Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dagg and "Invitations"


How many times have you read or heard some Reformed Hybrid Calvinist allege that Presybterian (Pedobaptist) Charles G. Finney invented the altar call or public invitation?

You can find this type of historical fiction all over the Internet among the so-called "Reformed" born-again-before-faith advocates. They are pleased to discredit public invitations by the terms "decisional regeneration," as if those who use invitations to encourage a public confession of Christ as Lord and Savior believe that one is "regenerated" by their "decision."

Several months ago, I wrote several replies to anti-public invitation articles some of which appear on the Internet. Among the objections that some offer is this 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).

Likewise, James E. Adams (not to be confused with Pedobaptist Jay Adams), says:

Most Christians are surprised to learn that history before the time of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) knows nothing of this type of "invitation." The practice of urging men and women to make a physical movement at the conclusion of a meeting was introduced by Mr. Finney in the second decade of the nineteenth century.

That this is not the case is demonstrated in the Autobiography of John L. Dagg (1794-1884), a name well-known in Baptist history. Here is an account given by Dr. 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.

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At Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Separate Baptists were using the invitation as early as 1758.
Sources: Leon McBeth, “The Baptist Heritage,” p. 230-231.


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