Do Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusades Produce False Converts?
Harvest America, with Greg Laurie, is coming to AT&T stadium near my house. This has sparked a lot of conversation lately for me. The conversation tends to end the same way each time. It ends with a question similar to this one, “If there are people that get saved what is wrong with calling people to walk an aisle and pray the sinner’s prayer?” I have had responses like this, “What does it matter if only a low percentage is saved that actually come forward if people are getting saved?” Other statements have gone like this, “If God saves people at these conferences it seems to be of God right?”
Before I go any further let me just say that, “It does seem that some fruit has come out of the Harvest Crusades.” I rejoice at the people that God saved out of these events despite what they do at the end!
Now, if people are getting saved from this crusade what is the problem? The problem is not with the people who are getting saved but with the false conversion it makes. Events like this make so many people believe they were saved because they made a decision. In a 1990 interview with PBS, Billy Graham thought that only about 25% of those who come forward at one of his events actually became a Christian. Not too bad right? In recent years, studies have shown that only 3% to 6% of people who “come forward” at an evangelistic crusade are any different in their beliefs or behavior one year later. Looks like 25% was a little too high of a guess.
What are the opposite numbers or statics of those who are false converts? By Billy Graham’s calculation, it would be 75% and by recent studies, it would be 97% to 94%. This is why I wrote this. Just look at the percentage of people who go forward that become false converts or fall away. Here is a Question to ask yourself. If your method of calling people to respond to the gospel is giving people false hope and does not save should you really do it? Where is the altar call or sinners prayer in the bible? If these things are not biblical why would you do it?
Paul Washer said, “Most people today in our churches are lost, and they demonstrate that they are lost because their entire Christianity is nothing more than, ‘They made a decision.'” Where in the bible does it say we are born again from a decision we make? I know it might look like the small percentage that went forward were saved by a decision but is that really the case? Faith is a gift of God. (Eph 2:8-9) Faith comes by hearing. (Rom 10:17) The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. (Rom 1:16) We find out, by Jesus, a correct response to the gospel is to “Repent and Believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
Let’s us go back to the thought of did the people going forward get saved by what they did? To have an action one must have a cause. The gospel is what God uses to save people through His Holy Spirit. God seems to be the cause by giving people the gift of faith through hearing the gospel. In Mark 1:15, Jesus seems to be making a command. He does not seem to be saying, ” Just make a decision” or “Walk up here to me and be saved.” Jesus is telling people their response must be to, “repent and believe the gospel.”
So, would I recommend going to this crusade? I would not. The reason is simply because of the false conversion it causes. Without getting into the details of Greg’s soteriology, I cannot recommend this event simply on the basis of how they call people to respond to the gospel. If you are taking friends to this, please explain to them that one is only saved if they repent and believe the gospel. The object of a person’s faith should be Jesus, not something they did!
To Greg Laurie: Please look at the number of false converts that come out of things like this! I rejoice with how God is saving some of the people who go to your events! It is, however, sad that many people are given a false hope by you that they are saved. Where in the bible does it tell us we are supposed to tell people they are saved? Where in the bible does it give us an example prayer to pray to be saved? Please think about these things. Please call people to repent and believe the gospel and leave it at that.
[Guest Post by Jeremy Roten]
See also: John MacArthur withdraws endorsement of Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade.