Getting Saved


In my observations–limited as they are–it’s my understanding that the Evangelical notion of Salvation as being a one moment in time, once and for all type of event is pretty much restricted to the United States, or communities with their roots in the U.S. Does anyone know the history of this understanding, how and where it developed and whether European Protestants–not influenced by U.S. groups–also hold this type of view.

In simple terms, my two questions are: 1) Is “getting saved” at an “altar call” a uniquely American experience? and 2) Can anybody tell me how, when and where this practice originated?


Most, if not all fundamentalists believe that once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is impossible to lose your salvation. You are “Saved”. Like many other protestant teachings, this was unheard of before the reformation.

Mt 24:13 tells us we must endure to the end in order to be saved. St Paul says the same in 2 Tim 2:12- We must hold out until the end.

In Rom 11:22 Christians are warned that they will be cut off if they do not preserve in the kindness of God. Hebrews 6:4-6 describes people who are shares in the Holy Spirit (Born-Again Christians) but fall away from God.

Remember what St. Paul says in Phil 2:12 about working out your salvation with fear and trembling. Who should have more assurance of salvation than St Paul?? Yet he still says, “I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I find myself should be disqualified” (1Cor 9:27).

Bottom line-We must die in sanctifying grace in order to be saved. Any mortal sin leads to a loss of sanctifying grace and the risk of hell should we die in that state.

Altar calls are just one of many novelties invented over the last couple hundred years by those who consider themselves “Bible-Only”.

Catholics are constantly being accused of being unbiblical and of having traditions “of men” that are not in the Bible. On the other hand, I hear many evangelicals state that they belong to “Bible-only” churches which totally reject Tradition and rituals. I am told, “We got the Bible and that’s all we need. Nothing else! We don’t need your silly unbiblical rules, rites, rituals, beliefs, and medieval hocus pocus.”

Perhaps they need to be reminded of following are examples of the many unbiblical traditions, beliefs and rituals of “Bible-only” churches:

The following are “Must do’s” to be saved:

Just accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, nothing else - Not in the Bible
Must recite of the “Sinners Prayer” – Not in the Bible
Must have altar calls – Not in the Bible

Other unbiblical beliefs/practices:

Must be baptized by full immersion - Not in the Bible
Sin is a sin – Not supported in the Bible
Saved by faith alone (sola fide) – Not in the Bible
Christ paid the full penalty of sin – Not in the Bible
Bible is the sole rule of faith (sola scriptura) – Nowhere in the Bible
Private interpretation of Scripture – Bible says it’s not allowed
Health and Wealth Gospel – Contradicts the Bible
Once saved always saved – Contradicts in the Bible
Baptism is symbolic and just a public declaration of faith – Not in the bible
Pre-tribulation rapture – Not in the Bible
Going to church on Sunday – Not in the bible
Celebrating Christmas – Not in the Bible
Celebrating Easter – Not in the Bible

They don’t reject Tradition and rituals, just “Catholic” Tradition and rituals (except the ones that are easy to keep, like Easter and Christmas), then replace it with inferior unbiblical rules, rituals, beliefs, and post-modern hocus pocus!

If we are ritualistic pagans then so was Jesus and so were the first Christians, and so are evangelicals. The only difference is, we follow the rituals established by Jesus Christ and practiced by the early Christians.


A friend told me that he left the Catholic Church because there are to many “rules”. It’s easy to be a protestant fundamentalist. All you have to do is go up for an “alter call”, accept Jesus as your personal Savior and your all good. It all seems to be an easy way out. You’re “once saved always saved” so you can go about your business and do as you please.


Thank you for your answers.

What I’m specifically asking is whether the whole “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior at an altar call” thing is a recent American invention, or whether communities that have not been influenced by American Evangelicals also believe and practice this.

In other words, if Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley or John Smyth walked into the First Baptist Church of Elvis Country he would recognize the “altar call” and the theology behind it.

Does anybody know the history of this theology and practice?


Check out this website…
It has a great section about a “personal relationship with Christ”. It’s seems to have stemmed from American individualism. Hope it helps.


