Up until Billy Sunday, altar calls were invitations for seekers to come to an after-meeting or inquiry room where counselors would help people understand their heart condition. These ministers worked in concert with the Holy Spirit to help seekers repent and yield to God, and to pray that God would save them. Someone was saved only when they were born again - when the Holy Spirit came into them. Conversion and being born again meant the same thing.
If five to ten percent of the seekers were saved in an inquiry room meeting, the ministers were ecstatic and gave glory to God. Below is a scene from a typical inquiry room.
D. L. Moody is the man in the foreground.
But Billy Sunday put an end to all that. He eliminated after-meetings and the inquiry room. His salvation was so "simple" that as his wife boasted, "there was no more need for inquiry rooms."
His salvation was as easy to obtain as the healing and prosperity of "name it and claim it" preachers today. If you wanted to accept Jesus as Savior, all you needed to do was make a "demonstration of faith," which Sunday said could be done by walking down the sawdust trail and shaking his hand.
The following is from a famous Billy Sunday sermon entitled
"The Old- Time Religion."
"Some of you want to cross.
If you believe, then say so, and step across. I'll bet there are hundreds
that are on the edge of the line and many are standing straddling it.
But that won't save you. You believe in your heart--confess him with
your mouth. With his heart man believes and with his mouth he confesses.
Then confess and receive salvation full, free, perfect and external.
God will not grant any extradition papers. Get over the old line. A
man isn't a soldier because he wears a uniform, or carries a gun, or
carries a canteen. He is a soldier when he makes a definite enlistment.
All of the others can be bought without enlisting. When a man becomes
a soldier he goes out on muster day and takes an oath to defend his
This was a radical departure from the teaching of previous evangelists and set the stage for the present nominal "evangelical" majority thinking they are saved because they repeated a salvation prayer.
But let's examine the premise of Sunday's "name it and claim it" salvation.
1)"It's the oath that makes him a soldier."
Statement ONE is false. Oaths don't make soldiers any more than words can stop an advancing army. (Any more than just saying your house is built on a firm foundation will enable you to withstand the storm.)
2) "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile"
Statement TWO is true. Because it is true, it contradicts statement ONE. Just because you say or do something that looks like an expression of saving faith, that doesn't mean you have saving faith.
3) "but public definite enlistment for Christ makes you a Christian."
Statement THREE is false for the same reason statement TWO is true. Just because you say or do something that looks like an expression of saving faith, that doesn't mean you have saving faith.
If Statement THREE were true, then statement TWO could read "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile ... but if you publicly declare that you want to be an automobile, that makes you an automobile."
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