"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The BFM 2010: A Not So Good Idea

I anticipate there will be efforts by several different groups to add amendments to the Baptist Faith and Message by the year 2010.

Besides the fact that BFM 2010 rhymes (say it aloud and you will hear it), I think there is very little wisdom in amending, rewriting, or changing our confession of faith.

I realize Dr. McKissic has requested President Page to appoint a committee to look at adding a statement regarding private prayer languages, and I am sympathetic with Dr. McKissic's rationale --- he believes it is unconscionable to exclude Southern Baptists from denominational service based upon doctrinal criteria that go beyond the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Dr. McKissic wishes a statement to be made by the convention, one way or the other, regarding a private prayer language.

The only way the convention would come out ahead on an issue like this is for the convention to say, "We have people and churches in the SBC who are continualists, and we have people and churches in the SBC who are cessationists. Both groups affirm the BFM 2000 and we will not exclude either from denominational service because of differences on this doctrine, or any other doctrine, not addressed in the BFM 2000."

Reasons an Amendment to the BFM is Unwise

One of the problems with changing the BFM is that, unless there are safeguards, doctrinal interpretations which are not essentials of the faith will creep into the confession. When that happens, the document that was intended for unification becomes a document of polarization.

For example, even though I believe in particular redemption, effectual grace, and that regeneration preceedes faith, I am loathe to place those doctrines in the convention's confession, simply because serving with me on the mission field and participating with me in denominational service should not depend upon you agreeing with me on these doctrines.

Again, many in the SBC are dispensationalists, including pastors on our staff, members of my church, and other leaders. However, there are several who are not dispensationalists in the SBC, including pastors on our staff, members of my church, and other leaders in the SBC. Dispensationalism is an interpretation of the events surrounding the coming of Christ. It should be left out of any confession of our convention --- in order not to polarize and exclude some Southern Baptists.

So it is with a private prayer language. Many of us don't have one, and have never sought one. Thousands of Southern Baptists, and a clear majority of our African American SBC churches do have a private prayer language. However, to say we either affirm or deny the gift of tongues in the convention's confession is beyond the purpose of the convention's confession.

What Then Is Needed?

In essence, what is needed is a clear understanding by our agencies and boards that, while the convention expects affirmation of the BFM 2000 by denominational servants, there should be no attempts to exclude Southern Baptists on the basis of doctrinal interpretations that go beyond the BFM 2000.

In a future post I will show you that one of the reasons the BFM 2000 caused some polarization in our convention is because it came close to injecting third tier doctrines (or doctrines that are not essentials of the faith) into the body of the confession. As a result, there have been several states who have continued to adopt the BFM 1963 as their state confession.

It is not my intention to reverse anything that has been done in the past. There are those who seem to want to try say that I and others do not respect the leaders of the conservative resurgence. That is simply not true. I do respect these men, as I respect every Christian brother.

However, I am greatly concerned that the battle of the 70's and 80's which was supposed to root the liberals out of the convention might now become a battle to root out anyone who disagrees on a specific interpretation of doctrine by those in leadership. In other words, instead of excluding liberals, it is now an attempt to exclude Charismatics.

Tomorrow it may be an attempt to exclude the Calvinists.

Next year it might be an attempt to exclude Amillenialists.

Next decade it might be an attempt to exclude those who are not Landmark.

I pray that we can come to the place where the SBC cooperates in missions, evangelism and denominational service even though we disagree on the above issues.

What is needed is a formal statement that we, as a convention, will NOT DIVIDE over these issues.

Wisdom from the BFM 2000 Committee

President Page Patterson appointed the BFM 2000 Committee which included: Max Barnett (OK), Steve Gaines (AL), Susie Hawkins (TX), Rudy A. Hernandez (TX), Charles S. Kelley, Jr. (LA), Heather King (IN), Richard D. Land (TN), Fred Luter (LA), R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (KY), T. C. Pinckney (VA), Nelson Price (GA), Adrian Rogers (TN), Roger Spradlin (CA), Simon Tsoi (AZ), Jerry Vines (FL). Adrian Rogers (TN) was appointed chairman.

These are fine men and women, most of whom I know personally.

Listen to their wisdom regarding the convention's confession and ask yourself what would happen if we really took these words to heart. The following is found in the preamble of the BFM 2000.

Baptists are a people of deep beliefs and cherished doctrines. Throughout our history we have been a confessional people, adopting statements of faith as a witness to our beliefs and a pledge of our faithfulness to the doctrines revealed in Holy Scripture.

Our confessions of faith are rooted in historical precedent, as the church in every age has been called upon to define and defend its beliefs. Each generation of Christians bears the responsibility of guarding the treasury of truth that has been entrusted to us [2 Timothy 1:14]. Facing a new century, Southern Baptists must meet the demands and duties of the present hour.

New challenges to faith appear in every age. A pervasive anti-supernaturalism in the culture was answered by Southern Baptists in 1925, when the Baptist Faith and Message was first adopted by this Convention. In 1963, Southern Baptists responded to assaults upon the authority and truthfulness of the Bible by adopting revisions to the Baptist Faith and Message . The Convention added an article on "The Family" in 1998, thus answering cultural confusion with the clear teachings of Scripture. Now, faced with a culture hostile to the very notion of truth, this generation of Baptists must claim anew the eternal truths of the Christian faith.

Your committee respects and celebrates the heritage of the Baptist Faith and Message, and affirms the decision of the Convention in 1925 to adopt the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, "revised at certain points and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . . ." We also respect the important contributions of the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message.

With the 1963 committee, we have been guided in our work by the 1925 "statement of the historic Baptist conception of the nature and function of confessions of faith in our religious and denominational life . . . ." It is, therefore, quoted in full as a part of this report to the Convention:


(1) That they constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for the general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us. They are not intended to add anything to the simple conditions of salvation revealed in the New Testament, viz., repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

(2) That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past so in the future, Baptists should hold themselves free to revise their statements of faith as may seem to them wise and expedient at any time.

(3) That any group of Baptists, large or small, have the inherent right to draw up for themselves and publish to the world a confession of their faith whenever they may think it advisable to do so.

