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My church, a traditional Anglican church (read: conservative), had an excellent and Cross-focused Maundy Thursday service last night with Holy Communion. They're having a Good Friday service this morning, which I unfortunately am missing because of work. I expect Easter Sunday services to be equally Cross-focused! I give my church an A+.


Great to hear the Christ crucified is still preached at some Anglican churches.

I wasn't able to attend Maundy Thursday serve last night do to an obligation. While I was driving around suburdan St. Louis, I noted that the only church had services was the Roman Catholic church. All of the "evanglical" churches were not open. While this is not a very good servey, I believe that this show what many "evanglical" view the gift Lord as given us. I'll be looking at churches while I drive to Church for tonight's service.

Larry KY

Ours is a reformed PCA church and we had a GREAT Cross focused Maundy Thursday service with the Lord's Table. Good Friday was closed. And Sunday was great today. The pastor's ENTIRE sermon was placarding the Risen Christ from start to finish. It was all about Jesus and at that WHAT JESUS DID.



On Thursday we held a brief worship service with a hymn and scripture, then the congregation (about 300) were broken up into groups of 12 to share communion in private rooms.
I'm afraid I did not like it, there was no clear gospel and I did not like the group being broken up.
On Friday we experienced a 90 minute drama, with jokes, dancing, and some tugging at the heart strings performed by three women who pretended to be Mary, etc. and told us the gospel story from their perspective. No worship, no prayer, scripture or preaching, and no real gospel. however lots of people were entertained. I'm afraid I strongly disliked this whole approach. On Easter my church put on a good show of hiring a string quartet, two fancy choir numbers and we had several hundred visitors who never come any other time. The sermon was ok but wasn't really preaching. It was a presentation for the historical evidence of the resurrection. No real presentation of Christ, no real connection to scripture, and no sense of the Spirit's power. Salvation was reduced to a simple three line prayer. Suffice to say either there is something really wrong with me, or with my church. Maybe I am too picky, but it just didn't work for me. I attend a united methodist church tha has a semi-conservative leaning.

Larry KY

Actually a friend of mine, a pastor/elder, discussed this very issue last week before I saw it on Xtreme Theol blog. We were thinking here in the churchland south where you can literally go from one church door to the next without driving (we once counted from the main road on the way to my wife's house 90 churches, its an 88 mile drive) how many would REALLY preach Christ this Sunday. A sad reality in a "church" pregnant area.

I told him I have a new theory on why some folks only show up on the holidays, namely Christmas and Easter. For some I suppose it's mainly a tradition. But I told him, "I don't by it any more. Many in SB land, regular church goers, use to say sarcastically that they are 'getting their twice a year in'. Clearly condescending about not being there the rest of the year. And I use to buy into it. But NOW I've a new theory...", I told him, "...now so little of Christ is ACTUALLY preached or given in Word or Sacrament (esp. SB and its similar off shoots) that it is likely that even kind of unknown to them they are ACTUALLY coming the ONLY time Christ might be for REAL because the Christmas holiday and Easter holiday kind of force it." In other words, what else are you going to preach! Alas, some have found the way with "sunrise" services that just admire the beauty of the rising sun. That's what we use to get in EVERY FBC in KY.

It's just a theory though!

Larry ky



I believe that your theory has some merit to it. If the only time that the Gospel is clearly proclaimed in on Easter and Christmas, then why does one need to go to church for the rest of the year?

Many churches confuse proclaiming the Gospel with preaching the Law. They believe that the Law is for the believer and the Gospel is for the sinner. This is backwards since it is the Law that condemns and the Gospel that save.




Another idea: If a church doesn't proclaim the gospel and then has an "alter call" what is the person coming forward giving their life to? If a church is doing "40 Days of Whatever" is the person commitmenting themselves to that set of teachings?



My church had a Good Friday service in which we celebrated Communion. I go to a non-denominational Reformed church, and our communion services are always precious and God-honoring.

I went to my family's church on Sunday morning, and truly little was said of the cross. We sang traditionally Easter hymns, but I left disappointed.

Larry - KY

Yea, that kind of dawned on me one day. That maybe, just maybe a number of folks only show up on those two holidays, almost intuitively, because then and then alone is Christ preached and given out of necessity of what the holiday stands for. Here’s what made me think of it. Back when I was green, newly converted and around the crowd that thumped the twice a year attendees, one of the things that many saying that against them would say was something like, “I suppose they only come on those two days to clear their consciences for the whole year and for missing church and other things.” It dawned on me, though I was too afraid to open my mouth about it back then and admit I sin all year long too even though I go to church, “Yea, but why else DO we come to church but have our consciences cleaned by forgiveness”. It began to occur to me for the first time that people who actually go to church may go for the wrong reason and are not like these other sinners and tax collectors, and the ‘poor sinner and tax collector’ that shows up twice a year only shows up claiming to be a sinner. This may not be a ubiquitous reality in some who show up twice a year, but the reverse of it, the ones degrading them, that reality is REAL. It’s the Pharisees prayer.

