The Southern Baptist Convention just finished their annual convention. One significant debate was over a resolution regarding the “Sinner’s Prayer.” David Platt expressed some serious concerns over the prayer:
Should it not concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer in the New Testament? Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrase, ‘accept Jesus into your heart’ or ‘invite Christ into your life’?
Check out the source link for more info. I have just a few thoughts about this, and then I’d love to hear from you.
- I think Platt’s concern is valid. That prayer isn’t found in Scripture. I wonder if it shows a lack of trust in the power of God for salvation. Follow me here. Is it possible that in our zeal to see people confess Christ, that we don’t lay out what it biblically means to be a true disciple? “All you have to do is come down to the altar and pray this prayer!” We want people to become Christians very badly (a great motive!). But do we really trust the power of God to use an explanation of the cost of discipleship in gospel presentations? Maybe someone won’t respond to a plea if it includes truths of Jesus like, “Unless you’re willing to give up everything you have for Christ, you can’t be his disciple.” However, at least in this instance, someone would know where they stood if they refused to follow Christ. Isn’t that better than making salvation and discipleship seem like a walk in the park, resulting in people thinking they’re saved when they’re really not?
- The article I initially read implied this conflict stems from the SBC’s issue of Calvinism VS Arminianism. I don’t doubt that. Does it have a direct reflection on the differences between the SBCs views on the order of salvation? Do the Calvinists have a problem with the prayer because they believe someone would only truly confess Christ (Romans 10:9) if they have been regenerated? And why would we tell everyone they should confess Christ in order to cause their regeneration? Not sure.
- I find it interesting how the SBCs view of apostasy makes this different than how the problem plays out in the NAFWB.Think about it. No one can forfeit their salvation, according to our Southern Baptist friends, and they know there are many people who have confessed Christ as Lord, but they are nowhere to be found in their churches. I know, I know, the SBC folk will just say those people were never truly saved if they don’t show fruit. Some of those people will feel convicted again and pray the prayer again and get baptized again (a friend of mine in the SBC said many people get baptized several times–that’s a different kind of anabaptist). But they still live a life they don’t feel is good enough so they do the whole process over again. Where does the cycle end?
In our circles though, we would probably say those people who initially confessed Christ have forfeited their faith (although I would agree many were probably never saved). As a result, depending on what part of the country you’re from, we would either say that person can never be saved again, or you’ll see people who claim to have gotten saved multiple times. It’s a different twist. The SBC has a problem with people getting baptized 5 times. The NAFWB has a problem with people thinking they got saved 5 times.
- A biblical understanding on assurance of salvation is vital to this discussion. Specifically, I think it’s a terrible thing for people to write down the date of their initial confession of Christ in their Bible and then say, “If you ever doubt it, just open up your Bible where it reads the date you became a Christian.” There’s actually a song about that: “I can tell you now the time, I can take you to the place / Where the Lord saved me . . .” How many people are members of churches in the NAFWB (and the SBC) but only attend church on Easter and Mother’s Day, show no affection for Christ, live in unrepentant sin, show no fruit of the Spirit in their life, but will have some family member say at their funeral that they know their loved one is in heaven because, “He wrote down the day he prayed the prayer, and he’s never doubted it.” God forbid I would damn someone like that.
What do you guys think?