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

The Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Bible Is Sufficient for Me

Southern Baptists have historically been people of the book. We have consistently stated that the Bible is 'authoritative and sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.'

In the last five years there has been a push for trustees, employees and administrators of Southern Baptist agencies to sign the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to affirm their agreement with this modern confession of Southern Baptists or be removed from service.

It is my understanding that employees of Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary are asked to sign both the BFM 2000 and The Abstract of Principles which governs both institutions.

The charter of both seminaries contains the following statement that continues to be a part of the 'fundamental laws.' "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."

I have four questions:

(1). Would you be surprised to know that the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 contradict each other on a point of doctrine?

(2). Would integrity demand that professors, who by contract and charter must affirm and teach according to the Abstract of Principles, simply refuse to sign the BFM 2000 because it contradicts what the professors believe on just one or two points of doctrine that are not essentials of the faith?

(3). Is it reasonable, and should it be expected, that seminary professors might be allowed to sign the BFM 2000, expressing general affirmation, but write down their disagreement on a couple of points of doctrine that are not essentials of the faith?

(4). If it is considered reasonable for number (3) to happen, would it not be logical and consistent to allow all signers of the BFM 2000 to do the same?

Let me give you an example:

The Abstract of Principles, which every professor and employee at Southern Southern and Southeastern Seminary must sign, has an excellent statement on the fall of man.

VI. The Fall of Man (The Abstract of Principles)

God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

The abstract teaches that every descendent of Adam is 'under condemnation' even though they are not 'actual transgressors.'

In other words, infants are under 'condemnation' by God because of Adam's sin, even though they have not yet personally sinned.

This seems to be very consistent with the teaching of the Apostle Paul who said, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

However, the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message clearly teaches something different:

III. Man (The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message)

Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 teaches that the descendents of Adam are not under condemnation 'until' they are capable of moral action.

In other words, according to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 nobody is actually condemned for the sin of Adam, but rather, condemnation comes as a result of one's own personal, actual sin.

In other words, infants are 'innocent' before God and not under condemnation until they are capable of moral action and 'choose' to sin, and are then placed 'under condemnation.'

Now, I frankly believe that there is room for Southern Baptists who believe both interpretations. Some Southern Baptists believe condemnation is because of Adam's one sin, and others believe that no condemnation comes until there is personal, actual sin. I think the 'tent' is big enough for people who hold to these two different interpretations on this point of doctrine which is not an essential of the faith.

What really puzzles me is the inconsistency by some Southern Baptists.

The inconsistency of at least one seminary professor who is very vocal about the 'integrity' of the signers of the BFM 2000 when he himself believes and teaches a doctrine that is contradicted by the BFM 2000 (or at least in his contract of employment has 'signed' that he believed something different than what is written in the BFM 2000).

The inconsistency of those who label as 'moderate,' 'liberal,' or 'neo-conservative' anyone who questions anything in the BFM 2000, but then fail to realize that the charter for Southern Baptists' mother seminary teaches a doctrine contradicted by the BFM 2000.

The inconsistency of those who belong to a convention that has historically affirmed the Bible the sole and sufficient authority for faith and practice, but then act as if a confessional document is on par with the Bible itself.

I believe in the inerrant and infallible Word of God. I treasure it as the authoritative and sufficient expression of God's revealed will for man. I study it. I memorize it. I preach it. I live it.

My conscience is bound to it.

When I am asked to affirm a human document, I will. But I will not hesitate to show where I believe it is not in line with the Word of God.

By the way, when it comes to the consequences of Adam's sin I affirm the Abstract of Principles and believe the BFM 2000 to be in error on this point of doctrine.

Only the Bible is without error. Man's interpretation of the Bible is fallible.

The man who can't admit he may at times be wrong in his interpretation of the sacred text is the man undeserving of leadership in the SBC. He won't know how to be humble and gracious with those who disagree with him.


In His Grace,



Wade Burleson

72 comments:

Tim Sweatman said...

This is one reason why I believe our SBC seminaries and other entities should not be allowed to have any doctrinal statement other than the BFM. Not that the BFM is inerrant or perfect (I have a couple of issues with it myself), but it is what we as Southern Baptists have adopted as our common statement. To allow our entities to have their own statement opens the door to such inconsistencies.

To answer your questions:
1. No, I would not be surprised.
2. Yes, if there were no provision to allow them to sign the BFM and note any disagreements with it.
3. Yes, it would be reasonable.
4. Yes, consistency and fairness would demand it.

Terry Jenkins said...

Once again you show yourself to be scholarly and articulate.

I have learned a great deal from reading your posts.

Thank you.

Terry

Bill Scott said...

Wade,

Have you read Dr. Caner's White Paper on 'glossalalia.'

I was absolutely shocked that anyone could even consider calling it scholarship.

Seriously, I am like you in that I ambivolent about this particular gift, but since the Scripture teaches it, I simply follow the Word regarding restrictions on it, and I see nowhere that the Bible 'forbids' a 'private prayer language.'

But I would think that if people opposed 'glossalalia', they would at least do so on the basis of a Bibilical argument instead of a diatribe that is filled with cliches and silly phrases like "Only immature Christians use the verse 'Do not forbid the speaking in tongues' to argue against forbidding a private prayer language.'

Good grief.

I would be interested in your opinion.

Wade Burleson said...

Bill,

I will be very happy when the tongues issue is over.

It's clouding the real problem.

Like saying 'Boo' to scare someone, all Baptists have to do is say "Pentecostal" or "Charismatic or "tongues" to scare the living daylights out of Southern Baptists.

When people's adrenalin is running high, they lose perspective.

THE ISSUE IS NOT TONGUES.

The issue is 'Will we allow certain people tell the SBC by FIAT, what is, or is not, a proper, Southern Baptist interpretion of doctrinal issues not addressed by the BFM 2000?

Just wait.

This is just the beginning.

Debbie Kaufman wrote an interesting post that I think is worth reading regarding the real issue. Read it here

Debbie NAILS the REAL issue.

