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

Why the 1963 BFM Is a Better Confession than the 2000 BFM When It Comes to a Statement About Belief In the Scriptures

Recently I was asked a question about my belief in the Word of God. The question, given in three parts, went like this: Do you agree that the Holy Scriptures are the sure and certain, inspired revelation of God? Do you believe that they are the infallible, inerrant, fixed truth which can be known by man? Do you see the Scriptures as the standard by which our faith, ministries and actions will be measured?

My answer to that question, given in writing, reveals why I believe the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message is a better statement about the Word of God than the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. My answer is as follows:

"I believe the Bible is the sure and certain, inspired, infallible and inerrant fixed truth which can be known by man. But, there are a couple of points for clarification to help one better understand my high view of Scripture. All Scripture is God-breathed, but it cannot be said all Scripture is of equal importance in terms of application for the New Covenant believer and Christ’s church. For instance, God’s covenant with Israel forbad the eating of pork, demanded the remembrance of the Sabbath, required the offering of sacrifices, etc… These commands, and others similar in nature, are part of the “infallible, inerrant, fixed truth” of God’s word—yet they are not commands given to a New Covenant follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ fulfilled and abolished the Old Covenant, and as a result, all the laws and commands associated with the Old Covenant are forever gone. Believers in Jesus Christ have been given “a new commandment” (John 13:34) to “love one another just as Christ has loved us.” It is this command to love others, which is the distinguishing mark of the follower of Jesus Christ, that differentiates Christianity from all other religions. Of course, it is impossible to love others as Christ has loved us unless we have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the eternal, unconditional, and personal love of God for us—thus the gospel (good news) is the preeminent message of the New Testament.

For one to understand the differences between the Old Covenant commands to Israel and what Paul calls “the law of Christ” (to love others), one simply needs to look at the differences between the nature of the two types of law. An Old Covenant command says, “If you will…then God will.” The blessings of God were conditional upon the obedience of God’s people, the Jews. If Israel obeyed, God blessed them. If Israel disobeyed, then God brought judgments upon them. The reason God’s chosen people were taken into Babylonian captivity in the 6th century B.C. was due to their disobedience to God’s Sabbath command. The reason God ultimately divorced Himself from His covenant with Israel and established “everlasting righteousness” through His Son (Daniel 9:24), was due to Israel’s complete disobedience to their covenant with God. Again, had Israel obeyed, they were promised blessings. Because Israel disobeyed, they received God’s wrath. Of course, the Old Covenant was given in order to show us the extent of man’s sin. It never had the power to deliver or save anyone from God’s wrath because all men and women (even the Jews), by nature, are sinful and disobedient—this is Paul’s argument in Romans. The commands of the Old Covenant were used by God as a school master to drive us to faith in Christ. Therefore, in the covenant with sinners that God seals through the blood of His Son (Hebrews 8), all the blessings of God are received through faith in the person, performance and obedience of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have been blessed with all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ our Lord. The legalists, the prosperity gospel advocates, and others who misunderstand the gospel, will often take conditional promises of the Old Testament (particularly the material blessings promised to Israel if they obeyed God), and misapply them to Christians today.

This is why when we talk about “the infallible, inerrant, fixed truth” of God’s Word, we must be careful to add the phrase "when properly interpreted." Further, when we talk about God’s Word being the standard by which our faith, ministries and actions will be measured, we must realize that the Bible is our standard when properly interpreted. We don’t stone kids in rebellion as they were commanded to do in the Old Covenant; we love our children through their disobedience. We don’t abstain from certain meats or foods as Israel was commanded to do by God; we now, like Peter, call all meats “clean” to eat (Acts 10:15). We don’t set aside holy days, new moons and Sabbaths as “special days,” but we consider every day a sabbath rest in Christ (Col. 2:14-16). We don’t kill our enemies, we love them as Christ has loved us.

I believe the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message committee did a marvelous job with the following sentence under Article 1: The Scriptures: “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” This statement, tragically, is left out of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. One of the dangers of not recognizing that all scripture must be interpreted through an understanding of the person and work of Christ is that one will end up not realizing how the Old Covenant has been abolished through the ministry of our Lord.

It should be evident--with the clarifications given--that I have a very high view of Scripture and rejoice in affirming that the Bible is “the infallible, inerrant, fixed truth which can be known by man.” The struggle we all face is our fallibility in interpreting the sacred text, so it is especially important to see the written word of the Old Covenant through the filter of the Living Word Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Covenant. Of course, if one really wishes to know whether or not a pastor has a high view of the sacred text, one should listen to him preach. It is incongruous for a pastor to say he believes the Bible should be our standard for faith and practice if it does not serve as the basis for teaching at one’s church. Over the course of the past twenty five years I have preached through multiple books of the bible, verse by verse, including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Psalms, Jonah, Daniel, Habakkuk, Matthew, Mark, Acts, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, I and II Thessalonians, Hebrews, Jude, and The Apocolypse of Yeshua the Anointed One, that is, Revelation (thanks M.H.)—and other textual series.

I evidence my belief in that the Bible is the inspired Word of God by teaching and preaching (proclaiming) His Word instead every Sunday. For a comparison between the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message and the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, go here. It is possible for a conservative with a high view of Scripture to prefer the 1963 Confession over the 2000 Confession. "

In His Grace,

Wade

94 comments:

Byroniac said...

Amen!

Steven Stark said...

“It is this command to love others, which is the distinguishing mark of the follower of Jesus Christ, that differentiates Christianity from all other religions.” - Wade

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”

“The practice of altruism is the authentic way of conducting human life, and is not limited to the religious.”

-the Dalai Lama


The absolute foundation of Buddhism is the practice of loving-kindness through the recognition that comes from compassion. According to your statement above, one of the following must be true:

1. Buddhists know the same Christ that Christians do, albeit by a different name.

2. Buddhists are not actually loving, despite all observable evidence to the contrary.

And I will add a 3rd option:

3. Buddhists have a true connection with God through their own religion.

How do we judge a religion? By its actual level of compassion and faith? Or through its intellectual submission to a specific dogma which purports to bring about this compassion and faith?

Do we judge a religion by its names and places or by its spirit? Do we judge it by the signpost or by where the signpost is pointing?

Thanks for the interesting blog on the BFM. I enjoyed it,

Steven

Thy Peace said...

There is one big difference between Christ's followers and other religions. For Christ's followers the Source is Our Lord Jesus Christ. We draw strength from Him. We draw life from Him. When we love others, it is Christ we is loving through us. For other religions, it is mostly innate or the power of self to love others. There are limits to this love. Whereas the love as shown by a Christian, there are no limits, for Our Source is the giver of this love.

This has to be experienced by a believer, that on their own they have no power to do any good. But with Our Lord Jesus Christ, all things are possible. Here the important thing is to distinguish between what one's self is desiring and what The Spirit is desiring. I honestly believe this is the tripping point for lot of Christians. They intend to do lot of good and they do some good but of their own power, rather than drawing on the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And the results do not bear much fruit. Yes, we need discernment in validating the fruit too.

Steven Stark said...

"For Christ's followers the Source is Our Lord Jesus Christ."

Couldn't I interpret the physical sounds of the words "Jesus Christ" and the mental image in your head when you think of Jesus - as the sign rather than the source? After all, surely your mental image is not close to what the actual Jesus looked like and surely the historical Jesus would not have recognized the sounds "Jesus Christ" as His name. In other words, is it the names and mental images or the ESSENCE of something that is important?

" For other religions, it is mostly innate or the power of self to love others."

I'll focus on Buddhism - a main idea of Buddhism is that separate self is an illusion. I'll agree on the "innate" part though. God created man in His own image, after all.

"Whereas the love as shown by a Christian, there are no limits, for Our Source is the giver of this love."

If we are measuring "Love" in quantity, I doubt there are many Christians who show more love than the Dalai Lama. If "love" is meant qualitatively here - that is so subjective that we cannot possibly measure it. We cannot know for sure what others experience. Judgement would be unwise.

thanks for the words,

Steven

sarah said...

Wade, from reading the documents, it seems to me that the revisers were simply replacing the 1963 verbiage of "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ." with this sentence: "All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation." Both of these suggest a Christological hermeneutic, which you're advocating, but I actually think the 2nd (2000) is much clearer.

1963 is so vague, it's left to be meaningless. Perhaps it carried valuable meaning when it was written, or perhaps they chose verbiage so vague that anyone could interpret it anyway they liked... I, personally, have no idea what they mean by Jesus being the "criterion" for interpreting the Bible. But saying that all Scripture is about Christ and focuses on Christ helps me understand that Leviticus, Kosher laws, prophetic warnings, etc. all find their final fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

I wonder why you didn't even mention this last sentence in the 2000 statement and why you think it doesn't provide a clearer explanation of a Christological hermeneutic. To me, it does exactly that.

Brent Hobbs said...

Wade, I think you're simply wrong about this. Especially on the article on Scripture, the 2000 statement is, regardless of political leanings, a better statement on the doctrine of Scripture.

Thy Peace said...

Recently I was asked a question about my belief in the Word of God. The question, given in three parts, went like this ... My answer to that question, given in writing, ....

Were the questions posed by SBC Inquisitors? Is this a harbinger of other pleasantries from SBC Leadership?

Michael Ruffin said...

Wade,

I think you're right about this.

While the 1963 sentence may be, as some assert, too broad, the 2000 sentence is, in my opinion, too narrow.

"All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation" adequately and accurately makes the point that all Scripture points to Christ, the acknowledgement of which is a critical component of a sound Christological hermeneutic.

But "the criterion by which Scripture to be interpreted is Jesus Christ" makes a point that is equally essential, namely, that since Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh and since Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God to us, it is absolutely necessary to read all Scripture through the lens of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Some "conservatives" contend, I know, that "liberals" used the 1963statement as warrant to say, "Well, since Jesus would never have done this thing that the OT said that God did, that OT passage clearly can be ignored." As a confirmed "moderate" who earned degrees at Mercer and also at pre-CR SBTS, I can say that I didn't hear much of that kind of talk. I did hear scholars wrestling with the entire biblical revelation in light of the ultimate revelation of Jesus Christ, which task I still believe to be absolutely necessary.

For what it's worth, here are some principles that are important to me in this discussion:

(1) Scripture is divinely inspired; Jesus Christ is divine.

(2) Scripture points to Christ; Christ fulfills Scripture.

(3) Scripture tells us how to be saved; Christ saves us.

(4) Scripture guides us in worship; Christ is worshipped.

(5) Scripture is the written Word of God; Christ is the living Word of God.

(6) Scripture is the revelation of God; Christ is the ultimate revelation of God.

Bill said...

The 63 statement is better, in part because it is prescriptive, rather than simply descriptive.

Thy Peace said...

Of course, if one really wishes to know whether or not a pastor has a high view of the sacred text, one should listen to him preach.

I am hoping that my earlier comment might be wrong. But this hunch is being more solidified. I understand these posts are not meant to be political as in SBC Politics. Now I am more curious as to who asked these questions.

anon said...

Wade - did you forget to mention old testament tithing and the mis-use of Malachi 3:8 - 10 in your examples? Or do you believe that old testament practice still is a command for the new testamant church?

RRR said...

“An Old Covenant command says, “If you will…then God will.” The blessings of God were conditional upon the obedience of God’s people, the Jews.”

A primary reason I enjoy reading your posts is that they make me think. You introduce some very interesting items for thought in this one.

God does place conditions on His blessings and in His salvation. As you propose, this position is based upon how I interpret Scripture as “filtered through the living Word of Jesus Christ”.

God’s Word says that one has to place their trust in Christ before receiving eternal life (John 3:16). That’s a condition based upon our receiving His offer of salvation. We could always reject it thereby not meeting His condition.

To receive the full blessings of God in our lives, we must seek to be obedient to God and strive to live in a way that He wants us to live. I do not think of this as being legalistic, but it’s more a matter of a person’s heart and desire to love and obey their Father. It’s a relationship based upon love and trust.

Those living before Christ came into the world were never saved, or expected to be saved, due to their obeying the Old Testament Law. It was always a matter of their heart. That’s how the blood of Christ was applied to those who lived before Christ even died on the cross.

Abraham was saved due to his having a heart for God even before there was a written Law. David sinned and was punished for that sin but he was never separated from God because he had the heart of God, or for God. Saul, on the other hand, didn’t have a heart for God so he apparently didn’t have that saving relationship with God.

Their hearts were at one with God’s heart because they were unreservedly devoted to Him as their God and Father. Therefore, the blood of Christ was applied to the doorposts of their hearts and resulted in their being cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

We are in agreement that “salvation is not conditional on our good works” and never has been. BUT receiving the blessings of God is due to our obedience in seeking His will in our lives and striving to please Him.

That being the case, I would say that the Children of Israel were not taken into captivity to Babylon because of their failure in obeying the Law, but in their failure to have a heart for God.

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

It twasn't inquistors. :)

Just curious people who may have read the comments of a few and wondered if I was a liberal or a conservative.

After reading my response they concluded I was more conservative than they.

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Steven,

Interesting comment.

I would say that the difference between Christianity and Buddhism is that Buddhism uses love as a prescription for life, while Christianity sees love as the evidence of life.

In other words, Jesus Christ is life, and life eternal. Apart from faith in Him, particularly and specifically faith in His work on our behalf (a work that no sinful human being can accomplish), we are separated from God. That work, of course, is the work of "atonement."

Ted Kennedy in his memoirs confessed to feeling guilt for many of his mistakes in life and tried to make "atonement" (his word) for them toward the end of his life. In my view, if somebody tries to "love" to be right with God instead of loving "because" they are right with God, they've got the cart before the horse.

Blessings

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Sarah,

You write:

I wonder why you didn't even mention this last sentence in the 2000 statement and why you think it doesn't provide a clearer explanation of a Christological hermeneutic. To me, it does exactly that.

The last sentence in the BFM 2000 to which you refer is "all Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation."

Sarah, I do not believe that all Scripture is a testimony to Christ. There are Scriptures that are a testimony to sin (Sodom and Gomorrah, Belshazzar, etc...), or a testimony to infidelity (David and Bathseeba) or a testimony to unfaithfulness (Israel, etc...).

"Testimony" means "to give an account or declaration." Not all Scriptures "declare" or "testify" of Christ -- however, it would be wise for us to "interpret" Scripture in light of the Living Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Let me give you a true story that illustrates the difference:

The gospels give an account of Jesus saying, "If your right hand offends you, cut it off" (Matthew 5:29). As Police Chaplain for TPD I once entered the home of a young man who had committed suicide and he had used his pocket knife to slice off his right hand, and laid it on an open Bible where this verse was highlighted. He bled out and died.

The verse may have "testified" of Christ, but it was definitely not "interpreted" according to the "criterion" of life and revelation of Jesus Christ.

That's just one example.

Wade

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
I’ve forgotten the internet link that gives a comparison of the 1963 BFM and the 2000 BFM that is side by side what has been deleted (marked through) from the 1963 and what has been added (underlined), and what stayed the same. It is shown like this in the 2000:

Oops, the marked through and underlined did not copy paste so I'll add 'deleted' and 'added'.

In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement. (deleted)

Baptists emphasize the soul's competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer. (deleted)

Baptists cherish and defend religious liberty, and deny the right of any secular or religious authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches. We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, (added)


I. The Scriptures
The Holy Bible… It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. (same)

Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy (added)

The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ. (deleted)

All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. (added)

Baptists are a people who profess a living faith. This faith is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Therefore, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
Throughout their history Baptist bodies, both large and small, have issued statements of faith which comprise a consensus of their beliefs. Such statements have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority. (deleted)

VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is (same)

… committed to His teachings,(deleted)

governed by His laws, (added)

While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture. (added)

The 2000 BFM added the “family” which in my opinion established a ‘pecking order’.

Tom Parker said...

Brent:

You said to Wade--"Wade, I think you're simply wrong about this. Especially on the article on Scripture, the 2000 statement is, regardless of political leanings, a better statement on the doctrine of Scripture."

I think many of us would disagree with you.

The not so subtle changes that were made between the 1963 and 2000
version makes a big difference for some people.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
Yesterday, I put on our church bulletin board an article by Lavonn Brown, retired minister from First Baptist Church, Norman, OK. He stated in part:

“The idea of ‘substituting the Bible for Christ’ illustrates one of the troubling factors in the 2000 BFM. The 1963 BFM statement says, "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ." These words were deleted in the 2000 BFM statement. The latter substitutes, "All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is himself the focus of divine revelation."
The change is subtle but serious. According to the 2000 BFM statement, Jesus Christ must not be considered the "criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted." Those who defend this deletion say it is necessary because some misguided interpreters have abused it.
To be more specific, Ken Hemphill calls the Christocentric language "a loophole . . . used by some unprincipled Baptist scholars (moderates) to ignore difficult texts which they do not believe to reflect the character of Jesus" (Baptist Standard, Feb. 26, 2001). This is another way of saying there are Baptist scholars out there whose interpretation of scripture we cannot control. These misguided interpreters, claiming Jesus Christ to be the criterion by which they interpret Scripture, are not coming to the same conclusions proposed by those currently in leadership of the SBC.”

jasonk said...

Like anon, I would like to know your thoughts on tithing and Malachi. This is one area where many churches stubbornly refuse to leave the OT way of life. It's like, they're afraid that if they start preaching the true standard of New Testament giving (ie, 2 Corinthians 9).
Great post Wade. Thanks for sharing your heart as always.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

I am trying to be calm, but please understand that I am passionately against anyone taking the name of Jesus and twisting Him into an idol. I don't believe that is your intent, but I believe your argument leaves P L E N T Y of room for someone to do just that.

You are throwing objectivity to the wind and that is what allows one to create "their" waxed nose Jesus.

"The struggle we all face is our fallibility in interpreting the sacred text, so it is especially important to see the written word through the filter of the Living Word Jesus Christ."

Where is the revelation of this "Living Word" that is NOT ALREADY FOUND IN THE SACRED TEXT?

The revelation of the Living Word is the New Testament written word. I'm not from Missouri, but...

Show me the [non]New Testament revelation of the Living Word *today*.

There is none. Period.

When someone is saved through the gospel message from a gospel speaker, then that message still has its basis in the New Testament.

If one can see the life of Christ in the ekkleisa, then what one is seeing is based on the Apostles [revelation]--Eph. 2:20, Acts 2:42.

We can only know that God had previously revealed that Jesus was His Son from heaven BECAUSE IT IS IN THE WRITTEN WORD and NOT BECAUSE IT IS REVEALED ANYWHERE ELSE.

Yes, we are to worship the Living Word and not the written word, but the written word is the *only* ultimate revelation that lets us know who the Living Word is in the first place.

Yes, there is obviously more to the Living Word than what the written word reveals. However, the only knowledge of the Living Word we have *access* to is what the written word reveals in this age.

In the age to come...the New Covenant people of God will see Him as He is.

But not until that time.

Steven Stark said...

"if somebody tries to "love" to be right with God instead of loving "because" they are right with God, they've got the cart before the horse."

I agree with this sentiment. But I think it's right on track with Buddhism. Transformation on the inside is essential to create true transformation on the outside. The "outside" is evidence of the "inside" as you say. Anything else is unsustainable.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
I added to the end of Brown’s article: Rex Ray believes a paraphrase of "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ" would be: ‘The Bible is to be interpreted through the eyes of Jesus.’

