Evangelical ‘Popish’ Pronouncements?

Does that sound weird to you? If it does, consider the following:

The Roman Catholic church sprinkles water on a baby’s head and ‘pronounces’ him/her saved, unless later in life he/she commits mortal sin. It’s been called ‘baptismal’ regeneration’. Although Protestant evangelicals will not add works to faith for salvation, we give a little presentation to a poor lost sinner, ask him/her to make a decision for Jesus and ‘pronounce’ them saved based on him/her having made the right decision. It’s called ‘decisional’ regeneration.

The circumstances/scenario might be different, but one commonality seems to be present in them both. In the RC scenario, repentance is not part of the equation because babies aren’t in a position to realize anything about sin and can’t repent of anything. In the PE scenario, although the ‘target’ of the evangelistic encounter might be able to understand the nature and issue of sin which in most cases is mentioned, the need to repent of sin is missing in many gospel presentations.

What we do is spout off a few selected passages pointing out that there is a sin problem, that Jesus died because of it, and that he/she needs only to mentally assent to Jesus’ death for sin, ‘accept’ Jesus, or ask Him into the heart, and pronounce him/her, or some facsimile thereof, like “Your name is now written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!”, based on having said a little prayer and/or made a decision.

Now I am not saying that there was no true salvation in the PE encounter. The target of the encounter might well have somehow inwardly realized the depth of his/her sin, repented and believed the gospel message. I am saying that if the nature and gravity if sin was not addressed by the ‘evangelist’ the gospel presentation was incomplete.

And even if there was true salvation in spite of an incomplete gospel presentation, who are we, as evangelists’ to ‘pronounce’ anyone saved? Can we look into the sinner’s heart and discern if there was true acknowledgement of sin, repentance and genuine trust in Christ? God knows, Jesus knows, but do we know?

Food for thought.

2 responses to “Evangelical ‘Popish’ Pronouncements?

  1. It seems to me we must continue to challenge “Evangelicals” to compare the message they proclaim with the biblical pattern. If they can’t find it in the message of Jesus and the apostles, they should stop doing it. Good article.


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