Friday, April 20, 2018

Independent Baptists and 'Quick Prayerism'

Being raised a 4th generation Jehovah's Witness, I had virtually no knowledge of other Christian denominations apart from what I read in Watchtower publications, and my brief contacts with individuals while engaged in the 'field ministry'. Some of the first non-JW churches I attended in the 1980's were Independent Baptist churches. Though by nature staunchly 'independent', there existed a good deal of common doctrines and practices within the Independent Baptist paradigm, which included: dispensationalism, 'alter calls', 'soul winning', King James onlyism, and salvation by faith alone.

I soon learned that there was some disagreement among Independent Baptists concerning exactly what was meant by 'salvation by faith alone'. Some maintained that 'saving faith', in a very real sense, included signs of repentance and ongoing sanctification; while others believed that the inclusion of such signs turned 'salvation by faith alone' into a form of 'works-righteousness' salvation. These two opposing views—which also exists within Evangelicalism—has been termed by a number of folk as the Lordship salvation controversy and/or easy believism.

Now, I had read a good deal of literature on this issue back in the 80s and 90s, and thought I was pretty knowledgeable on the topic. However, earlier today while reading David Cloud's, "Friday Church News Notes", I learned of a certain aspect of this controversy that was new to me: "Quick Prayerism" (see this link). Note the following from David's online article:

Hyles-Anderson Baptist College and First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, have had the greatest responsibility for spreading the weird heresy of Quick Prayerism throughout the world. This occurred under the leadership of Jack Hyles. The Sword of the Lord published Hyles’ books on Quick Prayerism soul winning beginning in 1962 (Let’s Go Soul Winning and Let’s Build an Evangelistic Church). Quick Prayerism is an evangelistic methodology that is quick to get people to pray a sinner’s prayer after a shallow gospel presentation that, typically, is devoid of any hint of the necessity of repentance. It is quick to pronounce those people saved and give them “assurance” and to try to baptize them even if they demonstrate zero biblical evidence of having been born again. Quick Prayerism incorporates psychological salesmanship manipulation and is characterized by soul winning reports that are grossly exaggerated, since the number of actual spiritual conversions are exceedingly minute compared to the overall statistics.

I am wondering if any other folk have of heard this, "weird heresy of Quick Prayerism"?

Grace and peace,


P.S. David Cloud has an extended treatment of this subject which is available online without cost in a PDF format HERE.


Rory said...


I have not heard of "quick prayerism". I graduated from Hyles-Anderson College in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science, and a Master's degree in 1985. I am familiar with the tactic described by Mr. Cloud. I cannot reconcile the tactic with the Catholic faith which I embraced in 1995. But I am not sure that I wish to take the side of Mr. Cloud against my former beliefs and practices. We hit the streets. We knocked on doors.

Long prayers and repentance appear to be more Catholic. But I can't care much whether your heresy be "quick prayerism" or a "long prayerism" that still hates the Catholic Church. One will land you in hell as fast as the next. Nulla salus extra ecclesia.

Kent Brandenburg said...


It's a lot to explain, but it relates mostly to what belief is and Who Jesus is. A belief must be a biblical belief and Jesus must be the Jesus of the Bible. He isn't the Jesus of the Bible and it isn't the belief of the Bible with the Hyles group of churches, which really stems back into the mid 19th century revivalism, known by different names, but especially through Charles Finney, which didn't see man as totally depraved, so techniques, what he called "new measures," were good. Whatever it takes, which is why the Hyles group uses so many gimmicks.

Rory here is wrong. Repentance isn't a work any less than faith isn't a work. Faith is more than intellectual assent to facts. The NT teaches it involves the mind, emotion, and will. Related to Jesus, He is Lord or the Christ, like John says is the purpose of His gospel, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, which means He is King or Lord. If someone believes Jesus is the Christ, He is relinquishing the control of His life, losing His life. That is the involvement of the will. Believing in Jesus isn't putting Him on a shelf with all your other gods. You can't remain in rebellion against Him and be saved.

