I believe we have sufficiently demonstrated in recent
articles that it is not justifiable to attach the name of "Spurgeon" to the
extremes which are set forth by the likes of Iain Murray, Ernest Reisinger,
Fred Zaspel, Erroll Hulse, Jim Ehrhard, Darryl Erkel, G. I. Williamson, Carey
Hardy, and other brethren of like thinking. We certainly have no objection
whatsoever to these brethren having scruples on this or any other matter, but we
do find it offensive when any of them make the effort to appropriate Spurgeon in
During the course of writing recent articles on this
issue, I have, however, come to the conclusion that there are conceivably more
potential dangers involved in anti-invitationalism than merely the misuse of
Spurgeon and the misrepresentation of his practices. Therefore, I want to state
my opinion with regard to what I perceive as being possibly detrimental effects
from the taking a strong anti-public invitation position.
Danger of Incurable Division.
I recall in reading Baptist history
that Benjamin Keach, in the 1600s, introduced singing in his
church. A preached named Isaac Marlow was so disturbed by the "innovation" that
he published an item against singing, and Keach published a reply to Marlow.
Singing prevailed but not without heated controversy and distasteful division.
John Rippon, the successor of Dr. John Gill, compiled and
introduced the first Baptist Hymnal. Again, there was controversy and
division. William Carey and Andrew Fuller introduced innovative means of
implementing foreign missions; again, controversy and division. The same
occurred later during the time of Luther Rice. "Hardshell" Baptists
stomped on the "innovations" promoted by Rice with both feet. They split off and
called themselves the "Old School" or "Primitive Baptists," priding themselves
on being opposed to "missionaries" and also instrumental music.
Speaking of instrumental music, In the 19th century, some in the
"reformation movement" led by Alexander Campbell -- who at one time was
affiliated with the Redstone Baptist Association -- introduced a melodeon into
church services at Midway, Kentucky in 1859. This issue about mechanical
instruments of music eventually led to the cleavage of the movement into the
Disciples of Christ (pro-instrument) and the Churches of Christ
I have known of churches and preachers split on such
things as women's head coverings, offering plates, communion cups, wine or grape
juice in the Lord's Supper, mission boards -- pro and con, Sunday schools -- pro
and con, church kitchens -- pro and con, and other alleged "innovations."
Now here comes the anti-public invitation brethren with their
hobbyhorse. Don't we have enough of greater significance and importance than to
promote another potentially divisive issue?
2. The Danger of
"Canonizing" Another Method Which Has No More Biblical Precedent than Other
It has been shown how that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
used the "office system" as opposed to the "public invitation
system." The invitation system is alleged to be "without biblical precedent,"
but what of the "office system"? Does it have biblical
I think it is the Hardshells and maybe some others who use the
"opening the doors of the church" method to invite those who wish to
somehow make known their faith and interest in church membership. Where is there
such a precedent in Scripture?
If one opposes the public invitation
system as being "without precedent in Scripture," is he able to give "book,
chapter, and verse" for the method he favors?
3. The Danger of
The Pharisees were great for making laws
where God had not made laws, especially in what they were against. They
had multitudinous logical arguments about matters which were not distinctly
legislated in Scripture, and they imposed their own conclusions upon those
issues. If John or Jesus or Paul did not follow the "spin" of the Pharisees,
then they were accused of transgression.
Jesus said, "Ye shut up the
kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer
ye them that are entering to go in" (Matthew 23:13).
He said they
"strained at a gnat, and swallowed a camel" (Matthew 23:24). That reminds
me of the anti-public invitation brethren who "strain" at public invitations and
swallow the camel of the "pre-faith new birth" theory taught by the likes
of Berkhof, Sproul, and Murray.
If there is indeed a LAW that
establishes a particular method, where is it found? If there is no such law,
then why be like the Pharisees and make one? Is there not a danger of doing this
on the part of the anti-public invitation brethren?
4. The Danger of
Denying Scriptural Liberty.
