But anyhow, you have basically two groups. You have the Calminian Baptists who are still in the majority but who fear the rise of the Calvinist baptists. So recently they have chosen to respond by trying to pass meaningless resolutions. The passing of meaningless resolutions is certainly not unique to the SBC, it seems like all reasonably large denominations feel the need to do so. But I think it might be interesting to look at the resolution and the Scriptural references offered. You can read it in its entirety here. But I'll address each section in order.
WHEREAS, God desires for every person to be saved and has made salvation available for any person who hears the Gospel (John 3:16; Romans 10:14-17; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2); andThe idea that "God desires for every person to be saved" is adequately demonstrated by the Scriptural passages provided. The idea that God "has made salvation available for any person who hears the Gospel" is not or at least it's not clear as to what it means to make salvation available. Christ has won salvation for every person, even those who never hear the Gospel. Paul says that the job of the pastor is to be a minister of reconciliation who says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Salvation is received through faith. I suppose there is a sense in which you can say it is "available" but at best the language is sloppy.
WHEREAS, A free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel is both possible and necessary in order for anyone to be born again (John 3:1-16; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13); andNone of the proof texts listed prove the statement. None of them say that we are born again by responding positively to the drawing of the Holy Spirit. John 3 says we are born again/from above by being born of water and Spirit which is a pretty clear reference to baptism even though neither parties like that idea. Acts 16:30-31 says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" but it doesn't say that we are born again by believing. Romans 10:11-13 says that all who believe in Jesus will be saved. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 says that the Word of God is at work in believers. It doesn't say that belief is what causes God's Word to work. There are a couple of different problems that I think are hidden beneath some of the language used in the resolution. The Calminians tend to think of being saved and being born again as being completely synonymous. Most of the time they will only speak of salvation in terms of what happens when someone believes the Gospel at a particular time when someone makes a decision for Christ or something. But the Scriptures have a much richer understanding of salvation. In Romans 5 the Scriptures say that all who died in Adam were justified in Christ (this won't make the Calvinists happy either). So if someone asks me, "When did you get saved?" I can say, "On April 3, 33 AD." The Scriptures also speak of salvation as tied to God's Word in baptism ("baptism now saves you," "baptism for the remission of sins," etc.). So I can say that I got saved on the date of my baptism. Of the proof texts listed the John 3:1-16 passage would fall under this category. However, the Scriptures also speak of our salvation as future. And if you look at the verb tenses that's what's going on in the Acts, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians passages that are listed. The Scriptures point us to our salvation as a future event that happens when Christ returns and our bodies are resurrected. We are not just spirits trapped inside an evil body. For the Calvinist in the debate (and here Lutherans would agree) they would point to the fact that in the Scriptures regeneration produces faith, it's not the result of faith.
WHEREAS, Prayer is God’s gracious means through which any person can communicate with Him and is everywhere in Scripture commanded and commended for every matter and every person (2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 7:7-11; Mark 11:17; Philippians 4:6); andGod does not hear the prayer of the unbeliever and this is part of the problem with the sinner's prayer. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins you are already a believer and it is certainly a good thing to thank God for this salvation He has given you but sinner's prayer makes it seem like your act of saying the prayer is what makes you a believer or Christian. For practical purposes the altar call and sinner's prayer end up replacing the gifts that God has given to us. The Scriptures speak of both baptism and the Lord's Supper as being for the forgiveness of sins and saving us. The Baptist doesn't believe this and so he replaces the sacraments with the sinner's prayer.
WHEREAS, Praying to God to express repentance for sins, to acknowledge Christ as Lord, and to ask for forgiveness and salvation is modeled in the Bible (Acts 2:37-38; Romans 10:9-10); andIn Acts 2 Peter says to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Peter doesn't say "Repent and say the sinner's prayer." He doesn't even say, "Repent and pray." Romans 10:9-10 says that those who confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord as an expression of their belief that God raised Jesus from the dead they will be saved. But it doesn't say that their salvation is a result of this action. In the book of Acts the calling on the name of the Lord is associated with baptism where the baptismal candidate would call on the name of the Lord and be baptized.
