Response to David Platt’s Convention Sermon

David Platt, author of Radical, attempted to clarify his recent statements that discredited the Sinner’s Prayer, and those who utilize that prayer in their sermons, during the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention. Before revealing my thoughts on his sermon, allow me to share a few points of appreciation that I possess for Platt.

First, Platt demonstrates a deep level of dedication to learning Scripture. His passion for the Word illuminates his personal relationship with Christ. The countless verses and passages of the Bible that he has memorized provide the care and love for the Word that will attract others to reflect this discipline. Pastors, evangelists, and laity will do well to memorize and learn Scripture as Platt has exemplified.

Second, Platt’s uncompromising focus on missions around the world deserves applause. His preaching and example urge others to follow in his footsteps of reaching the world for Jesus Christ. Too many become complacent within their own communities, while failing to accomplish the command of Acts 1:8. Thus, Platt’s unwavering attention to this command will enable and encourage others to join him in this endeavor.

Third, Platt’s hunger for holiness drives other believers to chase this seldom-mentioned plan of God. Few sermons capture the essence of holiness for believers. Believers ought to strive for holiness every day. With the help of influencers like Platt urging the church forward in personal holiness, others will adopt such behavior.

Fourth, Platt’s book, Radical, has served believers well. I read Radical twice and appreciated and gleaned knowledge from most of the content within. The book forces us to look and live broader and deeper lives for Christ. In our twenty-first century, me-centered, society, Platt’s work exposes our sinfulness, arrogance, and self-centeredness. It provides a wake-up call that each of us desperately needs.

Much more could be said concerning Platt’s contribution to the Christian and lost societies. Even though these encouraging traits exist, I have grown concerned of his latest remarks regarding the Sinner’s Prayer and “Asking Jesus to Come into Your Heart.” For the purpose of this particular blog, I will focus on his Sinner’s Prayer comments and other portions of his sermon at the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention. I will discuss four areas of concern that were reflected in his sermon.

First, Platt alluded that the majority of individuals who were told to say the Sinner’s Prayer realized later in life they were lost. What about all those individuals who repeated the Sinner’s Prayer and after many years still know that was the point at which God saved them? Of course, there are those who repeated a prayer but failed to trust in Christ. There are also those pastors, evangelists, and laity who mishandled the means of the Sinner’s Prayer during their explanation. Does that mean we discredit the Sinner’s Prayer? In a previous sermon, Platt argued that those individuals being led in the Sinner’s Prayer were deceived. It seems that the appropriate response to such issues would be to educate and train pastors, evangelists, and laity as to how one shares the gospel and calls people to trust in Christ, rather than completely discrediting a means by which multitudes genuinely came to faith in Christ. The main point of concern with his attack on the Sinner’s Prayer rests with Platt’s understanding that not everyone can pray that prayer to be saved. In his perspective, only the individuals who God has chosen for heaven can be saved, thus eliminating the need for such means. In addition, if someone is regenerated before they repent and believe, the Sinner’s Prayer ceases to be a legitimate means to utilize in leading people to Christ.

Second, Platt clearly articulated to the convention three significant words, “all,” “everyone,” and “world.” He utilized Scripture to prove that God desires for all to be saved. My concern rests not in the words themselves but in Platt’s underlining definition of those words. Do his definitions align with the understanding of the majority of the convention? When Platt refers to everyone and all does he mean that God desires for every single person to be saved? Does he mean that every person has the opportunity to be saved or that every tribe, tongue, and nation will be represented in heaven one day? These are vital questions that Platt neglected to address, in light of the current debate. I propose that the majority of messengers listening to his sermon presupposed he meant every single person could be saved, not just individuals from each tribe, tongue, and nation would be represented in heaven.

Third, Platt discussed repentance and believing in Christ to be saved. He neglected to communicate to the convention, however, as to how one goes about this process. Even though, he somewhat affirmed a type of prayer earlier in his message, he neglected to explain how one repents and believes in Jesus. Again, this is a critical area of concern. Another item of interest centers on the sequence of salvation. I wish that Platt would firmly confirm to the convention when he believes regeneration occurs. Is it prior to repentance and believing? If individuals are dead and have no capability of responding to God and thus are saved prior to repentance and believing, Platt along with all of our other Calvinistic friends need to deliberately and honestly disclose this to our convention and to their local churches.

Fourth, Platt received a warm applause and appreciation for his unity comments. The majority of the convention desires to work in unity, so they cheered during this section of his message. This, however, raises concerns. Do non-Calvinists relax while the Calvinists begin to control our entities and local churches with their theological persuasions? Another point to ponder is; do the majority of the messengers at the convention and the majority of Southern Baptists, for that matter, understand the current issue at hand concerning reformed theology within the convention? If one is not educated on the current agenda, of course, he/she will affirm any person advocating unity. Again, I believe that if the majority of messengers understood the intentional agenda behind these comments of unity many would not be so quick to applaud.

I wanted to write this blog to help shed light to those of you who are unaware of the current debate. We need to be informed and able to ask the right questions. My ultimate issue with our Calvinistic friends centers on their agenda to force their theological persuasions on our convention, entities, and local churches. This debate arose within our convention from the Reformed side. The non-Calvinists have spoken up only as a response to the numerous blogs, articles, personal experiences, and intentional agenda that surfaced.

I desire that you are informed of this issue but also know what type of questions to ask our Reformed pastors and friends. Here are a few questions you should ask to seek clarity as to one’s theological basis for salvation: (1) As Eric Hankins asked, “Are there some people who are in hell right now who could be in heaven?” The majority of Southern Baptists would say yes. Our reformed brothers and sisters would have to say no. (2) Do you believe that God created some individuals for heaven and others for hell? The majority of Southern Baptists would say no. Our reformed brothers and sisters would have to say yes. (3) When do you believe that regeneration occurs, before or after repentance and faith? The majority of Southern Baptists would say repentance and faith come first. Our reformed brothers and sisters would have to say that regeneration comes first.

The links below are in reference to this blog:

Sermon (Excerpt) by Dr. David Platt:

Sermon (Excerpt) by Dr. Steve Gaines:

Interview with Dr. Eric Hankins:

Traditional Statement of Salvation:

Please visit this website to read and sign the “Statement.” Click on the PDF file on the right hand corner to read the statement.

Suggested Reading:

“Whosoever Will” by Dr. David Allen & Dr. Steve Lemke

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