Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
Perhaps it is a bit annoying to get a call to the front desk, or to human resources. Equally annoying is when you get called, only to find that you weren’t really be paged to begin with. Talk about a great way to interrupt work in progress.
As annoying as it may be, such calls are an unfortunate necessity of life. Simple truth of the matter is that such calls may be all that separates us from an important decision or even a promotion. At such times, the best that we can do is to “roll with it” and handle it to the best of our abilities.
In the church, there is a call. No. I am not talking about the call to ordained ministry. Yes, such a call does exist, and it is quite important. It is also a call that I have not gotten, so I don’t seek it. However, I am referring to another call altogether. It is the “Alter Call”.
I suppose that for some, the “Alter Call” has something to do with coming up to the front and “making a decision” or “asking Jesus into your heart”. Let me just call you out on your heresy right there. There really is no scriptural justification for such doctrine. Yes, I am well aware of the texts in both Joshua 24:15 and Revelation 3:20. However, when you look a little more closely, these statements weren’t for non-believers. Joshua was speaking to the children of Israel, who had seen the miracles of God with their own eyes. Much of the Apocalypse, also known as Revelation, was primarily written to seven churches, five of which were back-sliding (especially the one to which Revelation 3:20 was written). These two are the primary pet verses for decision theology, and are horribly twisted out of context by those who use them as such.
To put it plainly, the “Alter Call” in which one might go up and “make a decision” or “ask Christ Jesus into their heart” is not found in scripture, and is quite heretical. You can’t choose to become a Christian. God has chosen to save us. It is a free gift. You can’t choose a gift.
Conversely, what I would call an “Alter Call” isn’t actually in scripture either. My “Alter Call”? Quite simply, it is when the pastor says, after the consecration of the bread and wine, “Come, all is prepared”. Nope. That isn’t in scripture either. However, that is also closer to scripture than “making a decision” is.
I have spoken regarding Holy Communion in the Lutheran church before. However, let me just remind my readers what is written in Matthew 26:26~28 (yes, I’m aware of verse 29, but it is a statement regarding when Christ, himself, would drink wine again):
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, and 1 Corinthians 11:24, all confirm this. Christ Jesus meant for his followers to literally accept the bread and wine as being his body and blood. This was meant, not merely as a memorial meal, but for the forgiveness of sins, for which Christ Jesus would die upon the cross. That Christ Jesus established this sacrament further underscores its validity. That our pastors call the congregants to come to receive communion, and to remember his promise of forgiveness of our sins, is a valid following of his command to obey what he has taught.
I know I tend to nit-pik, but it is not without cause. Even during my brief few years in the baptist church, I could never reconcile what Christ Jesus literally said with what the church was teaching. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is promised to those who are baptized and believe. However, those who take Peter at his word in Acts 2:38 also, quite conveniently, ignore what he says in both Acts 2:39, and later in 1 Peter 3:21.
There is a term for the idea of find Christ Jesus, and God, in ourselves and our emotions. That term is “mysticism”. Call yourself a “spiritual Christian”? Mysticism. Think you can “feel God’s presence”? Once again, mysticism. Sadly, it is due to the false promise of mysticism that many fall away from the church, even though they responded to the “Alter Call” where they “made a decision”, or “gave themselves to Christ”, or “asked Jesus into their hearts”. What drove them to respond to the “Alter Call”? Emotional manipulation to produce a specific feeling, which would then be ascribed to the Holy Spirit, and then be used to further manipulate the individual into making a commitment, not actually to God, rather to that church. Yep, mysticism.
Decision theology is a lie. It is based upon emotional manipulation, in order to force you to respond to an “Alter Call” that has absolutely no scripture behind it. To accept that Christ Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine, according to his own words, gives you the opportunity to accept an “Alter Call” where the scripture behind it is not about the call, but about what Christ has done for the forgiveness of our sins. This call is not about manipulation and emotion, it is God’s gift to us.
Some calls are necessary and should be responded to immediately. Others, especially those that attempt to manipulate you, should be more closely examined. Some are better off completely ignored. Any “Alter Call” which demands that you make a decision based upon emotion is best ignored.
Note: I don’t ordinarily make recommendations regarding books and movies. I may make reference to something, but I don’t usually make recommendations. However, I am making an exception this time. What to know more about why mysticism (among other lies which have become rules) in the church is bad, I would suggest the book “Broken” by Pastor Jonathan Fisk. Here is a link: