Yesterday I pointed out that the BFM 2000 and the Abstract of Principles of Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary teach two different things regarding the consequences of Adam's sin. The Abstract teaches that all men are condemned on the basis of one man's sin (Adam), while the BFM 2000 teaches that all men are condemned not by one man's sin, but by their own, personal sin upon reaching the age of accountability (or as the BFM 2000 states, 'as soon as they are capable of moral action').
I chuckled when I read a couple of blogs that called for my resignation as an IMB trustee, another that proceeded to call me duplicitous and a few other choice adjectives, and then laughed out loud at a comment from a Baptist pastor who is not even Southern Baptist who said I was attempting to split the convention.
I couldn't help but chuckle. One of these days they may learn that I am in this for the long haul and it might be better to try to understand the point I am making.
This is my point. I made it yesterday, but some seemed to have missed it. I give it again in bold letters:
"I 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."
Let me point out, again, for the third time in two days the important sentence on yesterday's post:
I THINK THE TENT IS BIG ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE WHO HOLD TO THESE TWO DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS.
The tent is the SBC.
Of course, some are attempting to say that there is no difference between the two documents. All right. Let's say, for now, that there is no difference.
Let's ask Dr. Mohler and Dr. Patterson: "Gentlemen, since there is no difference between the Abstract and the BFM 2000 what do these documents teach about the fall of Adam? Do they teach . . .
(1). All men, including infants, are under condemnation because of Adam's sin, even if they never personally and actually sin (as in the case of infants who die in infancy)? or . . .
(2). All men, including infants, are under condemnation only when they are capable of moral action and choose to sin personally ('the age of accountability') and no human being is under condemnation for the sin of Adam?
These two statements are not saying the same thing. Which one of the above statements reflects the teaching of the Abstract of Principles and the BFM 2000 if they BOTH teach the same thing?
How would Dr. Patterson respond to the question 'what does the Abstract and BFM 2000 teach about the consequences of Adam's fall'? How would Dr. Mohler respond to the question 'what does the Abstract and BFM 2000 teach about the consequences of Adam's fall'?
Did anybody else hear these two men debate in Greensboro besides me?
These men do not agree on this point of doctrine. I would also propose that the Abstract and the BFM 2000 are contradictory on this point of doctrine, but I will let those who have signed both documents clarify for me which statement above best reflects the teaching of both documents. :)
BUT DON'T MISS THE POINT: HERE IT IS --- AGAIN!
People in the SBC believe different things about the gifts, ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, etc . . .
It is the BIBLE that should be our rule of faith. It is the BIBLE that is inerrant, infallible, and sufficient for our study, memorization, mediation and application.
But two conservative, godly evangelicals can come to DIFFERENT conclusions after READING THE SAME BIBLE about doctrines that are not essentials of the Christian faith.
THERE IS ROOM IN THE SBC FOR MORE THAN ONE INTERPRETATION!
For some reason there are people who are being very deceptive in the blog world by trying to make it look as if I am advocating liberals (those who deny the inerrancy of the Bible) have a place at the table of leadership in the SBC.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I was asked via a comment on my blog "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?
I responded: Short answer: No.
Anyone who says I am attempting to broaden the tent to include those who are not 'inerrantists' is the problem. 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 would be better off in leadership in another convention. It's not that they are not brothers in Christ, and it's not that we wish them harm, they just don't represent what we believe about the Bible.
But in my mind angry Fundamentalists who wish to exclude fellow evangelical conservatives who disagree with their interpretations of the sacred text don't deserve SBC leadership positions either.. 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.
There are at least two interpretations on the gifts (cessationists and continualists), there are at least two interpretations on soteriology (Calvinism and Arminiansm and everything in between), there are at least two interpretations on ecclesiological government (congregational and elder rule), there are at least two interpretations on separation of church and state, there are at least two interpretations the authority and credentials of the baptizer, there are at least two interpretations on the consequences of Adam's sin, etc . . . I could go on, and on, and on . . .
WE MUST BE VERY CAREFUL THAT WE DON'T GET TO THE POINT WHERE A DISAGREEMENT OVER THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DOCTRINES CONTAINED IN THE SACRED TEXT SEPARATE AND EXCLUDE ONE GROUP OR THE OTHER.
I would like to close with a very practical thought from my father, Paul Burleson, who has had the benefit of pastoring Southern Baptist Churches for over fifty years:
"For many years of pastoring, long before and during the resurgence, I always led our congregation to affirm two things in the opening of our constitution and bylaws. One was a...commitment to the holding of the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, and inerrant in the original manuscripts, Word of God. [This being important because a confidence in the inerrancy of those original documents gave cause to seriously translate from the earliest manuscripts we have to get the best translations.]
A second was a...commitment to the BF@M INSOFAR as and as LONG as it was and remained true to the text of the scripture. This permitted us to differ with a minor point or two without being argumentative or being unbaptistic about it. This also allowed our folks to see the difference in the authority and nature of the BF@M in relation to the Scriptures themselves.
We believed this gave guidance to the people to practice their study of the Word with real conviction as to it's integrity and to appreciate our Baptist doctrinal heritage without elevating it to a level of sacredness reserved for Scripture alone.
I think personally that that is a good way to hold both in proper appreciation."
Couldn't have said it better, Dad.
In His Grace,