(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.

(5) That they are statements of religious convictions, drawn from the Scriptures, and are not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life.


I will be at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's Board of Directors meeting and will be unable to respond to any of your comments.

I do hope you will seriously consider what has been written.

In His Grace,

Wade

48 comments:

Kevin Bussey said...

When will it end? Why do we need to keep change the BFM?

David L. Miller said...

I don't know that the BF&M needs to be changed, but the SBC needs to speak on some of these issues.

How about a motion that would state: "No board or agency of the SBC may establish doctrinal parameters beyond those stated in the BF&M 2000."

There are powerful people who are establishing their interpretations as the official doctrine of the SBC. Only the official action of the SBC will settle things.

Your father taught me something when he was at my church. He said that a church's constitution and bylaws can be a most powerful tool for unity in the church. It should spell out responsibilities, authority and accountability and then it should be faithfully followed. (Paul, I know you read this - if I have misrepresented what you said, please correct me.)

It seems that the SBC will only have peace when the parameters of our fellowship are clearly defined.

I don't think this issue will be settled until the SBC speaks authoritatively.

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
Your post brings many thoughts to mind. The main idea that I got from your post is that our BFM should NOT DIVIDE. I agree and I believe ALL GOOD (ha) Baptists would also.

But after six years we are still divided over the present BFM and I believe it will remain that way until something is done.
The BFM 2000 agrees with the 1963 in stating: “Baptists…have the right to draw up…a confession…WHENEVER they think it is advisable to do so.”

I believe it is advisable to “draw up” a confession that represents ALL Baptists by a committee that represents ALL conventions, and NOT like a committee that was handpicked who agreed with one man.
The committee should NOT work in secret but will be open the public.
The committee should announce their final work to the churches and be voted on the FOLLOWING year.

Until that is done, I’m afraid ‘Baptists Wars’ will continue which makes our Savior sad.
Rex Ray

RM said...

There was never a need for the BF&M 2000. It was only done to start yet another fight with those they wanted to exclude. I'm not real sure why we need one anyway--it just causes fights while a whole world rushes on to Hell.

RM said...

Another note: how many people in your church actually know what the BFM 2000 is and what it says? (or even care) Be honest and truthful in your answer.

Gary Snowden said...

You struck a sensitive nerve with me on this post. I'm eagerly looking forward to the future post that you mention about the polarization that the BF&M 2000 brought by injecting third tier doctrines into the confession, hence leading some state conventions to continue to utilize the 1925 or 1963 document. I'm especially intrigued and have yet to be able to reconcile (in my mind at least) the citation of the 5 principles that characterized the previous confessions with the way the BF&M 2000 has been employed. Specifically, I note point #4 which states "(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience." How the committee could in almost the very next paragraph introduce the wording of the BF&M 2000 as "an instrument of doctrinal accountability" on the heels of saying confessions historically have had no authority over the conscience and are only guides in interpretation is perplexing to say the least.

I, along with at least some 70 other IMB missionaries, found that step to be unconscionable as it placed a man-made creed above the Scriptures themselves. I know there were other fellow missionaries who also resigned over this issue who did not specifically name the BF&M 2000 as the reason for their separation but did confide that to others. They were not counted among the casualties of the BF&M 2000 by the IMB. Many opted to take early retirement. Literally hundreds of years of missionary experience among these was discarded as the new guidelines were implemented. Lives devoted to missionary service and following God's call to serve in distant, difficult places were tossed aside. Some calloused folks who see everything in terms of black and white might be tempted to say, "good riddance," but careers and callings were destroyed in many cases.

For the sake of those remaining on the field (many of whom I still consider to be dear friends and colleagues in the work), as well as those who feel led of the Lord to serve in the future, the SBC simply must abandon the language of war. It seems that in response to your plea and that of others to respect the right of principled dissent, a vociferous group of individuals committed to the conservative resurgence are intent on continuing the fight (at least that's what the reports from the Joshua Convergence seem to indicate). I trust there will come a day when the SBC grows war-weary and will begin to offer olive branches of peace rather than the inflammatory rhetoric that continues to urge others to engage in combat with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

David R. Mills said...

Great post Wade, however I think we are dreaming that this will not erupt into a not so nice scene. There does have to be a time when a line is drawn in the sand as to what the SBC believes about some doctrines, and how that is done is the 64 thousand dollar question. I don't think that anyone really wants to visit those issues, and insist on their interpretation as the position of the convention. However until it is done, we continue our division. I pray for our convention that God will send a great revival not only in the saving of souls, but in Bible study, and the conviction that that will bring. Lord, please hasten the day!!!!

Alycelee said...

Frankly, I don't know why we need one in the first place.
I believe RM is correct, most Baptist have no clue what BFM says, any of them.
On Wednesday night, my pastor (who I love and seldom disagree) in teaching the history of the church held up the BFM and said, as Baptist.. "We believe." I said, wait a minute pastor, all Baptist don't necessarily believe BFM, I'm not sure I can sign off on all in BFM, if you hold up the WORD and say, we believe then I'm with you.
He smiled and said, I understand.
It seems to me we exalt "our understanding" instead of the word.

For His Glory said...

Wade,

I agree with you that, "...What is needed is a formal statement that we, as a convention, will NOT DIVIDE over these issues."

Where would this statement come from? And if a statement like that did come, would it have teeth or substance if the PPL policy was not / is not reversed?

Paul Burleson said...

David Miller,

I do read this blog faithfully. I know the author rather well. Of course, I think he's right on target. :)

I do hold the constitution and by-laws of a congregation in high esteem since it is the mutually agreed legally binding document for a non-profit organization by law. That's why it should always speak in principle form and not in specifics. As, "we will meet regularly on the Lord's day and at other chosen times for worship", rather than, "we will meet at 10:30 am on Sunday for worship."