Wade, another serious change was adding ‘S’ to ‘the priesthood of the believer’. Al Mohler explained why the change was needed: “because it leaves too much freedom for the individual.”

In other words, “believers” means the majority rules over the individual. In my opinion, “believers” repaired the curtain torn at Calvary.

Rex Ray said...

Benji,
You said, “I am passionately against anyone taking the name of Jesus and twisting Him into an idol.”

Hmmm…I never thought of Jesus that way. Let’s see, if we are to worship Jesus and idols are to be worshiped, why I believe Jesus is my idol.

In fact, I wish the whole world had Jesus for their idol.

Wade Burleson said...

Jasonk and anon,

I believe that the tithe is an Old Covenant law. There were actually three "tithes" for Israel and a third tithe (10%) every three years - thus every Jew gave 33% to the government/Temple.

In the New Covenant, the principle is that you and I as believers are simply "stewards" of God's wealth. Nothing is "ours" - it all belongs to Him.

So, rather than "giving God" a tithe, the real question for the New Covenant believer should be, "How does God wish for me to invest His money?"

Sometimes that means giving far more than 10% to your local church, at times it could mean you give less--because He has directed you to help someone very poor, or provide medical care for a family member, or give to another ministry, etc...

There is an argument, which I admire, that says that nothing in the New Covenant is ever exceeded by the Old. The Jews had one Sabbath Day, but every day is a Sabbath rest for the believer. The Jews were stoned for the act adultery, but we are to have the mind of Christ and not even lust in our hearts, etc...

The Christian who is not a giver is a contradiction. The Christian who does not give regularly, consistently and cheerfully to his local place of worship and ministry is contradicting the instructions of the Apostle Paul.

But, the law of tithing, is definitely Old Covenant.

The New Covenant principle of giving far exceeds that old law -- and we simply ask God "how much" and "where" on a regular basis. This includes all areas of life, including the way we live (how much should we spend on God's house where we live), how much we spend on vacation (where would God have us go and why), etc...

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

I'm not sure I am following the intent of your comment or logic behind it. That's not normally the case because I consistently find your comments perceptive and insightful. I'm sure it is my own density and not your lack of clarity.

Wade

jasonk said...

Yea, Wade! Your words reflect exactly the way I see it. Unfortunately, I hear few pastors actually preach that. Fear, I guess.
I was reminded of something I heard Adrian Rogers say once. Conceeding the point that the New Testament does not teach tithing, he said, "anyone who thinks they can give less under grace than they were required to give under the law, is a disgrace to grace."

Benji Ramsaur said...

Rex,

Someone could take "Benjamin Clark Ramsaur" and NOT take what I reveal about myself, but instead "imagine" what Benjamin Clark Ramsaur is like and thus think of Benjamin Clark Ramsaur according to their imagination instead of my revelation.

Someone could take "Jesus" and NOT take what Jesus [ultimately] reveals about Himself in the N.T., but instead "imagine" what Jesus is like [claiming that the Living Word has revealed Himself to them] and thus think of Jesus according to their imagination instead of His revelation.

If little children don't name their imaginary friend Jesus, then how much more should grown adults refrain from doing so?

Grace to you,

Benji

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

I don't believe I have an inerrant understanding of the intent of my heart, but I think my intent is to defend the name of Jesus. Even if a good person like yourself unknowingly is making an argument which leaves incredible room to disgrace His name.

Please explain where you think you might not be following my logic.

God Bless,

Benji

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

You write: I don't believe I have an inerrant understanding of the intent of my heart, but I think my intent is to defend the name of Jesus. Even if a good person like yourself unknowingly is making an argument which leaves incredible room to disgrace His name. Please explain where you think you might not be following my logic.

In what sense, or in what form, is there "an argument being made" that would, in any manner whatsoever, disgrace the name of Jesus?

That, Benji, is where I do not follow you.

Wade

Benji Ramsaur said...

Rex and Wade,

Allow me to alter what I said to Rex a bit to give more perspective:

Someone could take "Benjamin Clark Ramsaur" and take what I reveal about myself, but NOT take what I reveal about myself to be ultimate knowledge of who I am.

Instead, they could take their "imagination" of who they think Benji is to be the ultimate knowledge and interpret my revelation through THAT filter.

People can do the same thing with Jesus Christ.

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

I think you will probably refer me to your comment to Rex above as an explanation to my question.

I would simply say, "Of course, I agree."

However, nobody, and I mean NOBODY is arguing that "Someone could take "Jesus" and NOT take what Jesus [ultimately] reveals about Himself in the N.T.,

The argument is that you take the Jesus revealed in the New Testament and INTERPRET THE OLD TESTAMENT! Not vice versa.

Blessings,

Wade

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

"The argument is that you take the Jesus revealed in the New Testament and INTERPRET THE OLD TESTAMENT! Not vice versa."

