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Are Altar Calls Biblical?

Category Articles
Date October 24, 2008

Are altar calls biblical? If they aren’t, then why are so many evangelical churches doing them? The altar is mentioned often in the Scriptures, but there’s no mention of an altar call. Then again, we’re not told that the 3,000 who were saved on the day of Pentecost came forward to some sort of ‘altar’ or place of prayer. The problem I have with modern-day altar calls isn’t so much the call to come forward as with all the trimmings that come with it – music to stir the emotions, counselors coming forward to encourage a response (and to stop the preacher from looking stupid if there’s no response). Add to that the fact that many altar calls aren’t calling people to repentance, but to a happier life-style, and it’s easy to see the damage that is being done to the cause of the gospel.

Preach sin and Christ to sinners not altar calls. As Spurgeon says,

No sinner looks to the Saviour with a dry eye or a hard heart. Aim, therefore, at heart-breaking, at bringing home condemnation to the conscience and weaning the mind from sin. Be not content till the whole mind is deeply and vitally changed in reference to sin. (The Soul Winner)

For more on this subject, see the Trust’s booklet The Invitation System by Iain Murray.

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