Major Problems with Checklist Evangelism
1) Insisting that doctrine be a conscious and necessary object and/or content to saving faith, rather than Jesus Christ. One must initial each spot of the checklist evangelists essential doctrines.
A) And each of these doctrines has to be fully undertood to the evangelist's satisfaction
B) Supplementary doctrine may rise to the position of essential saving content in order to inform a full understanding of the 3 essential doctrines.
C) These too (the supplementary doctrines) would out of necessity need to be fully understood, defined, which could lead to further qualifications, clarifications, defintions, etc., which makes it an endless regress and slippery slope.
2) It provides a gospel invitation that cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. What they give is technically inaccurate, and if the hearer asks where in the Bible says such a thing, they could not go to any single passages, but must play scripture hop-scotch.
A) It uses unbiblical phraseology and wording in its gospel invitations. Nowhere do we find in the Bible a passage that enjoins men to believe in all 3 of their essential 'gospel' doctrines -- atonement (cross, or death of Christ for sin), the deity of Christ, and the resurrection -- that has the explicit, stated result consisting of eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation.
3) Its invitations invite confusion.
A) The two-step: one must believe the facts, but believing the facts won't save you, you must furthermore TRUST the facts, or appropriate them personally. This implies some ethereal, ambiguous, and confusing second condition and act, whereby the hearer must, by an act of the will, decide to trust the essential doctrines for his salvation. Can someone decide to trust the gospel acts for salvation and still not be persuaded that they have eternal life by simply taking Jesus at His word? Of course. This leaves room for uncertainty as a response to the invitation. If one doubts, he just simply has to choose to trust. But doubt precludes faith. He may think he is saved (he told the evangelist that he trusted in Christ's work) as the evangelist told him he is now saved, but in reality, he remains unsaved, having not exercised faith, but has merely a "pie in the sky" hope based upon a decision to "trust". This type of invitation usually includes the sitting in the chair illustration, or the story of Blondin, the famous Niagra Falls tightrope walker.
B) Decisionism: this has been explained a little bit in A. When we tell someone in our invitation that they must "decide" to believe (whether or not it is the checklist or Christ's promise) we invite confusion. One can only "decide" to believe that which he has not been persuaded of. And in this case it is not belief, but merely a disposition toward the truth at best (that by definition would include doubt which precludes faith) and rank unbelief and doubt with a mere glimmer of 'hope' at worst. In either case, when one is strongly disposed toward something or only slightly disposed, the result is the same: unbelief, a lack of being convinced, unpersuaded.
C) Often times, in conjunction with decisionism, the final call in the checklist evangelism's invitation is a plea to pray a prayer. Larry Moyer and other FG people ought to know better than this. The sinner's prayer could be thought of as the magik words that bring eternal life. One can pray things that they do not understand! Understanding greatly facilitates saving faith. It is difficult to believe a proposition that you do not understand on a mental plane. You, of course can believe things that you do not fully understand. The Trinity is one case. But there is plenty of evidence to persuade one of it. What I am talking about is when one does not know the MEANING of a proposition. If you do not understand what a proposition MEANS it will be impossible to believe that proposition in the meaning that was intended with it. If one prays a prayer, uncertain of the meaning of his words, therefore unpersuaded, he could have a false assurance and will still be in his lost state.
4) Checklist evangelism un-awaringly rob the believer of the foundation of his assurance. A true beleiver will have assurance when he first believes. But if later he loses his assurance, where in the Bible will he go to in order to find the objective basis for certain assurance? No passage says, "Amen, Amen I say to you, Believe that Jesus is God, died for your sins, and rose again from the dead and you have everlasting life." How can he verify he is saved by a simple appeal to scripture, when none matches up with his evangelistic experience?
5) Checklist evangelism ends up having two different ways for children and adults to be saved or it will disqualify youths from being saved. Christ's promise is simple. My daughter understands it and believes it. But ask her to articulate substitutionary atonement, or how Jesus can be both God and God's Son at the same time, she will be speechless. Some may relegate her to hell, saying she doesn't know enough to be saved, or hasn't understood enough. But I say that is hog-wash. I have also met people in the course of my discussions of this doctrine, who say that God does not require children to understand so much, but requires adults to understand the full measure. This of course cannot be maintained by any scriptural appeal.
6) In all of this, checklist evangelism seeks to invalidate the simple exercise of faith that does in fact bring eternal life. They just can't get themselves to consider one saved who is in any degree ignorant of orthodox doctrine.