Monday, July 09, 2012

Pondering "Decisionism"

Today, I am sharing with you a piece on the subject of "decisionism" as written by J.D. Hall, Montana pastor and author of the Pulpit and Pen blog. I have heard more of this subject in recent years, and hadn't really pondered it all that much. But now it's getting my attention.

I am Reformed in my soteriology, or how we are saved. Salvation is a sovereign act of God as He draws people to Himself in saving faith. But frequently in evangelism, we hear calls for people to "make a decision" for Christ. The blog piece I am linking expresses some grave concerns about the theological foundation of this practice and its impact on biblical soteriology.

I'd like you to read it and comment. I am going to re-read it again before I comment at too much lengh. I understand and can agree with many of Pastor Hall's concerns. But I also want to be careful and not paint with too broad a brush, giving the benefit of the doubt that most (or some) people do not believe the things that are the cause of the concerns. It all depends on what they believe about their salvation and how it came to be.

I remember C.S. Lewis saying once that at his salvation, it appeared that he had made a decision, but he came to understand that it was more like he was "decided upon." It's obvious that some volition has to be made in response to a sovereign work of God, but it begins, originates and is completed by God. Human works and human merit play no role whatsoever in our salvation. Period.

Now, if we think OUR DECISION is the key factor in God saving us, I would say we don't have a clear understanding of salvific doctrine. We are commanded to believe the Gospel and to repent. God draws us to Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the great mystery that is salvation, we are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. But we need to understand that we are lost and in need of a Savior. When we hear of God's free gift of salvation, we respond to His love as expressed through the Gospel—and the saving, finished work of Christ on the cross. We respond with brokenness, realizing our fallenness and need of our Savior, and we repent of our sins, placing our trust on what Jesus did on that cross for our behalf.

Obviously, we had to "decide" or "respond" to the call of God. But that and "decisionism" as I understand it are two different things. Again, I will have to re-read Pastor Hall's comments and prayerfully consider. It is paramount we are preaching a biblical Gospel and a biblical soteriology. I need further education on this issue.


The Blainemonster said...

I love that quote from Lewis - describes things pretty well. If you follow "decisionism" to its logical conclusion, you have Christ wringing His hands hoping someone will make the right call in regard to salvation, I think. Not to mention that one would have to ignore the plain teaching of Scripture where "all who were appointed to eternal life believed" and "no one comes to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him."

However, as you said, there is certainly the element of our own decision involved. This is a fascinating "tension" within the sovereignty of God that does deserve some thought and study. Pretty sure I don't swing as wide as pastor Hall.

Solameanie said...

Bingo. Thanks for commenting.