And it ain't tongues.

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Bill,

By the way, it is 'glossolalia.'

A tough word to spell.

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Colin,

Of course I know Dr. M was on the BFM 2000 Committee.

Are we now 'interpreting' the BFM?

:)

Resend your comment. Puter ate it.

Good night all.

Rzrbk said...

Wade,

You have hit the nail on the head again by pointing out the absurdity of many of the claims about the 2000 BF&M and how it is being used or not used. I too believe in an inerrant, infallible Bible but fear those who elevate the BF&M to that same status. If we insist that every sentence of the 2000 BF&M be considered absolute truth and adherence to every sentence be required in order to be employed at any level of SBC life then we will have multiple instances or contradictions such as you mentioned.

I will give another example. In 1984 Dr. W.A. Criswell stated that separation of church and state was the figment of some infidel’s imagination. I think that implies he does not accept the idea of separation of church and state as correct. However, the 2000 BF&M says in paragraph 17, Church and State should be separate. Obviously Dr. Criswell’s beliefs when he was alive were different than the 2000 BF&M on at least this one point. I assume if he were alive today he could not in good faith sign the BF&M. Therefore, he would not be allowed to teach at one of our seminaries or serve as a missionary at the IMB if we require signers to agree with every jot and tittle. How many other leaders of the conservative resurgence such as Dr. Criswell would not qualify if their every belief were compared in minute detail to the 2000 BF&M?

The problem comes when some institutions pick what they want to enforce and what they want to ignore. It can also be a problem when we pick and choose theological issues not in the BF&M and make them requirements for employment in order to carry out a political agenda.
Ron West

colinm said...

I promise last one-

as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation

Is it possible, you being the Scholar as Terry alluded, to render the statement as I have below:

as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors, already under condemnation

they become transgressors is the condition rendered true by the circumstance, as soon as they are capable of moral action. However, the same may not be said of the latter half of the sentence, and are under condemnation. As you know, present tense can denote an ongoing, continuing action. Therefore, like in Greek, the and does not necessarily link the two elements in the "THEN" clause, unifying them when the condition is true or false. Therefore, the statement could easily denote an ongoing, continuing action, i.e. they were under condemnation perpetually since birth. For, if the condition were false, and are under condemnation would still be true.

I would consult the confessions in which Baptists have codified their biblical beliefs for the last 4 centuries to derive the meaning of this sentence. Or, you could simply email and ask Dr. Mohler, considered the architect of the BF&M 2000, no?

Greg P said...

It's a difficult spot, to be sure. The whole reason why we have the BF&M 2000 (or anything after 1963) is because the liberals took the "We believe the Bible" stance. The problem is that just "believing the Bible" is not enough if you don't have the meaning of at least *some* certain things correct. As John MacArthur says, "The meaning of the Scripture IS the Scripture." If you don't have the meaning, you don't have the Scripture.

Let's not forget what happened to our friends of the Fundamentalist Fellowship of the Northern Baptist Convention about a century ago, who were busy drawing up a strategy before the Convention meeting but were outflanked by liberals playing the no-creeds-only-the-Bible card.

If we aren't wise in this, it won't be long before the SBC is back in the hands of liberals born from a generation of those who don't care what the Bible actually teaches, despite their earnest claims of being "inerrantists". The proof is in what they preach.

By the way, I also side with The SBTS's Abstract on this.

Pastor Jeff said...

Perhaps this is a bit off-subject, but the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states that believers baptism by immersion is a requirement to receiving the Lord's Supper. I don't recall seeing this in the 1963 version. This was an issue that came up when we were revising our our constitution and bylaws earlier this year. If this is the case, then as a practicing SBC pastor, have I been wrong to suggest that the Lord's table is open to all born again believers who are attending the service at the time, members or not, baptised by immersion or not? Wondering if I might get some comments on this. Thanks.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

A) Baptists believe when you get saved, you get all the Holy Ghost you're ever gonna get.

B) Hence the Holy Ghost lives in you.

C) The Holy Ghost, who is still alive, is also God, Who is the Author of the Bible.

D) Believers can read and interpret scripture under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

E) Baptist "authorities" seem to have a continuing, and increasing, need to tell Baptists what the Bible really says. Not only that, but also a need to get more and more folks to sign what those "authorities" state that God really meant when He penned the Bible.

Something just seems wrong with that picture. If they want to be like the Methodists, Presbyterians, or Assemblies, and tell us what to believe, why don't they just say so?

They could even use the ink they save, by not printing that stuff about the "priesthood of the believer (or all believers)", to print the instructions on what & how to believe.

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
I think if the fly drowned in Holy Water, he would be full of pure water and therefore Holy. But if he crashed into the ‘Word’ at 100 mph, would his contamination void inerrancy?
Now, that’s a harder question, and no, this comment is not on the wrong post.

Your post exposes the fallacy of man and I agree with your “By the way…”, but when you said, “Only the Bible is without error”, you left out ‘mixture of error’ which is in the BFM, or you left out ‘…without error in the original manuscripts.’

Now I’m trying to be nice, but you started this. Why are we back to the fly again? Can’t we believe the Bible without being discriminated against because we don’t believe it the exact way as someone else?

You say, “Man’s interpretation of the Bible is fallible.” What is your interpretation of the girl being dead in Matthew and alive in Mark and Luke, or how is the lost husband sanctified by his Christian wife in 1 Corinthians 7:14? You won’t answer this will you?—you probably won’t even print this.

I think we should apply some of Bob Cleveland’s grandmother’s philosophy—Since we agree the Bible is good, why do we argue over the recipe?
Rex Ray

Snoofy said...

I remember a professor at Southwestern who was hired years ago, before the Conservative Resurgence took over, spoke about his signing of the earlier BFM. Yes, signing these things has been around for a long time. But there was not a big ceremony surrounding it. I believe the seminary president gave it to him to sign. And when he did, the president said something like, "Signing this doesn't mean you agree with every jot and tiddle, we're just asking you to affirm you are in basic agreement with it." That seems to me to be close to the right approach.

