125 thoughts on “Walking an Aisle”

    1. Yep. Because a “decision decision” counts at two decisions. Way to discover the principle of exponential growth, preachah!

    2. I would love to send him a copy of “The Anxious Bench” by John Williamson Nevin. Nevin protested the manipulation of the altar call back when it was a novelty in the mid 1800′s. Not only does he show how hurtful and maudlin the altar call is, but this book also indicates that this was a pretty new practice at that time. So much for the “old fashioned” altar call.

      Nevin also pretty accurately described where all this revivalistic fundamentalism was headed. I bet you all would enjoy it if you can get ahold of a copy.

  1. Sixth!!! So you walk the isle if God spoke to you and you walk if he did not… Hmmm I’m confused… isn’t that just going through the motions?

        1. It’s code for I want every one down front so I can write a letter saying that the altar was full. :mrgreen:

  2. So the Catholics are wrong because they kneel as a matter of liturgy when they enter the sanctuary but this jackwagon essentially making an idol out of the altar is okay?? Holy Mary!

  3. When the pastor finishes preaching
    even if he didn’t skin your hide
    When he begins his “Won’t you come?” beseeching
    It is time to decide to decide

    Will you decide to decide to stay seated?
    In your pew, by yourself, selfishly
    While I Surrender All is being bleated?
    No! Decide to decide to convicted be

    Decide right this minute what God will do
    In your heart, in your soul, in your mind
    Decide to decide that the Almighty depends on you
    And the Old-Fashioned altar (no other kind!)

    Decide to decide to conviction feel
    Decide to decide to perform an altar run
    When the pastor finishes his appeal
    Drag a friend so you’re not the only one!

    Great doctrine this! To decide to decide
    Based on Scripture, it has to be true
    After some thought I can’t believe I never tried
    To decide to decide what God will do

    1. Be careful. With a VERY FEW alterations and dropping your heretical last verse, this could be co-opted as a new invitation hymn staple.

    2. I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’ll decide to decide to decide to decide, but I’ve definitely decided to decide about making a decision to decide to decide to decide to decide …

      Help! I’m trapped in a Mobius strip!

    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking @BoyMom. How sad that the solution to problems is just deciding to decide to walk an aisle. Where is the message that it is Jesus who is our help and that he is a very present help for us RIGHT NOW. No need to wait for something.

  4. Ahh I don’t miss those “if your still standing in your pew, why are you letting the devil keep you there?”.

    Seems that fundie preachers keep sore by the number of people who come to the alter after their sermon.

  5. Wow, this brought back a memory. So when my wife (not my wife at the time, obviously) and I were teenagers, our youth group went to the Bill Rice Ranch. On the bus ride the youth pastor “challenged” us to all go forward at least once that week because if we didn’t that meant God wasn’t speaking to us.

    Well, as the week went on, he didn’t let it drop and every evening in the cabin he would go on and on about how SOME of us had yet to go forward and why were we ignoring God. By Wed. or Thurs. night, I was the only camper left in our cabin who didn’t go forward. (As a side note, I never ever went forward in any service at any time because I believed that violated the command in the Sermon on the Mount not to pray where you could be seen of men. My otherwise superfundie parents were super opposed to us going forward. Yeah, we were big Gothardites. And my mom thought it was embarassing for us to go forward because people would wonder what our family sin problem was.)

    Anyway, that night, our normally mild-mannered youth pastor went berserk. He stood right by my bunk and preached for like half an hour about how ONE or TWO of us were in rebellion for not going forward yet and he knew that at least one sermon had spoken to us and we were rebelling against God.

    Years later I told my wife this story and she said the youth pastor’s wife gave the same rant in the girls’ cabin. My wife was the other camper who hadn’t gone forward. (We were two peas in a pod even then. :grin: And don’t get me wrong – we were part of the “good kids” which made them even madder because we were supposed to submit and go forward to set an example.) My wife later found out that there was some sort of competition among the youth pastors that week to see who could have the most kids go forward. (What they were going to get out of it beats me . . . I’ve wondered if they had a pot going.)

    1. Well, one of my pastor’s sons and I used to place bets on who or how many would go to the altar. He lost every time. :D

        1. I could be wrong, but I think what Deacon’s Son meant was that they were not married at the time they were teenagers at camp. :P

  6. I’m confused. He is making an altar call but he uses the terms “Total Depravity” and “Reformers”? Trying to wrap my mind around this. I mean, what is this I don’t even…

    1. I grew up in a church that preached against Calvinism, but still spoke of the total depravity of man. I don’t think they meant that people were unable to choose to follow Christ, just that people were born in sin and utterly lost without Christ.

      And the Reformers to which he refers — is that Reformers Unanimous? It’s an IFB group for addicts.

      1. I like how he called his version of that doctrine the “total depravity/stupidity of man.” I bet he is one of those IFB “doctors.” :?:

  7. On the handfull of times I have walked the aisle, I always felt self conscious once I was on my knees. I always noticed how noisy it was with the entire church singing behind me, and with the white piano right next to me.

    With my heart beating 100 mph, I had to remind myself why I went forward, and finally would force myself to pray a quick, feeble prayer because the whole ritual would not count if I didn’t.

    Nowadays, if the Holy Spirit moves me, I will spend the day thinking about it, and will do my business in private. No white piano, no church people staring at my rear-end while I kneeled.

    1. Then there are the awful people who decide to show just how spiritual they are by staying at the altar for everlasting chunks of time long after everyone else has returned to their seats. This is more common in small churches that have no time constraints at the end of the service. Everyone stands there awkwardly wondering why Brother Psmythe or Sister Psycho who is happily married with a great job and two great kids and nary a care in the world needs to spend 30 minutes at the altar heaving and sobbing.

      This was a regular happening at my church growing up. We all knew when the pastor said “amen and amen” that the ordeal was finally over.ll

    2. I always found it awkward being on or near the front row when the men would go up to the altar to pray and heave and sob and would put their faces to the ground, which would leave their backsides pointing to the heavens. There were a few rather portly gentlemen in our church, and my sister and I used to take bets on whether or not someone would would split an all-important seam while at the altar. That actually did happen once – tighty whities, if that’s not TMI! :oops:

      1. After my sister and I reached our teenage years, we were forbidden by our father to even go up to the altar and kneel down….he said it gave all the perverts in the audience a great view of our backsides….I could never figure out if there were so many perverts in the church, why were we still there? :shock:

    3. Yea, Your last paragraph!

      The guy was saying some good stuff, if he hadn’t been trying to tie it to “an old-fashioned altar.” We should indeed take stock of our spiritual selves and do “business” with God regularly, why fundies think it must be at “an old-fashioned altar” is the mystery.

  8. With this type of “preaching” I would be so convicted that I would walk the aisle.

    Not toward the altar but right out the door.

    1. Come on Cap….. You wouldn’t actually call that Calvinistic drivel spoken by the “elder”,(at those evangelical free or grace types) preaching…..would you!? :???: …….. You are a funny guy

  9. I think in eternity altars calls will be revealed as one of the greatest means of securing peoples damnation than almost anything else out there. More confusion, false assurance, emotionalism, and spiritual exploitation is breed there than anywhere else. What kills me is they call it “old fashioned”! Have you studied church history sir?? Surely this is a recent phenomenon… Its sad really.

    1. In Fundy, “old-fashioned” means “from before 1960.”

      Personally, I’m more attracted to the new-fangled church, circa 100.

    2. As you probably know, “Give me that old-time religion is one of the most popular neo-Pagan slogans. They’ve come up with many, many versions of the “Old-Time Religion” song.

      http://www.theblessedbee.com/oldtimereligion.html
      http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos527.htm
      http://www.holysmoke.org/wb/wb0218.htm

      Here’s one by the immortal Pete Seeger:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBtSFhbxBTg

      And the most exhaustive one I’ve seen:
      http://www.whitetreeaz.com/vintage/realotr.htm

      1. i agree. neo-finnyism, semi-pelagianism! Probably miss spelled a few words there… maybe chris will give me an altar call to repent on! L O L :neutral:

  10. I rarely went forward, though I often felt guilty.

    Maybe I was too proud. Maybe I was too embarrassed; I was a good girl. If I’d been being good, why should I be up there repenting? Some of it was that I attended a small church and went to public high school so I didn’t face the intense pressure some of you did. But I’d like to think that some of it was my realization that people were being manipulated and I didn’t want to be part of it. I knew that putting on a big show was worthless; it wouldn’t impress God and it SHOULDN’T impress a true man of God.