Amen

Amen

Amen

However, on the "surface" that is not what you seem to be arguing in this sentence below:

"The struggle we all face is our fallibility in interpreting the sacred text, so it is especially important to see the written word through the filter of the Living Word Jesus Christ."

You seem to be contrasting the "Living Word" with the "written word" as if the Living word is going to give us revelation that will be the filter through which we interpret the written word.

The New Testament, of course, is a part of the written word.

The 1963 statement is not a good statement on the "surface" because it implies that somehow we can receive revelation from Jesus Christ that will serve as the "criteria" by which we interpret the Bible.

Maybe that is not what the original authors "meant", but I think that is what a straightforward reading of that document communicates.

And, if I'm not mistaken, there was someone at the 2000 SBC who was trying to argue that Christian folks can receive revelation from Jesus like Paul did in Galatians. And that would be consistent with a straightforward reading of the 1963 BF&M.

1963 BF&M "“The criterion by which the Bible [the Old Testament *and* the New Testament] is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ [?].”

God Bless,

Benji

Wade Burleson said...

I understand.

My communication is poor, so I'll edit the original post with what I intended to say.

Wade

Baptist History Guy said...

Thanks for showcasing my book in your blog. I really appreciate it. I read you blog with interest, too.

On the matter of which is superior, the 1963 or the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message on the doctrine of Scripture, I find both to be inadequate in some ways. The 1963 takes a neo-orthodox turn in the first sentence by reducing Scripture a "record" of revelation. It then concludes the article on Scripture with the statement about Jesus Christ being the criteria for interpretation. Dr. Marvin Tate, retired professor of OT at Southern responded to that in 1962 with "What does that mean? It doesn't mean anything" (The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, 140). And his words proved prophetic, because the sheer vagueness of the sentence let the statement become a theological wax nose that was reshaped and misshaped by theologians on all sides. The better wording, proposed by Dr. Wayne Ward, was shortened to its final form (see Appendix 1, ibid., 160).

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, while appearing to leave no place for general revelation, at least states what Scripture actually states about the relationship of Jesus to the Bible--he is the centerpiece of divine revelation (John 5: 39), and if you read the comments by Garth Pybass, a member of the 1963 Committee, this is exactly what they meant to communicate in the 1963 version (ibid., 140).

The "criterion clause," as I've come to call it, has the further problem of abandoning a key form of Baptist hermeneutic that dates from the latter seventeenth century (Second London Confession, I.9)down to the writings of E. Y. Mullins (ibid., 99--100). That principle was that Scripture was its own best interpretive key--harder passages should be interpreted in light of those that were more readily understandable.

Thanks for a thought provoking and stimulating blog. Thanks again for showcasing my book. Keep up the good work and God bless. Soli Deo Gloria. Dr. A. J. Smith

Benji Ramsaur said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Dr. A.J. Smith for commenting on this blog!

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message...states what Scripture actually states about the relationship of Jesus to the Bible--he is the centerpiece of divine revelation (John 5: 39), and if you read the comments by Garth Pybass, a member of the 1963 Committee, this is exactly what they meant to communicate in the 1963 version (ibid., 140)."

Oh so interesting. This statement from the "preamble" to the 1963 BF&M probably, I would think, communicates what they were "trying" to communicate in the confession.

"the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ whose will is revealed IN the Holy Scriptures." [caps mine]

I think the consequences of the wording in the actual 1963 confession in Southern Baptist history are I N C R E D I B L E.


Wade,

Love ya brother.

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Smith,

Thanks for perspicuous comment. Well done.


Wade

linda said...

Pastor Wade--great post!

When BFM2000 came out, and I read it, my first thought was "we have ceased being Baptist".

When asked about leaving the SBC, I told an individual that I did not leave my faith, but rather it left me. My beliefs did not change, the teachings of my church changed.

Soul competency went out the window as the body of "this you must believe" grew. No room for dissent, or understanding differently, or just plain arguing what scripture says.

Nope, I felt I was free to study scripture for myself AS LONG AS I understood it exactly the way "the church" understood it.

At that point I realized we had become a group of Roman Catholics with "little popes" and I left.

Joe Blackmon said...

Thank you for the reminder of
(a) why the Conservative Resurrgence was necessary
(b) the fact that the CR did not go far enough
(c) why my family and I moved to a reformed, credo-baptist, complementarian, pre-mil, non-SBC church this past June.

The answer? (d) all of the above

Leaving the SBC has been the best decision I ever made. It'll be nice to keep up with the SBC and the forthcoming Mainstream Resurrgence [(c) 2008 Joe Blackmon] and watch the denomination morph into little more than a mainline denomination a la the PCUSA or the Methodists.

Lydia said...

When BFM2000 came out, and I read it, my first thought was "we have ceased being Baptist".

When asked about leaving the SBC, I told an individual that I did not leave my faith, but rather it left me. My beliefs did not change, the teachings of my church changed.

Soul competency went out the window as the body of "this you must believe" grew. No room for dissent, or understanding differently, or just plain arguing what scripture says.

