Decision Theology

Albion

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I am, for lack of a better term, playing the devils advocate. I'm defended a position to see what holes there are in the position.
Yep, that's understandable.
My concern is that the reaction to "alter calls are bad" is that we rarely evangelize by calling for people to believe and repent. The New Testament is full of the Apostles telling people to believe.
Well, my quick answer is that this which I've called a 'gimmick' and one that's of recent origin, isn't the way to do that.
The fact is, evangelical churches are full of people who responded to alter calls, said the sinner's prayer, and live life of faith in Christ whom they love and serve.
That doesn't prove much, you know. There are plenty of churches that are well stocked with regular attendees at worship, people who support the church with their contributions, and who do volunteer work...but don't have a clue when it comes to sound doctrine.
 

Lamb

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I didn't mean to imply that surrender is a prerequisite for faith. But that surrender, obedience, faithfulness, repentance... are the result of a true living/saving faith. You don't surrender to Christ in order to have faith you surrender to Christ because you have faith.

Surrender is like Jesus catching us in His net and we realize we're there.
 

Josiah

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I didn't mean to imply that surrender is a prerequisite for faith. But that surrender, obedience, faithfulness, repentance... are the result of a true living/saving faith. You don't surrender to Christ in order to have faith you surrender to Christ because you have faith.


I agree...

SO do you mean "decision" ONLY in Sanctification - discipleship OR do you mean it in Justification - Salvation?

YOU may say the latter, and I think all would agree. But in my experience, those who speak of "decision" mean it as a CHOICE that WE make to believe in Christ as "our personal savior." NOT, "now that God has given me faith, saved and justified me, I choose to follow and obey Him." It seems to ME even Billy Graham did not ask CHRISTIANS to come on down and declare that they will thus follow Jesus.




.
 

Fritz Kobus

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Confession: I have not read the three pages of posts. However, it seems to me that Ephesians 2:8-10 sums it up pretty good:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

I was born again in the fall of 1984. I did not make a decision but it just happened to me. After being exposed to the Gospel I kept coming back for more and then realized that something has happened, that I was changed. I would not want my confidence to be in that I made a decision (because human decisions can be faulty and that's not how it works), but in that God sought me out and brought me into His Church against my natural inclinations. In my wisdom I would have remained a pagan, but in God's wisdom I became a child of God in Christ Jesus.
 

Lanman87

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That doesn't prove much, you know. There are plenty of churches that are well stocked with regular attendees at worship, people who support the church with their contributions, and who do volunteer work...but don't have a clue when it comes to sound doctrine.
But they have a basic understanding of who Christ is, what He has done, that they are sinners, and they believe/have faith/trust in Him. That may not be all their is, but isn't that enough?
 

Albion

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But they have a basic (?) understanding of who Christ is, what He has done, that they are sinners, and they believe/have faith/trust in Him. That may not be all their is, but isn't that enough?
No. However, I think you may be focusing in on what's at the heart of the issue.

Many churches that favor alter [sic] calls as the quickie way to membership in a Christian congregation really don't appear to care about much other than enrolling the person.

What he understands about the faith is essentially unimportant to that church so long as he's 'signed on' verbally. If that process is what is relied upon in order to keep the membership rolls up, I don't think it matters very much what the body count happens to be.

In addition, I have to challenge the claim that he actually does know "who Christ is, what he has done," and etc., thanks to his participation in the routine we've been discussing. In fact, it raises another question...why would that person be expected to show up thereafter to listen to any sermons from that pastor or another one, having already passed muster on what you've suggested is all that needs to be known by him?? And why does that Bible include all those letters addressed by Paul or John, etc. to the faithful of various congregations concerning the misperceptions about true Christian belief or practice among people who were already enrolled as members?
 
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Lanman87

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I'm saying that all that is needed to be a born again believer is a basic understanding of who Christ is, what He has done, that they are sinners and are in need of forgiveness and that they have come to faith/trust in Christ. We are saved by faith, not depth of doctrinal understanding.

Many churches that favor alter [sic] calls as the quickie way to membership in a Christian congregation really don't appear to care about much other than enrolling the person.
Having been a member of an evangelical church for most of my life I 100% disagree with that statement. Every church I've ever been part of has offered a plethora of Bible Studies, Topical Studies, service opportunities, mission opportunities, and fellowship opportunities that are intended to help believers grow in faith, knowledge, and service.

Someone coming to faith at an alter call, by personal witness of someone, or any other way is considered the beginning of a new life and the person is a new creation in Christ. It is the beginning of a lifetime walk of faith and service. Not a one and done go on with my life like nothing every happened event. I have never been in a church with that attitude. There may be churches with that attitude but the are the exception, not the rule.
 

Albion

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I'm saying that all that is needed to be a born again believer is a basic understanding of who Christ is, what He has done, that they are sinners and are in need of forgiveness and that they have come to faith/trust in Christ. We are saved by faith, not depth of doctrinal understanding.

This may be so, but an altar call doesn't amount to that, yet your position is that it actually does.
Having been a member of an evangelical church for most of my life I 100% disagree with that statement. Every church I've ever been part of has offered a plethora of Bible Studies, Topical Studies, service opportunities, mission opportunities, and fellowship opportunities that are intended to help believers grow in faith, knowledge, and service.
Again, that was not your contention. You told me that an altar call, without any modifications being attached to your claim in addition, was all that was needed. You also explained at some length what your own congregation does, and I sympathized with that description. It does not say anything about altar calls in general, however, even though that is what you've presented to us for discussion.
Someone coming to faith at an alter call, by personal witness of someone, or any other way is considered the beginning of a new life and the person is a new creation in Christ.
If that is your thinking...then it is. However, nothing in what we've exchanged here shows it to be what you've just described, and nothing in the history of the Christian faith accords with this fairly recent innovation and shortcut to church membership.
 