    1. I was at a camp once, and at the extremely extended invitation about 95% of the people went forward (actually outside since there wasn’t much room up front). When the preacher finally gave up on the remaining 5% of us (mainly PK’s like myself, lol), he had us sit down and earnestly pray for the 95%.

    2. I actually went forward as often as I could get away with it, because I was under the impression that people would think I was MORE Godly for doing it. I imagined that people would think I was really listening and letting God change me every week. Of course, this was before I was a believer, so God wasn’t doing anything at all in me, but I thought I was being obedient by walking the aisle every service. :roll:

  11. I personally enjoyed the reference to an “old fashioned-altar.” I assume not too old-fashioned or there may be a Priest in an Alb presiding over a Sacrament. So maybe like turn of the last century, circa tent revival “old fashioned.”

  12. Oh, yes….I remember him. I took Old Testament History with this man. He actually wasn’t as bad or as pushy as many of the speakers we had in chapel. I have heard the decide to decide philosophy before. My dad used to say that if you went forward regularly enough, no one would ever be able to figure out what your pet sins were, and it would encourage your pastor. Since we all know we were put on this earth for the sole purpose of encouraging the pastor. Sadly, I passed this bit of wisdom on to one of my bus kids – fortunately, she had enough sense to let it go in one ear and out the other!

    1. At a Hyles’ type church years, ago, this is what we heard — to go forward to “encourage the preacher”, even if God didn’t speak to us. Of course, there were robots and zombies who went forward at every message, regardless of the topic.

      The video brings up unpleasant memories of manipulative invitations: Go forward if God speaks to you, and go forward if He doesn’t speak to you — that pretty much has everyone covered.

      Such manipulation (for me) completely quenches any prompting that the Holy Spirit may be trying to give to me.

      1. Hmmm. If God speaks to you in mumble, and you’re not sure what God said … I guess you should go forward anyway, just in case?

        1. Dear Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist:

          You wrote: ‘didn’t Satan enter this world by asking questions.’

          I reply: ‘I’ll stop when you do!’

          Christian Socialist

        2. Wouldn’t it be considered bad form to answer a question with a question? A bit like prepositions being used to end a sentence with? Or not? What do you think?

        3. Well, it’s excellent form if you are trying to have a therapeutic conversation with a mental health client.

  13. God “seems to honor”? He either does or doesn’t. If a decision is honored I’m thinking it has nothing to do with “going forward”.

    I’ve heard that the altar bit didn’t come about until Finney. If that’s true, was the altar rejected then because it was new? When did it become ‘old-fashioned’? When does anything go from being new and bad to old and good?

    1. I heard similar talk — “there’s just something about coming forward that helps to cement a decision” (in my mind I’m thinking… ‘that’s because it is a traumatic event and easier to remember)

      “Old-fashioned” means “Jack Hyles or John Rice did it”

      1. I’ve heard that too. The pastor would say that even if you made a decision during the week you should come forward and “seal” the decision. I still have no idea what that meant. I even remember one service where no one went forward and he basically said that “since the front is empty then I assume everyone is right with God?” But evangelists are by far the worse. Their success is measured by bodies at the altar.

    2. “God seems to honor”?
      So … God only honors a prayer if everything is just right, including the scenery?

      God has been around forever. I really think she is past being swayed by all the little shows we put on for her benefit.

      I’m not against rituals. Done right, they can be helpful to us mortals. But God doesn’t need them.

  14. This video brought up a lot of post-fundyism stress syndrome (PFSS) – we, too, were essentially told we weren’t right with God unless we regularly came to the front… one’s spirituality was measured by how often one went forward.

    Why? As another poster mentioned, this is especially true of evangelists, who like to be able to say that “the altars were filled every night”, or by preachers for bragging rights.