Nope, I felt I was free to study scripture for myself AS LONG AS I understood it exactly the way "the church" understood it.

At that point I realized we had become a group of Roman Catholics with "little popes" and I left.

Mon Sep 14, 04:19:00 PM 2009

Amen! The SBC has gone the way of the Roman Catholics when we also
abandoned the doctrine of the Priesthood of believer. (without the s)

Rex Ray said...

Baptist History Guy,
For someone who claims to know history, you portray very little as I’ll explain.

You said, “I find both to be inadequate in some ways.”

Was that to get ‘acceptance’ from both ‘sides’ in showing you were impartial? The only trouble is you only ‘bad-mouth’ the 1963.

You said, “The 1963 takes a neo-doctrine turn in the first sentence by reducing Scripture [to?] a “record’ of revelation.”

Since you didn’t fully quote the first sentence, your claiming that ‘record’ is “neo-doctrine” has little credibility.

BTW, do you think ‘big words’ will snowball people into thinking you know what you’re talking about? I mean ‘neo-doctrine’ makes “record” sounds like the unpardonable sin.

The 1963 said, “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is THE RECORD OF God’s revelation of Himself to man.”

When the 2000 used the same sentence but deleted “the record of”, WHAT MEANING CHANGED?

Well, I’ll tell you, all it changed is the same thing you’ve said so far, and that’s NOTHING.

I can see the legalists doing flip-flops…saying ‘we made the 2000 sound better’. I agree the shorter sentence is better, but to claim “the 1963 takes a neo-doctrine turn in the first sentence”…oh, brother!

Baptist History Guy, the rest of your comment was about the necessity of deleting, “”The criterion by which the Bible is to interpreted is Jesus Christ.”

The man you quoted said the statement didn’t mean anything. Duh

Do you believe the Bible should be interpreted through the eyes of Jesus? That’s what the statement means to me.

You referenced (John 5:39) as giving the relationship of Jesus to the Bible with the conclusion “he is the centerpiece of divine revelation.”

“The Scriptures point to me.” (NLT)
“...Scriptures…they testify about Me.” (Holman)
“The Scriptures tell about me.” (Contemporary English)

Sorry, but I believe you would fail a history test with John 5:39 showing Jesus “is the centerpiece of divine revelation”.

I mean, Scriptures tell about a lot of people…why didn’t you reference Scriptures telling Jesus was the Son of God, the Cornerstone, etc?

Last but not least, you said, “The 2000 BFM…at least states what Scripture actually states about the relationship of Jesus to the Bible.”

Why didn’t you quote the 2000 to back up what you said? Are we just to take your word?

The 2000 said, “All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

I believe Wade did a good job of explaining why all Scripture is NOT a testimony to Christ. Talk about a “neo-doctrine turn”, that part of the sentence is a neo-doctrine reverse!

I was taught if a sentence had anything false in a ‘True-False test’, you marked the whole sentence False.

I believe the last part is a good statement, but not as good as interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus.


WELL SAID Linda and Lydia.

Christiane said...

Saint Augustine,
c. 354-430 A.D.


"You have heard the account of the two disciples who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus and yet did not recognize Him. When He met them, they had lost all hope of the redemption that is in Christ, they were convinced that the Master was dead like any other man, they did not realize that Jesus inasmuch as He is Son of God was still alive. According to them He had left this life without being able to return, like one of the many prophets.

Then the Lord revealed to them the meaning of the Sacred Scriptures: beginning with Moses and quoting one prophet after another He showed that everything that He had suffered had been foretold.

After that, He appeared to the eleven disciples and they thought they were seeing a ghost. So Jesus let them touch Him, the One who had let Himself be crucified.

Yet the Lord did not consider it was sufficient to allow them to touch Him. He wanted to appeal to the Scriptures to confirm their hearts in the faith.

He revealed to them the meaning of the Scriptures and showed how it was necessary that the Christ should fulfil all that had been written about Him in te books of the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms.

The Lord went through the whole Old Testament. He seemed to span it all in His embrace.

The Lord opened the minds of the Apostles so that they understood the Scriptures.

That He will open our minds too is our prayer."

Louis said...

Rex,

I know Dr. Smith personally, and he and I happen to be in sharp disagreement on the issue discussed herein.

That being said, you do your efforts at meaningful debate a HUGE disservice when you don't quote your opponent accurately. "Neo-doctrine"? What in the world is that? And where in the world did you read such a word in Dr. Smith's comment? The word that Dr. Smith used was "neo-orthodox." If you do not understand the concepts under debate, well and good; no harm, no foul. But you owe it to the readership to refrain from commenting negatively on the use of certain terms just because you are not familiar with those terms. (To say nothing of the need to quote someone accurately.)

Christiane said...

