Baptism and the sinner’s prayer

I’ve been preaching on baptism at Church these last few weeks (come back here on Sunday and you’ll be able to read my sermon transcripts) and  I’ve learned so much.

As I’ve been preaching on baptism, in the states the Souther Baptists have been talking about the sinner’s prayer and what role it plays in the conversion experience. I found an interesting blog last week that brings these two; baptism and the sinner’s prayer, into the lime light. Frank Viola, like my self as I’ve gone on this baptism journey, believes that the sinner’s prayer has taken the place of baptism. Frank writes,

In our day, the ‘sinner’s prayer’ has replaced the role of water baptism as the initial confession of faith. Unbelievers are told, ‘Say this prayer after me, accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and you will be saved.’ But nowhere in all the New Testament do we find any person being led to the Lord by a sinner’s prayer.

Instead what we do find is people coming to faith and being baptised. As I read through the New Testament it almost appears as if baptism and confession are almost one in the same. And at least in my Christian experience and a number of others, so it seems, the two are quite far apart.

What is your experience of baptism and the sinners prayer? In your experience has conversion and baptism been the same event or separated by a large period of time? Do we even need baptism as part of our Christian experience? Let me know what you’re thinking. Oh and make sure you read the full Frank Viola blog here.


2 thoughts on “Baptism and the sinner’s prayer

  1. I was taught that the expression of my surrender to Jesus is water baptism, and that the working in this burial/resurrection is that of God, who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, and has nothing to do with my works but is totally submissive. I think that evangelicalism has been reacting to the sacramental teaching of the Roman church on this subject and misses the simplicity and power of this response to the gospel. My observation…

  2. Baptists vote to keep the Sinner’s Prayer…again

    Preuters News Agency

    Meeting today in London, a convention of the world’s Baptists narrowly endorsed the continued use of the Sinner’s Prayer as the hallmark act of Christian conversion. Here is the final draft of the convention’s statement on this issue:

    “Baptists today again affirm the Sinner’s Prayer as the act by which a sinner is justified before God. To be clear, it is not the recitation of the prayer itself that saves, nor is it necessary to endorse a set order of the words to be prayed, nor must the prayer be verbalized to others. What is necessary for salvation is this: A genuine, heartfelt prayer that 1.) acknowledges one’s sinfulness and hopeless state of perdition before God 2.) cries out to God with true repentance of one’s sins 3.) petitions God for his free gift of salvation 4.) asks Christ to indwell his heart/soul 5.) commits to abandoning his prior sinful lifestyle and promises to follow Christ and his righteousness.”

    Controversy over this statement simmered for the entire three days of the convention. A group of younger Baptists from the developing world pushed for the removal of the Sinner’s Prayer from the Baptist Statement of Faith, declaring that it was unscriptural and lacked any evidence of use in the Early Church. These young people read statements from the Early Church Fathers from the convention podium, noting that requiring a prayer (spoken or thought) for salvation was unheard of in the Early Church. This assertion created quite a stir as many of the older convention attendees were not accustomed to hearing appeals to the “catholic” Church Fathers as a source of authority for Baptist doctrine.

    The younger group put forward a new, brash, proposal as the new official Baptist Act of Christian Conversion:

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.”

    This proposal prompted outrage from the majority of convention attendees. One prominent Baptist pastor from the United States summed up the majority’s sentiments by this statement:

    “Too Lutheran.”

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