    There’s something that seems very un-spiritual about deciding before I arrive at church that I am going to go forward regardless of the message.

    1. PFSS reaction here, too. Caught myself doubled over and rocking back & forth by the time the clip ended. :shock: Yikers. Didn’t realize that that particular guilt trip (decide to decide; come forward if you feel convicted, come forward if you don’t & repent for not being convicted) had such a profound effect on me.

      I guess it’s because I so badly wanted to do the right thing and please God. Too bad all the teaching I heard growing up conflated pleasing God with pleasing the preacher. :mad: :evil:

      1. K,
        The most beautiful and disturbing part of the gospel is that you can’t please God. Christ has already. We are accepted in the beloved when we are found in union with Christ through faith. God never saved one righteous person – only sinners.

    2. It gets worse at a conference type revival where there are 2-3 preachers, plus possibly a preacher-boy or missionary presentation. Yep, you guessed it – an altar call after every one. That’s how you can tell you are in a true bible- believing church, not some liberal, apostate church that ends their service some other way.

  15. I listened twice…just to make sure I heard what I thought I heard. So, we go forward when God speaks to us. And we go forward when He doesn’t. That is what I heard, right?

    So what’s the purpose of going forward anyway, especially if God isn’t “speaking” to you?

    And deciding to decide – uh, wait…what?

  16. There really aren’t enough hours in a day to catalog all the heresies, small and large, expressed in this two-minute excerpt. :cry:

  17. Dear Whomever You Are:

    If people ‘got used’ to Christ, why did they crucify Jesus? If preaching truth to power generally produced martyrs, would you still preach?

    How is it ‘between you and God’ at an ‘alter’ any more than anywhere else?

    What Biblical basis can you cite for your ‘decide to decide’ theology?

    While you’re walking your aisle, some will walk this week with Christ to the cross. There is no inoculation for or acclimation to cross bearing. This message would set many on the aisle – not to the altar, but out the door. Would you still preach that?

    Since God seems to honor those who honor God [1Sa 2:20] perhaps our friend should decide to decide to adapt a Biblical theology this week.

    Christian Socialist

    1. I’m glad you mentioned the “getting used to Christ” comment. Perhaps he meant that people take a relationship with Christ for granted?

      If so, how does deciding to decide and walking to an “old-fashioned altar” in front of a crowd fix that?

  18. Another part of the IFB alter call experience was the requirement of staff and their spouse to immediately go and pray with people who came to the alter. So I had to interrupt a woman who was praying, to pray with her (for her) because apparently the members weren’t capable of effectively doing that for themselves. :roll:

    That always made me feel uncomfortable, and then I felt guilty because I found myself hoping that no girls or women walked to the alter. Which of course made you wonder if you should go the alter for yourself???

    But the Pastor doesn’t like the see the staff go to the alter for themselves because it keeps the members from seeing the staff as perfect. Church staff must always present the perfect picture and keep all reality hidden.

    1. If I did come forward to do business with God in private, I would be offended to have a staff member break in on my privacy: if I wanted help, I would have approached you.

      Would love to hear more about the rules put on staff such as this one… were you supposed to be looking when the preacher said “all heads bowed, and eyes closed?” (Years ago, I was one considered a spiritual teen, and I was told to keep my eyes open at the invitation, and, during the invitation, approach those who had raised their hands about not being sure that they were saved. I say this to my shame, but I was ignorant then. Today, I may have said something pointed, such as ‘Shouldn’t we let the Holy Spirit convict them?’).

  19. Try being the pianist or organist for years… Believe me… It felt like I was playing “Just As I Am” for an eternity! Well, until the preacher decided to change to “I Surrender All” in hopes to tug at heart strings with a different song!? The tough sight was looking out on the remaining either “callused-hearted” church members or “lost sinners” who were gripping the pew in front of them trying to keep their dignity! I actually had a lot of respect for those individuals because they had not succumbed to giving in to the preacher’s rants (proud of my dad actually!)

