The vote wasn't taken with every head bowed and every eye closed, but delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting today supported the "Sinner's Prayer" after considerable debate.
Jimmy Scroggins, chairman of the SBC Committee on Resolutions, told the convention that the committee brought the resolution to the floor because of recent challenges to the emphasis on the Sinner's Prayer—usually a prayer of repentance to "invite Jesus into your heart" that has become a hallmark of evangelical conversionism.
The committee wanted "to affirm our commitment to evangelism and to calling people to make a decision for Jesus Christ," Scroggins said.
"We affirm that repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord (Rom. 10:13), often identified as a 'Sinner's Prayer,' as a biblical expression of repentance and faith," the resolution said. But it added, "A 'Sinner's Prayer' is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the gospel (Matt. 6:7; 15:79)."
The resolution was originally presented by Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi, though the version approved by the committee omitted language designed to refute the denomination's increasingly Calvinist membership. (An effort to put much of the language back in was defeated in a floor vote, as was an effort to remove references to the phrase "Sinner's Prayer.")
Indeed, Hankins says his resolution was sparked by a talk from one of the SBC's Calvinist stars, David Platt. Speaking at the Verge church leaders' conference March 1, the pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, ...