Lanman87

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You told me that an altar call, without any modifications being attached to your claim in addition, was all that was needed.
I never said and alter call was all that is needed. I said that faith is all that is needed. My contention is that responding to an alter call can be, and often is, a result of and expression of someone coming to faith.

You seem to be denying that someone can have a legitimate conversion when responding to a call to believe the gospel. Which is all an alter call is. It is a proclamation of the gospel and and appeal to respond in faith to the gospel message.

It isn't that much different that what Peter proclaimed in Acts 2 and 3. Peter told the onlookers in Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

That is the message, in a nutshell, of every alter call.
 

Albion

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I never said and alter call was all that is needed. I said that faith is all that is needed.
Well, hardly any of us would deny that Faith is the key to salvation! That's not the explanation for the promise that is made for altar calls on the part of people who favor the use of them.

My contention is that responding to an alter call can be, and often is, a result of and expression of someone coming to faith.

Anything's possible, and there's usually an exception here or there to almost any process. However, the churches which use this technique do not say to the people being urged to make a declaration that "maybe you have faith, etc.." Indeed, if they did already have saving Faith, an altar call would be redundant at best and wrong at worst. The plain fact is that the objective of altar calls is to save people through use of this technique.

It isn't that much different that what Peter proclaimed in Acts 2 and 3. Peter told the onlookers in Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Peter in no way described what we both know an altar call is.

Anyway, it looks like we're becoming repetitive, and it appears to me that you have already made the decision you said you were weighing.

So, thanks and I look forward to other topics we might discuss at some time or other.
 

Lamb

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The plain fact is that the objective of altar calls is to save people through use of this technique.

That's exactly how many people I know who have gone to the altar. They got saved when they went up to "surrender to God", "gave themselves to God", "made a decision to be saved", etc... It was all their doing is how they described it. And that's exactly the issue with decision theology.
 

Lees

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That's exactly how many people I know who have gone to the altar. They got saved when they went up to "surrender to God", "gave themselves to God", "made a decision to be saved", etc... It was all their doing is how they described it. And that's exactly the issue with decision theology.

At that point...that is all the one coming to Christ knows. They have been given the Gospel. Believe on Jesus Christ. They believe and so exercise their will and do whatever those preaching the Gospel to them ask.

It will be later, as they leran of God and Scripture, that they see it was all of God. Your decision was needed, but it was God Who decided first. Because He decided, you would decide. Solidifying your eternal life with Him.

Lees
 

Lamb

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At that point...that is all the one coming to Christ knows. They have been given the Gospel. Believe on Jesus Christ. They believe and so exercise their will and do whatever those preaching the Gospel to them ask.

It will be later, as they leran of God and Scripture, that they see it was all of God. Your decision was needed, but it was God Who decided first. Because He decided, you would decide. Solidifying your eternal life with Him.

Lees

Who says their decision was needed? John 15:16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

God doesn't tell us preach the gospel and ask them to make a decision. That's nowhere in scripture.
 

Lees

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Who says their decision was needed? John 15:16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

God doesn't tell us preach the gospel and ask them to make a decision. That's nowhere in scripture.

(John 15:16) emphasizes God's part, as I said. But that doesn't mean man's will is not invovled.

If that were the case, then don't witness to anyone. Don't preach the Gospel. Man's will doesn't matter.

So, why do you witness...or do you?

Lees
 

Lamb

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(John 15:16) emphasizes God's part, as I said. But that doesn't mean man's will is not invovled.

If that were the case, then don't witness to anyone. Don't preach the Gospel. Man's will doesn't matter.

So, why do you witness...or do you?

Lees

We preach the Gosple because God's Word is alive and active. Hebrews 4:12
and Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
 

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Even in the few cases when someone "walks in off the street" and responds to the alter call the most common story we heard was that the person had started feeling convicted of their sin and was looking for relief, started reading the Bible on their own and wanted more understanding, or watched a church service on TV that got them thinking about what happens when they die.
That's God's leading. Just as Jesus tells us. No one comes to him unless the father leads them.

Jesus told his Disciples after they asked why he would always teach in parables, it was so not all would understand and repent of their sins.

God's Elect. The Elect of God.
 

Lees

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We preach the Gosple because God's Word is alive and active. Hebrews 4:12
and Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Why anyone thinks that man's will is not involved in his salvation process is beyond me. That doesn't mean man is the initiator of his salvation. But man's will is certainly involved.

(Josh. 24:15) "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve...."

(Rev. 22:17) "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Lees
 

Lamb

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Why anyone thinks that man's will is not involved in his salvation process is beyond me. That doesn't mean man is the initiator of his salvation. But man's will is certainly involved.

(Josh. 24:15) "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve...."

(Rev. 22:17) "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Lees

Man's will is bound to sin, that's why. It's God's will that breaks down our will, bringing us to repentance and turning us to Him.

Those verses you quoted are to those who already are believers.
 

Lanman87

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Man's will is bound to sin, that's why. It's God's will that breaks down our will, bringing us to repentance and turning us to Him.

Those verses you quoted are to those who already are believers.
So I take it that Lutherans, like Calvinist, believe in irresistible grace??
 

Albion

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So I take it that Lutherans, like Calvinist, believe in irresistible grace??
No. It's more like 'you cannot come to saving Faith through your own efforts, but you can reject it.'
 
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