Radical David Platt, 36, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills , in Birmingham, Alabama has been selected to head the International Missions Board by the Southern Baptists, according to an article in Christianity Today. Platt, who made national news when he questioned whether or not people prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” are actually saved, formed the Radical movement in the Southern Baptist denomination.
Platt became a lightning rod for controversy in 2012 when he made remarks about the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” and one’s fate in the after-life. The rising, though controversial star of the Southern Baptist Convention was critical of the “Sinner’s Prayer” in a speech he made in 2012. That prayer is traditionally as follows: “Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected fro the dead, is alive and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my my heart from this day f orward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”
The Birmingham pastor spoke at the SBC Pastors Conference just before the SBC meeting. He caught people’s attention when he mentioned the “pandemic problem” of spiritual deception that is chronic in congregations and encouraged Southern Baptists to be on guard against a “false, superficial faith.”
He warned his fellow pastors with the following words: “Are we calling people to biblical faith in a day of rampant easy believism? We must be very clear lest we lead people down a damning path of spiritual perception.”
Platt stunned many of those present when he further said, “I’m convinced that many people in our churches are simply missing the life of Christ, and a lot of it has to do with what we’ve sold them as gospel, i.e., pray this prayer, accept Jesus into your heart, invite Jesus into your life. Should it concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer in the New Testament? Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrase, ‘accept Jesus into your heart’ or ‘invite Christ into your life? It’s not the gospel we see being preached, it’s a modern evangelism built on sinking sand. And it runs the risk of disillusioning millions of souls.”
His startling criticism of the Sinner’s Prayer led to a strong caution regarding the Sinner’s Prayer in the convention’s resolution as follows: “The ‘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.”
While some agreed with Platt, others did not. Critics said they believed Platt opposed the “Sinner’s Prayer” because as a Calvinist, he didn’t want the hopeless unelect to think they are saved through a simple prayer.
Platt denied that in a blog, saying, “I definitely don’t believe that certain people ‘actually have no chance for life in Christ. Instead my comments about the ‘sinner’s prayer’ have been deeply motivated by a concern for authentic conversion and regenerate church membership.”
Platt further explained his concerns, saying that the New Testament book of John discusses devout followers of Jesus who were not born again. John 2:23-24 says, “Many trusted in his name….Jesus, however, would not entrust himself to them.”
The Birmingham pastor then makes the scary deduction that, “Clearly, from the beginning of the gospel of John….the gospel that revolves around the necessity and centrality of belief in Christ…John makes clear to us that there is a kind of belief, a kind of faith, that does not save.”
He also came to the chilling conclusion that, “It is possible for people to say they believe in Jesus, to say they have accepted Jesus, to say that they have received Jesus, but they are no saved and will not enter the kingdom of heaven? Is that possible? Absolutely, it’s possible. It’s not just possible; it is probable.”
Platt is reported to have a passion for global missions. He has expressed concern that there are millions of people who are being deceived to thinking they’re saved when they’re not because of a prayer they prayed or decision they made years ago.
The Wartburg publication said in response to Platt’s criticism, “On the one hand we agree with Platt that if the Sinner”s Prayer is just a rote prayer, then it is absolutely worthless to the one who recites it. However, we believe there are many who pray it sincerely and truly experience a heart change. How can David Platt know what is in the heart of one who prays the Sinner’s Prayer? In all fairness, Platt regrets how he phrased his concern about this prayer; however, there appears to be a growing contingent in Christendom that calls into question this prayer and ‘asking Jesus into one’s heart”.
He is also the author of the widely-read book “Radical.”
While the mainstream news media likes to call Southern Baptists the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, Baptists themselves don’t consider themselves Protestants at all. They were not part of Martin Luther’s Reform movement which protested several practices of the medieval Catholic church. It would be more accurate to refer to them as the largest non-Catholic denomination.
Perhaps the reason Platt’s comments struck such a chord with people is because every human being probably wonders what their destination will be after life on earth has ended.
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