But the BF@M does not constitute that kind of legal document. We have appropriate constitution and by-laws in play for the SBC and it's agencies. The BF@M is a different animal IMO. There is no binding power in it. It is a confessional attempt to characterize our uniqueness. We may or may not agree with all stated therein and remain in fellowship in the SBC. I think it is possible to clarify our uniqueness which is inclusive of people with varying degrees of understanding on lesser truths. [Lesser only as refered to here...3rd tier.]

Now I understand that employees of the SBC, including missionaries are required to sign an agreement to the BF@M. That may not be bad, particularly if they are able to voice reservations at a point if such an one exits. But to change the theological requirements after signing, especially to address lesser doctrines as a specified belief, is untenable to me.

All in all, I think this post reflects a needed debate and some thoughtful dialogue.

Paul

Roger Simpson said...

My wife and I have now been here in Oklahoma for two years after moving from California where we attended a Church that was aligned with the Conservative Baptists of America. We are members of an SBC church in Del City OK. During the two years we have been in OK, I have not heard the BF&M mentioned in any Sunday School class or from the pulpet. So I don't think the BF&M is a burning issue to the average guy in the pew. It isn't to me.

I am sympathetic to the baggage that attaches to the 2000 BF&M that has resulted in some unfortunate incidents in the IMB and NAMB.

I think to 95% of Southern Baptists whatever is or is not going on with the BF&M is just "shop talk" that pastors argue about.

I agree we need some type of limits to demark the boundaries between the SBC and liberal groups that deny the virgin birth and/or A. A. Allen style faith healers. Wait a minute, I guess we all have that document: it is called the Bible.

Some may say, "But the Bible needs interpretation and there are various interpretations -- thus the need for the BF&M."

My answer is that we should cut to the chase and abolish the BF&M and instead of arguing about what version of the BF&M to use -- by citing Bible texts -- we could streamline our debate and just argue Bible interpretation without any BF&M apparatus clouding the issue. After all, any debate about the BF&M is only a thinly vieled debate about the Bible anyway. Why the facade?

Lest you think I am 'detached from reality' let me assure you that I have my trusty BF&M right here on my desk at all times adjacent to my computer monitor. Mine happens to be the Sixth Printing and is dated May 2003 -- ISBN 0-6330-0302-6.

Bob Cleveland said...

He drew a circle that shut me out

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout

But love and I had the wit to win

We drew a circle that shut him in.

(Amen ... draw on, SBC.....)

Bro. Robin said...

Wade,

I may be wrong, but from reading Dr. Mc Kissic's letter to Dr. Page I find that he wants to push beyond the PPL to an amendment that considers the comprehensive issue of tongues as a whole: cessationist, semi cessationist, and continualist.

One other issue. I affirm four of the doctrines of grace, I am also a pre-millennial/pre-tribulationist. If our convention moves to outing those like us who agree with points on the doctrines of grace, or others who are amillenialists, I will be the first to stand up and come to the defense of those who hold those views. But I don't believe that will happen.

Please allow me to quote the fifth point on unity from the Joshua Convergence:

We are fully committed to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a summary of our common beliefs, and we desire full cooperation with all who share this commitment. Within our number are those with diverse positions on the doctrines of grace, aspects of eschatology, approaches to worship, and missions and evangelism strategy. While we cherish opportunities to discuss these differences, we reject all attitudes of mean-spiritedness, personal attacks, or intellectual and spiritual arrogance in these debates. Instead, we pledge to maintain a peaceable spirit and to work together in our common goal of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God Bless

Bro. Robin

foxofbama said...

Wade my friend, BFM 2000 won't scour. Here in Alabama you got all kind of finaggling with it including a state editor who continues to pump the Coop Program and Rick Lance Ex Dir of the Alsbom neither of whom are itching to sign BFM 2000. both go to churches whose pastor's will not sign it and both churches, Dawson Memorial in Bham and FBC Mgomery support the BWA.
Haven't seen you at bl.com with Webb and and Flick and us other sirens there.
Come back for a spell and engage or at least be aware of the major conference on religion and politics coming up at emory which threatens to go for the jugular of the Chic Fil A empire--SBC implications include Truett Cathy's son in law, former VP at IMB; and on a lighter note you will want to see an update on your lunch in Enid, and how, indirectly, the blogging world has been endoresed by Yale proff Susan Olson in a Christian Century piece.
Sfox in collinsville

Les Puryear said...

Wade,

Your post today is one I agree with for the most part. I agree that we need no additional amendments to BFM 2000.

I would caution you, however, on one aspect of your post. I would be careful about you deciding which issues are third tier and which are not. As you have said in the past, those decisions have not been made by any blue ribbon panel or committee as yet. Therefore, I would ask you to wait on posting your opinion of what is third tier and what is not third tier.

Of course, it's your blog and you can do anything you wish. I'm just trying to avoid another battle. We have too many already.

Regards,

Les

psmpastor said...

Wade,

What we are dealing with in our convention is illustrated well with the BP article about the GARBC. It says, “General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) to sever ties with Cedarville because of perceived liberalism in the SBC.

What are the issues that they consider liberalism? Here are the reasons given in the article:

John Greening, GARBC national representative, recommended to messengers at the annual meeting that they sever ties with Cedarville in accordance with the fellowship's commitment to "biblical separation -- from sin and error and unto holiness and truth."

Expressing thankfulness for the SBC's conservative resurgence, Greening added, "It is obvious that the SBC is a work in progress" and cited alleged examples of perceived problems in the SBC.

"The newly elected SBC president describes himself as a conservative inerrantist, yet he has issued a call for more open dialogue on theological issues," Greening said in a statement of SBC president Frank Page. "A 15-foot statue of Billy Graham was unveiled two weeks ago at the SBC meeting in North Carolina. We praise the Lord for many who have come to faith in Christ through Billy Graham's preaching. However there is no one in evangelical circles who has done more to blur the lines of distinction between Evangelicals and Catholics than Billy Graham."

At a press conference following his election in June, Page affirmed the SBC's conservative resurgence and said as president he would seek to "reach out to godly, conservative men and women who perhaps have not been utilized in the past."

Greening commended the decision by the SBC's International Mission Board not to permit missionaries to practice a private prayer language but cited as problematic the lack of unanimous support for the policy in the SBC as well as IMB president Jerry Rankin's practice of a private prayer language.

