The Corrupt Root and Bitter Fruit of Altar Call Evangelism

The Corrupt Root and Bitter Fruit of Altar Call Evangelism

The last command Jesus gave before ascending into heaven was, “Go therefore and make disciples . . .” (Matthew 28:19). All true followers of Christ want to be a part of this “Great Commission.” But how should we go about it? Everyone who understands the importance of special revelation (i.e., God’s Word in the Bible) agrees that evangelism involves the evangel (i.e., the gospel). No one will be saved without it. As Paul asked, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? . . . So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:14, 17). There are those who believe people can be saved without hearing about Christ, but no one should believe that. The gospel is essential.

But what about evangelistic strategies? What are the best ways to put the gospel to work? There is nothing wrong with using a strategic approach for getting the gospel into the ears of sinners. Whether we realize it or not, we all have our own strategy for doing this. Sadly, the evangelistic “strategy” of many Christians resembles deer hunting from a tree stand more than obedience to the Great Commission. Christ said, “Go . . . make . . . .” In other words, He commanded His followers to be intentional and active in their evangelism. But many Christians don’t go anywhere or do anything in this respect. They just go about their ordinary business, waiting passively for something to come to them. Others use more active approaches, such as,

  • taking the gospel to unreached people groups in distant lands, or sacrificially supporting such missionary efforts
  • writing and/or distributing evangelistic books, tracts, and other literature
  • maintaining evangelistic websites or blogs
  • building strategic relationships with unsaved neighbors, co-workers, or friends for the purpose of teaching them about Christ, often through the use of evangelistic literature
  • attending non-Christian (or even professedly Christian) religious gatherings where the gospel is not preached for the purpose of introducing the truth
  • strategically “hanging out” in public places where conversations with unsaved people are likely (e.g., coffee houses), for the purpose of planting gospel seeds.

These strategies (and others like them) serve to accomplish one simple and necessary aspect of evangelism. They put the means of salvation (i.e., the gospel) and those who need to hear it (i.e., the unconverted sinner), in the same place at the same time.

Some readers may have noticed that I omitted one common form of evangelism in the above list: crusade/revival-type evangelism. My omission was intentional, to demonstrate a distinct and critical difference between the typical use of this form of evangelism and the others. Here’s what I mean: In the strategies listed above, the methods of evangelism are ways of introducing the means of salvation to the unconverted. The methods are not seen as means themselves. The same is partly true of crusade/revival-type evangelism. People are invited to attend so that they will be present where the gospel is being preached. But after the gospel is preached at the typical crusade/revival event (whether large or small), something is done that in my view blurs the distinction between method and means, implying that the two are co-dependent.

At the conclusion of the preaching at the typical crusade/revival-type event, the pastor or evangelist will often say something like, “I want to give you the opportunity now to receive Christ. If you will . . . .” What follows is not merely an appeal to repent and believe—to come to Christ by faith, in other words—but also an invitation to come physically. The evangelist urges listeners to stand up, walk forward, raise a hand, or indicate outwardly in some other way that this “opportunity to receive Christ” is being accepted. This type of invitation to respond outwardly has become known as the altar call.

Most pastors and evangelists who favor this methodology would not say, of course, that a person is saved by walking forward or by raising his hand. They learned in Theology 101 that a person is saved by faith. But these meetings are filled with people who have little, if any, biblical knowledge, and often no sharp awareness whatsoever of critical doctrines. Many of them have backgrounds in false religious systems where people are supposedly saved by physical acts, such as baptism or the performance of sacraments. This “going forward” may seem to be just a different kind of sacrament that is a necessary supplement to faith—that is, unless true biblical doctrines are carefully explained and methods are not allowed to confuse the issue. In any case, according to what they are now being told, combined with what they are being asked to do, many of these theologically uninformed (or misguided) people will come to a conclusion something like this: “I agree with what the preacher has said, and I know it applies to me. Therefore, I can be saved if I will do as he says.” This is unarguably how the “opportunity to receive Christ” was presented, and unless the listener already knows more about what it means to “receive Jesus” than he has just been told, this is the way it will be perceived.

