Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Public invitations


Awhile back, I noticed a whole passel of items by Reformed sources which attacked and deprecated the use of public invitations to lost sinners to respond to the Gospel. Of course, most of the articles were of the "monkey see, monkey do" category -- merely repetitious of what Iain Murray, Ernest Reisinger, Erroll Hulse, and other "old timers" had published. It seems that Murray may qualify as the "Grandfather" of opposition to the use of invitations, and with his Pedobaptist views, this is understandable, for when your supposed "converts" are regenerated in infancy, baptized, and added to the church roll as mere "babes in arms," what use would one have for an invitation?

I carefully read some of those anti-invitation articles and wrote quite extensively refuting the arguments. Some of those items are available at Select Writings of Bob Ross.

I thought it might be of interest to post my introduction to one of the articles which was summarial of the "antism" thinking. So here is that portion of the article:


I recall reading in the works of Andrew Fuller where someone had questioned him about his quoting John 3:16, inasmuch as it is so often used by Arminians. Fuller replied to the effect that he did not know that a verse as Scripture was any worse off for having been quoted by an Arminian. I am of the opinion that the same attitude may be held with regard to the use of "invitations" in church services. To reject all forms of using public invitations is going just a bit too far.

However, I like to think that I have an "open mind," at least open enough to consider and evaluate other points of view. Consequently, I have found some items on the Internet which set forth reasons for not using invitations, and I have a few thoughts I wish to express in response to these objections.

Much of the thinking on the subject seems to have been borrowed -- a great deal of it apparently from Mr. Iain Murray, a Pedobaptist long associated with the Banner of Truth Trust in Scotland. I have articles on our website commenting on Mr. Murray's arguments, which seemingly are prized by some as the most influential of all. See A Reply Regarding Iain Murray's Anti-Public Invitation Booklet: The Invitation System. I also have two articles on our website which discuss the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of C. H. Spurgeon's practices. Spurgeon is often cited as if he opposed invitations, which is a misunderstanding on the matter.

It seems that at the root of anti-invitation thesis is the post-seventeenth century non-creedal theory advocated by some Pedobaptist theologians that the New Birth takes place prior to the Holy Spirit's creating faith by the instrumentality of the Gospel, or Word. This theory is usually cited as a basis for objecting to calling on sinners to immediately act in some way in acknowledging Christ as Lord and Savior, such as a public invitation circumstance. The writers that I have read have obviously been greatly influenced by the anti-invitation writings of the Pedobaptists. The Pedobaptists primarily get most of their "converts" and church members in infancy, alledging that infants inherit the blessings of regeneration and the right to church membership by virtue of the supposed "covenant" relationship that their believing parents have with God. According to the Pedobaptist theory, regeneration can be assumed to take place in the infant child before baptism, at baptism, and soon after baptism.

Some Baptists who call themselves "Reformed" in theology -- such as the Reformed Baptists and Southern Baptists in the Founders Ministries fellowship -- do not go that far with the Pedobaptists on infants, nevertheless they appear to have been influenced to follow the Pedobaptists such as Mr. Murray in opposition to public invitations. Here is a summary of some of the arguments used:

1. "Most Christians are not aware that the 'altar call' method in evangelism was not practiced by Jesus or His apostles."

Please go to the following link for the entirety of the article: http://writingsofbobross.tripod.com/0005.htm

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