It is raging. I’ve been travelling so much and only keeping up with blogging by phone, but I’ve seen the Steve Gaines video all over the internet.
Bart Barber has posted the two videos I copied below and gave an interesting analysis of the topic, comparing the Sinner’s Prayer to a wedding vow – both can be either a real commitment or just the recitation of empty words.
I thought this might be a good Sunday discussion here at Voices. So, here are two divergent youtube videos – one by David Platt and one by Steve Gaines.
Now, here is Steve Gaines.
Here’s my two cents, and its probably worth about that much.
1) The “Sinner’s Prayer” has some inherent dangers – chief among them the “pray after me” recitation I’ve seen. People can be led in prayers that they do not understand or really believe and can think that these prayers somehow saved them. The faith can be transferred to the prayer, as if it is magic. I’ve seen such things happen and it bothered me.
2) On the other hand, how do you lead someone to Christ without suggesting some kind of prayer expressing repentance and faith? Don’t we all use some form of sinner’s prayer to express our faith?
I think this is another illustration of our tendency to make mountains out of molehills. Wouldn’t both David Platt and Steve Gaines agree that there is no value in the empty recitation of words? (Gaines clearly states this in his video). Wouldn’t both instruct a repentant sinner to pray and express faith in Christ?
And, as to the “ask Jesus into your heart” – that is, again, not as big an issue as some have made it. The fact is that when we trust Christ, we are indwelled by Christ’s Spirit and so it is not incorrect to ask Jesus into your heart. On the other hand, the key issues of the Scriptures are repentance and faith. We need to focus on repentance from sin and placing faith in Jesus more than “asking Jesus into my heart.”
I think it is not wrong to use that language, but it is perhaps not the best language to use to express biblical faith.