Stand Up and Be Counted By R. T Kendall. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985. 127 pp. Paper, $3.95.
This author, R. T Kendall, needs little introduction. He became the minister of the famous Westminster Chapel in London with the blessing of his predecessor, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This is interesting since Lloyd-Jones was a five-point Calvinist who had long vocalized his opposition to the public invitation. Kendall’s defense of the public invitation in this book is an extension of his book Once Saved Always Saved (see review in JOTGES 1 Autumn 1988: 74–76), although both books can stand on their own and be read in any order.
Stand Up and Be Counted (subtitled, “Calling for Public Confession of Faith”) has three major themes. It records Kendall’s personal struggle of introducing public invitations into the Sunday evening services of a church highly influenced by Calvinism. Kendall also offers a defense (personal, biblical, and historical) of the practice of making what he calls a “public pledge.” Kendall then gives practical advice on how to give a public invitation and what to expect when giving one.
This review is limited to three observations about Kendall’s book. First, the key to Kendall’s thinking is Rom 10:9–10. A public confession of faith in Jesus is necessary to prove that one’s faith is saving faith. Kendall does not hold the traditional perseverance view of either Calvinism or Arminianism. He opts for eternal security. A person can apostatize from the faith, and though he may be disciplined and lose his rewards, he remains saved. However, public confession, whether before one person or before a whole congregation, is a necessary element in saving faith.
Leaving to one side the exegetical difficulties in Rom 10:9–10, there are theological problems with Kendall’s emphasis. In spite of his disclaimer, does he really make public confession a condition for salvation (cf. Once Saved, p. 22)? Also, why should one stop with confession? Is it possible that the same line of reasoning could be used to include baptism, which is admitted by Kendall to be another form of public confession (p. 45)? He has excellent intentions, but it seems he has drawn the line at the wrong point and thus defeated his own position.
Second, his detailed argument for a public pledge based on OT examples (especially Abram’s pledge to the king of Sodom in Genesis 14) raises hermeneutical questions. Admittedly, there are many similarities to be found in all public confessions of faith, but do Kendall’s OT examples prove the necessity for public confession of a NT faith? It may be that Kendall has committed overkill. It might have been better to state that public confession of NT faith is in line with the pattern found in the OT, but that the necessity for it today is to be found in the NT.
Third, this reviewer is very sympathetic to Kendall’s concerns as well as his emphasis on the importance of a public confession of faith. However, some readers of Stand Up and Be Counted may wish to balance his view with the sound scriptural approach of Lewis Sperry Chafer in his work True Evangelism. Chafer also calls for a public confession of faith, but only after the issue is made clear that salvation is by faith and that walking down an aisle does not save. If one has just been saved, or if he has never publicly confessed his faith in the Savior, then, according to Chafer, the invitation is appropriate and significant.
Theological problems aside, Kendall’s book offers sensibly practical steps to implementing public confession in the worship service. It is a readable and reasoned treatment which will prove worthwhile reading for any preacher considering the giving of invitations and who wonders how to go about it.
Lanny T. Tanton
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society