A meme with an image pirated from Disney's Beauty & The Beast reads, “This Bible is so old that's I can't find 'altar call' in it.”
Such humor is an attempt to ridicule the practice where pastors and evangelists encourage those under conviction to come forward so that they might invite Jesus into their hearts for forgiveness and salvation if they are not exactly how to commence this journey towards a beatific eternity.
Granted, such tactics might prompt an insincere or misunderstanding person to rush forward thinking the profundities being approached are formulaic.
However, what those spreading this missiological propaganda fail to reveal is that they don't really want you making a decision irrespective of the venue.
If they had their way and preached sermons consistent with their soteriology, you'd remain neutral with your fingers crossed (unless they make a fuss about that gesture also somehow being pagan in origin) with the mystery resolved of whether you'll awaken after death in Heaven or Hell only after you arrive in one of these two regions of the Afterlife.
It is claimed that this ritual urging the penitent to march forward to receive Christ is not in the Bible.
But neither are many other traditions that these hardline Biblicists of a Calvinistic persuasion insist upon retaining.
For example, it should be pointed out to those holding to this variety of predestinarianism from a Presbyterian or Anglican perspective that there is nothing about infant baptism providing salvatory protection for a baby.
It might be a beautiful symbol of welcoming a child into the covenant community.
But if you, dear Christian, are relying on that liturgical act to protect your precious little one from the fires of Hell throughout a lifetime and do nothing more to introduce that child to Christ as the Savior they must claim for themselves, spiritually you have doused your child in gasoline and edged them to the brink of those unquenchable flames.
Next, there is really not a thing in the Bible about formalized membership in one particular church organization.
At most, the Scripture speaks of one church in a particular town.
So if we are going to be such a stickler on detail, if your church is not the oldest congregation in town, are you guilty of being a schismatic?
Interestingly, those looking down their noses at those congregations that make use of altar calls as part of their order of service certainly don't mind going out of their way to whack me over the head about not “belonging” to a particular congregation even though I go to church most weeks out of the year, listen to sermons and conservative talk radio at least four hours per day, and nearly every day post conservative and/or Christian content to the Internet.
The Bible provides the basic rules by which the Creator expects us to abide if we are to please Him and for us to receive His blessing even if that reward is not granted this side of eternity.
However, one truth that each of us often struggles with is that the specifics in which those absolutes are implemented on the practical level might not be as clearly spelled out.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.