There are a number of things believed and
practiced, even by the anti-invitation brethren, which are simply matters of
Christian liberty, as taught in Acts 15:28, 29, Romans 14, and elsewhere.
For example, as a matter of liberty (not by commandment) some of the
brethren have formed the Founders Ministries. But can one not inquire, "Where
is there a scriptural precedent for the creation of the Founders
Ministries, which is an extra-scriptural, post-apostolic organization, said
to be formed to 'promote both doctrine and devotion expressed in the Doctrines
of Grace,' with a 'Chairman of the Board,' and a Board composed of nine men.
Where is this incorporated organization commissioned by the Lord or in Holy
Scripture? Who was authorized by precedent in Scripture to select these board
members and the Chairman of the Board?"
And may not one ask why is
this organization presuming to do the work that the Lord commissioned His own
churches to do? If Peter and Paul did not use the public invitation system, did
either Peter or Paul head up such an organization such as the
If they charge that public invitations are wrong and select
Charles Finney as the innovator, who was the innovator who instigated the
Founders? Brother Reisinger?
Do you see the contradiction here?
These very brethren are committed to oppose public invitations on the grounds
that there is no scriptural precedent for them, but where can they can
show precedent for the Founders organization, officers, and purpose?
they have the liberty to incorporate such a body, have such a purpose,
and select such a board, where is my liberty to practice a public invitation
without having them apply their "touch not, taste not, handle not" law
against public invitations? Are they not encroaching upon my
5. They Danger of Creating a Sect.
Sects and cults
generally get started by some influential man and his followers who have placed
emphasis upon certain distinguishing peccadilloes and peculiarities regarding
doctrine and practice. Usually, they write a "manual" of some sort -- which of
course is denied as constituting an authoritative "binding creed." Of course,
what they deny in word they nevertheless find a way to put into practice. I
could cite example after example of the historical record of such sects and
cults. Campbellites, Mormons, Hardshells, and others got started that
Are not some of the anti-invitation brethren inviting and
encouraging this same type of drift?
The Founders, for instance, have
published something on the order of a manual, "Worship The Regulative
Principle and the Biblical Principle of Accommodation," which is defined to
be "a must-read for those seeking to bring reformation to the worship of the
I have neither read nor seen the manual (or
whatever it is), but I am told by those who have that it more or less "tells
the church the right doctrine to believe and how to do things in worship the
right way." Well, if it lives up to that billing, who would dare
question it? It is of the same reputation as the "Christian System" production
of Mr. Campbell in the 1800s.
And, pray tell, who are the "authorities"
who deem themselves qualified to compose such a manual of faith and practice
which allegedly "masterfully defines, explains, and defends the Reformed
principle of worship -- the regulative principle. Moreover, the principle is not
left in the realm of theory"?
Why, the two "Masters in Israel" who
are more than mere "theorists" are the authors, Brothers Ernest Reisinger and
D. Matthew Allen. Of course, it is no doubt endorsed and sanctioned by all
the friends of the Founders Ministries.
Is there any danger that
such a manual of the "Reformed" faith and order could eventually become another
"Christian System," like unto that manual of doctrine and practice composed by
Alexander Campbell? Or, another "Doctrines and Covenant" and "Pearl of Great
Price" by Joseph Smith? Or, another "Old Landmarkism" authored by J. R. Graves,
the father of "Landmarkism"? Or, another "Manuscript Evidence" by Peter
Ruckman to establish "King James Onlyism"? Who knows -- stranger things
One wonders, what ever happened to our dear old Baptist
Confession? Is it not sufficient for the day of evil in which we live? How have
we survived in the past without the masterful "Regulative Principle"
manual? Has it been brought to the Kingdom for such a time as this?
ALL I AM SAYING IS THIS: Some brethren want to put the yoke of bondage of
anti-public invitationalism upon others, but they themselves are engaged
in practices and organizations for which they have no scriptural
precedent. They exercise their liberty in the practice of their own
devices but they censure others who use their liberty in the practice of giving
a public invitation.
Is this inconsistency not an attribute common to
sects and the cults?
So much for now. -- Bob L. Ross
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