I'm not going to dive back into the S*** F***** discourse because I don't wanna give him more attention, but can we talk about "salvations" for a moment? A 🧵.

Like a lot of evangelicals or recovering evangelicals here, I grew up going to big events like Aquire the Fire and other "revival" type events. While I cringe at some of it now, I have some genuinely beautiful memories of worshipping God.

A particularly poignant memory is being in a packed arena with the lights off (even on stage), and everyone singing "I Exalt Thee". It was beautiful and meaningful.

However, one of the more problematic aspects of these type of events are the altar call "salvations". They become, in effect, a justification for the event's validity.

"We had 300 'salvations' and 400 're-dedications' at this event!"

Never mind the fact that many of these events were often (not always) divorced from spiritual formation within a church context, they were also rarely effectual as a means of connection to following Jesus and joining the family of God.

Maybe the best comparison I can think of is from the Parable of the Sower - Seeds were sown, but they were most often sown without root, or they get choked by thorns.

With some exception, I think these 'salvations' were often not grown on good soil, which is why they so infrequently bore fruit. I could name countless people that I saw "give their life to the Lord" at an event like this and are no longer following Jesus.

I have no doubt that many experience true conversion experiences, and I'd love to hear from you.

But on the whole, I'm skeptical of the effectual nature of these sort of events as a means of 'saving people'.

I'm not trying to suggest we should always be cynical about "revival" events where there are claims of 'salvations', but I do believe we need to exercise healthy caution.

Giving one's life to Jesus ought not be a flashy spectacle. It is most often seen in the quiet one a home where a child asks about Jesus. Or through catechism. Or after a stirring sermon at a local church, etc etc

For me, the most important part of 'salvation', however it occurs, is crafting a path for the spiritual formation of that person: The unhurried and unsexy act of discipling and mentoring new believers into maturity.

We should be far hungrier to see a maturing and sanctifying believer rather than a swath of new believers who made a 'decision' during an emotional moment, whose faith never takes root.

(I'm not decrying emotion. I'm a pretty emotional dude)

TL;DR: Number of 'salvations' is not a spectacle or notch on one's belt and we should be more concerned with the quiet work of spiritual formation in the context of local communities.


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More from @justinsytsma

2 Aug
I've complained about the ESV translation for it's theological bias toward complementarianism, but did you know their eschatology is also problematic?

Let's gander at 1 Corinthians 6.
1 Cor. 6:12-13a (ESV):
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other.
1 Cor. 6:12-13a (NIV):
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.”
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