Reactions to the SBC "Sinner's Prayer" Vote
1) Thankfulness for the Resolutions Committee of the SBC and their work. Read both the original resolution and the final, amended version HERE. I definitely understand why many people who would not have voted for the original resolution may have decided to vote for the final resolution. There were many good things in the final resolution, and:
a) The resolution defined the "sinner's prayer" in the broadest possible sense-- as "a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord"-- I cannot imagine anyone in the SBC objecting to the "sinner's prayer" if only understood in these terms;
b) The resolution affirmed "any and all biblical means of urging sinners to call on the name of the Lord in a prayer of repentance and faith"[emphasis added] this seems to leave the question open as to whether a scripted prayer not found in the Bible can be called biblical, and so the resolution allows for debate.
2) Thankfulness for my brothers and sisters in Christ in the SBC who have diligently been engaged in evangelism. Often SBC evangelists have used tracts provided by SBC agencies-- such as the Eternal Life tract-- that have many excellent features and that also end in a "sinner's prayer." Now, I would question the use of the scripted prayer at the end of these tracts for reasons I have discussed previously, but as a guide to essential gospel truths these tracts are extremely useful. SBC evangelists may have a hard time objectively thinking through the idea that there may be a more "biblical means of urging sinners to call on the name of the Lord in a prayer of repentance and faith" than with the scripted prayers that they are used to, but Southern Baptists who question the "sinner's prayer"-- as it is commonly used-- must re-affirm our thankfulness for the zeal of many who have been faithful in evangelism while graciously challenging SBC evangelists to think through the issue (and to, perhaps, use a gospel tract-- like the Experiencing God's Grace tract distributed through the Billy Graham School of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-- that does not use a scripted prayer).
3) Prayerful concern over continuing abuses regarding the "sinner's prayer." For all of the good intentions of the Resolutions Committee-- and for all of the language they included to argue against abuses-- many of the worst offenders regarding use of the "sinner's prayer" will see passage of the resolution as an affirmation of their disorderly and unscriptural practices. We are currently in the middle of the Vacation Bible School season, and it is all too easy for preachers to get elementary school age children to repeat some prayer and then count "decisions" without doing the work of an evangelist in clearly communicating gospel truth in an understandable manner and in guiding hearers to carefully scrutinize their own hearts before God. I pray:
a)That SBC pastors and leaders would exercise tenderness and wisdom regarding those who need Christ more than they need to be counted as "decisions;"
b) That SBC pastors and leaders who have come to seek "decisions" out of a sense of pride in self-accomplishment would find true repentance;
c) That the Holy Spirit would grant true revival in SBC churches and abroad, so that men and women, boys and girls, would call out to Christ for salvation from their hearts; that they would be so burdened by their sin and that they would be so enamored by the Savior that they would need no scripted prayer.
Labels: Reformation Theology