Dr. Eric Hankins, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi, proposed a "Sinner's Prayer" resolution at the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans back in June >>>
As some have noted, while Hankins' original proposal was accepted by the Resolutions Committee, the committee overhauled the original submission fairly extensively before putting it to the messengers for consideration. After a lengthy discussion on the convention floor, messengers approved the edited version of Hankins' resolution.
Consequently, most of us probably expected Hankins' original resolution proposal never to surface again. After all, the Resolutions Committee presumably improved Hankins' proposal as, in the words of one analyst, "[a] more carefully worded [document] and grounded in biblical language and reasoning." Indeed as one critic aptly put it in speaking about the Resolutions Committee's version of Hankins' proposal, "it's stuff like this which is [sic] comes out of committees that always makes me proud for the kind of unity in truth that the SBC ultimately stands for" (//link).
We now have visible proof that a sizable body of Southern Baptists neither agreed with the aforementioned critics in their analysis of Hankins' resolution; nor did they prefer the Resolutions Committee version to Hankins' original version; nor were they dissatisfied with the language and biblical grounding Hankins employed in his original submission; nor were they of the mind most of us were and are that Hankins' original resolution would never surface again.
Rather, as best I can tell, Tennessee Baptists took Eric Hankins' original resolution on the "Sinner's Prayer" verbatim and passed it during the 138th Annual Session of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, at Faith Baptist Church, 3755 N. Germantown Rd., Bartlett, on Nov. 13-14, 2012.
While legitimate concerns for the potential misuse and/or abuse of the "Sinner's Prayer" will continue to be raised (and rightly so), it's unlikely that Southern Baptists overall will see a wholesale problem with utilyzing it with care. All of us--including me--have observed alarming instances of what can only be called careless and reckless advocacy from overzealous witnesses and evangelists who place far too much focus on "praying this prayer" so one will "be saved." And, where abuse and/or misuse exists, we not only may criticize it, we must do so to maintain gospel integrity in sharing the Good News to the ends of the earth.
On the other side, concerned critics of the "Sinner's Prayer" should soberly consider the mediating words by theologian, Wayne Grudem:
Finally, what shall we say about the common practice of asking people to pray to receive Christ as their personal Savior and Lord? Since personal faith in Christ must involve an actual decision of the will, it is often very helpful to express that decision in spoken words, and this could very naturally take the form of a prayer to Christ in which we tell him of our sorrow for sin, our commitment to forsake it, and our decision actually to put our trust in him. Such a spoken prayer does not in itself save us, but the attitude of heart that it represents does constitute true conversion, and the decision to speak that prayer can often be the point at which a person truly comes to faith in Christ. (Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, p. 717)
Perhaps it would assist us in coming closer together on this issue if advocates of the "Sinner's Prayer" like myself would readily concede and acknowledge that abuse/misuse may and does, at times, take place. Hence, we must address, as the need arises, through clearer communication and more thorough teaching, the proper use of the "Sinner's Prayer" in leading persons to prayerfully confess and surrender to our Lord in response to the gospel we proclaim.
In addition, it may also assist us if concerned critics of the "Sinner's Prayer" would readily concede and acknowledge that while misuse/abuse surely exists, countless people have been led to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ through some form of what we call the "Sinner's Prayer." And, even though from their standpoint there may be too much abuse/misuse of the "Sinner's Prayer" for them or their people to benefit, others may and do use the "Sinner's Prayer" model both responsibly and profitably for the Kingdom of God in fulfilling the Great Commission.
UPDATE: I learned through Alabama pastor, Rick Patrick, that three other states-- Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama (and possibly a fourth--Texas)--also considered and passed verbatim Eric Hankins' original resolution.