Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Altar Call No More

I have been reading the sermons in Acts lately. I should stop doing altar calls after preaching. I feel like a salesman or an auctioneer. Here was how it went...

Is there anyone else here in this room who wants to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior? Thank you I see that hand, you may put them down. Is there any one else? How about the others? Thank you, you may put your hand down. Is there any one else?

In Acts when people get agitated with their sins, they cry out "what must I do to be saved" - Paul would reply "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved with your household". It does not say there that they prayed the sinner's prayer, rather they got baptized.


Venerable Aussie said...

I agree, it's just not right. Besides, there's some sort of irony in having altar calls without altars!

And I have never been able to work out how those who want to rely solely on scripture could justify the "altar call" as scriptural. I can't find it there anywhere!

It's interesting, but this subject of altar calls actually came up on a Catholic blog site yesterday.

(see http://www.jimmyakin.org/2005/12/students_altar_.html#comments )

Tim Jones made the important point that when the subject of altar calls comes up, he always tells his kids the same thing: "asking Jesus into our hearts is a good thing, and it is important that we do it every day. Being Catholics, though, we believe the invitation runs both ways. Even as we ask Jesus to dwell in our hearts, we are invited to take refuge in his Sacred Heart."

One of the commentators made a great point: "...the Catholic Church is the originator of the altar call, as all Catholics are called to the altar each time we attend mass."

So, as we know from the Church Fathers of the first and second centuries, our Lord gave us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Last Supper, not the altar call.
In which case I've had my altar call already today for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

And especially as we pray on this Holy Day, may the Blessed Mother intercede for us both. (John 2:1-12)

(BTW, this is a very rich and often misunderstood part of Sacred Scripture. This has helped me understand it better: http://www.salvationhistory.com/online/intermediate/course2_lesson2.cfm )

God Bless.

LPC said...

For once we agreed on something. The altar call is not biblical and it is quite pelagian in tone once we analyze it further.

The modern evangelicals/pentecostals are really more RC w/ the sacraments. That is why I am distancing myself from them. They need to go back to the roots of their evangelical faith - the Lutheran reformation.

I wish we could agree more also on the sufficiency of Christ.

I bid you peace too.

Jeff Tan said...

Good point, but I have a question. You said this:

"The modern evangelicals/pentecostals are really more RC w/ the sacraments."

and I don't get it. I've spoken to modern evangelicals who believe that (1) baptism is completely optional and is symbolic; (2) the Eucharist does not bear the real presence of Christ and is symbolic (though one claims that, even without transubstantiation or consubstantiation, the life of Christ becomes real within the communicant anyway).

LPC said...


I am sorry, it was a typo error. It should read w/o (without) the sacraments.

My mistake in typing.

Robert Elart Waters said...

The altar call is no more Scriptural than the idea that the Lord's true body and blood, given to us in the Sacrament, is in any sense a sacrifice when we celebrate it.

The sacrifice took place, to use the Scriptural phrase, "once for all" on Calvary.

As for me, I take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus intercedes on my behalf before the Father. Nor to I find in Scripture any evidence that Mary has the slightest idea that either you or I, personally, even exist, or that she is capable of hearing our prayers.

Christ gave us not a sacrifice, but a sacrament- the gift of Himself, which He indeed gives us each time we commune. He gives us our identity in Him through Baptism. And He gives us faith- not as an invitation, but as a gift, right along with the good works through which that faith inevitably finds expression (Ephesians 2:8-10).

He gives us the Word and the Sacraments- the Means of Grace, through which He does not merely invite, but enables and motivates. Or, to coin a phrase, "works within us both to will and to do."

LPC said...


Thanks for dropping by.