The altar Call is an outward show of how the pastor can emotionally manipulate his followers to do what he says through guilt and other pressure tactics. It is a power play so that there is visible evidence of a successful sermon. The (so-called) “Altar Call” is the pastor’s way of “proving that he is worth his paycheck.” It is part and parcel of the Man-centered Gospel of the Church Growth Movement in Modern Churchianity.
The church lecture series is all about the man in the pulpit no matter how much he claims to the contrary. The Cult of Personality is the glue that really holds the congregation together. Take away the charisma in the pulpit and the so called church that meets in the temple they have built for themselves will dwindle down and die. The sheeple will find themselves another proxy god to put in the pulpit. They must have their very own idol to listen to and to worship.
“Not a god,” you say? Really? Pastors are the gods over their congregations. His is the only voice allowed to speak during the lecture and he cannot be questioned about anything he says from behind the so called sacred desk. He is infallible and not to be questioned. He demands loyalty and obedience. His word is law. The sheeple are conditioned to passively, and unconditionally accept what the man in the pulpit is saying no matter what he says. The pastor is in fact speaking “ex cathedra” as he is the head of his church no matter who he gives lip-service to.
“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” -Lord Acton expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887
My premise is that any man who is given authority over others will, if left unchecked, make full use of that authority for both personal gain and personal power. The amount of corruption by this person will ultimately be decided by the amount of power that is available. As Lord Acton says, “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority.”
In modern Christianity most church congregations are based on a simple design. The authority is vested in the persons of the (so called) clergy, usually at the consent of, or at least the tacit agreement of the (so called) laity. This Catholic Idea of Clergy/Laity came from the teachings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprias, and Augustine who created and promoted the whole “Christian” class/ caste system. While not addressing the theological issues of this problem Lord Acton actually does a marvelous job of attacking just such a system, “There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” As true today as when Acton said it.
The “Altar Call” is nothing more than a way for the Pastor to practice his manipulation tactics while stroking his own ego. I dare say that what most people claim to be a movement of the Holy Spirit is at best ginned up emotionalism brought on through guilt and spiritual/emotional manipulation. Why would I say such a thing? Because the “feeling” is generally gone by the time you reach the parking lot, that’s why.
Finally, and most importantly, the Altar Call promotes a man-centered humanistic approach to religion and “salvation.” It portrays a weak frail god who can only work in “his building” following the pastor’s sermon. I have heard testimonies from folks who sweated bullets all week long until they could get to the Altar Call part of the service so they could get saved. That screams of a god in a box who is so weak and so inept that that he has to have the work of the Man of god (little “g” on purpose) in order to save someone. I have also heard of so called soul winners who got people to say the sinners prayer on visitation coaching them to come to church on Sunday and come down during the altar call in order to make their decision official with the preacher. *groan* No, no I don’t have all the answers. I’m just now asking the right questions. I just know that this Kabuki theatre that is being called “Church” these days is a sham and a shame.