“Another idea: If a church doesn't proclaim the gospel and then has an "alter call" what is the person coming forward giving their life to? If a church is doing "40 Days of Whatever" is the person commitmenting themselves to that set of teachings? “

That’s a good point, Steve. Ignoring the fact that ‘we give our lives too Jesus as wrong’, what are such giving to anyway?

I use to belong to and visited many of those kind of churches. Alter calls are pretty much part and parcel in them. Pretty much EVERY sermon was some kind of sermon to “we need to do better” or some form of “rededication”, then the alter call. I have had some alter calls that would call you to, “if you support the pastor and the ministry”, come forward. My friend and I nicknamed it “priming the pump” to get some motion forward. I haven’t seen it all but I’ve seen my share of alter calls. The longest one was about 30 minutes long, literally. He was going to break our wills one way or the other. This was years ago but finally I looked over at my wife during it and said, “I’ll go up just so he’ll shut up and we can go home”.

However, some of my wife’s grandparents were down just two weeks ago and we were just generally talking. They said they’d been here sooner, it was a Sunday, but their service was 3 hours long. I said, “you mean Sunday School and the service is 3 hours?” He said, “No, just the service.” I looked at him and said, “I don’t if I could sit physically for 3 hours and listen to a message…it would have to be good.” He replied, “Message? We have a 2 hour alter call.” (it gets better take a breath) I said, “You had a two hour alter call this Sunday!” He said, “We have a two hour alter call EVERY Sunday.” I almost fell out of my chair. And these, her grandparents are getting up there in age (70s). I wondered how they could simply physically sit there that long let alone the entire folly of it all. You talk about trying to move and break the will! And the kicker is, “No Gospel is preached”. Just the same ole “you need to try harder” and “Christian living” endless sermon series.

Here’s another one I use to battle with in my former denom. On evangelism campaigns one of the main lines you’d use here in the church pregnant south was, “Going to church every Sunday doesn’t save you” (doing the work was behind that thinking and it was designed to awaken one to the reality that you cannot work your way to heaven). But get this, they would hardly pray or repray the prayer, or rededicate or hit the aisle again before that is ALL the church under the guise of discipleship would indicate and live out before the new or returning member. It was crystal clear by the works of the church that the TRULY saved were the one’s at the church not only on every single Sunday but other days of the week. And if not, well “I won’t say your not saved but you gotta wonder” was the thinking since they are not “on fire for the Lord”. The sum of the message was: Going to church every Sunday your whole life will not save you. BUT if you wish to be assured that you are saved you better actually BE there every Sunday and other times the doors are open to GIVE you the OPPORTUNITY to “get involved”. “Pew sitters” were looked down upon as second class citizens at best.

I literally saw on more than one occasion in one instant of communication this: “Now you are not saved by your works”…led to praying the prayer of salvation…short rejoicing and smiling….THEN, “Now, the only way I can know you are really a Christian is by your fruits. You need to show forth fruit from now on.” David Lettermen couldn’t write stuff like that!

Larry - ky



Even though I grew up on an SBC church and "became" a Christian a 9, I have come to realize that I was already a Christian. My coming forward in an alter call is actually me acknowledging what God as already done.

As for "rededication", this is pure works righteousness since we are not going forward for the forgiveness of sin but as you correctly point of as "trying to be better". "Rededication" is an anti-gospel practice since it places the focus on my work not on Christ's work for me.

Larry - KY


I understand the alter call can be that for folks and wouldn’t speak against that.

But the general use of the AC in at least the SB circles I was in served a dual purpose all the time. One is as you've said and I too experienced, but it also serves as the format for rededication. Most of the times it is one AC given for the purpose of both. It gives the vehicle to "join" the church to the new convert but it is also a format to "rededicate" one more time. As a whole the practice is works and anti-Gospel as it sets the minds eye away from Christ. The alter call for me had become a stumbling block to the Gospel right out of the gate in a series of post conversion "works". I had just seen Christ placarded as Crucified before my soul, in a sermon outside of our church. Then came no less than three more incidents of "praying the prayer". Once as the pastor visited me a few nights later, a friend/deacon a few days later and then one more time at the alter call I went up to to join the church. The combination of doing that so much and the content of the prayer, began to chip away at the Gospel for me and make me wonder almost immediately if "I was doing it correctly". The alter call when all is said and done becomes the MAIN thing and baptism is just a secondary thing done, that much is crystal clear in SB life when I was in. And here’s the key difference: Christ is not IN the alter call as He is in baptism, nor has God given indication that He would be IN an alter call FOR us like baptism. That in conjunction with the fact that the alter call is clearly elevated as the main if not only sacrament of SB polity, since after all baptism and the Lord’s Table are law, makes it deadly. It is given as a sacrament to come to but behold there is no Christ here to behold. And who suffers the most? The weakest Christians of the church but they don’t know why they suffer and are instructed to just “let it be” as “this is the way we do it” or the ever insidious excuse for idolatry, “God can use anything”. It’s the weakest brethren we harm and that is not love to the brethern. It’s like starving a child to death and when he complains of being hungry we just smile and say with a pat on the head, “let it go, your belly will be filled”. There’s a form of niceness that’s just plain evil in disguise.