    These preachers really just get a kick out of how they can manipulate people! At that point it’s just so wrong! At any point, it’s wrong! :sad:

    ~~~Heart

  20. One time we were visiting with my unsaved aunt and uncle, who had never been to church in their lives, as far I as I know. My dad was preaching in a HAC church nearby (this was in the Chicago area). We were inviting them to come to church to hear my dad, and they said they were a little afraid about what would happen. They did not want to be singled out. My parents explained the different parts of the service, and promised that no one would do anything to make them uncomfortable.

    So, they come to this church on Sunday morning. During the invitation, as they were standing right next to my mom, this woman from the church came up to them and started asking them if they were saved and pressuring them to go forward. We were mortified, and my aunt and uncle were pretty upset. They asked my parents later if they had set them up, and my parents had to apologize and promise them that they had no idea what was going to happen.

    Several of my mom’s relatives have been saved since that time, and I know that she is a lot closer to her sister now than before. I still am not sure of her spiritual condition, but she and her husband are much more open now than they used to be. Yet, I can’t help but think that the efforts of some supposed “soul-winner” set back my mom’s relationship with her sister and her efforts to witness to her for years.

  21. I found this interesting bit of information at christianitytoday.com when I googled “altar call history”:

    “The altar call gained popularity in the 1830s with the preaching of Charles G. Finney. Finney rejected Calvinistic teaching that human nature was irreparably depraved; he believed only men’s wills, not their natures, needed to be converted. His ‘new measures,’ then, set out to make regeneration as easy as possible. ‘A revival is not a miracle,’ Finney wrote. ‘It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means.’ In other words, preachers might create revival if they used proven methods, chief of these being the “anxious bench” or “seat of decision.’ ‘The object of our measures is to gain attention,’ Finney said, and for that “you must have something new.’”

    There is not one thing in that quote that doesn’t bother me. So unbelievably unBiblical.

    1. Not only that but it reveals the philosophy behind IFB liturgy to be exactly what they claim is so wrong about “those Mega Churches” with their new music, and new media, and new buildings, and new methods

      We don’t have to be like the world of today to win the world of today, we have to be like the world of 1830 kinda like they had to be in 1830, Haymen!?

  22. Years ago, many years ago, our church had planned a youth group outing to one of the member’s hunting/fishing camps on the river after church. We were to have lunch and games and fellowship, etc., then come back as a group for evening service.

    The wife of the member, a wonderful woman, had mentioned that she was going to slip out early and get out to the camp ahead of us, open all the gates, air the place out, get food started, all that jazz. Everyone had the service timed pretty exactly, so you could time an “escape” if you needed to. Well, the preacher got wind of this (I guess) and as soon as her behind cleared the pew he started the altar call, making sure to draw attention to her. What could she do?

    My clearest memory of altar calls, besides the “regulars” who would pitch themselves weekly on the carpeted steps, is her stricken face. Bless her heart.

  23. In one of the fundy churches that I attended, several key people would go to the back of the church at the beginning of the invitation prayer. Then they would scan the crowd to see who did or didn’t raise their hand. Then once the song started they would pounce on them and strongly urge them to walk the aisle with them. I hated that! I thought it was so wrong on many levels. At another fundy church I went to, the pastor used to say ‘the decision that is made in the pew, stays in the pew” so….i’m guessing that means, “decisions made at the altar, stay at the altar”???

  24. Could somebody please post the content of this message in written words? I could barely understand what he was saying because of the horrific audio quality. Also, YouTube transcription sucks. Thank you!