WHEREAS, While there is no one uniform wording found in Scripture or in the churches for a “Sinner’s Prayer,” the prayer of repentance and faith, acknowledging salvation through Christ alone and expressing complete surrender to His Lordship, is the biblical means by which any person can turn from sin and self, place his faith in Christ, and find forgiveness and eternal life (Luke 18:9-14, 23:39-43); andBoth the publican/tax collector and the thief on the cross cry out for mercy based upon their belief that God is merciful. They do not express complete surrender or anything like that (I think people are fooling themselves if they think they have completely surrendered themselves anyhow.). Instead they both essentially just cry out, "Lord, have mercy!" This is our continual cry based on our belief in who God is in Christ. This is not something we do to make ourselves born again but a confession of who we really are and who God really is. We sin daily and daily we receive God's forgiveness.
WHEREAS, It is biblically appropriate to help a sinner in calling on the Lord for salvation and to speak of Christ’s response to such a prayer as “entering a sinner’s heart and life” (John 14:23; Acts 2:37-40; 16:29-30; Romans 10:11-17; Ephesians 3:17); andJohn 14:23 speaks of the Triune God entering into the believer. This is a promise given by Christ. The Triune God will abide in the believer. Jesus is not saying, "Say this sinner's prayer and then I will come and live in your heart." Acts 2:37-40 says to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 16:29-30 simply has the question from the jailer as to what he must do to be saved. I'm not sure what this has to do with anything. Romans 10:11-17 speaks of the salvation of all who believe and speaks of the believer expressing himself by calling on the name of the Lord (which was ordinarily done at baptism). Verse 14 also makes clear that Christ speaks through the pastor. But there's nothing about asking Jesus into your heart. In Ephesians 3:17, Paul prays that Christ would dwell in the hearts of those who are already believers in Ephesus. This isn't a prayer given to them to say to become Christians. Rather it is Paul's prayer for their daily spiritual needs.
WHEREAS, A “Sinner’s Prayer” is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7, 15:7-9; 28:18-20); now, therefore, be itThis is strange. In the Scriptures we don't really find altar calls and sinner's prayers but now we are fishing around for guidelines on how to use or not use the sinner's prayer. Matthew 6:7 warns against mindless babbling as found in pagan prayers. Matthew 15:7-9 warns against teaching that doctrines and practices that men come up with be taught as commandments from God. But it would seem that trying to pass a resolution promoting the "Sinner's Prayer" is just that. Matthew 28:18-20 says to make disciples by baptizing people not by having them say a sinner's prayer.
RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in New Orleans, LA, June 19-20, 2012, commend the use of a “Sinner’s Prayer” as a biblically sound and spiritually significant component of the evangelistic task of the church; and be it furtherSo says the commandments of men...
RESOLVED, That we encourage all Christians to enthusiastically and intentionally proclaim the Gospel to sinners everywhere, being prepared to give them the reason for the hope we have in Christ (I Peter 3:15), and being prepared to lead them to confess faith in Christ (Romans 10:9), including praying to receive Him as Savior and Lord (John 1:12).Are you enthusiastic enough? That sounds like a commandment from men too. 1 Peter 3:15 says we should be ready to give an answer when people ask us about the hope that is in us. It doesn't say that every Christian is responsible to go proclaim the Gospel everywhere. If the guy who wrote these resolutions really believed that he wouldn't have time to write these resolutions. How do I know if I'm intentional enough? Romans 10:9 should give comfort to every believer. It's not a checklist to make other people do. God's Word does what it says. It doesn't need your help. John 1:12 isn't a command either. It's a description of what actually happens. The "Sinner's Prayer," just like the altar call, is a man-made tradition that finds its roots in 18th Century revivalism. The people who came up with it knew full well that this tradition was not found in the Scriptures. But for pragmatic reasons they thought it was a good idea. Then they went hunting for Biblical passages to support what they had already decided to do. And now it's reached the point that people wouldn't even know how to bring other people the Gospel without using it. The Gospel is not the "Sinner's Prayer." The Gospel is Christ-crucified. God has not promised to work through the "Sinner's Prayer." God has promised to work through His Word both in the preaching of the Word and in His Word in baptism.