David Platt’s Way Of Salvation
For about 2 years, the Sinner’s Prayer has been called into question by certain evangelical leaders such as David Platt the new president of the Southern Baptist’s IMB (International Missions Board) who was elected into office this year. Around 2012 David Platt made a huge noise by his claim that the Sinner’s Prayer is superstitious and even causing a damnable offense. He claims “accepting Jesus into your heart is superstitious and unbiblical.” I tried going to Platt’s church before. I will explain my experience attending David Platt’s church and my experiences, but it must first be noted right off the bat that David Platt’s statements of faith are orthodox and biblical for the most part. He has firm stances about reformed theology such as the fact he is a Calvinist and in most cases promotes the gospel accurately and understands sin and hell and salvation through faith alone in Christ alone. But that being said…
David Platt is annoying and overrated
I personally think Platt is being overly sensational and having an extreme overreaction to how most evangelicals believe in such ideas as the “Sinner’s Prayer” or that “accepting Jesus into your heart” are proper ways to evangelize. I believe this is a war about terms that are not truly defined or agreed upon by the majority of Christians. Terms that are said all of the time with various intentions behind them. It really depends on your intention of what you want to communicate in speaking with such terms. If you are an arminian of course you would mean, “It is up to you to choose God since you have the ability to prevent him from saving you,” and if you are a Calvinist, contrary to popular belief it is okay to say “accept Christ” if you simply mean, “Yes believe the truth since God is calling you to salvation and giving you the gift of repentance.” It is all semantics. Many people came to Christ who started with the Sinner’s Prayer.
I also think David Platt is just trying to be controversial here to get attention for his cause. It kind of reminds me of how his book Radical was written (basically a white guy version of Francis Chan’s Crazy Love). He comes off as one of those judgmental social liberals (all though he is mainly theologically conservative and orthodox) that believe wealth is evil and we should give everything away and live poor and do social things. The way he promotes discipleship, and explains it in his book, it ends up being a legalistic form of Christianity which is ironic since the idea of his book talks about loving and accepting people. The idea of anti-legalism and loving everyone and accepting them becomes legalistic in the sense that Platt comes off as judging anyone who keeps a lot of money and does not give as much to missions etc. It is summed up as: Sell everything to be a REAL Christian and move to the ghetto to disciple the hood you rich white yuppies! Do it for Jesus! Or you can just go to a 3rd world country and become a missionary or at least give a lot of money to them.
I am a 5 point Calvinist. So I hold to reformed theology when it comes to soteriology. But I do not think the Sinner’s Prayer is a mortal sin or something we should fight against. Is it biblical? Well there is no biblical mandate for it nor formula. But some people who came up with it base it off the the biblical idea that people should confess their sins and confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus. This idea is in Romans 10:9, while not a complete formula for a Sinner’s Prayer, the idea comes from it. Accepting Jesus is just the idea that people make a choice to follow God. When a person confesses with theor mouth the Lord Jesus and repents of their sins and asks for forgiveness they actually are confirming the truth of the gospel and making a conscious choice to worship God and become a Christian. Like it or not, the hyper-Calvinists and egg headed reformed theologians (who try way too hard to have perfect theology) really get alarmed when people start talking about humans making actual choices. We should not let this get in the way of evangelization. Yes, I do believe in the sovereignty of God and predestination that God has determined who is going to be saved etc. etc. But I am not going to go around telling old Child Evangelism Fellowship ladies they are promoting heresy over it or anything. But that is what seems to be the case now days with this New Gospel/New Calvinism nonsense.
Attending a Sunday at The Church at Brook Hills
My experience at his mega-church about a year and a half ago, The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama has been less than satisfying. And yes, he pastors a mega-church. I tried to attend his church and see if it would fit with me since I could not find any other churches in town. When I showed up the parking lot was incredibly full and it was hard to find a parking spot. When I did I was a few minutes early and the first service was coming to an end. I walked through the main entrance into the lobby and like zombies staring at a light, everyone in the church lobby had their backs turned toward the entrance I walked in through. No one, not 1 person, was paying attention to the entrance or the exits or anything. Everyone was staring at the TV screen of David Platt preaching in the sanctuary. I thought to myself, how crazy. You would think security would be important. Anyone could show up with a gun and shoot everyone or have stolen people’s wallets or purses or just anything because no one was looking anywhere but facing away and looking up at big TV’s. No one was there to greet me or care I showed up. I had no clue what to do. There also was nowhere to sit as every chair or couch was taken over by people staring at the screens. I ended up sitting on the floor near a trash can. No one knew I was there either.
