Forget the War on Christmas.
Do you really want to know a red-blooded, traditional, American-Christian practice that is being destroyed in front of our eyes?
The sinner’s prayer.
For so many, this has been seen as (and still is seen as) the first step into Christianity. The moment of decision. It’s a simple prayer that one is often led through and involves the acknowledgement of one’s status as a sinner, asking Jesus for forgiveness, and possibly asking Jesus to “come into one’s heart.” The sinner’s prayer (or something similar) has been and continues to be the standard Evangelical answer to the question: “How do I become a Christian?”
For my part, I’ve always thought the answer to the above question should be less individualistic and belief-oriented and more communal and action-oriented. How would I answer? Find a church to join and start obeying Jesus’ commands with that community.
Nevertheless, for many the sinner’s prayer is untouchable. Or, at the very least, was.
First, the conservative Southern Baptist darling preacher David Platt launched an unexpected nuclear attack on the sinner’s prayer at a conference in 2012 by calling it “superstitious” and “unbiblical”.
More recently, progressive Christians have landed some substantial jabs on the sinner’s prayer. Cindy Brandt proposed three reasons why she doesn’t pray the sinner’s prayer with her children. Shortly afterwards, Ben Irwin endorsed Cindy’s critique and offered three alternatives to saying the sinner’s prayer with children.
Allow me to add one more critique to the mix from the viewpoint of historical theology:
The Second Council of Orange (no, they didn’t invent pulp-free orange juice, they condemned Pelagian teachings in 529) made 25 statements to protect the doctrine of God’s grace. I’d like to quote the third such statement:
“If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle Paul who says the same thing, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not as for me’ (Romans 10:20; Isaiah 65:1).”
It’s time to give a verdict on the Sinner’s Prayer:
Biblical or Unbiblical?
Wise or Foolish?
Theologically sound or heretical?
What do you think?
Comment below with your verdict!