"When you change the boundaries, you change your identity," Greening said in the statement. "It may appear in the short term you are making gains, but in the long term you jeopardize your organizational integrity. It is the position of our constitution that a church's dual affiliation with both the GARBC and the SBC is not permissible."

Can’t we just suggest that those who want to continue to narrow the parameters of cooperation join the GARGC?

Fight On!

Patrick

miriam plowman said...

I'm quoting Paul: "I understand that employees of the SBC, including missionaries are required to sign an agreement to the BF@M. That may not be bad."

I'm curious. Prior to the BFM 2000 were all employees, trustees, missionaries required to sign the 1963 BFM when they came onboard?

davidinflorida said...

IMHO , with an emphasis on the "H", I believe that the preamble to the BFM 2000 should be the BFM. Short but complete......This looks like a Martha vs. Mary issue. We have too much to do (reaching the lost, disciping, etc.) and only a certain amount of time. Why are we wringing our hands with endless issues of disagreements.....Are we not Christians?..........What do you think that GOD sees when He looks down on this?

Bob Cleveland said...

It seems to me that the likely result of a "new" BF&M would be defining more closely, and hence more narrowly, what it means to be a "Southern Baptist". That will not be good.

I had lunch with Monte Erwin yesterday, who left the mission field over just such "refinements" in "baptistness". You can check my blog for details, if you're interested.

Suffice it to say it's not a pretty thing when it happens.

Pastor Mike said...

One of the most important things that seems to be forgotten is that the SBC overwhelmingly voted to accept the BFM 2000. The vote was not dictated by one man. The "one man" did what he was asked by the SBC to do, and the SBC accepted what the rewrite committee presented. As a SBC pastor I feel it imperative that those whom receive compensation from the SBC should whole-heartedly sign the BFM 2000. If they can't do that in good conscience then they should find an organization, etc... that they do agree with and go with them. The SBC has spoken, not the "one man" or any of his "protege's".
Serving Him,
Mike

David L. Miller said...

Paul,

My point is that we need an authoritative word from the SBC's authoritative body - the Convention. We need a statement that all parties will have to abide by.

I do not think it has to involve a BF&M change, but there must be a "controlling legal authority" (to quote that famous Baptist Algore).

The problem is not in the BF&M. The problem is that some are adding their interpretations to the BF&M.

SBC Layman said...

Pastor Mike,

Could you quantify, or qualify the following statement.

"One of the most important things that seems to be forgotten is that the SBC overwhelmingly voted to accept the BFM 2000."

How many is overwhelmingly?

How many of the 16 million members, or 6 million average weekly attenders voted for the BFM 2000?

Troy

Roger Simpson said...

David Miller, Les Puryer, et al:

I agree there is a problem with people adding interpretations to the BF&M. But in reality they are only vetting their own interpretation of the Bible.

Consider several possible scenarios regarding the BF&M vis a vis (for example) "private prayer language":

(A) There is a BF&M but it doesn't mention PPL explicitely -- this is the current DEFAULT situation.

(B) There is no BF&M.

(C) The BF&M explicitely states that PPL is "outside the bounds of Baptist practice".

(D) The BF&M explicitely states that PPL is "within the bounds of Baptist practice".

We have a dispute -- or a potential dispute brewing -- on PPL and [1] whether PPL should be inside the tent and [2] to what extent the BF&M should be "controlling" on PPL and [3] what -- if anything -- the BF&M should say on PPL.

Considering the four cases:

Case A. To settle the problem we will have to resort to our interpretation of the Bible since we all agree that the Bible is the "controlling authority".

Case B. To settle the PPL issue we will have to grapple with coming up with a common interpretation of the Bible -- since we don't even have a BF&M.

Case C and D. If any of us don't like the position currently codified into the BF&M and we instead hold to the opposite position on PPL then we will have to try to convince our opposition by showing them why our position on PPL is a more "correct" Biblical interpretation than the current position codified in the BF&M.

Do you see a pattern here? The obvious pattern is that in any case the common baseline that 99.99% of us share is the Bible so we might as well acknowledge -- by common consent -- that we are going to be using it as primary document as we argue for our interpretation.

The only benefit the BF&M has is that it codifies those those beliefs and practices that we all hold in common.

Regardless of what the BF&M says or doesn't say currently it does not help us to grapple with things we disagree on.

Even if the BF&M specifically addressed some doctrine the BF&M would not help us to resolve conflicts on these doctrines. Even if the BF&M specifically assigned every doctrine as "tier 1" vs "tier 2" vs "tier 3" that would not settle anything for anyone with a dissenting opinion.

I don't care how you slice this debate there are two things that to me seem obvious:

(a) The BF&M is OK only if a given doctrine is covered in it and if everyone agrees with the BF&M's statement on that doctrine

(b) To resolve any other issue we are going to have to use extra-BF&M sources.

The BF&M is a fine document. I personally have no problem with either the 1963 or 2000 document. However, to SOLVE DISPUTES the BF&M is at best useless and at worst an impediment.

Mac McFatter said...

Kevin,
Changing it will never end as long as the BFM (whatever version) is made into a creed by requiring formal signing of acceptance and agreement with and no wiggle room allowed.
Gary Snowden,
Amen.
PastorMike,
Southern Baptists did not overwhelmingly approve the 2000 BFM. Only the messengers who attended that particular convention overwhelmingly approved it.
I still do not understand why we Baptists must put limitations on who God can call to pastor or teach? I believe God was capable of doing that for Himself without our formal statement.
Do not quote Paul's letter to Timothy, else you will have to tell your wife she can not wear gold or pearls or expensive dresses or pay to have her hair fixed up for Sunday worship, because that is also in the same letter.
Mac McFatter

Jim Paslay said...

I find it amazing that some who dismiss the 2000 BF&M were some who wouldn't go along with the 1963 BF&M either.

Let's be frank here, most moderates don't like the family amendment in the 2000 BF&M because it contains a strong pro-life statement. Also, the part about submission of women in a marriage relationship. And who would have thought we would have to define what marriage is because of homosexual activists who seek to add same-sex marriage to the equation.