Thank you.


Yes and No, it is a tricky business. One problem is they say once saved always saved, but if you have any sin, drinking, dancing, in some cases playing cards not going to church regularly or attending all the meetings, dressing modestly, or any other vices etc.- They will say you weren’t really saved the first time, because if you were you wouldn’t be doing those things. So even though they say that and preach eternal security they never are quite sure they are saved and they are always skeptical of anyone claiming to be saved, so then they try to out do each other in trying to be more holy than the next guy, lest some other church goer question their salvation.


A history of the Sinner’s Prayer. (non-Catholic website)


I am sorry ziapueblo but I have to disagree with you. I must say that following Jesus, whether as a Catholic or as a fundamentalist is not easy and neither should be considered an easy way out. It is hard for me to not to give the benefit of the doubt to people who sincerely seek our Lord that their motives are for no other reason than what they believe is truth. Who knows, maybe I am too trusting :shrug:

While I do agree that there are a lot of Protestants who just say the “sinner’s prayer” and then feel that they have done everything and continue on their merry way, I feel that these people are the equivalent of our Cafeteria Catholics and not a proper representation of the fundamentalist faith.

Sorry ziapueblo, I just see this as too broad of a generalization.

Just my :twocents:

God bless


Thank you. Can you tell me what denomination hosts that site?


Non-denominational. Who they are can be found at this site under “our organization”:

I wouldn’t spend too much time on that site.

God bless


You are right. There are many Catholics that pick and choose as well as many protestant Christians. The only reason I came to the conclusion about it being “easier” about some of these baptist or non-denominational Christians is because of my conversations with them. Isn’t that why we have the sacraments, so that we continue to receive Gods grace?

God Bless


I of course see that all Christians are “saved”. As Catholics we receive the fulness of Christianity through our Sacraments! :thumbsup:


The only reason I came to the conclusion about it being “easier” about some of these baptist or non-denominational Christians is because of my conversations with them.

I look at it this way; would I want a Protestant to make a judgment on me and my faith based off of what some “Catholic” said to them prior or would I want them to base their opinions of my faith based on what I actually believe and what the Church actually teaches? I try to use the same criteria with Protestants.

But these are your observations and I can’t questions them. There probably are Protestants out there who have left the Church because they felt that their new path was easier. Nothing surprises me any more when it comes to people.

God bless


Well put.

#16 to represent Protestants? Um no.


yes, wide(easy) is the path to destruction, narrow(difficult) is the road to everlasting life.


The research I have done in this area seems to indicate this concept started with the so-called Great Awakening and snowballed after that. The fundamentalist movement is a direct ancestor of the ‘revivalism’ of Early America, which in turn was an ancestor to the Enlightenment. It was unknown at the time of the Reformation, however I believe one can find the seeds of this error in Luther’s “Tower Experience.”


When looking at the history of various faith backgrounds… many of the beliefs taught in nondenom/fundi/pentecostal… etc… can be found as starting in the time period between roughly 1820-1900 in America.

Things like full emmersion only, alter calls, pretrib rapture, dispensationalism, religious individualism among many others all can be found as having their modern roots in this time period.

Protestants that hold to many of the ‘newer’ beliefs that also accept the history say things like “it took protestantism that long to fully shake off the old yoke of Catholicism.” I’ll give them that at least they accept the history of it…

The Question I always follow with is “So are you telling me that no one got it right from say Constantine to the 1800’s? Doesn’t that mean God abandoned his flock?”

Others say things like “it was underground the whole time, but started at Pentecost” :hypno:

But Ultimately, a lot of the beliefs you see today, especially in non denom churches, have their roots in American Religious movements of the mid 1800’s

In Christ


Dispensationalism and rapture theology have it’s roots across the pond in England among the Plymoth Brethren. But, you’re right, its popularity did not take off untill the first decade of the twentieth century with a man named C.I. Schofield in the US. At one time these movements bragged how they spread this doctrine around the world through missionaries. America was deemed the lighthouse God was using to spread the Word to the rest of the world. Pretty arrogant when you think about it.

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