As it turns out, these statements don't have that much to do with keeping the faculty "pure." The doctrinal position of the faculty is determined by the committee that does the hiring, or the seminary president if he dominates the hiring process.

The statements can be used to fire faculty, however. When Dale Moody, at Southern, finally decided a person could choose to abandon Christ and loose their salvation, he had too admit he was not in compliance with Southern's Abstract of Principles any more and was fired (at least that's the way I remember it, didn't check the details).

Wade Burleson said...

Colin,

I believe when you do the research you suggest, you will find the BFM 2000 statement on the fall of man has been altered from historic Baptist confessions on the consequences of Adam's sin to accomodate the popular, though Biblically unsupported, "age of accountability."

Hear me closely.

I have no problem, at all, cooperating with a Southern Baptist who believes in 'the age of accountability.'

I personally believe that we are all condemned, every one of us, for Adam's sin --- see The Doctrine of Representation".

The Abstract of Principles corresponds to the First and Second London Confessions and our earlier Southern Baptist Confessions on this issue, but is contradicted by the BFM 2000.

It's not a big issue to me at all. People see this issue two ways, and I don't demand you see it my way (or the Abstract's Way, or the London Confession's way, etc . . . ).

I'm saying we better wake up to the very intentional effort by some to demand that EVERYONE interpret the Bible THEIR way.

That will be the death knell of cooperation in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. R,

I believe, as do all historic Baptists, that the Bible teaches that all babies who die in infancy die are 'under condemnation' because of Adam's sin.

But I also believe that God has chosen these babies for salvatio by giving them to Christ to redeem, and the Holy Spirit to regenerate. In other words, I believe all infants who die in infancy are part of the elect.

They go to heaven because of God's grace, not their 'alleged' INNOCENCE.

If I am wrong about them ALL being a part of the elect, then I will allow God to correct me in heaven, but to answer your question --- NO I don't believe babies go to hell.

But it's not because they don't deserve it for their father's Adams sin ---

It's because God is gracious and has chosen to redeem them.



Wade

David Rogers said...

Pastor Jeff,

Just FYI... There was already a pretty good discussion on this issue a couple of weeks ago on Wade's blog here.

And, the 1963 version of the BFM reads exactly the same on this issue as the 2000 version. I apparently agree with you, though, for the most part, in my interpretation (semi-open communion) of this question.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Listen carefully. I will answer.

In Mark 5:23 the Bible records Jarius said to Jesus, "My little daughter is dying"

But in Matthew 9:18 the Bible records Jarius saying to Jesus "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live."

For the life of me I do not know why you insist this is evidence of Biblical 'error.'

I quote Gill, "She was not actually dead when he (Jairus) left her. The gospel of Mark says she was 'at the point of death' (KJV), or literally 'in the last extremity'; and Luke, that she 'lay a-dying (KJV); but Matthew says that she was 'even now now dead.'

When Jairus left the house, his daughter was in the agony of death, just ready to give up the ghost; so that he concluded, by the time he was with Jesus, she had made her exit; as it appears she had, by a messenger who brought the account of her death, before they could get to the house."

Others believe it is also possible that Jarius came came to Jesus twice about his daughter. Mark records the second coming of Jairus, not the first. The first was when Jesus was far from the home (Matthew, Luke), but the second (Mark) was when Jesus was near and the little girl had died.

Either way, the Bible is without any mixture of error :).

Any alleged errors are easily reconciled in my mind, with little difficulty.

The second objection you give is really none at all. The word "sanctify" means to 'set apart,' and I can assure you that any home where the woman is chosen by God is set apart by God, even if her husband is lost (a man I'm sure the wife is praying for, and by God's grace, will be eventually saved by the same God who saved his wife).

Blessings, Rex,

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Greg P,

Liberalism is always a concern.

So is Fundamentalism. The pendulum has swung too far right.

We can moderate without going to far left. I promise

It can be done and it will be done.

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Ron West,

Keen insight.

And that from a fellow inerrantist!

Wade

WTJeff said...

Wade,

I've wondered about this for some time and would like to hear your answer. The driving force behind the conservative resurgence and the development of the BF&M 2000 was inerrancy. It seems this was the litmus test to determine whether one was liberal or conservative. Since this post deals with the BFM 2000, I'd like to ask this: If one's stance on inerrancy was the issue many made it out to be, why was the word excluded from the 2000 BF&M? The wording regarding the bible is exactly the same except for the last sentence. I realize the wording in both BF&M's basically define inerrancy, however, one would think greater steps would be taken to spell this out. Especially when one 's belief in inerrancy is questioned if they hold to the 1963 BF&M.(In Texas, this is a regular occurence.) I realize that other issues are dealt with in the 2000 version that 1963 doesn'mention. However, many would seem to be matter's of interpretation not a matter of one's belief in inerrancy.

For the record, let me say I support the BF&M 2000. I have many of the same reservations mentioned on this blog, but overall I believe it's a sound statement. Please know I'm not questioning it's validity. I'm simply asking a question that I've thought about occasionally over the years.

Grace,

Jeff

John said...

Greg P, the problem is not what the "liberals" preach- the testimony for fruit is how one lives. IMHO the biggest problem is that many fundamentalists "preach" the "right" stuff, but do not practice love consistantly especially in dealing with SBC issues- just ask wade about how "christian" he has been treated- that liberal loving, alcohol drinking, likes to stir up trouble pastor from oklahoma.

John Moeller said...

Wade,

I amen your statement that it isn’t about tongues. It’s about anyone trying to force their non-biblically based views on others. It is moreover about “scholarly politicians” at the IMB withholding money and removing missionaries from the front lines because of a God given gift and the inability to openly and honestly operate in the mission field with what God blessed them with. To baptize as John did in the Jordan river, to allow God to be God and for the Word not to return void.