Finally, the service ended and waves of people walked out of the sanctuary. I stood up and waited. Maybe 15 minutes later a random guy walked up to me because I happened to be standing next to a “small groups posting” at a table. There were small tables with info on small groups. This guy just wanted to say hi which at first I thought was nice. After awhile of small talk, I then began to ask him serious questions about theology and what the church believes. The guy could not answer me and when I asked him about Calvinism or if Platt is premillenial or amillenial the guy acted as if that is a wrong question to ask and hesitated to actually answer me. It was as if they were judgmental questions a person should not care about. After that, the guy told me about small groups and how I should join one. He referred me to the front desk, the people who had their backs turned when I walked in. After he did that he pretty much acted as if his job was done and he had no more reason to talk to me and then walked away and also ignored me from that point on. Such people are told to be disciplers yet they figure they just have to go through the motions and then they are done, and their life becomes easy once again. I find this a real problem with such churches. It is a joke to me. After that I got the list from a lady at the front desk, or the how to find a small group paper. It was very unhelpful and contained nothing I did not already see on a sign. I come from a traditional church background where Sunday School is an actual thing.
Unfortunately, with these “disciplers” and their trendy ideas of new hip ways of “doing church” Sunday School has been abandoned and instead of people bringing you into the fold and showing you around they leave it up to you and ignore you and just give you info on how to contact people. Basically, the new person has to go out of his way to find a small group, email the person or call them and ask if they can join and where it is located and how to get there. It is really inconvenient and I believe it will prohibited many new church people from going through all that humiliating hard work to find fellowship. It is like being the new kid in school where it is really awkward and intimidating, especially if you are a shy person. You wonder if people will like you or not since it is their territory. So showing up to church hoping to meet people and maybe attend a Sunday School class was pointless since no one would allow me to go to any small group unless I register first, nor were any of them even meeting at the church except one. So basically, no one meets for bible studies or anything at the church really. They are all off in different areas of the city like coffee shops (oh great now I have to spend $4.98 plus tax on a latte) or someone’s home. The places where the small groups meet are all rich areas or trendy expensive cafes. This has got to turn away most people from low income families. Birmingham has tons of low income families. There is not a lot of diversity in this church either. Not that I believe in forced or affirmative action type of church membership. I just know that there is no way most black families are going to feel welcome at this church. I used to substitute teach in the public schools in the inner-cities for over 2 years and have had plenty of exposure to black culture. And if everyone has to meet at a coffee shop or trendy cafe it means you most likely will feel obligated to buy something. Who can afford fellowship if you have to spend money just to meet? Old style traditional church and its free coffee during Sunday school has a purpose!
I ended up going to the church service after learning about their small groups. Church was typical trendy “worship” music with guitars and other typical hipster Christianity style music going on. Everyone was casual, Pastor Platt had his Vans on and jeans, just a cool polo shirt and jeans with Vans pastor. If you dressed up to go to church at this place you would feel incredibly out of place. I did not see many old people either. It is a very young church with people in their 20’s-early 40’s. There really is no point in actually showing up for church either when you can watch it online and just go to your small group later, since there is no fellowship to be expected when you actually go to the mega-church building for church service. I just don’t get it.
A few days later I decided to email a small group. I looked into a few, and I was hoping to go to a coed group because I am single and want to meet women as well as other Christian brothers. I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to go to church to pick up hot Christian women (after all, where else can I find a godly wife? Eharmony? Yeah right…) There was no mixed group near me so I decided to just email an all guys small group instead and suck it up and meet a bunch of Christian brothers. Or so I hoped. I told them who I was and how I would like to have fellowship and meet up. Unfortunately, the leader of the group told me I could not join because they are a group of guys who have been together for awhile and want to keep their group small so they are not accepting new people right now. The guy then said “thanks for your interest and hope you find your fellowship!” Oh yay! He cares about me! Needless to say, I felt like crap and humiliated. Like I am some loser not allowed to hang out with the cool Christians. I’m just a dorky Christian no one cares about and no one wants to know. Why were they even written down on the list of available small groups if they were refusing new guys from joining? For a large church most of their small groups were too far away from me in the city. This is why Sunday School or Bible studies at the actual church building make more sense. It is easy to find and get to. It is a huge building, so why could they not do this? Why was I rejected? They don’t know my story or my needs or my spiritual battles or how I feel inside. They just reject me without guilt. I reported my search results in an email to the small group director girl. When i told he what happened she said sorry and was offering me other groups, or telling me to keep searching. I said no thanks and told her how it made me feel rejected and I don’t feel comfortable going to their church anymore. She didn’t really say much then. So much for David Platt’s discipleship at his church! It sure didn’t work for me. If discipleship is the true way for a Christian to express his spirituality it sure is not working at his church.