Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 3:15 PM

I received a response from a gentlemen for whom I have the very hightest respect, and my publishing my reply to him is in no wise intended to be an adverse comment in regard to him; I simply use the reply here as a means of stating my concern to all associates of the Founders' movement who may be on my list. What is herein said to him will perhaps be of interest to any other Founders' associates who receive my email.

In a message dated 4/27/2004 4:00:49 PM Central Daylight Time, a reader writes:

I think that your quote of the journal immediately followed by the Spurgeon sermon gives the impression that the Founders position would be out of accord with Spurgeon on this issue.

Dear Brother:

Thanks for your email. I value your opinion very much, and have a great respect for your abilities and gifts.

I am still in the research stage in evaluating the opposition to the public invitation "system." So far, opposition seems to be more prevalent among reformed Baptists than any others. I think this is regrettable for the cause of truth in general, and Calvinistic Baptists in particular.

Of all people, Baptists who know so much of the Gospel ought to be propagating that message in every practical way and method in which it can function. The public invitation offers one of the very best contexts in which to urge upon sinners the gracious invitation of the Gospel and willingness of Christ to forgive their sins on the basis of His substitutionary, redemptive work. In fact, I preached a sermon on the public invitation this past Sunday night, explaining its significance and what it meant to one who was invited to respond. I asked for a show of hands at this Baptist church as to how many first expressed faith in Christ during a public invitation, and the vast majority raised their hands.

I have seen several references on the Internet to Jim Ehrhard (a Founders associate), to Brother Reisinger, to Errol Hulse, and of course to pedobaptist Iain Murray. There is also someone by the name of Darryl M. Erkel who says he is a reformed Baptist.

The pith of the objections seem to imply that even true, sound in the faith, Gospel preachers should not use a public invitation at all. I have thus far not come across an outright, upfront statement to that effect, but it  certainly seems to be strongly implied.

I have found no one who simply took a "pro" and "con" approach, but the emphasis against a public invitation following a sermon -- even after a TRUE Gospel Message by a SOUND Baptist preacher who is not guilty of encouraging any of the alleged "dangers" -- is the only apparent course I have read from these writers.

In other words, there is nothing but "bad" that can come out of using a public invitation even by the best of preachers.

I will cite a few indicators of this implication of TOTAL REJECTION of the public invitation from the Internet:

Jim Ehrhard:

But we must be honest about the dangers that we have examined in this article. Is it not clear that the Scriptures "provide an invitation to sinners which is perfect and does not need addition?'" Are you concerned about asking people to do something for salvation that was never promoted in the Bible or in early church history?

Do you wish to eliminate possibilities that persons might respond to an emotional appeal or your persuasion rather than to the gospel? Do you wish to reduce the confusion that many have in equating "coming forward" with being saved?

Are you tired of seeing great numbers coming forward only to discredit the name of Christ by professing something that has no reality in their lives? Are you really concerned to see people converted -- truly converted -- instead of falsely assured? Then please examine this system carefully and honestly.

On the other hand, we must not confuse the invitation system with inviting people to Christ. This we must do with all urgency. "The Great Invitation of the gospel is an awesome and glorious subject. While we are in this world we should never cease making ourselves more proficient and winsome in the employment of invitations."

Still, the dangers of this system are serious. The souls of men are at stake. To be biblically evangelistic, we must be certain that what we do leads men to faith, not just to decisions.

There is no suggestion from Brother Ehrhard that ANYTHING of a positive nature can accompany a public invitation.

Erroll Hulse: EP Internet ad:

Is the 'appeal' or 'altar call' a justified method of encouraging that final commitment, or is it an unwarranted addition to the inherent power of the gospel?

This implies that there is no warrant to use a public invitation as a method of encouraging a commitment.

E. W. Reisinger:

The "Invitation System" is attended by various dangers and errors. The emphasis of this statement is on the word "System". I did not say an invitation. If preachers do not invite sinners to Christ they should leave the ministry. There is a world of difference between biblical invitations and the Invitation System.

The implication is that a proper invitation to Christ cannot be practiced in conjunction with the public invitation.

Darryl Erkel:

Secondly, we must boldly speak out against its errors and warn believers of the inherent dangers in using it.

Nothing positive is presented in this long article about the errors of the public invitation.

I do find that the attitude of these writers seems to me to be completely out of accord with the attitude of C. H. Spurgeon with regard to urging upon sinners to make an IMMEDIATE DECISION in response to the Gospel.

I will continue my study of this matter, and as long as writers attempt to get "aid and comfort" from Spurgeon for their TOTAL NEGATIVISM toward public invitations, then I will probably express my objections to the association of his name with such an extreme attitude. They are of course free to believe and practice as they please, but I find it somewhat repulsive when they try to align Spurgeon with their cause. It reminds of the Campbellites who try to use Spurgeon when it comes to the matter of not using instrumental music.

The Christian, Bible-believing people of the Southern Baptist Convention who have returned conservatism to the forefront of the Convention and the Seminaries all probably responded during public invitations to express faith in Christ. It would be a shame if those in leadership positions now denounced one of the great centerpieces of the evangelism which was a part of their experience of coming to Christ.

I myself was converted in an Association-wide Baptist revival meeting in Jackson, Tennessee during an invitation, when Pastor Bobby Moore, now of Southaven, Mississippi, a preacher whom you know, and a fellow high school student of mine in 1953, came down out of the choir, took my hand, and urged me to trust Christ. That was an "evil"?

How can I possibly join in the chorus with those who now can find nothing but negative elements involved in the public invitation when I myself was converted during a public invitation?

Looking back at that experience, "human speaking" if in the Providence of God it had not been for that experience I perhaps would have never discovered the name of "Spurgeon" -- which I first saw just a few nights later in a book in a local residence --  and perhaps would not have ultimately found and reprinted his sermon set. 

What a great blessing it would have deprived me of, if the public invitation had not been practiced during that 1953 revival meeting in which I was converted!


Bob L. Ross

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