "Open Forum" which was held during the Conference.
Among other items discussed, the Southern Baptist brethren gave a portion of time to varous views on the use of public invitations.
This practice has been common for years among Southern Baptists but has in recent times become an object of severe criticism and repudiation by the "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinist adherents, represented by the likes of the Founders Ministries, Southern Seminary professor Tom Nettles, and some others who are disciples of Pedobaptist Iain Murray who has written against invitations.
I was encouraged to notice that Dr. Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, appears to strongly support the use of invitations. Here is an excerpt from the "Open Forum," available on the Internet at the following link:
Southern Baptist In NC, November 28, 2007
How do we work together in evangelism if the altar call is rejected.
Dr. Akin–it is unconsciousable to preach the Gospel and not challenge people to repent and follow Christ. If you have an aversion to not giving an altar call you will be guilty of ministerial malpractice if you shut down the call.
Another participant in the Conference and a SEBTS faculty member, Dr. Kenneth Keathley, also expressed his approval of the use of invitations, and I have been informed that Southeastern professor, Dr. L. Russ Bush, who passed away in January, also used invitations. It is encouraging that these leaders at the Seminary are standing for what has historically been practiced by Southern Baptist churches, pastors, and evangelists.
Dr. Tom Ascol, however, who is head of the Founders Ministries, expressed his disapproval of the use of invitations. In this, Dr. Ascol is simply following in the footprints of the founder of the Founders, the late Ernest Reisinger, who imbibed anti-invitationism thru his association with "Reformed" Pedobaptist Iain Murray, and Ascol is also in the line with the views of Founders' board member, Dr. Tom Nettles, who has written against invitations.
The common denominator for Ascol, Reisinger, Murray, and Nettles is that they all adhere to the Hybrid Calvinist Pedobaptist "ordo salutis," spawned by the "baby regenerationists" who departed from the view of Calvinists of the 17th century on effectual calling. They all hold to the theory of "born again before faith." This error tends to choke out any type of "appeal" to lost sinners for them to respond to an invitation to accept Christ as Saviour.
I have a book entitled "Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election," authored by Robert B. Selph, and it carries a very high recommendation from Dr. Nettles. In fact, Selph relies heavily upon quotations from Nettles throughout the book. This writer also opposes the use of invitations, and also utilizes quotes from Reisinger and Murray.
Another error promulgated by Selph, in which he aligns with Murray, Nettles, Reisinger, and other "Reformed" Hybrids, is the idea that "the public profession of faith is done at baptism" (page 132). I commented on this error a few weeks ago in an email entitled, "HYBRID CALVINIST ERROR ON BAPTISM" [01/12--2007]. Selph uses this idea in his effort to rule out the public invitation as a method to accommodate professions of faith. Selph -- like Murray and Reisinger -- tries to tie the name of C. H. Spurgeon into his scheme of things.
However, as Spurgeon did not oppose inquiry rooms and invitations, he did not oppose the practice of public confession prior to baptism. In fact, it was Spurgeon's practice to require public confessions of faith prior to baptisms. Here is an excerpt from a sermon which clearly demonstrates Spurgeon's practice:
"I should think there is no condition of gentleness, or of obscurity, or of poverty, or of sorrow, which should prevent anybody from making an open confession of allegiance to God when faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has been exercised. If that is your experience, my dear friend, then whoever you may be, you will find an opportunity, SOMEWHERE OR OTHER, of declaring that you are on the Lord’s side.
"I am glad that all candidates for membership in our church make their confession of faith at our church-meetings. I have been told that such an ordeal must keep a great many from joining us; yet I notice that, where there is no such ordeal, they often have very few members, but here are we with five thousand six hundred, or thereabouts, in church-fellowship, and very seldom, if ever, finding anybody kept back by having to make an OPEN CONFESSION of faith in Christ.
"It does the man, the woman, the boy, or the girl, whoever it is, so much good for once, at least, to say right out straight, 'I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am not ashamed of it,' that I do not think we shall ever deviate from our custom. I have also noticed that, when people have once confessed Christ before men, they are very apt to do it again somewhere else; and they thus acquire a kind of boldness and outspokenness upon religious matters, and a holy courage as followers of Christ, which more than make up for any self-denial and trembling which the effort may have cost them" (MTP, Volume 46, Year 1900, page 289).
Spurgeon also said, "I believe that it is a great help in bringing people to decision when Mr. Moody asks those to stand up who wish to be prayed for. Anything that tends to separate you from the ungodly around you, is good for you." (MTP, 1897, page 516).
An illustration which shows how Spurgeon required confession of faith in Christ before baptism appears in his sermon, "Who Should Be Baptized?" He would not baptize a person who did not profess to be saved, and this naturally meant that the person confessed his faith before baptism.
Some years ago, a man came to me, and said that he wished to be baptized. I put this question to him, “Why do you wish that?”
He answered, “Because I want to be a Christian.”
“But,” I enquired, “do you think that baptism will make you a Christian?”
“Yes,” said he.
“Then,” I replied, “you are grossly mistaken. We baptize none but those who profess to be already saved through faith in Jesus. Baptism can have no possible effect in helping you on the road to heaven.”
The man seemed to be utterly staggered at that idea, for he had somehow got into his head the notion that there was something efficacious in the ordinance itself; and when I tried to explain to him that the Scriptures contain no warrant For such a thought as that, and, therefore, that we would not baptize any who did not believe themselves to be already saved, the man went away staggered. Yet I hope that he also went away resolved to ask himself such solemn questions as these, “How is it that I am not a Christian?. . ." (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 47, Sermon #2737, page 355).
This is just another one of those contrasts between Spurgeon and the "Flounders" who are given to the misrepresentation of Spurgeon on so many items of faith and practice.