How could such invitations be perceived in any other way when the sinner hears things like, “Don’t let distance keep you from Christ. Christ went to the cross because he loved you. Certainly you can come these few steps. Come right now (emphasis mine).” 1 The same preacher who said that also said of his method of evangelism, “We try to make our invitations straightforward so that a person knows he is coming for conversion and salvation (emphasis mine).” 2 Clearly this conveys the idea that only the ones who respond physically will be saved.

Again, most proponents of the altar call would say that it is not absolutely essential for people to walk forward if they are to be saved. But actions speak much louder than words. In certain well-documented cases, some of the larger crusades have gone so far as to place counselors at various locations in the audience so that when the invitation is given, and when the counselors begin to walk forward from their various positions, others are more inclined to go forward themselves. It is easy to understand the psychological rationale behind this. The reluctant sinner sees the counselors going forward and presumes that they are ordinary people like himself who are availing themselves of the offer of Christ (which, of course, is what he has been intentionally led to believe the counselors are doing). He naturally thinks, “If all of them think this is a legitimate offer, and if they have the guts to go forward, I can do it too.” Now let’s be frank. If the gospel is truly thought to be a sufficient means of saving sinners by faith—if going forward like this is not thought to be an essential part of receiving Jesus—why would anyone resort to using such a ruse?

Many who would decry such a blatant use of psychological manipulation nevertheless place a similar emphasis on methodology themselves, at least in principle. The mood of their meetings is carefully orchestrated through the use of video, lighting, music, etc. so those in attendance will be emotionally primed to respond when the invitation is given. Traffic jams of responders in the isles are carefully avoided because statistics show that if people have to wait in line or stand too long while going forward, they are more likely to stay in their seats. And timing issues in the program are seen as critical because studies have also shown that if attendees get bored, or if too much time elapses between the message and the invitation, fewer will respond. None of these concerns result in overtly deceptive strategies. They do not startle the conscience as does the crusade strategy mentioned above. But the importance placed on addressing even these less-obvious methodological concerns proves that it is seen as tremendously important (one could almost say, essential) for people to get up and walk forward if they are to be saved.

The Corrupt Root of Altar Call Methodology

When did this way of thinking begin? When did pastors and evangelists stop relying solely on the evangel and start relying on methodological innovations? Neither this mindset, nor the methods that flow from it, can be traced back to the apostles. The fact is, altar call methodology is a relatively recent innovation. While no one can directly point to its precise origin, most who have studied the issue agree that the methodology was popularized largely through the influence of a man named Charles Grandison Finney. Finney was a Presbyterian minister in the mid-1800s who supposedly revolutionized the practice of winning souls through the use of emotionally charged preaching and highly influential pressure tactics designed to excite the human will to action. His methodology has unarguably had a huge (and in my view, negative) impact on modern evangelism.

Before I discuss the modern fallout from Finney’s methods, you need to be aware of some of his theological convictions. It was from his theology, after all, that his methodology flowed. And at the core of Finney’s theology was his stubborn opposition to the biblical view of the natural man. 3 Finney was convinced that people naturally possess the full capacity to please God without being graciously reborn (i.e., without being “born again”). He denied that man had inherited a sinful nature that must be transformed by God if he is to be saved. Where Jesus said, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), Finney insisted that “No such change is needed, as the sinner has all the faculties and natural attributes requisite to render perfect obedience to God. All he needs is to be induced to use these powers and attributes as he ought. 4

Rejecting the biblical teaching that God works a miraculous transformation of the fallen sinner’s nature (i.e., regeneration, cf. Titus 3:5; John 1:13; 3:3; Ephesians 2:4-5; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23), Finney went on to say, “Regeneration does not express or imply the creation of any new faculties or attributes of nature, nor any change whatsoever in the constitution of body or mind.” 5 In Finney’s view, regeneration consisted in nothing more than a person determining to transform himself—resolving, according to abilities he naturally possessed, to think and behave in a way that pleases God. Confirming this in his book Revivals of Religion, Finney wrote,

There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that and nothing else. When [men] become religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were before unable to put forth. They only exert the powers they had before in a different way and use them for the glory of God.” 6

Finney’s rejection of the biblical doctrine of regeneration was based on his rejection of the doctrine of original sin. He refused to believe that a sinful nature inherited from Adam renders the unregenerate sinner helpless and unable to bring about his own conversion (as is plainly taught in passages like John 3:3, 6:44, 65, Romans 8:7-8, and 1 Corinthians 2:14). Forcefully rejecting this foundational biblical truth, Finney wrote,