I wouldn’t and couldn’t sign a document that was openly flawed and then to have to sign multiple documents because the BFM seems to need reinterpretations, Never. Give me a Bible, I’ll sign that with pleasure and affirm that I will uphold each and every item in that book.

The current pressure given to the missionaries reminds me of the POW who while speaking of his wonderful treatment at the POW camp on TV was blinking “torture” in morris code with his eyes.

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, It appears that Paul would not be welcome to teach at Southern or Southeastern Seminaries as he would not be able to sign the two documents in question. Who else are they excluding? They will never know...

Tim Batchelor said...

Wade,

I wonder if Al Mohler believes there is a contradiction? I seriously doubt it since he was on the committee. I agree with Colin who suggested above that the wording could allow for either interpretation.


Tim

A-8 said...

I had a big problem with BF&M 2000 when it first came out...I really don't think we need to explain what the Bible clearly says. Frankly, there is a lot of obvious stuff in the Bible that we waste good (evangelism/missions) time on making up "doctrinal statements" encompassed under the banner that we all can freely interpret the Bible for ourselves! Which leads to my final tirade--why are we as Baptists, who believe in the priesthood of the believer, personal salvation, and local church autonomy so wrapped up in a creedal purge right now!

Perhaps I am too young and brash to understand the "wisdom" of maturity!!

Wade Burleson said...

Tim Batchelor,

You are proving my point.

Why are we having to interpret the BFM 2000?

Shouldn't we be interpreting the Bible?

wade

rms said...

Rex,

The fly in the holy water is not "inerrancy" but "interpretation" . When certain non-essential interpretations of certain doctrines are used to exclude and label otherwise Godly people as unfit for service in the SBC.

Inerrancy and legalism are not synonymous.

Innerrancy and ignorance are not synonymous

The inerrantist looks at "supposed" errors/contradictions in the Bible and acknowledges they are problematic...yet believe/trust that the issue is with the human knowledge/interpretation of the text...not the text itself ...

Your pastor



Wade here is my question...for you

If you had the power..would you place an indvidual into a position of influence in the SBC...who believed and lived the Bible to be inspired, infallible, authoritative, sufficient...but truly believed that the Bible is not inerrant (but was exactly preserved the way God intended...in whatever method God chose).

Can someone be Godly and not an inerrantist? Can they be a trustee/professor/head of an agency
in the the SBC of your dreams?

Wade Burleson said...

wtjeff,

I personally believe the word 'inerrancy' was left out of the BFM 2000 in the knowledge that the word itself (not the principles that the word represents) is a polarizing word. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is a scholarly, gracious document that affirms what the Bibles is, and what it is not.

I'm not sure why the word 'inerrant' was not used, except that maybe the people writing the BFM attempting to describe what the Bible is, without polarizing the convention. By the way, I have no problem using the word inerrant, but I appreciate the BFM 2000 description of the the Bible, and as an inerrantist, affirm the BFM article on the Bible without reservation.

This currerent debate is not on what the sacred text is, but rather what the sacred text says.

In His Grace,

Wade

Christopher Redman said...

Wade,

I hope that you haven't opened a can of worms. I was communicating with another blogger who is very hostile to our theological heritage and the resurgance of Calvinism. He stated that he would be pushing and promoting the Abstract of Principles be taken out of the charters at SBTS and SEBTS and replace them with the BFM2000.

I think this would be a terrible turn of events.

What say you?

Chris

Jim Shaver said...

Several years ago here in Missouri there was bantered around the idea that all churches in the Missouri Baptist Convention should have to affirm the BF&M 2000 in order to remain in fellowship with the convention. The Convention Committee on Continuing Review was actually studying the issue as a serious motion to be brought to the convention floor.

Thankfully that motion was never presented at the convention although that sentiment is regularly expressed by some who would like to draw the net tighter.

Our Church still has in its legal documents the Articles of Faith that were used to organize our church in 1826 as a Baptist Church.

In 1834, the first organizational meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention was held in our church. To say our church is a convention church is an understatement. We helped birth the baby!

I cannot speak for our church but I do not ever see them affirming another confessional statement in order to remain a Convention Church.

If Southern Baptists want to kill the Cooperative Program I don't know of a better way to do it than to keep narrowing the circle.

craig from Georgia said...

"Wade said
NO I don't believe babies go to hell. But it's not because they don't deserve it for their father's Adams sin ---"


Do you really believe little babies that have just been born deserve to be cast into the fires of hell to burn forever?

Where does the Bible teach that we are guilty of Adam's sin?

Wade Burleson said...

Craig,

I don't think you read what I just said.

God saves babies who die in infancy by His grace.

Read the link I provided in my previous comment.

Wade Burleson said...

Christopher Redman,

Finally.

People are realizing what is happening, including you.

People better realize, right now, that a doctrinal interpretation that is historically Fundamenatlist (with a capital F), is being imposed on the SBC.

I would disagree with any such move you describe, but it is happening, and it will happen, unless people like you and other Southern Baptists put a stop to it.

wade

Roger Simpson said...

Holy Toledo:

I'd never be able to be a seminary professor.

Attempting to parse out these nuanced "differences" in just over the top to me.

I don't think any two people (or groups) who were locked in rooms and working separately could avoid somehow coming up with differences or inconsistancies in any "creed", "rules of faith", or "abstract of principles" that they came up with. There is inevitably going to be some "slack" due to variations in a person's (group's) understanding, interpretive grid, and/or knowledge. Also, we all carry with us quite a bit of cultural baggage -- whether we admit it or not.

At my level of "knowledge" (non-knowledge) some of this stuff is just about tantamount as arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I take as a first principle that the Bible is "inerrant" (I don't mind using the 'I' word). Then I do my best to understand the text and interpret it. I have a ton of books and commentaries which give me a range of views on a given subject. Hopefully, the Spirit will illuminate the text for me as I attempt to grapple with various understandings of a given passage.

I don't think "scientific precision" of the Biblical interpretation is either possible or necessary.