    1. Your wish, etc…

      ..and, and technically, I know, you don’t have to have an altar and this spot to get business transacted with God – you don’t, BUT God seems to honor the humility of leaving a seat, walking an aisle to an old-fashioned altar. Hey, you know, you ought to decide to decide this week. What a great decision that would be! But, ah, uh, ah, and I’ll get ahead of myself just a little bit, but just decide to de-decide to respond. There are lots of times I’m, I’m going to walk an aisle; we say so often “It is a good reason to walk an aisle if God’s spoke [sic] to your heart.” A good reason to walk an aisle if God didn’t speak to your heart. If I go too many sermons and too many services without the Lord speaking to my heart, I just say: You know what? I’m going to walk an aisle because I.. I think I could become inoculated to this thing called preaching. And I.. I.. I.. I get to hear the best preacher, the best preaching in the world and, but you can get acclimated and used to anything. People got used to Christ, and, uh, after three years, and that’s… that’s how humans are, and the total depravity and stupidity of man, and so you have to be careful about that, and so, you know what? Ah, God didn’t speak to my heart, and I feel like it may have… be armored, just a little bit, and I’m just going to walk forward and say God, maybe I’m going to pray for a lost loved one; maybe I’m going to pray for a specific and uh, a prayer request that’s dominating my thoughts and my emotions right now. Maybe I’m going to pray a specifically what was preached on that night – none of us have arrived; most of us haven’t left yet, and so we’re not fooling anybody, and we’re not playing church, or care-up (?), or top-ful (?), or college, or conference — when we come forward, it’s between you and God. And so, but decide to decide this week. I, I, I It’s not about full-time Christian service, and it’s not about Bible colleges; it’s much bigger than that – it’s about God’s will for your life. Those things would take care of themseh-helves. And so, it’s all about the will of God for your life, and so, eh, decide to respond on purpose.

      You’re welcome

        1. I don’t know whether to feel good or bad that I understood most of it… the words that sounded like “care-up” and “top-full” I could not translate, though I listened to them multiple times.

    1. Well, well, well. Love the freedom, huh?!

      I remember the deacons standing at the back at Emmanuel and then pouncing on unsuspecting hand-raisers. I also remember someone calling Dr. Malone out on the practice. I just don’t remember how he defended it, just that he did.

  25. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it heresy–I find it more bizarre that this guy doesn’t seem to realize that “walking the aisle” for no apparent reason might “inoculate” you to “walking the aisle”. :shock:
    Craziness.

      1. FWIW, I have never “gone forward” in any of the meetings I’ve been in over the years. Always figured that I’d just be leaving my seat because my friends had–and I don’t like to participate in “group think” of any variety. :lol:

        1. It bothers me b/c it’s like they’re trying to say there is some physical location that is more appropriate or “holy” than where the Spirit of Christ happens to be dwelling in me when I pray and seems to go against John 4:20-24.

  26. I’ve been in some services where the preacher wouldn’t stop screaming and threatening until almost every single person in the service went forward/raised their hand (whichever the case may be). Sometimes it took hours. :cry:

  27. ^^^^^^^^^^

    Don’t see anything in there about an alter, or making a pastor feel better. Or God “seeming to honor those that come forward publicly.”

  28. Matthew 6:5

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

  29. If God is everywhere, and I can pray anywhere, why do I need to kneel down facing the preacher to do it?

    At a certain fundy church youth conference in OKC, I routinely fell asleep during the altar call. It was quite nice, really.

  30. Growing up in a GARB church that also called itself “Independent, Fundamental Baptist”, I was only familiar with methods derived from Finney’s, and had no idea that revival could happen any other way. Then I read about Asahel Nettleton and his completely different approach. What really got my attention was that, unlike Finney, Nettleton had very few converts fall away. More converts falling away than remaining was taken for granted in our “revivals”. The more I learned about church history, the more I saw Nettleton’s approach as consistent with the teaching of the Apostles, and Finney’s as a dangerous innovation.

  31. My cousin — not raised a Baptist — would spend part of each summer with our aunt, a devout Southern Baptist. He told me that every Sunday, during the altar call, one particular woman would always go down to the front pew. For years he thought this woman was some kind of horribly troubled sinner. It was much later that he learned she was the church secretary and was going to the front of the church not to “do business with God” but rather to record the names of those who might be saved or transfer their church letters.

    1. That’s something they say in the SBC that I wondered about. They accept new members “by baptism”, meaning they baptize them first, or “by letter” meaning they transfer their membership from another congregation. Do they actually write to the other church to verify that person was a member there?

      1. They used to; these days, they may call instead. I often wonder, if pastors call and ask for the “dirt” on the new members transferring. I have no way to prove it, but enough things have happened that I wondered if talk had gone on behind the scenes.

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