This doctrine is a stumbling-block both to the church and the world, infinitely dishonorable to God, and an abomination alike to God and the human intellect, and should be banished from every pulpit, and from every formula of doctrine, and from the world. It is a relic of heathen philosophy, and was foisted in among the doctrines of Christianity by Augustine, as everyone may know who will take the trouble to examine for himself. 7

Charles Finney’s brand of theology is known today as “Moral Government Theology.” It is a system of doctrine which emphasizes the consequences, whether positive or negative, of following the example of another person. According to Finney and his theological posterity, people do not sin because they are unavoidably sinful by nature (contrary to Ephesians 2:1-3 and Titus 3:3). They are born perfectly capable of living a holy life that is pleasing to God (contrary to Romans 8:7-8). And they only sin because they choose to sin (not because they are sinful by nature due to Adam’s fall, contrary to Romans 5:18-19). Correspondingly, according to Moral Government Theology, people are not saved by being supernaturally changed by God (contrary to John 1:13 and 3:3) and graciously drawn to faith in Christ (contrary to John 6:44 and 65). They are saved by their own obedience to God’s law (contrary to Romans 3:19-20, 28, 4:4-8, Galatians 2:15-16, 21, etc.). They are saved, in other words, by consistently following Christ’s example of obedience to the Father, rather than Adams example of sin.

Charles Finney often used the word “grace” in his preaching and writing, but the biblical concept of grace had no place in his theology. According to Finney, who was a lawyer before becoming a minister, the sinner’s present and personal obedience to God is the only ground of his justification. Finney asked, “Can a man be justified while sin remains in him?” Answering his own question, he replied, “Surely he cannot, either upon legal or gospel principles, unless the law be repealed.” 8 Finney scoffed at the idea that ungodly people are justified by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ’s atoning death and imputed righteousness alone. In further answering his own question, He concluded that “nothing is accepted as virtue under the government of God, but present full obedience to the law”. He went on to say, “Whenever a Christian sins he comes under condemnation, and must repent and do his first works, or be lost.” 9 When one closely examines Finney’s preaching and writing, it becomes evident that his apparent success in evangelism was the result of his methodology alone. The true means of salvation—the gospel of God’s grace—did not play a prominent role, if any role at all.

Finney’s self-discipline and piety were exemplary. Furthermore, his zeal has won him the admiration (and emulation) of many notable pastors and evangelists today. Though modern evangelistic methods have been adapted for a culture much different than Finney’s, it is no stretch to say that Finney is the “father” of altar call methodology in general. 10 He even holds a place of honor in the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. But while Finney’s life may have been commendable in many respects, his theological convictions were nearly identical to those of a 5th-century British monk named Pelagius, the man whose system of doctrine has been condemned as heresy by more church councils, synods, assemblies, and confessions of faith than any other person in history. 11 Given Finney’s exalted status in modern evangelicalism, one can only hope that his theological views are not well known by those who honor him so highly. Otherwise, we have no choice but to conclude that many important Christian leaders truly believe that even the most serious doctrinal error (actually, a denial of the core of the gospel itself) does not matter as long as the outward results are impressive. 12

Theology Inspires Methodology

Finney’s evangelistic methods flowed from his theology. In keeping with his rejection of the biblical doctrines of human depravity and the need for regeneration by God, Finney’s basic tactic was to press hard on the human will in order to excite sinners to a God-pleasing obedience to the law, of which he was convinced all people are naturally capable.

Before anyone misunderstands, please let me affirm that being saved does involve the positive response of the human will. The person who is saved begins, at a point in time, to consciously and voluntarily assent and submit to (as well as delight in) God’s revealed truth where he formerly dissented to it in open rebellion or apathetic disinterest (which is also a form of rebellion). God grants regeneration to whom He pleases, thus freeing the will, which, until the point of regeneration, is enslaved to sin and opposed to God and truth. Once the will has been set free through regeneration, faith inevitably follows (cf. John 6:44-45). In this way it is rightly said that saving faith is a gift from God. But God does not do the believing for us. A person must believe if he is to be saved. I also want to affirm that an essential part of preaching the gospel is to invite, persuade, exhort, even implore unconverted people to come to Christ by faith. I am by no means against the practice of inviting people to come to Christ so that they may be saved. In fact, I am against any sort of evangelistic preaching where people are not invited to come to Christ in order to be saved. What I am against—what Charles Finney popularized and his modern followers have adapted—is the practice of inviting people to come to the front of an auditorium (or perform some other outward demonstration) in order to be saved.

