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What About Altar Calls?

Thabite Anyabwile provides some commentary about why he does not utilise ‘altar calls’ based on the following ten points made by Ryan Kelly.
While ‘altar calls’ are not prevalent in Australian Presbyterianism, the fact that they were popularised by Charles Finney (who was, at one time, a Presbyterian) invites us to think about our understanding of salvation, how God brings it about in an individual’s life and the means by which He does so.
I’ve also attended meetings where people have responded to invitations that don’t really involve repentance and faith in Jesus and these have later been referred to as ‘salvations.’ (Not in Presbyterian contexts, in case you’re wondering.) So some clarity about purpose and outcome would be useful for those who do use some sort of call or invitation system, as well.

1. The altar call is simply and completely absent from the pages of the N.T.
2. The altar call is historically absent until the 19th century, and its use at that time (via Charles Finney) was directly based upon bad theology and a man-centered, manipulative methodology.
3. The altar call very easily confuses the physical act of “coming forward” with the spiritual act of “coming to Christ.” These two can happen simultaneously, but too often people believe that coming to Christ is going forward (and vice-versa).
4. The altar call can easily deceive people about the reality of their spiritual state and the biblical basis for assurance. The Bible never offers us assurance on the ground that we “went forward.”
5. The altar call partially replaces baptism as the means of public profession of faith.
6. The altar call can mislead us to think that salvation (or any official response to God’s Word) happens primarily on Sundays, only at the end of the service, and only “up front.”
7. The altar call can confuse people regarding “sacred” things and “sacred” places, as the name “altar call” suggests.
8. The altar call is not sensitive to our cautious and relational age where most people come to faith over a period of time and often with the interaction of a good friend.
9. The altar call is often seen as “the most important part of the service”, and this de-emphasizes the truly more important parts of corporate worship which God has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing).
10. God is glorified to powerfully bless the things He has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing), not the things we have invented. We should always be leery of adding to God’s prescriptions for His corporate worship.

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The Most Enduring Image Of The Royal Wedding…

…will be this (note the bottom left hand corner):

The wedding was simply historic.
This young lady has now become a meme which may last even longer.

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Sound Advice For (Mount Gambier) Drivers

Because Mount Gambier pedestrians are very tempting.
Whenever I comment ‘I could get that one,’ Margaret never fails to point out the illegality of such an action.

~ The Book of Good Manners: A Guide to Polite Usage for all Social Functions, by Frederick H. Martens, 1923

via (one of my favourite blogs)

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The Pastor And Personal Criticism ebook By C.J. Mahaney

Compiled from a series of blog posts by C.J. Mahaney on the subject of ‘The Pastor And Personal Criticism’ the Sovereign Grace ministries blog has released a 25 page ebook under the same title. Click this link to download.
It’s a subject that pastors (and their spouses, if married) should think through. Anecdotally it is not a subject that people work through before entering pastoral situations, but a single early negative response can have long-term negative effects on a ministry.
Mahaney’s insights would also be helpful to those who feel criticised in situations other than pastoral ministry. There’s a concluding chapter with suggestions about how to criticise your pastor.
Sovereign Grace and C.J. Mahaney are not without their critics. Whenever I post a link or refer to them within an hour or three I get an automated comment directing me to weblinks of sites maintained by folk who believe the movement has not treated them well.
I’m sure there’s folk here in Mount Gambier who have felt let down and poorly treated by myself and mgpc as well. (Because they’ve told me or we’ve heard through others.) This is a grief and we continue to try to be more Christ-like in dealing with folk.

I’d commend this publication in the hope that pastors deal with criticism in a constructive and non-defensive manner.

Here are links to the original blog posts if you wish to read them in that form.

The Pastor and Personal Criticism

  1. The Pastor and Personal Criticism
  2. The Pastor’s Temptations when Criticism Arrives
  3. Learning Wisdom by Embracing Criticism
  4. A Kind and Painful Bruising
  5. The Pastor’s Wife and Her Role When Criticism Arrives
  6. Adding a Few Smudges to My Moral Portrait
  7. Deal Gently with Your Critics
  8. Why Faithful Pastors Will Be Criticized
  9. Too High an Estimation
  10. Distinguishing Criticism
  11. How to Criticize Your Pastor (And Honor God)


Death Of David Wilkerson

David Wilkerson author of The Cross And The Switchblade died in a car accident on April 27.
His life impacted and challenged many.

Here’s the last two paragraphs of the most recent post on Wilkerson’s blog:

To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights—and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, “I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident. It was no failure on your part. Hold fast. Let me embrace you in your hour of pain.”
Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.

Link to Christianity Today report.

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You Can Become A Christian, But You Can’t Get Baptised (via Karl Dahlfred)

I find reading Karl Dahfred’s posts on Gospel work and its implications in Thai culture informative and thought-provoking, particularly when I think about how the issues raised translate back into western culture.
Here he deals with why a decision to be a Christian could be considered okay, but submitting to baptism would not.
That is because baptism is understood as being more significant and binding than a personal decision.

The objection was not uncommon. I recently received an email from an American college professor requesting advice for a Thai student of his who had recently become a Christian. The student’s Buddhist mother back in Thailand was greatly upset about her son’s decision. But she would be okay with his new faith under one condition. He didn’t get baptized.
Read the rest of the post here.

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Beer-only fast ends with bacon smoothie (via CNN Belief Blog)

I find the concept of a beer-only fast ending with a bacon smoothie highly amusing.
Maybe I should rethink Lent.

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor (CNN) — J. Wilson has survived his 46-day beer-only fast and found some unexpected spiritual insights. Wilson, who lives outside Des Moines, Iowa, was emulating a Lenten tradition carried out by German monks hundreds of years ago. In keeping with tradition he ate his last solid food on Ash Wednesday and broke his fast on Easter Sunday. “I made a bacon smoothie and that’s what I broke the fast with,” W … Read More

via CNN Belief Blog