*** Notes for Today’s Show ***
It is the 17th of May 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The question that [I] would like to hear about is the history of the "altar call" and term "accepting Christ". What is the history of these revivalist practices? I suspect they might go back to Charles Finney?
-- Marco in Flushing, New York
(the site of the first commercial tree nurseries in North America!)
Even the most staunch Calvinist would admit that from our perspective it appears that there is a kind of voluntary activity. But having known many staunch Calvinists they would not be the type to proudly display their piety by public affirmation.
The answer to both, though, is the Second Great Awakening.
The idea of an altar call was foreign to the first great awakening-
after all, your moment of conversion is only borne out by the bearing of fruit.
The Second Great Awakening (1820-1870) is like Rocky II. Almost exactly like the first, but somehow worse.
Charles Finney introduced his New Measures to hopefully create or amplify revival. These were attempts to:
Promote a coming big tent speaker
To arrange the evangelistic service to create a kind of spiritual fervor and then use a kind of social pressure to get results. The “Anxious Bench” and The “Altar Call” are good examples.
Christianity is, as understood by millions, evangelistic, proselytizing, and emotionally resonant (among other things)
But when does the hype blur the message? The Altar Call was an attempt at using social pressure. Does that work? Is it responsible? That’s a different question…
The Last Word for today comes from the Gospel of John, the 3rd chapter
Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 16th of May 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who is a C. Who is a CH. Who is a C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N.
The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis who imagines that the 2nd Great Awakening was a lot like some of the Christian Summer Camps he went to.
You can catch us here every day. And remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.