The Evangelical Bait and Switch

THE EVANGELICAL BAIT AND SWITCH is when a minister in the Inquiry Room shows a seeker a salvation scripture and says "do you believe this?" The seeker would not be in the Inquiry Room if he were not ready to receive some sort of counsel, so of course he says "yes". Ever since D. L. Moody used scripture this way to assure dying Civil War soldiers that they were saved, New Light Calvinists increasingly used scripture with a "bare faith" approach, until by 1887, Frank Haven Hinman, a fifth generation New Light Calvinist minister wrote of people who were unsure of their salvation who come to the Inquiry Room in his book Hints And Helps In The Inquiry Room: "the trouble is not so often a failure to grasp the fact that salvation is obtained by simply believing, as a wrong conception of how the knowledge of their being saved is obtained. .. Teach them to look away from their feelings to Christ. Show them that already they have a witness of their acceptance in the Word if they are believing on Christ."

"Show them that already they have a witness of their acceptance in the Word" IS THE BAIT


"If they are believing on Christ" IS THE SWITCH.

bait and switch switch

Here was how the heresy of Decisional Regeneration would soon be tied
to the authority of scripture in a perverse and insidious way:
The reason most seekers are unsure of their salvation is they have no experiential evidence that they believed on Christ. If "believing on Christ" means merely assent to the facts about Jesus Christ (theologians call this "bare faith" - common faith, not saving faith), then
this is not a BAIT AND SWITCH. But if "believing on Christ" refers to saving faith that only happens with regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then this technique is a bait and switch.

frank haven hinman

Frank Haven Hinman (1859-1894)

Hinman continues: "Turn to John 3:36, and let them read " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. " It is by believing and not by feeling, that they have a knowledge of their salvation. By believing on Christ they have salvation; by believing His word they have assurance...turn to John 3:36 and let them read it. Then ask them if God does not mean what He says...Then have them read the text, putting in their names in place of the words "world" and "whosoever," i. e. if the name of the inquirer should be Marshall Green, he would read the text, '' For God so loved Marshall Green that he sent his only begotten Son, that Marshall Green, believing on him, should not perish but have everlasting life." This makes the text as definite as it would have been if there had been no one but Marshall Green in the world. Point out that the only condition given upon which is based everlasting life, is the one of believing, and if he is believing on Him he has a right to claim it.

The bait and switch is the seeker is told if he believes John 3:36 (or another salvation scripture), he must be saved because he has already believed on Christ. Every person who comes to an Inquiry Room believes John 3:36. Now you can understand why Billy Sunday, another Presbyterian who never knew (and probably wouldn't care about) the consecutional basis of the New Light Calvinist decision for Christ, eliminated the Inquiry Room in 1914. If believing John 3:36 means you are saved, then why go to an Inquiry Room?

The ironic thing is the New Light Calvinists that introduced the “decision for Christ” after the First Great Awakening, did so to combat emotional “religious affections” being mistaken for evidence of regeneration. When they said “don’t trust your feelings”, they meant don’t trust feelings you are saved despite all scriptural evidence to the contrary. Scriptural evidence like a change of character (yes, I said character), power over sin, keeping the commandments, hatred of sin and unselfish love for God and saints. The ironic thing is today ministers tell church people who have no Biblical evidence of salvation to not trust their legitimate feelings based on experience, but believe they are saved because they made a decision for Christ. Faith in their faith that they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ despite all Biblical evidence to the contrary. When they face Jesus Christ, he will not ask them if they had enough faith…he will say, “depart from me for I NEVER KNEW YOU.”

For a complete explanation of the basis of the New Light Calvinist decision for Christ, please read Samuel Hopkins.

jonathan edwards

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Jonathan Edwards wrote on the subject of false confidence in relation to belief of scripture in his Treatise On ReligiousAffections.


"Some persons, under high affections, and a confident persuasion of their good estate, have that, which they very ignorantly call a seeing the truth of the word of God, and which is very far from it, after this manner; they have some text of scripture coming to their minds, in a sudden and extraordinary manner, immediately declaring to them (as they suppose) that their sins are forgiven or that God loves them, and will save them; and it may be have a chain of scriptures coming one after another, to the same purpose and they are convinced that it is truth, that is, they are confident that it is certainly so, that their sins are forgiven, and God does love them, etc.; they say they know it is so; and when the words of scripture are suggested to them, and as they suppose immediately spoken to them by God, in this meaning, they are ready to cry out, truth, truth! It is certainly so! The word of God is true! And this they call a seeing the truth of the word of God.

Whereas the Whole of their faith amounts to no more, than only a strong confidence of their own good estate, and so a confidence that those words are true, which they suppose tell them they are in a good estate: When indeed (as was shown before) there is no scripture which declares that any person is in a good estate directly, or any other way than by consequence. So that this, instead of being a real sight of the word of God, is a sight of nothing but a phantom, and is all over a delusion. Truly to see the truth of the word of God, is to see the truth of the gospel; which is the glorious doctrine the word of God contains, concerning God, and Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by Him, and the world of glory that He is entered into, and purchased for all them who believe; and not a revelation that such and such particular persons are true Christians, and shall go to heaven. Therefore those affections which arise from no other persuasion of the truth of the word of God than this, arise from delusion, and not true conviction; and consequently are themselves delusive and vain.

But if the religious affections that persons have, do indeed arise from a strong persuasion of the truth of the Christian religion; their affections are not the better, unless their persuasion be a reasonable persuasion or conviction. By a reasonable conviction, I mean a conviction founded on real evidence, or upon that which is a good reason, or just ground of conviction".

joseph bellamy

Joseph Bellamy (1719-1790)

Joseh bellamy wrote on the subject of false confidence in relation to belief of scripture in his True religion Delineated.

The subtitle of True Religion Delineated, was “experimental religion, as distinguished from formality on the one hand, and enthusiasm in the other”. As the title implies, Bellamy was correcting two types of false convert at the time of the First Great Awakening. He did not deal with the most common type of gospel hypocrite of today - the “bare faith” evangelical hypocrite. This was written in 1750, 15 years before Robert Sandeman introduced the “bare faith” heresy to the American colonies. The Campbellites were decades in the future. It would be 75 years before the bare faith hypocrites became common – when many Baptist churches and some Sandeman churches converted to Campbellism. Then, after the Civil War, some fourth generation New Light Calvinists and most fifth generation New Light Calvinists started to promote the bare faith approach inherent in the Belief In Scripture Test (BIST) in the Inquiry Room as evidence of saving faith with de facto regeneration.  


"All their faith consists in believing that their sins are forgiven. And all the foundation which their faith is originally built upon, is an immediate revelation; the truth of which they dare not call in question, for fear of giving the lie to the Holy Spirit, from whom, they say, they know it came. But how could the Spirit of God reveal it to them, that Christ loved them, and that their sins were forgiven, and hereby lay the foundation for their first act of faith, when, before the first act of faith, they were actually under " condemnation, the wrath of God, and the curse of the law"? (John iii. 18, 36. Gal. iii. 10.) The thing revealed to them was not true; and therefore was not from God, but from the devil. Now, this false revelation laid the foundation for their faith, and their faith laid the foundation for their joy, and for all their religion. A spiritual sight and divine sense of the great truths presupposed and revealed in the gospel, is the foundation of the godly man's faith and holiness; but a particular thing, nowhere revealed in the Bible, is their foundation (THE REVELATION THAT THEIR SINS ARE FORGIVEN) yea, a falsehood that is directly contrary to what the Scriptures plainly teach".