My problem right now is not with understanding the Bible at some "higher level of understanding". Instead, it is living according to God's plan on a daily basis -- given my current level of understanding.




pericope.

Biblical p.

colinm said...

I have traced the confessions back through Baptist history, and the verbage in those after the turn of the 20th century are virtually identical in regards to this issue as the BF&M 2000. Prior to that, they were quite calvinistic in their wording. It is unfortunate that the age of accountability would have an effect like that, if that was the impetus for the wording in 1925.

Your THESIS, however, was that professors (including "a certain professor") are hypocritical charging that integrity demands no written caveats while they themselves have signed documents, the Abstract and BF&M, that contradict one another on the point in question is incorrect. That both views of the can be garnered from the abstract demonstrates that the documents on this point can be read to mean exactly the same thing, without a distortion of definitions.

But the heart of your response deals with the direction of the SBC. It is very interesting that, in your view, narrowing the parameters of the BF&M to affirm a specific doctrine that is debated, Calvinism perhaps, would be the death knell to the denomination. A quick look at history showed this to be the saving point of the particular baptists, conceding a decline for a period due to hyper-calvinism, while the more inclusive general baptists began denying the necessity of certain doctrines and eventually fell into universalism, and ultimately demise. In fact, the narrowing of parameters to codify what they believed the Bible to say is the heritage of all baptists throughout our history, epecially on the points of believer's baptism, the Lord's Supper, and a believer's church, not the elevation of autonomous churches and their perogative to decide which doctrines suit them. I highly recommend Tom Nettles, whom your yourself have alluded to many times, and his book "Ready for Reformation." I think you will find that his conclusions do not mirror your own, and he warns of issues such as the one you are bringing to fore. I sense, and have had affirmed by a good authority, that he is "passionately against" this movement. I would love to hear his take on this movement- would that be possible for you to arrange?

I certainly believe, with the backing of Baptist history and the nature of confessional untiy, that narrowing the parameters of the BF&M or the IMB in regard to tongues will not result in the demise of the SBC. I do submit it will have a lasting and significant impact, and we MUST determine what that will be, good or bad. But that it will be the death knell is speculation beyond reason, imho.


p.s. you have alluded many times to 2 issues you say are "next." If tongues isn't the issue, but a prelude, what do you forsee this leading to?

colinm said...

RMS,

Reword your question about what an inerrant Bible "says" versus what a non-inerrantist's Bible "says," and he will answer your question.

A good resource on the attendant problems with denying inerrancy can be found in Dembski's articles in Unapologetic Apologetics, Dembski and Richards. In Dembski's words, people don't know what they have actually given up when they give up inerrancy-- the farm!

Pastor John said...

Wade,

I know that this is a little of point but…

After reading Chris’ post & your response, I may have had a slight “aha” moment.
Many in the blogosphere have lamented a Fundamentalist agenda within the SBC. Admittedly, I’m not much for conspiracy theories, so I really haven’t bought into it (though admitting there are those tendencies in some areas).
But here’s a thought – is it possible that there is not A fundamentalist agenda in the SBC, but rather extremists in every branch of the SBC seeking to conform the SBC to their image.

Free willers wanting to purge any vestige of Calvinism.

Calvinists calling for a full reform of the SBC.

Cessasionists calling continuationists “immature.”

Continuationists viewing cessasionists as devoid of the Spirit.

And then just to keep things interesting, a sprinkling of true blue Fundies and Liberals into the mix.

Do you think that this would be a right analysis, or would you suggest that there is a unified Fundamentalist movement within the SBC?

BTW, thank you for not shying away from the discussion of the condemnation of all from Adam’s sin. Its an unpopular topic that needs clarification.

Wade Burleson said...

Pastor John,

You may be on to something.

I do not know how unified any 'movement' within the SBC really is. I just want to insure that we keep debating one another, loving one another, and stop excluding one another.

Wade Burleson said...

Colin M,

I agree more with Tom Nettles than any theologian in our convention.

He is also a friend.

I am in agreement that we should work hard to keep our convention with a conservative view of the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.

I am saying that there are some who claim to believe the above but then wish to impose their interpretation of the sacred text on others, excluding those who disagree or dissent.

The two issues coming down the pike next are ecclesiology and soteriology --- 'your church must look like our church (government, closed communion, etc . . .) and your pastor must not teach the doctrines of grace' or your church is not a 'true' Southern Baptist Church.

P.T. said...

Wade,

Thank you for your research and arguments. I benefit from each of your posts. I also admire your spirit. As a young SBC Pastor (29), I am deeply troubled by some of these issues. Thank you for highlighting many of them with humility.

T.C. said...

Wade,

Thanks for your insights. I benefit from each of your posts. I am doubly grateful for your spirit of humility.

Loren Hutchinson said...

Convention employees who affirm the BF&M and then ignore it is a phenomenon not limited to seminary professors. Dr. Richard Land has, from the outset, supported President Bush's Faith Based Initiatives while at the same time recommending that churches not accept the money (or at least be very careful about government rules that come along with it).

While he says that taking government money for ministries is probably not a good idea, he also says it is an option that should be made available to churches. This is in direct contradiction to article 17 of the BF&M which states, "The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends."

Dr. Land is personally against government support, but believes in a church's right to choose. We don't accept that logic regarding abortion. Why do we put up with it regarding separation of church and state?

rms said...

Thank you for your response...

I went back today and reread the The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. It really is a great document that clarifies many of the the issues surrounding the term "inerrancy" !

I am assuming that you have a typo in this sentence.

"Liberals who deny the accuracy, authority and reliability of the Word of God do not belong in another convention."

If not everything you have just written does not make sense. :0)

Wade Burleson said...

RMS,

With a little red on my face I resubmit my answer to you with the typo corrected: Thanks. :)

You ask a fair question.

I wish to give you an honest answer.

You asked me,

If you had the power..would you place an indvidual into a position of influence in the SBC...who believed and lived the Bible to be inspired, infallible, authoritative, sufficient...but truly believed that the Bible is not inerrant (but was exactly preserved the way God intended...in whatever method God chose).