For those of you who say that most Southern Baptists don't know anything about the 2000 BF&M, maybe it because pastors haven't done a good job of preaching doctrine and using it to help people know why and what they believe as a Southern Baptist.

I have personally preached on the changes made to the 1963 BF&M and we have given the 2000 BF&M to every family in our church.

At this time there is no need for a new statement of faith and it is about time that those who continue to bash the 2000 BF&M to "build a bridge and get over it."

LivingDust said...

The BF&M has become a tool of some to exert leverage and control over other Southern Baptists.

Does that make the BF&M a bad document? No.

Is it repugnant behavior to use the BF&M to impede the activity of another brother or sister in Christ? Yes.

Perhaps Dr. Frank Page, as President of the SBC, will address the mis-use of the BF&M and break the stranglehold that a few key people appear to have on our Convention. These two issues go hand-in-hand.

SBC Layman said...

Jim,

I think that one of the issues is how "general" we are with our language and statements. And I am equally guilty.

For example, someone at work asks me: "What do Southern Baptists believe?" Now if I answer them with the BF&M or with any recent article on Baptist distincitves, am I being honest? Can I really speak toward "what the majority of Southern Baptists believe" with any truth. Or am I only speaking about what the messengers believer and the person who wrote the article.

For example, your statement:

"I find it amazing that some who dismiss the 2000 BF&M were some who wouldn't go along with the 1963 BF&M either."

How many is some? And can I actually quantify that they were the same people that dismissed both BF&M.

A second example, your statement:

"Let's be frank here, most moderates don't like the family amendment in the 2000 BF&M because it contains a strong pro-life statement. Also, the part about submission of women in a marriage relationship."

How many is most moderates? And do we know for certain that their disagreement is with Amendment 18 The Family?

Again, it wasn't until recently that I became aware of the language I use and that we all use which causes some of our problems.

Personally, I was in Texas when the BF&M 2000 came out, and there was only one discussion in 2000 about it in the church I attended. The only reason I knew what was in it is because I printed out a copy of both and read them.

I can tell that person I work with what I believe the Bible says. With great care, I might even be able to say what my local church believes and practices. But beyond that, it would be just guessing.

TruthOfActs said...

I agree with RM saying, “There was never a need for the BFM 2000.”
I guess the BFM 1963 was too peaceful for bullies and people that like to fight.

Gary Snowden wrote a very good and touching article. He noted the many casualties of the new BFM.
I wonder if the conscience of those that kicked missionaries from their call from God ever bother them over the souls that went to hell because of their pride in having their ‘wonderful’ paper signed?
Their paper was so ‘wonderful’ they raised it over the Bible as being “our doctrinal guideline” which is printed in Sunday school literature. This is an example of Alycelee saying, “It seems to me we exalt ‘our understanding’ instead of the Word.”

Paul Burleson,
I usually find your comments on target, but your saying, “…employees of the SBC, including missionaries are required to sign an agreement to the BFM” is not in keeping with you saying, “There is no binding power in it.”
What do you mean by “binding power”? Getting fired is pretty binding—not as bad as the ‘stake’ though.
You said, “That [signing BFM] may not be bad, particularly if they are able to voice reservations…but to change the theological requirements after signing…is untenable to me.”
Paul, your son had to sign the new BFM and he wrote reservations on three items. Are you saying he should not try to change those items since he signed it as it would be “untenable” to you?

Miriam Plowman,
You asked if the BFM 1963 had to be signed. No.

Bob Cleveland, you worried that changing the BFM would make it more narrow, but lets hope that changing it would remove the ‘narrowing’ and make a larger tent.

Pastor Mike,
A ‘messenger’ is one who carries a message from someone. ‘Baptist messengers’ carry messages from their churches.
No messengers voted on the BFM 2000 because their church did NOT give them a message how to vote on the issue. How could the churches advise their representatives when it was secret what would be voted on?
In a court of law, your “overwhelmingly voted to accept the BFM 2000” would be ruled illegal because the authority of the churches was intentionally trampled by spiritual leaders becoming spiritual bosses.

Jim Paslay,
I’m amazed that you expect me to believe that you’re amazed when you give no facts to back up what you’re amazed about.
You say “moderates don’t like the family amendment in the 2000 BFM because it contains a strong pro-life statement.” Are you saying moderates are in favor of killing babies? Even if there was a “pro-life statement” (which there’s not), your words are slanderous.
You’re right that I don’t like the part about submission of women because I believe the Bible does not teach a pecking-order.
Rex Ray

TruthOfActs said...

Pastor Mike and Jim Paslay,
The BFM 1025 had “A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is…GOVERNED by His LAWS.”
The BFM 1963 saw that as the possibility of ‘control’ over churches. They saw “governed” as dissolving the autonomy of the church. They saw ‘higher-ups’ interrupting Bible verses as laws for churches to follow. They changed the church statement to “…is COMMITTED to his TEACHINGS.”
Can either of you explain WHY the BFM 2000 changed the church statement BACK to the BFM 1925?
Was it because they wanted to make a law: “The office of ‘pastor is limited to men”?
If the BFM has the rights to make one law, does it have the right to make one thousand laws?

Jim, Jesus doesn’t permit us to build a bridge to allow fabrication.
Rex Ray

miriam plowman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
miriam plowman said...

I do believe the controversy causes more study, determining what's out there, what we believe. Since I saw this post and the comments I've taken time to read some. The following are excerpts:

Time to Decide
Only a handful of Southern Baptist missionaries leave amid revisions to BFM.

"I can't pledge to act in accordance with something where I have differences of opinion and think it goes against Scripture," Rick Dill told Christianity Today. "Over half the Baptist pastors in China are women. Are we willing to say they're out of God's will?" view article

To Sign or Not to Sign?
Some Southern Baptist missionaries balk at revised statement.

