“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7
Recently, the Pulpit and Pen published an article that was critical of what we feel are dubious salvation statistics coming out of Brewton-Parker College. In that article, the Pulpit and Pen identified reasons to be suspicious of the Brewton-Parker President’s recent claims of 108 salvations (or 14% of its student population) in one chapel service.
Of course, any claim made by the career charlatan Ergun Caner should be met with suspicion. However, the idea that 14% of his Baptist college’s population was saved in one day is especially ridiculous, even for him. If Caner is to be believed, it’s just a banner year at Brewton-Parker. Even the campus fraternity’s haunted house is breaking records!
Of course, wouldn’t it be nice if such salvation claims were reasonable? Yes, it would be. After all shouldn’t Christians, rejoice at reports of salvation? Yes, we should. From free-wheeling charismatics to frozen-and-chosen Calvinists, all of God’s people should be ready to join the party of celebration when the Master calls someone to Himself.
Recently, we found such a reason to rejoice. We came across a reasonable report of salvations from a Baptist church in Tennessee. Such a report provides an occasion for joy. It also provides an occasion to compare and contrast a modest report of salvations with the wild claims of emotional revivalism that take place at places like Brewton-Parker and Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church. We won’t post the entire report from Tennessee church here, but will cover some of the salient points:
- There was a church block-party after a combined Sunday morning service and no one was publicly reported as being saved. When’s the last time you heard such a non-report out of a megachurch special event?
- Planned, not spontaneous, baptisms took place after the combined service. Those baptized had to first attend a discipleship class where the meaning and significance of baptism was presented to the new Christians requesting baptism.
- No special, high-paid evangelist was bought brought in to gin-up the crowd. The senior pastor did not interrupt his normal sermon series, preaching verse-by-verse through the book of Galatians, to preach an especially evangelistic message. He merely preached from God’s word as usual. During his sermon, preached during a church outreach event, he polemicized man-centered, works based church growth strategies. He gave an invitation as usual, but no unusual pleading.
- The salvations reported were not the result of “God’s man” preaching a fiery message. Rather, the individuals who responded to the gospel were led to Christ by a non-ordained church member before the special event and outside of the church’s scheduled worship time at their own homes after several weeks of visitation.
- The story highlights the Christian service of the new converts during the Sunday morning service. The new converts are Iraqi and were able to translate a sermon to other Arab guests at the church service. The sermon translated was not given by the senior pastor but by another staff member after the senior pastor’s sermon audio feed malfunctioned in an overflow area.
As you’ll notice, if you read the account from the church in Tennessee, no gaudy statistics are provided, God alone is glorified, no professional pictures of preachers are provided, and the story is not about the exploits of any one man. Contrast that account with what you’d see and hear from some evangelical megachurches and megapreachers. This is not a story that will make the Baptist Press.
It is important sometimes, especially for a discernment ministry like this one, to stop and take a moment to show praise for a job well done. Such is the purpose of the “Voice in the Wilderness” segment of the Pulpit and Pen Program and such is the purpose of this piece.
Keep in mind, the church being examined did not ask the Pulpit and Pen to provide this comparison any more than Brewton-Parker asked to be negatively criticized. No contributor of the Pulpit and Pen is a member of this church (one attended there as a child). Nor does the Pulpit and Pen hold itself up as an arbiter of who is truly saved. That is up to God’s judgment.
God knows who has truly repented and come to faith in Him. He will judge the quick and the dead. To Him alone belongs the glory.
Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come.
[Contributed by: Seth Dunn]
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
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