Monday, January 24, 2011

'Man Saves Man' and Decisions Are The Plan

Where did we ever get the idea that people can save other people, and even save themselves? Sure, nobody comes right out and says that, but you can tell that they think it. It's amazing how this one theological error upstream ends up causing an entire evangelism epidemic downstream. No, theology is not useless "head knowledge", it impacts our actions. And in this case, bad theology has produced an entire errant evangelistic system.

The problem that we are seeing today, is that church leaders believe that people can control when and if the New Birth occurs. Here's one example with scenes from an actual church service: 

We are warned of the problem in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God:
"If we forget that it is God's prerogative to give results when the Gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us [into error]. If we regarded it as our job, not simply to present Christ, but actually to produce converts, to evangelize not only faithfully, but also successfully, our approach to evangelism would become pragmatic and calculating."
That's exactly the kind of thinking that is represented in links like these:
Megachurch pastor Steven Furtick says he's setting "strategic goals in the areas of attendance, salvation decisions, (and) baptisms". Now if you really believe that it's up to God to save people, how can you make a specific goal for salvations? How can you predict how many God will save? Maybe He'll save none. I suppose one way is if God tells you ahead of time how many he's going to save. That's what Steven reports on another post in which he shares how God told him that "100 people would give their lives to Jesus", and before he preached a sex sermon God told him that "50 people would be saved". Curiously, these numeric prophetic messages are never mentioned ahead of time, and are only spoken of in specific terms AFTER they appear to come true.
A staffer at one church talks about their goal of saving "hundreds" over the upcoming year, but I wonder if they've considered the possibility that the Holy Spirit might save 10 times that many, or maybe nobody at all. After all, John 3:8 reminds us, who can predict what the Spirit will do? He's like the wind that blows where it wishes.

The Cool Church missions blog points out that 300 made decisions when "Pastor George spoke". Elsewhere, Pastor Greg talks about 1600 people who got saved in jail, and makes a special point of mentioning that "I led over 130 to the Lord myself". A nursing home evangelist says that he resists boasting about 'decisions' but, you guessed it, he ends up doing it anyway. Not only that but, he let's you know that the decisions occurred "due to our ministry".

As for the video clip above, it's worth noting that repentance was never discussed by the pastor in that church service. Leaving out key aspects of an evangelism message like that is one of the common traits of the modern error of Decisional Regeneration. That's the focus of this informative video clip which outlines the problem with today's "man saves man" church methodology, which is based on no less than faulty theology.