3.07.2005

inoculation

I was at a meeting with around fifty pastors recently and the keynote speaker compared the modern “altar call” to an “inoculation”. According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary inoculation is defined as follows:

Inoculation: the introduction of a pathogen or antigen into a living organism to stimulate the production of antibodies


For example, giving you just a little (itsy bitsy tiny) bit of the measles virus so that your body develops an immunity to the real thing.
Did you get that? Just enough of the real deal so that you don’t get fully infected, and not only that, you are fully immune to future infection!

Are we missing the point when it comes to salvation? Are we seeking another notch on our belt by getting another raised hand, or another “sinner’s prayer”? Are we sending the wrong message by telling someone that this one act, as simple as raising your hand, and saying this one prayer, will guarantee a life lived in heaven for eternity? And is that really the point of salvation? Is salvation a get out of hell free card? Or is salvation also about the here and now, living a life that honors God, bringing about the “Kingdom of God” right now, here on earth? Is salvation a one time deal? Is salvation an occurrence, or is it a process? Is salvation a one time prayer, or a lifelong journey?

In the modern church are we inoculating the masses, insuring that they will never be fully infected by true salvation?

3 comments:

Gina said...

Preach it! I can't wait to see what the church will look like by the time I'm old and gray. It's going to be awesome.

lee said...

i often wonder which came 1st...

the consumer driven church or the consumer driven seeker...

i mean, have we settled for trying to get people 'saved' 'cause that's all that they'll remotely give us a chance at or...

have we conditioned them to weekly or twice a year or whenever innoculations, because of our weak messages on how to best avoid hell?

we need incarnation rather than innoculation...

i guess faith w/out works really is DEAD...

who'd a thunk it?

Thomas Costello said...

I have been wrestling with your first question of alter calls for a while now. I feel like the masses are less likely to respond to something like this now. They would prefer to work this out on their own, and do all the research, rather than just take you at your word. Plus you are right about this creating the nominally Christian culture that we live in today.
On the question of salvation, I feel that it is hard to make a case for it being anything other than a one time event. It may take a while to get there, but your eternal position is changed in one foul swoop (we can talk for a while on what is required for this one time event, as we have inthe past). On the other hand I have believe with all my heart that salvation is only a bi-product of what the whole gospel truly is. Salvation is a free gift that comes in a lifestyle of working out the gospel. We will spend our whole lives comming into the relationship that the gospel entitles us to. This is what I feel we need to rethink more than anything. Can the alter calls, and even the "salvation message" by itself, and lets preach the whole gospel.
For a while that word "gospel" turned people off, but I think its back. Its the new "hella".