Short answer: No.

Why? Because the problem in the SBC comes from people who try to claim that I am seeking to open the tent to people who do not hold to inerrancy, in order to distract from the real issue.

By the way, anyone who says I am attempting to broaden the tent to include 'inerrantists' is the problem .

It's hard for them to have an original idea, and as a result, all they can do is shout, "He's a liberal!" or "He wants Liberals at the table."

No. Not at all. Liberals who deny the accuracy, authority and reliability of the Word of God belong in another convention.

But neither do angry Fundamentalists who wish to exclude those conservatives who disagree with their interpretations of the sacred text.

If a Fundamentalist demands you interpret the sacred text as he does, and calls you neo-orthodox or 'moderate' or 'liberal' if you don't, then he (the Fundamentalist) is the one who does not deserve leadership in the SBC.

Irenic conservatives must lead the SBC, and a shift is happening.

For Fundamentalists with a capital F it is painful, and the more they see it happening, the more they shout and scream.

By the way, I love Fundamentalists! I mean it. They just seem to have a hard time loving me, and the only thing they understand is someone with courage who will stand up to them and say, "The Bible is authoritative and sufficient and the perfect guide for faith and practice --- and I will not accept what you say is 'truth' just because you say it --- you must PROVE it from the text. And if you don't prove it to my satisfaction, then I will not change my mind. By the way, it is not important to me that you change your mind either --- let's work together."

For some reason that is hard for some to comprehend.

Wade

Roger Simpson said...

Wade:

Regarding fundamentalism:

I agree with you that fundamentalism is a mind-set -- not a theological position. As originally defined, Fundamentalism was just a synonym for "conservative" as documented in the original series of tracts "THE FUNDAMENTALS" put out by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now known as BIOLA). I have the reprint of those volumes. It is too bad that the term Fundamentalist got hijacked from meaning "conservative theological position" into "my interpretation is the only right one"

Regarding the Doctrines of Grace and Calvinism:

I think some Baptists define "Calvinism" (for example in terms of the 5 TULIP points) much more narrowly than contemporary "Calvinist" churches in the USA. My wife and I attended the Reformed Church of America for about a year. While there I studied a book on theology written by a prof at the RCA seminary. He is much more "flexible" about what "Calvinism" is that what we Baptists generally understand Calvinism to be. I wonder if there are more "rigid" Calvinists in some precincts of the SBC than there are generally in the Reformed Church of America.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
Isn't it ironic that within a week of SWBTS openly declaring they will not advocate tongues/prayer languages, SBTS has an openly charismatic pastor (C.J. Mahaney) as a guest in chapel? He did a great job by the way.

Debbie said...

To your last post especially the last paragraph Wade; I say Amen. Exactly. :)

Rusty Mullins said...

Wade,
I'm a Virginia Baptist pastor. I was raised in the tradition that says priesthood of the believer and autonomy of the local church trumps just about anything else in Baptist polity. That is obviously not the case now. Our new leaders want to tell us what we must believe in order to be "true Baptists." I refuse to do so and have been given the title "moderate" by the SBC who doesn't even admit that Virginia Baptist's exist.
I was not taught the Bible is inerrant, but that it contains the perfect message of God to mankind. I could never say the book is perfect because there are too many issues and I think it makes us look not so smart to the rest of the world.
Where are the errors? What about the resurrection story? We have four different versions and none of them are complete? Did one or two angels speak to Mary M. or to the group of women? Was John the first to look in the tomb, or did Mary M. look in? Did Jesus first appear to Mary and she thought He was a gardener or did He appear first to two disciples? Was Mary M. to scared to do anything and just go home or did she go back and tell of His resurrection? Are the last 12 verses of Mark scripture?
Honestly I don't care about those questions, I just know that all four gospels tell the truth - that Jesus rose from the grave. That's what matters.
Thinking people who have no faith see us as idiots when we call the Bible inerrant because we do have issues.
I hold it tight to my chest and say that it is the inspired and true word of God, but not inerrant. I guess I have no place in your club.

Greg Cloud said...

You know, I really don't get it, sometimes.

Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits", not their doctrine.

We seem to want to apply doctrinal tests and fight over jots and tittles, straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

If your background in calvinism, or arminianism, or penticostalism or whatever brings you to that saving relationship with Christ, then Praise God, let's work together to lead others to Christ.

We are not called to make baptists, no more than any other denomination is called to reproduce themselves---we are called to make Christians--Christ-like disciples. Remember, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for making disciples that were more sons of hell than they were.

Now, I'm not saying doctrine is unimportant, far from it, but I think it is being misused---as a stick to beat people over the head with, instead of as a tool to lead others to Christ. Using doctrine as a stick--(beating fellow servants? as in Jesus' end-times parables?)--is a foul misuse of the precious gospel, and we must be careful, we are treading on dangerous ground.

I believe we can teach people to sound doctrines--doctrines that produce fruit--but if you feel you have to beat people to a doctrinal stance, you better take another look at your doctrine. It will never bear good fruit.

Thanks, Wade, for letting me rant. :)

God bless your efforts...

Greg Cloud
VBC, Muldrow, OK

Wade Burleson said...

Rusty,

Do me a favor will you?

You are not an inerrantist, and you feel rejected by me --- excluded from, as you put it, "my club."

It seems to me that you do understand what I am saying --- and are hurt. I don't like that you are hurt, but I appreciate your ability to see what I am saying. You are absolutely correct in your understanding of what I am saying.

I have made it clear that I believe the SBC is a convention for people and churches who affirm the principles of inerrancy.

Because you don't believe in inerrancy this does not mean you are not a Christian. This does not even mean you are not a Baptist. A denial of the principles of inerrancy just means you are not in conformity with current Southern Baptist views on the nature of Scripture, and I could not advocate you for leadership in the SBC.

Now, do me a favor. Send a couple of emails to my not so friendly Fundamentalist friends and tell them know how you feel.