Every biblical evangelist will, as part of his preaching, implore his hearers to repent and believe. Some may even invite hearers to come forward at the end of the meeting to speak with a pastor or counselor in order to learn more about the gospel, ask for materials to read, ask questions about the Bible or what they heard in the sermon, etc. But no truly biblical evangelist will assure a person that he will be saved if he will, at a particular moment in time, decide something, say something, or do something in response to an invitation. Contrary to the biblical goal of gospel preaching, which is to make men humble, penitent, and wholly dependent on God, such invitations and assurances actually serve to increase self-reliance and build unwarranted spiritual confidence. As Charles Spurgeon said,

What the Arminian wants to do is to arouse man’s activity. What we want to do is to kill it once for all—to show him that he is lost and ruined, and that his activities are not now at all equal to the work of conversion; that he must look upward. They seek to make the man stand up. We seek to bring him down, and make him feel that there he lies in the hand of God, and that his business is to submit himself to God, and cry aloud, ‘Lord, save, or we perish.’ We hold that man is never so near grace as when he begins to feel he can do nothing at all. 13

Methodology Reflects, and Teaches, Theology

As I said earlier, I am not at all suggesting that preachers who use the altar call in some form consciously believe that the walk forward is a saving walk. What I am asking Christians to ask themselves, however, is this: If going forward or praying a particular prayer to receive Christ are not necessary (or at least helpful) in order to acquire salvation, why do so many pastors and evangelists conclude their preaching with statements like, “I want to give you the opportunity to come forward and receive Jesus”? If the sinner can receive Jesus by faith where he sits, what additional opportunity presents itself at the front of the auditorium?

In my view, while the motives of those who employ altar call methodology are noble, the method itself is naturally deceptive. When going forward (or any other form of public demonstration or decision) is represented as “an opportunity to receive Jesus,” the person looking for relief from a troubled conscience cannot help but conclude that at least some aspect of his eternal benefit can be gained only by complying with the preacher’s request. The preacher may not mean to convey this, but his actions and words so strongly imply it that the listener cannot help but think that he must do something beyond merely believing if he is to be saved. Likewise, the one who does respond outwardly as instructed cannot help but assume that he has gained something of eternal importance by doing so, even though outward responses often reflect no corresponding inner reality. And when the meeting is over, the one who did not respond as invited cannot help but believe he has missed the “opportunity.” Most evangelists who favor the altar call method also strongly affirm the doctrine of sola fide (justification by faith alone). But the charge that their methods appear to contradict this doctrine cannot be easily dismissed. If nothing related to salvation is gained by a person’s outward response to some form of altar call, then what is the reason for asking people to respond in these ways if they want to be saved? Are people saved by faith alone or are they not?

The Bitter Fruit of Altar Call Methodology

Altar call methodology appears quite successful at first glance. The initial commitments of large numbers of people seem to demonstrate that this truly is better evangelism—a method that really works. In reality, however, just the opposite is true. Altar call evangelism rarely produces lasting fruit. While the initial statistics are often impressive, the numbers of those who bear the biblical marks of regeneration are usually minute in comparison. D. A. Carson calls attention to this disturbing pattern in his book, A Call for Spiritual Reformation:

To what extent do those who profess faith at world-class evangelistic meetings actually persevere, over a period of five years from their initial profession of faith? When careful studies have been undertaken, the most commonly agreed range is 2 percent to 4 percent; that is, between 2 percent and 4 percent of those who make a profession of faith at such meetings are actually persevering in the faith five years later, as measured by such external criteria as attendance at church, regular Bible reading, or the like. 14

The unarguable and embarrassing fact is that altar call evangelism does not tend to produce high percentages of true converts. This is true now, and it was true of the ministry of Charles Finney. Consider the following selection from Phil Johnson’s article on Finney (appropriately entitled, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” see footnote 12). Johnson quotes extensively here from B. B. Warfield’s book, Studies in Perfectionism:

The Western half of New York became known as “the burnt-over district,” because of the negative effects of the revivalist movement that culminated in Finney’s work there. These facts are often obscured in the popular lore about Finney. But even Finney himself spoke of “a burnt district” [Memoirs, 78], and he lamented the absence of any lasting fruit from his evangelistic efforts. He wrote,

I was often instrumental in bringing Christians under great conviction, and into a state of temporary repentance and faith . . . . [But] falling short of urging them up to a point, where they would become so acquainted with Christ as to abide in Him, they would of course soon relapse into their former state. [cited in B. B. Warfield, Studies in Perfectionism, 2 vols. (New York: Oxford, 1932), 2:24]

One of Finney’s contemporaries registered a similar assessment, but more bluntly:

During ten years, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, were annually reported to be converted on all hands; but now it is admitted, that real converts are comparatively few. It is declared, even by [Finney] himself, that “the great body of them are a disgrace to religion.” [cited in Warfield, 2:23]

B. B. Warfield cited the testimony of Asa Mahan, one of Finney’s close associates,

. . . who tells us—to put it briefly—that everyone who was concerned in these revivals suffered a sad subsequent lapse: the people were left like a dead coal which could not be reignited; the pastors were shorn of all their spiritual power; and the evangelists—”among them all,” he says, “and I was personally acquainted with nearly every one of them—I cannot recall a single man, brother Finney and father Nash excepted, who did not after a few years lose his unction, and become equally disqualified for the office of evangelist and that of pastor.” Thus the great “Western Revivals” ran out into disaster. . . . Over and over again, when [Finney] proposed to revisit one of the churches, delegations were sent him or other means used, to prevent what was thought of as an affliction. . . . Even after a generation had passed by, these burnt children had no liking for the fire. [Warfield, 2:26-28]

All of this helps to explain the hostile resistance that often comes when worldly professing Christians who are the product of altar call methodology are urged to examine themselves for the fruit of genuine conversion. Because of their former decision experience and the assurance they were given at the time, they are hardened against any suggestion that it might not have been genuine. But what they perceive as judgmental intrusions into their happy life as “born again Christians” are actually loving appeals for them to recognize their own worldliness and state of deception. Even the parents of ungodly young people who have “gotten saved” in this way will often defend their child’s alleged standing with Christ in the face of plain evidence to the contrary. The emotional memories of the child’s “decision for Christ” leave them in a sad state of denial. They have an obviously unconverted child in their home, but their unwillingness to part with the comforting assurance that the child was saved when he or she “went forward” or “prayed the sinner’s prayer” renders them unwilling to look at the problem from a biblical standpoint and admit that he or she might be a deceived unbeliever. And remember that the unwarranted assurance in these false converts is not the result of misunderstanding something they were told. It naturally follows from believing what they were told. As Whitney R. Cross notes in his historical account of the Finney-style revival ministry of the mid-1800s, the whole process can easily become “a relentless mechanism forcing the person to say he was converted and to imagine the corresponding inner transformation.” 15

The truth is, altar call methodology creates more problems than it solves. Most “decisions” produce only what the unchanged human heart is easily and deceptively able to manufacture on its own—false religious zeal and moral resolve. The only difference is that in this case, all is done under the banner of Christianity, as opposed to some other religion. While we should rejoice that many have been truly saved through these methods, we should mourn that many more—likely the vast majority—have been left in a worse condition than before.


Iain Murray makes an excellent point in his book,Revival and Revivalism, when he says,

To tell men the worst about themselves is not to hinder conversion. On the contrary, the real impediment to conversion is the absence of conviction of sin. The preacher’s first duty is to address that fact by awakening the conscience to the meaning of sin, and to sin understood not simply as wrong action requiring forgiveness, but as an evil principle governing man’s very heart. A sinner’s knowledge of his own inability is therefore part of the knowledge which leads him to recognize that what he needs is a new nature. 16

Because what is needed for salvation is a new nature (cf. John 3:3), not merely a decision of the human will, it is our obligation to wait until we see the evidence of a new nature before considering someone a Christian. It is also our responsibility to be careful not to be deceived in this regard. The New Testament contains dozens of warnings, both to the church and the individual, about false professions of faith. 17 Such warnings do not lead us to conclude that the assurance of salvation is automatic or easily obtained. And since these warnings are an integral part of New Testament instruction, they must be carefully and diligently explained in our preaching, especially our evangelistic preaching. But strangely, these warnings are not typically emphasized (if they are mentioned at all) in the context of altar call evangelism. The reason for this is obvious. You cannot logically assure a person that he will be saved if he will come forward to receive Christ, and then say afterward, “Now don’t be too easily assured by what you just said and did that you are actually saved.”

