Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 2:33 PM

In my research on opposition to the use of public invitations, I have several times been impressed by the striking similarities between the principles of the Anti-Instrumental Music Reformers (Campbellites) and the Anti-Public Invitation Reformers (Reformed).

We want to make it clear that we are not referring to all the Campbellites nor all the Reformed. Some Campbellites use instruments and some Reformed use invitations. We are only referring to the Campbellites who oppose the use of mechanical instruments of music and the Reformed who oppose the use of public invitations.

1. Both views were advocated by leaders of significant influence: the anti-instrument disputants by Alexander Campbell and his writings, the anti-invitation disputants by Iain Murray and his writings. Both Campbell and Murray, coincidentally, were from Pedobaptist backgrounds in Great Britain. Campbell was from Scotland, Murray's publishing work is in Scotland. Both held to non-Creedal views on regeneration.

2. Both views are identified in the USA with some ministers and churches who identify themselves as themselves as "Reformers" or "Reformed."

3. Both views were originally imbibed and supported by US adherents in the state of Pennsylvania.

4. Both views were primarily based upon the presuppositional hermeneutic which demands "biblical precedent" or "scripture warrant" for the practices.

5. Both views involved an inconsistency in practice: anti-music adherents adopted the use of "tuning forks" without biblical precedent, while anti-invitationalists adopted other "systems" of accommodating confessions, such as the "office system," also without biblical precedent.

6. Both views became practical "icons" which indicated the "orthodoxy" of their adherents. Campbellites referred to themselves as the "faithful brethren," while the anti-invitationalists used the term "Reformed."

7. Both views involved the use of "shibboleths:" the Campbellites required allegiance to the "restoration plea," and the Reformed required allegiance to the "regulative principle."

8. Both views used the "historical" argument: Campbellites alleged that the church in history did not use instruments, the Reformed alleged that the church did not use public invitations.

9. Both views made the charges of "innovation" and "inventions," the Campbellites claiming use of instruments were such, and the Reformed claiming that public invitations were such.

10. Both views cited extreme abuses associated with the practices, the Campbellites citing numerous extremely aberrant instances and the Reformed citing extremely aberrant instances.

11. Both views alleged that the practices had adverse religious effects upon young people.

12. Both views alleged that the practices were responsible for adding unqualified members to the church.

13. Both views alleged that the practices diverted attention from the preached Word.

14. Both views alleged that the practices diverted attention from the importance of baptism.

15. Both views charged that those who used the practices were using degenerative emotional devices for carnal purposes.

16. Both views identified the practices in a "cause and effect" in corrupting the Christian religion.

17. Both views identified the practices as an "entertainment" factor in church services.

18. Both views denied that the practices made any contribution to the positive elements in the church service.

19. Both views erroneously appropriated C. H. Spurgeon in their column, misuing snippets of comment isolated from the whole of what Spurgeon believed and practiced.

20. Both views failed to give any substantiation for the positions attributed to Spurgeon.

21. Both views deprecated the Moody-Sankey evangelistic campaigns.

22. Both views attempted to align the practices with alleged theological abnormalities.

23. Both views used the "example" or "pattern" hermeneutical concept to denigrate the practices.

24. Both used Internet websites to mount attacks against the practices.

25. Both views rejected the principle of "Christian Liberty" as allowing for the practices.

26. Both views said that the practices were not "necessary," since the church "got along without them" for years,

27. Both views considered nonuse of the practices as keeping their faith and practice "pure."

28. Both views cited the "popularity" of the practices as being a mark of the lack of validity. Smallness implied virtue, large numbers implied otherwise.

29. Both views gave no credibility to the legitimate basic scriptural principles involved in the practices.

30. Both views received "aid and comfort" from Hardshell Baptists and Pedobaptists who also rejected the practices.


Those who have followed this series of articles will recall that during the course of my critiques, the following have been mentioned:

1. Southern Baptists and many other Baptists use the Public Invitation method for professions of faith.

2. Dr. Martyn-Jones, formerly of Westminster Chapel in London, a well-known church at one time regarded as citadel of "Reformed" faith and practice, used the "Office System."

3. C. H. Spurgeon used "Enquiry-rooms" and the "lecture hall," also interviewed  applicants for membership during the week and had them make public, oral confessions at church meetings.

4. George Whitefield collected "slips of paper" and consulted afterwards with the "inquirers" who turned in the slips of paper.

5. Charles G. Finney used what was called the "Anxious Seat."

6. D. L. Moody used "standing," which received the specific endorsement of C. H. Spurgeon.

7. Pedobaptists use the system of inviting believing parents to present their infant offspring to the minister, in accordance with the "infant baptism invitation system."

Now, the question is, "Must these practices have scriptural warrant for use, and if so, which ones, if any, are explicitly warranted by Scripture?"

That is an "open" question for my readership, and you are invited to send us the Scripture which will explicitly warrant any one or more of these "systems" of receiving initial confessions of faith. Please remember that all of these men believed in baptism as a ceremonial means of professing Christ, but we are here concerned with the specific method by which initial oral confession of Christ as Saviour is made which is prior to applying for baptism.

In Scripture, there are many instances of salvation and the confession of Christ. These would include cases such as Zaccheus who came down from a tree and received Christ joyfully (Luke 19:6). The Samaritan woman was converted to Christ at the well of Sychar, where she received him as the Messiah (John 4:1-26). The woman in Simon's house was saved at that location (Luke 7:47). Nathaniel confessed faith in Christ as the Son of God after being seen by the Lord under a fig tree (John 1:49). Nicodemus was apparently born again after he came to Jesus by night and had a lengthy salvation message expounded to him by the Lord (John 3:1-18). The dying Thief confessed Christ while being crucified on a cross (Luke 23:43). The Ethiopian was confessed faith in Christ while he was sitting in his chariot, confessed faith, and was immediately baptized by Philip. Saul of Tarsus was saved on the road to Damascus, where he confessed Christ as Lord, then went into the city, was blind for three days, and upon being visited and instructed by Ananias he was baptized (Acts 9:1-22). The Jailer at Philippi was saved on the occasion of Paul and Silas' imprisonment and subsequent earthquake; he was baptized the same hour of the night.

None of these are comparative to the various "systems" listed above. Since they are in the biblical record, are we obligated to regard these as "biblical precedents," "patterns," "examples," or "warrants" which are binding upon us in any other matter other than the essential truth of the Gospel itself? Must one be up a tree, at a well, under or near a fig tree, come by night, be on a cross, be sitting in a chariot, see Christ directly as did Saul, or even be in jail waiting for an earthquake?

Who can unravel this mystery of the approved "system," or what has "scriptural warrant" for any one today by which to confess Christ? Your comments are welcome. -- Bob L. Ross

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