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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Craigbythesea, Aug 19, 2005.
Are alter calls Biblical or Baptist? What say ye?
Biblical - Acts 2:21 "all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved". Churches need to be able to encourage people to call on the name of the Lord, and if it is in a church meeting, so be it!
I dont know about the phrase "altar call" ...but I do think the concept of calling people to a response is very Biblical...just see all of the sermons of Acts.
Exodus 25:17 gives us this description of the mercy seat, "And make a lid of pure Gold, 125 centimeters long and 75 centimeters wide. This is the place of mercy for your sins". The Living Bible notes - Literally, Mercy Seat or place of making Propitiation.
Yes the ark is gone, replaced by Christ, yet we still need to go forward and make Propitiation to Him.
"Alter" calls yes! (Repent)
"Altar" calls...who knows?
Drum roll, please
Some Calvinists object because the altar call was invented by Finney. I think that is to commit the Genetic Fallacy, that is, to judge an argument on the basis of where it came from.
This Calvinist (albeit a wimpy one) says enthusiastically "Yes!" Urge sinners to come to Christ right NOW!
Others object that the altar call involves emotional manipulation. First, an appeal to the Gospel apart from emotions is no appeal at all. Emotions are part of who we are. Jonathan Edwards has an excellent treatise entitled, "A Treatise concerning Human Affections (Emotions)". Edwards argues that there is no place where powerful emotions are more appropriate, or where their lack is more inappropriate, than in religion. Second, simply because some abuse a tool doesn't mean the tool is bad.
One of the things that frustrates me the most is the lack of evangelistic zeal falsely justified in the name of Calvinism.
If in your culture, an altar call can be effective, use it.
Uh...what sayest thou?
One entry found for propitiate.
Main Entry: pro•pi•ti•ate
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -at•ed; -at•ing
Etymology: Latin propitiatus, past participle of propitiare, from propitius propitious
: to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of : APPEASE, CONCILIATE
synonym see PACIFY
To gain or regain the favor or goodwill of
Sounds like the perfect description for an Altar call.
"He that confess Me before men, I shall confess him before the Father."
Regain, depending on how you feel about OSAS could also apply
Ben W, we don't make propitiation to God. Christ is the once-for-all propitiating sacrifice.
The confusion is that there are six different kinds of sacrifices in the OT which fall under two heads. There are the free-will sacrifices (burnt-offering, peace-offering, wave-offering and drink offering) and there are the sin-offerings (sin offering and tresspass offering). The free-will offerings speak to our yielding to the Lord. The sin-offerings cover sin. Jesus completely fulfilled all the sin offerings. We continue to offer free will offerings (Rom 12, Heb 13). The altar call is a call to lay ourselves on the altar as a free-will offering, an offering of a sweet-smelling savor to the Lord. It has nothing to do with making a propitiation. Christ did that on Calvary.
Is it the alter call that is objecyionable or the abusive use of an alter call that is objectionable?
Sometimes it is helpful for one to answer an alter call,it helps firm up thier new faith by making a public profession of faith.But the alter call should not be playing 40 stanzas of "Just as I am", while the preacher yells out we ain't leavin here today til somebody gets saved.
I guess I am more concerned about the lack of proper discipleship training that does,nt follow in many cases.What makes me say that so easily is the fact that so many are converted to mormonisn or into JW's so easily. That can only happen when one is not properly discipled.
Neither biblical nor Baptist.
An invitation can and should be given any time the gospel is presented. No problem. The emotional manipulation often employed is wrong. Today, the appeal to seekers through intellect and cost/benefit analysis is also a perversion.
The altar call combined with these methods may explain why so many "professions" don't stick and why so many church members show very little evidence of actually being saved.
Personal experience: I have a niece who attended a crusade and had an experience. She had a temporary "high" followed by a return to her sinful ways. She is a practicing lesbian.
Upon being confronted about her lack of lifestyle change, she said that she believed God was love and would forgive her for "loving" her partner.
Worse yet, she is now innoculated from the real gospel of repentance and faith.
The altar call as frequently practiced is not only unbiblical but also anti-biblical.
The Lord said to profess Christ before men, and to follow Him in believer's baptism. I think this requires and therefore supports a method, which the altar call is.
Should the time of baptism be separated from the time of accepting Christ by weeks? The 3rd or 4th c. church required the convert to attend catechetical instruction before baptism, but it seems the apostles baptized immediately or nearly so.
I don't think it necessary to wait a long period of time either. They followed the LOrd in believer's baptism in obedience.To my mind baptism helps the new believer seal the relationship with Christ as a first step in the life as a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Actually, I don't like telling people they have to wait to be Baptized, but I do understand their wanting to wait so people they love can be present, and I respect that wish of people.
Like many other ordinances that are truly about Christ, we, who are Christian, want to share certain moments of great joy with those who love us and who prayed for us. Ergo, just as we want friends at weddings, we want friends to witness the moment we follow Christ in believer's baptism.
I tend to disagree with, "Wait three weeks so we can get you all out of the way at the same time and the preacher only gets wet once."
For what it is worth - I have never been a member of a church that made anyone wait weeks for any reason other than to talk to them and ensure that the individual really knew what they were doing.
Usually what I see is someone make a profession of faith one Sunday morning, and become Baptized that evening, or the next Sunday morning.
There is no altar in a New Testament church, so, therefore, there can be no altar call.
But all who hear the gospel preached should be told to come, and those who come should be instructed in "the faith once delivered to the saints."
Calling people to respond to the Word is Biblical, but the Man-made invention popularized by Charles Finney (doctrinal deviance notwithstanding) should not be viewed as the only method of doing so, nor is it the most effective always.
It has been made a watershed issue by many in IFB circles, but should be viewed as a non-essential.
Personally I would say I like alter calls.
Many years ago I invited a friend I grew up with daughter to VBS. Well when my friend came on the final day and heard the young evangelist( thats who did it back then ) talking to the kids. I found out later she went home and cried and threw away any drugs and ciggeretts she had, so obviously she felt something. But she didn't get saved. I honestly believe if there had been a call for anyone to come forward to receive christ or If I had known and would have talked to her right after she would have been saved.
Good news is 17 years later she did get saved. I honestly believe whoever is going to get saved will be. Since God choose us before the foundations of the world. Just would have been great if it had been sooner !
So I'm all for them. Don't want to miss any opportunity that God can use
Profession is needed, but an "altar call" is not required for a person to do this. Profession before men can be done at the time of Baptism.
I believe alter calls are fine. Some people just like to come to the alter and pray. Others come up to publically profess Jesus Christ.
Either way - you can be saved in your seat, in your bed at home, in the seat of your car, etc. Nothing's wrong with alter calls. The only man made thing about it is some people think you have to go up to be saved.... An alter can be anywhere I think.. At night the side of my bed is an alter I approach on my knees.