"Others say conservatives are using the BFM as a creed. Charles Wade, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), told CT, "We've never considered a confession as an instrument of doctrinal accountability. When did Jesus ever ask anyone to sign something?" "
view article

THE EFFECT OF THE 2000 BFM ON THE SBC

"At issue is whether or not the new version of the BFM is a creed, or is being used in a creedal sense. To respond to this issue, it is important to not only look at what is being said, but more importantly to examine how the 2000 BFM is actually being used in denominational organizations."

"Are instruments of doctrinal accountability what Baptists need and want to keep us balanced when it comes to our doctrinal convictions? Or, is free discussion of all theological views and opinions, which tests the Biblical acceptability in light of contemporary needs, a better way to refine our confessions of faith to fellow Baptists, Christians and the world? Are confessions a test of faith, or are they the result of faith, a faith that should continue to mature and grow in every generation, while protecting the Biblical foundations of all that we believe? "

"We have an opportunity to remind all Baptists that majority vote is not necessarily the correct view, and that the greatest contributions, such as the modern missions movement and religious liberty and separation of church and state, made by our denomination to the Christian faith and the world came from a lowly group of dissenters, a small minority whose dedication and passion changed the way that not only churches but nations do things. We must never cease to remind all Baptists that the views of the minority must be allowed, yea even encouraged, if a great denomination is to maintain its credibility and integrity. "
view article

TruthOfActs said...

Pastor Mike and Jim Paslay,
Individual PRIESTHOOD was born at Calvary, but pronounced dead in 2000 AD.
This was done by the BFM 2000 adding ‘S’ to believer. “Priesthood of the BELIEVER” was changed to “priesthood of BELIEVERS.”
Their reasoning for doing so was that freedom of individual priesthood was too dangerous and must conform to the group.

Would either of you care to comment?
Rex

Steve Young said...

Wade,
I agree with you that the BFM is fine as it is. I disagree with several of those who post here who apparently think it is too restrictive, or that we need no confession at all. It is important for a group to state those things that form a "consensus of opinion" that are "most surely held."

A couple have been visiting our church for a while who have a Nazarene background. In a visit in my office recently they wanted to know "Do you have anything that spells out what Baptists believe?" I was glad to say yes, and to provide that. It was interesting to hear them say what some had told them we believed or didn't. For instance, their understanding of "second work of grace" and our understanding of "filled with the Spirit" were not very far apart when we explained our terms. They had been told "Baptists do not believe sanctification." (Told by Baptists.)

Just a question. When the committee used the statement that the BFM is not regarded as "complete statements of our faith." Does that simply mean it is not exhaustive; That it does not address things that may not be of contemporary importance; or, That it does not adress third tier doctrines?

Appreciate your ministry.

Pastor Mike said...

If I remember correctly, the BFM rewrite committee was established at one SBC and them voted on at the next. It was public knowledge that the BFM 1963 was being updated, clarified, etc... Each SB church has the opportunity but also the responsibility, in my opinion, to be aware of what is taking place in the SBC and participating by electing and sending messengers to vote on the issues at hand. The rewrite committee was not done in secret as seems to be the implication. If I remember correctly when the vote came, every messenger in the room at the time was given the opportunity to cast a vote; the overwhelming majority, if not unanimously, voted to accept the BFM 2000. Therefore every SB had the opportunity to share their voice, through attendance and vote.

As to the question of the wording, "laws," I can only say that as I have read the Word of God I have never found any suggestions about how I should live, act, talk, etc... but I have found there to be many commands/"Laws" which God expects HIS children to obey. I know that we live "in" the grace of God. But that grace places us in a position of slavery to Christ. As a christian I am governed, not by a group of people, but by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Serving Him,
Mike

Roger Simpson said...

Miriam:

The document you refer to in you comment by Slayden Yarbrough is excellent! It sets the whole situation of various versions of the BF&M in a historical context.

I would not argue for or against any of the provisions the 2000 BF&M on its merits like most commentors on this BLOG would. I don't think what is in the BF&M is that big a deal. However, I don't disagree with the 2000 BF&M.

However, it looks to me that stepping back from the debate and observing the practical effect of the existence of the BF&M 2000 due to the way it is "implemented" would cause an objective observer to conclude --on balance -- that the BF&M is doing more harm than good.

What would happen if -- heaven forbid -- the hypothetical BF&M 2010 was BLANK. I for one think this would be an improvement. It would be one less proxy for the Bible. It would be one less layer of artifical insulation between the guy in the pew and the Bible.

SBC Layman said...

Pastor Mike

Referring to my two previous posts. One to you and the other to Jim.

My concern again is the language we use. The generalities that presume to make a statement.

Your statement:
"Therefore every SB had the opportunity to share their voice, through attendance and vote."

First of all. We would have to qualify every SB. Is that the 16 million members on the roll or 6 million average weekly attenders.
http://www.ccwonline.org/sbc.html

I am not sure what your business meetings are like, but I think we're good to get 1/3 of average attenders (much less a majority of the ones on the membership roll).

I am sure that every SB did not have the opportunity to share their voice.

Second, the opportunity to share a voice or opinion is not the same as affirming or believing in a statement.

While it may be the lesser of all evils in government, our democratic form is not an effective way of establishing the actual beliefs of the whole. Our country is a good example of that.

The only way to really do that is to have everyone vote. (At least of those that attend)

BTW. For the record. I don't have a problem with the BF&M.

Troy

Jim Paslay said...

truthofacts,

Concerning the statement made by you that the BF&M 2000 doesn't contain a strong pro-life statement, I will quote from the 2000 Statement,

"Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord."

I don't know about you but that is a pretty strong statement concerning when life begins. Also, it was moderates who have communicated with me that they don't like the family admendment as a whole and the subjection part or the statement above.

You might want to read up on a little history concerning the SBC before the conservative resurgence. We were perceived to be pro-choice before 1985 and the Dallas SBC convention. Foy Valentine, head of the Christian Life Committee, was a member of the Religious Coalition on Abortion Rights. He was definitely pro-choice. At the Dallas convention, the SBC moved to a pro-life denomination by establishing a Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in January to point out the erroneous decision of Roe v. Wade. The moderates led by Charles Wade wanted a "Concern for Life" Day in April.