Either they do understand what I am saying and are intentionally mispresenting me (some get offended when the word lying is used), or their comprehension skills are lacking.

:)

Wade

P.S. Rusty, I do wish the Lord's truest and best blessings on you, your family, your ministry, and your church. I consider you my brother in Christ, but I do not believe the SBC is the best convention for your participation and cooperation.

irreverend fox said...

Wade,

how serious are you about what you feel are the next issues coming down the pike?

Would those holding to reformed soteriology REALLY be excluded from positions or from serving.

I chunk of my income comes from NAMB for example. Do you honestly think that might change sometime in the future over my reformed soteriology or that our church plant practices "open" communion?

Tell me you are kidding me, Wade, please...

Wade Burleson said...

Fox,

I am as serious as a heart attack.

And coming from a family with heart disease, I understand the depth of the word 'serious.'

Charlie said...

Wade

Luke 9:50 says it all.

Charlie

Greg Cloud said...

I'm sorry, Wade, I don't normally talk this much on your blog...I like to lurk. ;) But something Randy said, and Rex alluded to really got my mind going, so to speak.

Let me try to explain...

I have been a cop most of my adult life. I've worked all kinds of crimes, and taken more statements from folks than I can count. If I was working a particular crime, and had four witnesses/persons of interest, I would take a written statement from each of them after isolating each from their companions.

I would then compare the statements. If the statements differed in minor details, but agreed on the essentials (who, what, when, where, how) then the statements could be accepted as trustworthy representations from that person's point of view. However, if the statements were identical, then they were untrustworthy--since they were obviously the work of collaboration--they got together and agreed on a story, and therefore the story was a fabrication.

All individuals will see events from a slightly different point of view, and thus differ in their take of the situation. This is normal.

You think the Holy Spirit knows this? You bet ya. After all, God created us this way. All the four gospel accounts are true and trustworthy representations of the truth from the evangelist's point of view, and his recall was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Each of the evangelists brings forth the story with a slightly nuanced point of view, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, to bring to fore a greater holy understanding of the Lord Jesus.

Matthew-Jesus as the Messiah of the Old Testament. Mark-Jesus is the Son of God and Supreme Ruler of all. Luke-Christ the hope of ALL the world. John--the true love of God.

All are true, God breathed, and worthy of use for all good doctrine. I have no problem saying inerrant. The truth is all there.

Thanks again Wade!

Greg Cloud
VBC, Muldrow, OK

IN HIS NAME said...

Wade and Fox,
I have seen this handwriting on the wall ever since Dr. Frank Page was elected President of the SBC.
PP has put a lot into motion ever since that time.

In His Name

Wayne Smith

irreverend fox said...

Wade,

for the first time in my adult life the thought hit me that I might not always be a "southern baptist".

I'm really bothered by this. What kind of time frame? What are the signs that make you think that of all possible things, reformed soteriology is "next". Why not say, "covenant theology" or some other "in house" debate. Why, specifically, do you see reformed soteriology as being "next".

Might be enough subject matter for an entire blog entry perhaps.

Anonymous said...

irreverend fox and all other SBC Calvinists,

Please think carefully with me here.

There is a way to attack through the front door.

There is also a way to attack through the side door.

I remember hearing Emir Caner when he said that he thought the next big battle in the SBC was going to be over church government (i.e. single elder vs. plural elders). Now, when I heard that, I think it kind of took me back because he did not say "Calvinism", but church government.

Hang with me guys.

Some time later I sit in on the Patterson/Mohler session and I hear Patterson criticize some Calvinists in relation to the charismatic movement and some in relation to alcohol.

Now, I have just read Wade talk about eschatology coming down the pipe as an issue.

Alright, step back for a minute and put yourself in the Revivalists shoes.

Here you are being threatened by this resurgence of Calvinism. So, what are you going to do about it?
Well, when you look at Southern Baptist history you know that it is beyond debate that the Calvinistic Charleston tradition did feed into Southern Baptist life. So, you can't pull off a "If you are a Calvinist, then you're not a true Southern Baptist" line very well.

Ahhh, but there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Who would be the ones who would most likely have a plurality of elders?

Who would be the ones who would most likely be influenced by the charismatic teaching of John Piper and Wayne Grudem?

Who would be the ones who would most likely be drinking in moderation?

Who would be the ones who would most likely not be premillinealists?

You see, you can't pull off a "You're a five-pointer so you're a Presbyterian" line very well.

However, what about these two lines?

You believe in a plurality of elders so you're a Presbyterian (or Semi-Presbyterian), not a Southern Baptist.

You believe in tongues so you're a Pentecostal, not a Southern Baptist.

So, on the one hand, you can talk the talk about Calvinists having a place in Southern Baptist. However, on the other hand, if you chop out all of the Calvinists who believe in any of the things I have talked about, then you probably will have put a huge dent in the Calvinist movement and maybe relegate Calvinism into being so small that it will be almost irrelevant.

Accordingly, you might want to take note of the side door.

Am I saying that the shutting out of charasmatics by the IMB is all about Calvinism? No. In part? I would not put it past them.

I honestly think that the Calvinists who are not sympathetic to the basic point Wade has been making are possibly being naive.

Granted, I cannot read men's hearts, but there seems to be some circumstantial things going on that look too fishy to me. Could I be wrong? Do I hope I'm wrong?

Yes.

However, I think one day there might be alot of sleeping Calvinists who will wake up one day to find that they are the ones who have been shut out THROUGH THE SIDE DOOR.

Hence, I think it might be more profitable to wake up now.

johnMark said...

Wade,

I tend to agree that this is only the beginning or, hopefully, potential beginning. There are already folks who want total banishment of any leader/pastor in the SBC who consume alcohol in moderation. There are also those floating around the blogging world who would like to see all of those of the Reformed ilk to leave the SBC. Some can't even seem to admit that Calvinism ever played a part of SBC history at all.