The main issue is the psychological/soul leading of the alter call. The leading of the eye of the soul off of Christ Crucified FOR ME to something else never sanctioned where Christ can be found, that is the alter call. This in turn leads very insidiously to works righteousness, therein lay the deadliness of the alter call. And something about works righteousness needs to be said as was even my experience that attaches to things like the alter call. We all have this picture of works righteousness as being some kind of morally superior jerk or smoky room hand wringing shadowy plotting Pharisee. Part of that I think is more the influence of Hollywood than anything else, but works righteousness more often comes under a much softer and pseudo humble tone.

The alter call did not lead me by or to that caricature of works righteousness, but rather an insidious version of it. And it did this not by foisting up in my face directly, “Work your way to heaven”, a harsh whip cracking, a “positive” distribution or command of “work your way to heaven”. Rather it did so by a “negative” implication that was a LACK of Christ Crucified for me, Christ NOT being there before my eyes…it covered Him up so to speak. A Christian ought NEVER have to work to have Christ, Jesus should be distributed to him, put point blank in their hands, mouths, eyes, ears, etc… And by Him not being there visibly to one, the soft form of works righteousness quite naturally arises. It’s almost a form of Mary saying, “Where have you taken my Lord…where is He, tell me and I’ll go get him”, a plea of desperation. It’s a cry of total desperation that says, “Well, even if Jesus is dead let me go to Him, better there than all this life”. It’s a halfway desperation but ANY part of Jesus is better than the cold stone of man’s heart and man’s inventions. And it’s a cry of soft works, that is, “what can I DO to get Him again…ANY part of Him. Because this double dry and leaky cistern of an alter call just keeps TAKING water it cannot HOLD any water let alone GIVE living water overflowing from it”.

That’s often a subtle thing missed when we think the REAL evil of the alter call. And that’s why the alter call is not discarded as the filth and vanity that it is, because it looks OK and harmless, just a matter of understanding and using it correctly. When in reality it’s the devil’s blanket over the Cross of Christ for me. It stays in some circles because it’s not announcing itself as deception but is garbed in light and so it’s not recognized as the poison it is. But it utterly obscures Christ crucified. It cannot be over emphasized that the Christian MUST, MUST, have Christ crucified before him/her always and especially in church services, especially at the service of the Word. The person not despairing under the alter call is the one not hungering and thirsting for righteousness, that is to say hungering and thirsting for Jesus and that is likely because the Law has not really hit them deep down. There’s more than one way to cause works righteousness and despair. There’s the overt way that we normally think of and most people refuse and stomp out, what I call the positive, explicit, and overt assertions to works righteousness. Then there is the negative, implicit, and hidden versions that do not say, “Work your way to heaven”, but simply and gently take Christ crucified out of view and this leads to a soft works righteousness. We have in mind John’s Gospel when Jesus likens His Crucifixion and men FIXING their eyes upon the Cross to Israel in the desert after they sinned. Moses lifted up the serpent and if they gazed upon it they where healed. They didn’t gaze at their sins, their repentance, each other. Neither was the strength of their gaze important, strong or weak, just gaze and at last they didn’t gaze at their gazing (looking at faith), they simply beheld Christ and lived. We also have in mind here Moses raising his arms and as long as Israel beheld him lifted up so, they one the battle, when they couldn’t see him the battle went sour.

You cannot take your eyes off of Jesus for one single second and not be afraid and despairing. A Christian, especially the new and weaker brother/sister in the faith, is like my children who are very small right now and all I have to do is get out of eye line of them, not to me but to them, and they begin to fear, “daddy/mommy”. That’s what things like the alter call do they are blind deceptive inventions of men that are utterly devoid of Christ and hence worthless.

It’s as Luther himself once said, “Sermons and doctrines which do not bring and show Jesus Christ to us, are not the daily bread and nourishment for our souls, nor will they help us in any need or trial”. And the alter call would definitely fit under the idea of a doctrine.

That’s the real problem of the alter call, its insidiousness. I knew many Christians trapped by its insidiousness.



I am a Missouri "Lutheran". For Good Friday, I had the privelage of attending a three hour long "Tre Ore" service. Seven area pastors each delivered a 5 minute homily, each focusing on one of the last seven sayings of Christ upon the Cross. Each of these homilies was accompanied by hymns sung by the congregation, music performed by soloists or ensambles, scripture readings of the passion account, and a 5 minute period of silence for reflection. This was without a doubt one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

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