My comments were not slanderous! Ask moderates and and you will find one reason for disdain of the 2000 BF&M is the family admendment.

TruthOfActs said...

Jim Paslay,
I was wrong in stating there was not a “strong pro-life statement in the 2000 BFM. I’ve read it a dozen times and I thought it was a good statement that Baptists believed, but I never put two and two together to realize it represented “pro-life.”
Otherwise, I would not have gone out on a limb knowing it could easily be chopped off.

With that said, if I represent some moderates, how can you say, “Most moderates don’t like the family amendment in the 2000 BFM because it contains a strong pro-life statement” when ‘we’ don’t even realized a pro-life statement is in the BFM.
It could be that moderates were so upset with the first part of the ‘family addition’, that they quit reading before they got to the pro-life statement. That first part went like this, “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband…to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”
In my opinion that removes priesthood of women. That’s the only criticism I’ve heard about the family addition and I’ve heard ‘tons’ of it.
You are right that moderates have a “disdain of the 2000 BFM” but not for the slanderous reason you stated.

Why have you skipped five questions I’ve asked? (Now there is six.)
Rex Ray

TruthOfActs said...

Pastor mike,
How can you state, “The rewrite committee was not done in secret as seems to be the implication” when their own words said, “We can’t tell you what we’ve done, but you will like it.” They met behind closed doors—NOT allowing anyone to know what they were doing.

WHY DID THE COMMITTEE KEEP THEIR CHANGES TO THE BFM 1963 SECRET?
Mike, will you tell us why, or do you still deny it was secret?
You say twice, “If I remember correctly.” Do you remember when you learned of the changes? Tell us IF it was BEFORE the convention?
I’m sure you won’t reply, so my opinion is that ONE MAN told them to keep their work secret because he did not want churches to have time to study the issues and inform their messengers on what NOT to accept. ONE MAN wanted to ‘push’ the changes through without churches being involved.

I am probably wrong in saying “not anyone” was allowed to know what they were doing because I’ll bet the ONE MAN that appointed them knew in detail what was changed and probably had more influence on what was changed than any person on the committee. Do you think he would appoint anyone on the committee that was against his thinking?

The changes to the BFM 1963 is an example of, “It takes only one wrong person to infect all the others.” (Galatians 5:9)
I will say again that the BFM 2000 is illegal because churches were excluded. It has caused ten times more harm than good and should be modified to remove that which causes Baptists to divide.
Rex Ray

Jim Paslay said...

truthofacts:

As far as the 1963 BF&M having "teachings" and the 2000 BF&M going back to "laws", maybe we need to ask those on the 1963 committee why they changed it in the first place?

I will say concerning the "priesthood of believer" versus the plural form, that there have been individuals in previous years who tried to use that phrase as a hermenuetical tool to explain away every belief under the sun. I am sure there the committee has given some comments over the last several years to explain the change. There is an accountability that should challenge us to fidelity of the Word.

I think is is quite obvious that you don't have a high regard for the 2000 BF&M. But Southern Baptists did vote to affirm it. If you don't like it, go to the next annual meeting and make a motion to replace it with the 1963 version. Otherwise, I don't think it is beneficial to constantly carp about it.

TruthOfActs said...

Jim Paslay,
Let’s make a deal, I’ll get a notarized statement of all the committee of the 1963 saying why they changed “governed’ to “committed” if you will do the same with the people who wrote in 1925 why they used “governed.”
More realistic, it would be easier if you asked ‘0NE MAN’ why he wanted the 2000 to change back to the 1925. I think you and I both believe he would know the correct answer.
I mean if he is such a ‘watch-dog’ in ‘cutting’ McKissic’s sermon to ‘protect’ Baptists whether we want ‘protection’ or not; I’m sure nothing slipped passed him by his committee.
The reason you MIGHT get a more correct answer from him than me, is I’ve asked him a question years ago and I got two answers. One was for everyone in the room to hear that The Criswell Study Bible answered all the questions thought by some to contain error. When I asked about the girl being dead in Matthew and alive in Mark and Luke, his answer for my ears alone was: “We got all we could.”
(On another point if every word is ‘perfect’ by ‘man’s recall’, why did the Holman Bible, in Matthew, change the girl from dead to alive? Jim, I know you will add this question to the list you won’t answer.)

The bottom line is the reasons I’ve already written why the 2000 reverted back to the 1925 still stand unless you can prove otherwise.

Your reason for adding an “S” to priesthood of the believer was a big zero as you said you were sure the committee had given some reasons over the years for the change. THAT’S IT?
What kind of discussion is that? It shows the mind-set of ‘trusting leaders’ which is what led the early church into Catholicism.

No wonder you don’t want to hear truth that show the conservative resurgence started paving the same road with their legalism on third tier beliefs.
Rex Ray

Jim Paslay said...

truthofacts:

I will answer your question on the girl in the gospels when you answer how a woman can be the husband of one wife.

You obviously have a problem with Dr. Paige Patterson. And if you are from Texas, you were taught that he and Mr. Pressler hijacked our convention single-handedly. The rest of us who voted for change were just weak minded fools that could be manipulated.

I would say that you need a dose of reality. Southern Baptist decided beginning in 1979 that this convention was headed in the wrong direction theologically. There were professors in our seminaries that were teaching in opposition to the 1963 BF&M. In fact, Southern and Southeastern professors refused to sign the 1963 BF&M but did sign the Abstract of Principles instead.

You seem to have a problem with Ephesians 5:21 and following over the submission of a woman to her husband. So if I don't like a certain passage, can I just act like it's not there? Maybe Paul had it wrong in Romans 1 when he talked about homosexuality being an abomination. Maybe Paul was off base when he told Timothy to avoid all types of sexual immorality. Do we allow the culture to change us or do we attempt to change our culture?

The 1963 BF&M was an attempt by Dr. Hershel Hobbs to avoid serious theological problems that developed over the Eliott controversy. The 2000 BF&M was needed in light of the assault on the family and other changes in our society. The men and women on that committee were people of integrity. I believe they did a good job! How about you?