The easy prayerism turn Rom 10:13 into a syllogism. Call on the name of the Lord and you are saved, so pray a prayer and you are saved. They also say you ask for the gift, since salvation is a gift. It is a gift; however, you don't receive it by asking for it, you receive it by believing in Jesus Christ. They get it by praying a prayer so "evangelism" or "soulwinning," their usual term, is talking someone into repeating a mantra, like open-says-me. They also refer to Jesus only as Savior and not Lord. He doesn't have to ever be Lord and if He is, it is some time after you "accept" Him, 'pray a prayer,' as Savior.

If you ask about 50% of the people of America if Jesus died for them, they'll say, yes. That's not their problem. They don't want Him in charge of their lives.

There is a lot of interconnected false doctrine. A person accepts Jesus by praying the prayer and sometime later he might get dedicated, the second blessing, the higher life. Keswick Theology. This person gets a special jolt of power supposedly that he doesn't have at salvation, and he then becomes powerful and sees more of these professions, which are just prayers, which proves he has power. Since the prayers prove power, you get the prayers, and it is like a self-fulfilling prophesy. It proves spirituality, when it is really just carnal weaponry, the manipulation of Finney.

Much more could be said.

Sean Killackey said...

Hi fellow former fourther. David, I've never heard of the name before, or the exact permutation Cloud talks about, but it is depressingly common, as is the asinine prosperity gospel. But that shouldn't be too surprising in a culture where Christian is something you merely identify as, not something that God makes you through Church and family. But Churches don't seem to be edifying or disciple their people well, and given the number of youth leaving the Faith, most parents aren't either.

Rory said...

Hi Kent.

You mentioned me in your reply as follows:

"Rory here is wrong. Repentance isn't a work any less than faith isn't a work."

I get the part about being wrong. But that next sentence is not easy to understand. I am not sure what you think I believe about faith or repentance.

I was admitting that the teaching which underlies the methodology of "soul winning, or "quick prayerism" is far from my current beliefs. I became Catholic in 1995. What Dave described above as "Lordship Salvation" among independent Baptists would seem to be a step closer to Catholic teaching, but still anti-Catholic.


Even while a student at Hyles-Anderson I remember having discussions with friends about the dangers of a shallow approach to making conversions that merely resulted in inflated statistics on your weekly activity (soul winning) report.

Hyles himself admitted that almost nobody goes soul winning for their entire life. Whatever were the motives he and Mr. Anderson had for starting the college, it coincided with a need to always have a fresh crop of new soul winners every year in the form of young, impressionable, and idealistic college students.

The students eventually get rotated out like I did. Like me, maybe they see their experience as a misguided but sincere step towards trying to do what we thought was right as regards our duties to God. I have asked forgiveness for any confusion I might have ignorantly sewn during those years.

I would occasionally wish to emphasize the permanence of the "event" that just happened by asking the "convert" if they would still be saved if they never went to church, or if they murdered somebody. Once saved, always saved. I regret those conversations the most.

Towards the end of my time trying to reach people that way, I would emphasize that God knows how to make us sorry when we misbehave without sending us to Hell. I know I preached that. I can't be sure I ever used that in personal work. That was hopefully a little better. A move in the right direction. A rejection of "carnal Christianity".

Maybe nobody else was on a journey? Maybe all my former classmates are now grandparents going soul winning once a week and making sure their children's children say that quick prayer? Since becoming Catholic, I have almost lost all track of them. Occasionally the old memories will come rushing back, though, as they have in this thread.

While Mr. Cloud is generally accurate, I am not convinced that this is a pressing issue at all. Why have they never knocked on my door? Where are they? I had wondered if they haven't more or less withered up over the years and disappeared. Really. Dr. Hyles said he built cheap buildings because he knew that after he died the school would go liberal. I figured he was right.

Liberals don't go door knocking. That is the first thing to go. Are they growing? Are more and more disciples of the Hyles school of evangelism going out knocking on doors and bringing souls to Satan that were otherwise going to heaven? I kind of wish they would come and see me. I wouldn't mind having a chat.

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

I just got back from town, and finally have some 'free' time to check in on the blog; to my surprise, I see that you, Kent and Sean have been posting some interesting comments.

In your first post, you wrote:

==...I am not sure that I wish to take the side of Mr. Cloud against my former beliefs and practices. We hit the streets. We knocked on doors. ==

It was the evangelistic zeal of a number of Independent Baptists which initially compelled me to attend, and delve into your former paradigm. I for one will never argue against 'street preaching' and/or door-to-door evangelism.

