July 10, 2009

"Walking the Aisle" (Part 8)

I'm finishing up posting parts of a paper I once wrote on the history of the practice of using an "Altar Call" in church worship services. Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.


Though it is used widely in churches and revivals still today, it is clear that the history of the public invitation has not been rooted in proper theology or even ancient church practice. It is also clear from history that many preachers changed their theology to reflect what was happening in their meetings, services, and revivals. Ministers and revivalists used pragmatism, ego, and even greed as a reason to persuade people to give a public profession of their faith. Problems arose from those who have confused “coming-forward” with genuine conversion leading to countless false conversions. These practices rely on the methods of the invitation rather than on God’s sovereignty and mercy. Some of these methods are even dishonest in the way the invitation is given, and any such practice should be avoided entirely.[1] Churches that adopt this form of evangelism should be aware of the history of the altar call, and be prepared to avoid any similarities of those who have used it improperly. When seen as only a tool for evangelism and used in a clear and proper manner, then there is no doubt that the Lord can use public appeals for salvation and for His glory, so long as the methodology follows the correct theology.

Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, or Part 8.

[1] See Whitesell, 65 Ways, 52, for a suggested practice that borders on deception.

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