TruthOfActs said...

Jim Paslay,
If you were a boxer, you would be known as a fighter that can dist it out but can’t take it. I mean, you can’t or won’t answer questions that prove you’re wrong about something. Maybe a better description would be a politician.
You said, “I will answer your question on the girl in the gospels when you answer how a woman can be the husband of one wife.”
Is that a joke? Are you making a joke of Scripture or are you cutting Scripture out of the Bible which you accused me of doing? You asked, “If I don’t like a certain passage, can I just act like it’s not there?” Looks like your ‘joke’ shows how you ‘skip’ Scripture.

You say I have a problem with Patterson and sweep the truth I brought out under the rug.
You said, “And if you are from Texas, you were taught that he and Mr. Pressler hijacked our convention single-handedly. The rest of us who voted for change were just weak minded fools that could be manipulated.”
Congratulations—I couldn’t have said it better myself.

You say, “Southern Baptists decided beginning in 1997 that this convention was headed in the wrong direction theologically.”
You’re right. They swallowed the bait, hook, line, and sinker of a political smoke screen about how many liberals there were and changed the glue that held Baptists together from missions to theology.
Their theological changed the direction to legalism in making the circle smaller and smaller which gave more power to the leaders to have more control over churches and individuals. The leaders don’t have faith in the Holy Spirit to guide Christians unless they have their finger in the pie.
Jim, a new day is dawning—what goes around comes around. More and more Baptists realize the 1979 direction needs changing to stop the dividing over third tier doctrine, and rally once more around missions to the glory of God.
Rex Ray

Alycelee said...

Why is it necessary for the BFM to comment on women submitting to their husbands? The scripture speaks plainly on that?
Why is it necessary for the BFM to speak on the Priesthood of the believer? The scripture speaks plainly on that?
Why is it necessary for BFM to speak on these issues, I just don't get it? We have the Word of God. I don't need a convention of a group of messengers affirming for me what the Word says.
Call me a rebel, call me what you like. I just don't get it. Sounds like a creed or at best a way to "define or control"

TruthOfActs said...

Alycelee,
WHY INDEED?
If you get instructions on how to do anything and it has a guideline, the guideline has priority over the instruction because it clarifies the instructions.
The conclusion: THE GUIDELINE IS OVER THE INSTRUCTIONS!

Why then does our Sunday school literature have: “The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is our doctrinal guideline”?
It turns my stomach every time I read it—to make the BFM over the Bible is what Catholics have done to the Bible.
The pride of man to make their rules higher than the Bible to give them control would require wheelbarrows for egos.
Rex Ray

TruthOfActs said...

Alycelee,
No BFM can be a creed unless it fits the definition by Webster. “A brief AUTHORITATIVE formula of religious belief.”
In the Baptist Standard February 2002, Keith Parks wrote, “A confession becomes a creed when others determine the beliefs one is FORCED to sign.
The BFM 2000 became a creed when employees (including Wade) of the SBC were forced to sign or loose their jobs.

The ‘power’ to force employees to sign is in violation of the BFM which states: “Confessions are only guides to interpretation, having NO authority over the conscience.”

Rex Ray

Jim Paslay said...

truthofacts:

It is quite obvious that you either don't read or listen very well, so it is difficult to respond to you when you already have your mind made up. "Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up." Sound familiar?

You proved my point when I responded with the Patterson-Pressler comment. Nothing could be further from the truth. I challenge you to read James Hefley's books "The Truth in Crisis" if you dare. It might just cause you remove your head from the theological sand. If you think for one moment that the conservative resurgence beginning in 1979 was because of third tier theological problems, then you get the blinders of the year award. Even moderates like Cecil Sherman, who was on the Peace Committee, admitted there were theological problems. For you to say that there were none is just wrong.

Concerning my challenge on answering your question, I will do so but my point is that you will have a difficult time explaining how a woman pastor can be the husband of one wife.

Your comment about coming together over missions was the moderates' mantra during the struggle. They wanted to gloss over the theological problems in our seminaries and universities but they still wanted conservatives to still give to CP without any accountability. We finally said enough! If you don't like what happened that is fine, but to continue to carp over it after several years is sour grapes.

If your "new day" is once again casting doubt upon the Word of God, then you're in for a struggle. Also, to equate some of the problems recently to the problems in the 1970s is disingenuous. They are not the same. By the way, if I remember correctly, the literature used to say the 1963 BF&M was the guide in previous years.

TruthOfActs said...

Jim Paslay,
Do you read what you write before you post it? On Friday, you asked me, “How a WOMAN could be the husband of one wife?” I couldn’t read your mind—to me the question was silly. Today, you add, “How can a woman PASTOR be the husband of one wife.” Now you are talking about qualifications of a pastor, and that makes sense which I will try to answer later.
In the future would you please put my thinking or statements in quotes when you restate what you THOUGHT I said.

“Today you said, “If you think for one moment that the conservative resurgence beginning in 1997 was because of third tier theological problems, then you get the blinders of the year award.”

Where did I ever say that? Why would I say something that I don’t believe?
It’s almost funny when you contradict yourself by saying, “For you to say that there were none [theological problems] is just wrong.”
You can quote me on this, ‘The resurgence made the Bible into a political football which they used to highjack the SBC by exterminating MAKE-BELIEVE liberals.’
If you disagree, tell the ‘body count.’

You said, “…on answering your question, I will do so…” Which of the many question are you referring to since you still have not answered any?

If I read “The Truth in Crisis”, (hope it’s not too many pages) will you read Russell Dilday’s book, “Glimpses of a Seminary Under Assault”? I’ve read “On a Hill which to Die” and I agree with the man that said the title should be “On a Hill which to Kill.”

“If a MAN wants to be a pastor…he must have only one wife…” (1 Timothy 3:1-2)
“If a WOMAN wants to be a pastor…she must have only one husband…” (Explanation to your question.)

If it was said the 1963 BFM was our doctrinal guideline, it was just as wrong as saying the 2000 BFM is our doctrinal guideline.
Rex Ray