Tag Archives: baptist
The preacher would end his sermon by saying “every head bowed and every eye closed.” I knew that the next few minutes would be spent listening to the pianist play “Just As I Am” on the piano while the preacher encouraged people to come down front and pray. At some point the preacher would inevitably say “if you want to be saved, repeat this simple prayer after me,” after which he would recite the “sinners prayer” from memory. Then, with every head bowed and every eye closed, the preacher would ask if anyone said that prayer. He would ask people that said the prayer to raise their hand while assuring them that “no one will see and no one will approach you.”
That might be a familiar routine to you. You also might be wondering what it is and why some churches do it.
First, let’s talk about the history of the altar call and how it came to be a sacred ritual in many churches today. An article at Christianity Today shares some of the history of the altar call:
One of the things I’ve appreciated about reformed churches and theology is their willingness to keep “the main things the main thing.” They do not argue over non-essentials. They focus on the Gospel and its power to change people’s lives and allow freedom on non-essentials. That’s precisely what the scriptures call us to. We are not to tout “the traditions of man as though they are doctrine” (Matt. 7:7-13) as the Pharisees did. And this group, unlike any other I’ve known, emphasizes and lives this out. The Baptist churches I’ve known are so legalistic that if you disagree on a non-essential you are labeled a heretic of sorts. “How dare you not adhere to a pre-millennial, pre-tribulation view of the rapture. You’re wrong!” Well, the truth is that regardless of what you believe about the rapture, it doesn’t change whether you are a Christian. So, in truth, it doesn’t matter. Sure, it’s good to know what you believe and understand it. But having a “proper” view of the rapture doesn’t save you, or un-save you. So if someone wants to believe that there’s no literal 7-year tribulation, that’s ok, we are still brothers in Christ and can fellowship and worship under the same roof.
The articles I read criticizing reformed theology badly misrepresents those that adhere to this biblically based theological understanding. There is so much misinformation, and disinformation that it shows a clear lack of understanding of reformed theology and the people that claim it. It also does nothing to further the Gospel. It propagates false myths about Calvinism and creates division rather than unity around Christ. As Christians, we must be about creating unity around Christ and the Gospel over our personal differences over non-essential issues. It’s interesting to me that there is an abundance of articles by Baptists that “warn” people about Calvinism/Reformed Theology but you would be hard pressed to find a single article by a Calvinist warning people about Baptists. I find this curious as I consider keeping the main thing the main thing. Do I believe Baptists are wrong on some things, even important things? Yes. Am I going to denigrate them or warn people about them? Nope. Because I know that Baptists get the Gospel right, and that’s the main thing. So I can let go of the non-essentials and support Baptists in sharing the Gospel.
I’ve grown up in the Baptist church my entire life. I spent my entire ministry in Baptist churches. I have a Master’s degree in theology from a Baptist school. I know Baptist theology more than most due to my life-long desire to study and grow in my theological understanding. And I can say without reservation that I have found more Gospel focus, theological depth, mission’s emphasis, and Great-Commission minded people within reformed theology in the last several years than I have in the Baptist church in my entire life.
This reality of my experience makes the mischaracterization of reformed theology troubling as it reveals most people don’t know enough about reformed theology to make an accurate objection. It also reveals that the persistent myths and false accusations perpetrated against reformed theology are done in error.
Some of the myths and false accusations around reformed theology are:
After a couple of days I was inspired, refreshed, and encouraged to go back to my church and continue on the path God has laid out for me to reach my community; especially millennials and the younger generations. As I walked away from the convention I had a few reflections from my time in Baltimore that I wanted to share.
1. This ain’t your daddy’s Southern Baptist Convention. The days of old, white guys in suits with Bible’s big enough to choke a mule are gone. The SBC is younger, tech-ier, and dressed in blue jeans and flip flops. Yes, plenty of guys wore suits, but bow-ties were prominent. The old ways are dying as the focus shifts to Gospel-centric methods that don’t include dress codes. It’s a good shift for the SBC as we seek to engage our culture.
A motion was made from the floor of the SBC annual meeting this year to discipline a Southern California church.
This might sound like an odd motion, but upon understanding the reason for the motion the action might be warranted.
This particular church, The New Heart Community Church, in La Mirada, CA, based on the leadership of their pastor has decided to affirm homosexual behavior.
The move came after the pastors’ son revealed in a video that he was gay. The pastor then told the church that he had decided to support his sons behavior and lifestyle. The church decided to support their pastor and change church policy rather than adhering to biblical truth.
This is important because this is the first instance of a southern baptist church endorsing homosexuality.