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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ML-J, Altar Calls & Conviction

I'm reproducing the reasons from Preaching & Preachers that Martin Lloyd-Jones uses to explain why he does not regularly practice altar calls. As I've stated earlier, some misunderstand a lack of altar calls as an apathy for soul winning. It's important to understand reasons why ML-J resisted this newer (relatively) practice. Reasons 1 & 2, Reason 3 and Reasons 4 & 5 have already been addressed: (ML-J's thoughts in black, mine in blue).

6. This method tends to produce a superficial conviction of sin, if any at all.

Actually, MLJ said: Most would agree with my sixth point which is that this method tends to produce superficial conviction of sin, if any at all. MLJ uses an illustration in which he saw a man who appeared convicted during his preaching. He was tempted, after the service, to press the man for a response. He did not, but did run into the man the next day. Sure enough, the man told MJL, "You know, doctor, if you had asked me to stay last night I would have done so." MLJ invited the man to his study to discuss things that day, but the man refused. To which MLJ said: My dear friend, if what happened to you last night does not last for twenty-four hours I am not interested in it. If you are not ready to come with me now as you were last night you have not got the right, the true thing. Whatever affected you last night was only temporary and passing, you still do not see your real need of Christ.

But what did others do?

From ML-J:
That is the kind of thing that may happen even when an appeal is not made. But when an appeal is made it is greatly exaggerated and so you get spurious conversions. As I have reminded you even John Wesley, the great Arminian, did not make appeals to people to 'come forward.' What you find so often in his Journals is something like this: 'Preached at such and such a place. Many seemed to be deeply affected, but God alone knows how deeply.' Surely that is very significant and important. He had spiritual understanding and knew that many factors can affect us. What he was concerned about was not immediate visible results but the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. A knowledge of the human heart, of psychology, should teach us to avoid anything that increases the possibility of spurious results.

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