The fact is, altar call evangelism is grounded on the practice of giving the promise of immediate assurance to those who respond. This promise is the primary means of persuading people to come forward to receive Jesus. After all, apart from such assurance, why would anyone come? People are not being asked to go forward so that they can try to get saved. They are told that they are coming forward (to quote the same preacher I quoted earlier) “for conversion and salvation.” And if what they are promised is what they actually receive—in other words, if this promise is unfailingly true—then there is absolutely no reason to tell them about the biblical warnings concerning false assurance and false professions of faith. So in the final analysis, altar call evangelism renders a major block of New Testament instruction (for example, nearly the entire book of 1 John) utterly useless. Surely, this alone is enough to show that the method itself is flawed.

If we truly believe that salvation is by God’s grace alone, not something that is accomplished by means of a partnership between God and man, we will have no apprehension about preaching the gospel and inviting people to Christ in such a way that they are left with nothing to do but repent and believe, and nowhere to go but to Christ Himself by faith.

1 Billy Graham, as quoted in Curtis Mitchell, God in the Garden: The Official Story of the Billy Graham New York Crusade (Kinswood, surrey: World’s work, 1957), pp. 148-149. Quote found in Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000), 52.

2 Billy Graham, as quoted in C. Catherwood, Five Evangelical Leaders (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984), p. 211. Quote found in Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, 52.

3 To know what I mean by “a biblical view of the natural man,” see my article entitled “Thinking and Speaking Biblically About the Natural Condition of Man” at article_view.asp?article_id=136.

4 Charles G. Finney, Finney’s Lectures on Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, reprint of the revised 1878 edition), p. 285.

5 Ibid.

6 Charles Finney, Revivals of Religion (Moody Press, 1962), p. 12.

7 Finney’s Lectures on systematic Theology, p. 252.

8 Ibid., p. 121.

9 Ibid., p. 123-4.

10 Iain Murray demonstrates the historical basis for this claim in his book, Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1994).

11 Pelagius’ teachings were condemned by four regional councils, one ecumenical council, at least one Roman Catholic council, as well as numerous Protestant synods, assemblies, and confessions: The Councils of Carthage (416 and 418), The Third Ecumenical (universal) Council in Ephesus (431), The Council of Orange (529), The Council of Trent (1546), The Second Helvetic Confession (Swiss-German Reformed, 1561-66), The Augsburg Confession (Lutheran, 1530), The Gallican Confession (French Reformed, 1559), The Belgic Confession (French/Dutch/German Reformed, 1561), The Anglican Articles (English, 1571), and The Canons of Dort (Dutch/German/French Reformed, 1618-1619). It should be noted that although Pelagius’ teachings were condemned by the Council of Trent (Roman Catholic), the prevailing doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church today, as well as those of many evangelical Arminian churches, are a modified yet still unbiblical version of his teaching, known as “Semi-Pelagianism.”

12 For more about Charles Finney, see Iain Murray’s excellent book, Revival and Revivalism (Banner of Truth Trust, 1994). I also recommend two helpful internet articles: “The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney,” by Dr. Michael Horton (, and “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” by Phil Johnson (

13 C. H. Spurgeon, from a sermon entitled “High Doctrine,” preached June 3, 1860.

14 D. A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992), p. 14.

15 Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1950), pp. 181-2.

16 Iain Murray, Revival and Revivalism (Banner of Truth, 1994), p. 370.

17 For example: Matthew 7:21-23; 13:20-21; 18:15-17; Mark 4:16-17; Luke 8:13; John 2:23-25; 10:27; Acts 26:20; Romans 6:16; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-10; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:17-21; Philippians 3:17-19; Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 3:12-14; James 2:14-26; 2 Peter 1:5-11; 1 John 1:5-6; 2:3-4, 15, 19, 2:29; 3:4-10, 18-19; 4:7-8; 2 John 9; Jude 4.