62—sinner’s prayer and personal savior
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.
Many of the unscriptural traditions I mention in this blip go back to the
Roman Empire. Today, two that are much younger. The first is the sinner’s prayer. This goes back only to the frontier revival period of the 1800’s. This period introduced the traveling preacher who was the epitome of the one-man show. The whole town was invited to come to a certain place, maybe a church, maybe a tent, maybe invited by a neighbor who helped the evangelist come to town, maybe by advertising. There would be music, and the advertised preacher would give a message whose only purpose was to convince or scare unbelieving persons into faith in Jesus. At the end of the presentation, people were invited to pray a model prayer that says a group of theologically precise statements for a person coming to faith initially. To us humans who wish to do God’s will as best as possible, that sounds good, but a) faith is neither an intellectual or emotional thing, b) as such, whether the person says words that are exactly right or not theologically has no connection with what the Holy Spirit is doing, and c) in the Bible, the instrument for indicating faith is baptism. Later yet, the sinner’s prayer was adapted for use in evangelistic writings called tracts.
With the sinner’s prayer, many times the phrase “personal savior” is used. Although that also started in the mid-1800’s, it became more of use with the advent of evangelistic radio programs. Jesus is the Savior of believers, but personal before it is not a matter merely of it not appearing in the Bible, but it implies that salvation is a “me and Jesus” thing, whereas the Net Testament indicates that the witness of Jesus to the world is just as much or more through how believers, as a group, desiring to serve Jesus, live a transformed life, by the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
On the recording, at this time, it says, “house churches.” While that phrasing is OK, to say “organic church” is better. I comment on that in blip 94.