==Nulla salus extra ecclesia.==

I will also never argue against extra Ecclesiam nulla salus; though I am currently not dogmatic about what that exactly means—i.e. the correct understanding between the visible/militant and invisible/triumphant Church.

In your second post, you said:

==Hyles himself admitted that almost nobody goes soul winning for their entire life. Whatever were the motives he and Mr. Anderson had for starting the college, it coincided with a need to always have a fresh crop of new soul winners every year in the form of young, impressionable, and idealistic college students. ==

Very informative. Personally, I sincerely wonder why it is that Jehovah's Witnesses are able to accomplish what, to my extant knowledge, no other ecclesiastical group can sustain—lifelong commitment to door-to-door evangelism. Do you have any thoughts as to why this is?

==Once saved, always saved. I regret those conversations the most.==

I have always found more than a bit interesting that so many Baptists embrace the 'P' of TULIP, whilst rejecting the other '4 points'; it sure seems inconsistent to me. (I think the same can be said for those who reject 'L' whilst embracing the other '4 points'.)

==Occasionally the old memories will come rushing back, though, as they have in this thread.==

Pretty much every time I drive by a Kingdom Hall, "the old memories will come rushing back". From personal experience, I know that most ex-JWs have very negative views concerning their former life as a JW; but not so with me, I look back with positive reflections outweighing the negative ones.

Must end my comments for now, my wife and I are heading down to the beach for a 5 mile walk. When I return, I hope to share some of my thoughts on Kent's and Sean's posts which may be of some interest to you.

Thanks much for taking the time impart some of your past history, and reflections, concerning your Baptist heritage. I suspect others will be as appreciative as I am.

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hello Kent,

It is more than a pleasant surprise to see a post here at AF from my favorite Independent Baptist blogger; thanks much for taking time from what I am sure is a very busy schedule to do so.

Your WHAT IS TRUTH blog has been on my 'Blogger Reading List' for over 6 years now. If memory serves me correctly, it was your "John 17 and Unity" talk delivered at the 2010 Word of Truth Conference which first put you 'on my radar' (link). [BTW, I mentioned this talk here at AF in this post.]

As for your comments from last night, I found them to be quite informative; especially the linking of "the Hyles group of churches" with "mid 19th century revivalism" and Finneyism.

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hi Sean,

Some very good observations in your post. Given the content, I think you will find the statistics provided in THIS THREAD to be quite illuminating.

Grace and peace,


Sean Killackey said...

Hi David,
I also don't have a negative reaction to my being a Witness. I certainly don't feel as if I've escaped a cult. Sure, they are a higher-control group than your average religious group, but I wouldn't call them a cult in the sociological sense (which is the only sense that most people have in mind). And to whatever extent that accusation might or might not be true, it didn't play into my decision to leave. What mattered most was what they taught, and I couldn't subscribe to it and worship God in Spirit and truth, nor worship him WHOLE-souled.

Now, I have a few guesses as to why Witnesses are on average a good deal more active in their religion than Baptists are in theirs, or Catholics in theirs, etc.

(1) their social life is more caught up in their religious life. Here's an example about what I mean: if you're a Witness and you don't know someone that well, you 'work out in service with them' as they would say. Also, they see each other two times a week at meetings, and about four times a month 'out in service'.

(2) Witnesses are bolder, and people are attracted to confidence. Their whole organization is geared toward prosyltizing. And their talks or sermons aren't ont fluff. Sure, they're wrong on a lot of things, but you have to at least recognize they bother to teach their people what they believe. E.G., I doubt many pastors will give sermons on the Trinity, but Witnesses will give you some on why it is false.

(3) They make progession in the Organization attainable - for men at least. It starts rather young. Help hand out talk slips, and such things. run the microphones, video or sound system. Give student talks, presentations, or read the Bible, Watchtower on stage, comment at meetings next thing you know, you're a ministerial servant. Don't be a total incompetent at that, go out in service more than avergage, give Sunday talks, help out at conventions, next thing you know, you're an elder.

(4) It also helps that, as far as most Witnesses believe, we're living in the last decade or two of the "this generation" of 1914.

Sean Killackey said...