People will go beyond Scripture due to their personal issues and/or life experiences. I am not saying that we all don't or haven't done this as one point or another. However, I think we should strive to be as biblical as possible.

There are many things we do and turn a blind eye to in SBC life while picking out our personal dislikes. I've already been told once today upon inquiry that basically "we do it like this because that's what works" with no biblical reference or support.

Mark

Wade Burleson said...

Fox and others,

Good conservative evangelicals who believe the Bible just need to be involved and make sure that those who affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture are not excluded for interpretations of the text that don't line up with the independent Fundamentalist mindset.

johnMark said...

One second thought maybe we needn't worry too much since the SBC still hasn't dealt adequately with freemasonry. ;-)

Mark

Bob Cleveland said...

Anonymous:

So .. what about a Calvinist who has the gift of unknown tongues? I'd guess I'm shut out through the roof?

TruthOfActs said...

To my pastor, RMS, (under 40)
I’ll make a deal with you. Tomorrow, you work on the church’s ‘punch list’ and I’ll do the blogging. Ha
I know, I know, you would have me doing a dozen things I wouldn’t want to do—like running on an exercise machine today where your pup joined in and got a $300 leg.
You might ask Wade if church insurance should cover dogs? I mean it seems like everything is going to them on this post—even Fox is facing the possibility of arriving in heaven in a coffin that doesn’t have SBC stamped on it.
Rex Ray

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

You and your pastor be patient with me.

I sense your frustration, but you must understand I see the big picture.

Hang in there.

Rusty Mullins said...

Wade,
I tried to do the favor you asked of me but it wasn't easy. The blog you sent me to only allowed 300 characters so my full message was not passed along.
Again, I respect what you are trying to do. I have very little respect for the current SBC, but your stance gives me hope. I consider myself more CBF, even if I do consider myself quite conservative.
Send me another link and I will defend your honor again if you would like.
In His service,
Rusty

RM said...

Wade,

I wish you would quit publicizing the truth. You know some Baptists can't deal with it and then they attack you and then I get frustrated.

Just teasing! Keep it up--you're rattling their Phariseeical cages.

RM said...

Wade,

Well, I've read five blogs today that are calling for your ouster as a trustee. Just another of conservatives "eating their young." It is pathetic since most of them are too young to know much of anything and I consider you to be THE brightest light on our SBC horizon. You will always be in my prayers...

Anonymous said...

I said "You believe in tongues so you're a Pentecostal, not a Southern Baptist."

I should have said "You speak in tongues so your a Pentecostal, not a Southern Baptist" instead. This second quote, I think, is accurate, but not the first.

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
Do you remember the story of Daniel Webster (I think that’s the name) having a debate with the devil, and with his trickery and lies, the devil was winning. So in counter attacking, Daniel started winning by doing the same, but noticed the devil was smiling.

When you told Rusty Mullins, “I do not believe the SBC is the best convention for your participation and cooperation”, you may have made brownie points with some, but I believe in your heart, you regret saying that.
Rex Ray

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
Once you said that people could criticize you but not others. Are you included in the ‘others’ now? I hope my criticism is to help and not hurt.

In the new “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”, Communists told a preacher they were going to kill him and two of his members, but if he kills them, they won’t kill him. He agrees. The two young girls thanked the preacher for leading them to Christ, but told him not to repent like Judas but like Peter.
After he kills the girls, he is killed. There was no repentance heard—only screaming.

You probably already know why I relate this story. Unless there is a BIG shake up at the next SBC, you will be removed as an IMB trustee regardless of how loud you scream you are an ‘inerrantists’ or how many moderates you influence out of the convention.

You have ‘awaken’ to the fact that there is the wrong type of Christian men running the SBC.
Awaken to some more facts:
1. The moderate vote eliminated a run-off in the election of Frank Page.
2. If there had been a run-off the ‘split vote’ would have joined together, and without the moderate vote, Frank would have come in second.
3. I would say most moderates are located in Texas and Virginia, and with the next SBC being in Texas, more moderates will be voting. Our small church may have ten instead of one. With over 5,000 churches in the BGCT alone, that is a potential of 50,000 votes.

You say you want to change the SBC. That’s fine and good, but you will need help. If you don’t think moderates are good enough Christians to be leaders of the SBC, then we will look for someone else.
Rex Ray

Wayne Smith In His Name said...

Rex Ray,

Trust in the Lord, for theres no other Way. that the saying here in Texas where I Live. The Bible God's Word is with out error. GOD is HOLY HOLY HOLY in whatever HE has HIS finger in.

In His Name
Wayne Smith

TruthOfActs said...

Wayne Smith,
Hi neighbor,
I replied to your comment. I don’t know if the blog ate it, or if it was rejected.
Rex Ray

Gary said...

Almost all Christian doctrines are based on the New Testament of the Bible. But, how do Christians know that these 27 books are the inerrant, inspired words of God, as Christians tell us?

Answer: A bunch of fallible, scientifically illiterate Churchmen in the second, third, and fourth centuries said so! That's it!

When and where did God say that a bunch of old Churchmen have the authority to determine what is and what is not his Word? When and where did God say that Saul/Paul of Tarsus was speaking on his behalf? Or the writers of the Gospels? Or James? Or Peter? Or any other writer of the New Testament? Even if the apostles themselves had voted unanimously for the 27 books of the current New Testament to be designated as the "Word of God", that still would not prove that God had authorized them to do so. We have no evidence that the Eleven achieved a state of perfection and omniscience on Pentecost. They, like every other human being, were fallible. So where is the evidence that God left a list of what should and what should not be considered his Word in a new testament?

Answer: No where!

We have no evidence from the Bible or anywhere else that God gave Christians a list of what is and what is not his Word! Christians have created an "inerrant, inspired, you-are-damned-to-Hell-if-you-don't-believe-it" Holy Book based solely on the opinions of men living almost 2,000 years ago.

Bombshell: Christians have zero evidence that proves the New Testament of the Bible to be the Word of God; the inerrant message of the Creator of the Universe to mankind. Zero!