What if you don’t recall the hour of your “decision for Christ”? Or, as this old article at Christianity Today asks, “How can I know I’m a Christian if I can’t remember when I first responded to the gospel?”
The question reveals, I think a faulty view of salvation and assurance of salvation. In light of our recent discussion of revivalism here, I thought the article asked an interesting question.
The whole idea of a “decision for Christ” is largely a revivalistic phenomenon. As the article says:
Much of American Protestantism has been influenced by revivalism, which places great emphasis on "making a decision for Christ" in a public, definitive way. These "moments of decision" often become the crucial evidence that one is saved. Other Protestant traditions, less influenced by revivalism (including some Reformed and Lutheran churches), may be content to leave the conversion experience unclearly identified, putting the focus on identification with the church. Both of these traditions have benefits, as well as potential problems.
In a recent comment, our e-friend Tracy makes a good point, I believe:
If I’m preaching to lost folks, I preach Christ crucified and call for them to close with Christ immediately and publicly. Before I close, I tell them if they have any questions, either they can come to the front at the invitation time or they can see me after the service. I always stress that Christ desires their immediate salvation. So I declare the gospel, spell out its terms, and call them to close with it.
I agree with that. We need to call folks to decisions.
But what about some who can’t remember the specifics of their decision? (Perhaps it was a long time ago, perhaps it was when they were very young, perhaps they remember bits, or perhaps they remember nothing at all.)