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." - John 1:1

"Irenaeus writes from the 2nd century:
"If one carefully reads the Scriptures, he will find there the word on the subject of Christ and the prefiguration of the new calling. He is indeed the hidden treasure in the field — the field in fact is the world — but in truth, the hidden treasure in the Scriptures is Christ. Because he is designed by types and words that humanly are not possible to understand before the accomplishment of all things, that is, Christ's second coming."


Origen writes from the 3rd century:
"[Christ's words] are not only those which he spoke when he became a man and tabernacled in the flesh; for before that time, Christ, the Word of God, was in Moses and the prophets. ...[their words] were filled with the Spirit of Christ."


Hilary of Poitiers writes from the 4th century:
"Every part of Holy Writ announces through words the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, reveals it through facts and establishes it through examples. ..For it is our Lord who during all the present age, through true and manifest foreshadowings, generates, cleanses, sanctified, chooses, separates, or redeems the Church in the Patriarchs, through Adam's slumber, Noah's flood, Melchizedek's blessing, Abraham's justification, Isaac's birth, and Jacob's bondage."

Rex Ray said...

Louis,
Boy is my face red! Where I got ‘neo-doctrine’ went something like this.

You’re right – I didn’t know what neo-orthodox meant but it sounded bad. I went to Google for a definition, but typed ‘nero-orthodox’.

Needless to say Google didn’t get close to anything I was looking for. So I went to Webster with orthodox and got the definition:

“Sound in opinion or doctrine, esp. in religious doctrine.”

I guess with ‘doctrine’ fresh on my mind, I typed the wrong word, and I apologize. But I’m like that certain congressman…I won’t apologize twice. :)

Why did you say, “If you do not understand the concepts under debate, well and good; no harm, no foul”?

Since the Baptist Standard has printed many of my letters against the 2000 BFM starting nine years ago and the many comments on Wade’s blog, I believe I know the concepts.

So I’ll ask again: What is NOT well and good, what IS the harm, and what IS the foul to mistakenly use non-doctrine instead of non-orthodox when Webster uses one to define the other?

You sound like someone wanting their ‘pound of flesh’.

Baptist History Guy said...

Thanks, Louis. Although we disagree on some things, I love and appreciate you and all you do in the Lord's service.

Actually, there is a lot more that could be said, but I sought to conserve space and refer interested readers to the details in my book. People are free to disagree with me. I do go into great detail in the book explaining the neo-orthodox origins of the expression "record of revelation" and its theological significance (it actually began with a nineteenth century liberal Presbyterian--Henry Sloan Coffin, see Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy, 90).

As far as Dr. Tate's comments are concerned, it should be noted (1) that in 1962 he was a young, junior member of Southern's faculty and (2) he is no advocate of inerrancy or the conservative movement. But he is honest and candid, and I love and respect him greatly. In a personal conversation in 2003 he told me that the 2000 BFM was far more biblical on the last sentence of the article on Scripture than was the 1963. It was in this conversation that he told he had said back in 62 o 63, "What does that mean? It doesn't mean anything."

The original proposed wording from Dr. Ward was "The criterion by which Scripture is to be interpreted is the person, work and teachings of Jesus Christ." Dr. Moody, in a memo to Dr. McCall, strongly objected to "the teachings of Jesus Christ," arguing that "it is already being used by fundamentalists to prove that Moses wrote all five books of the Pentateuch . . . the unity of the book of Isaiah . . . and the Exile date for Daniel" (Memo to Dr. Duke McCall, 7 Jan 1963, Dale Moody Collection, Boyce Centennial Library). Several faculty at Southern shared Dr. Moody's concerns, and after a sub-committee met with the faculty there, the revised and shorter statement appeared in the final draft version that went to the Convention in 1963.

I believe, though I cannot prove it, that had the original wording of the last sentence stood, it would have survived the 2000 revision.

With regard to the 2000 BFM, there are a number of places in it where I would prefer a different wording. On the doctrine of Scripture it generally follows (as all version of the BFM have) the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, and makes no mention of general revelation (God's self-revelation in nature and the human conscience). I see this as a major defect in the article. In a number of other places I much prefer the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message over either the 1963 or the 2000. But as long as I am dealing with something someone else wrote, I'm going to find something I disagree with. And if I go back far enough in the things I've written and said, I'm likely to disagree with myself, too. That's the nature of life in a fallen world. My goal is to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. Louis can better say how well I do at that than I can, though we haven't seen each other in a number of years.

Thanks for the opportunity to offer some clarification, and again, for providing for a stimulating discussion of an important issue. God bless you all.
AJS

Chris Johnson said...

Brother BHG

Interesting discussion…. I too believe the 1925 was a more pithy example of a cooperating statement. The last two statements have addresses more political and social drama and have turned to a more reactive stance to political pressures, defending a shadow without any real need to do so.

The 1925 attempt was a bit more forceful IMHO, with much less political action.

The subpoint that I believe is important and Wade brings forward...is the need to simplify. Sometimes a whole lot of words simply causes more confusion.

Blessings,
Chris

Bryan Riley said...

It seems to me the 1963 statement does a good job of helping people see that if their interpretation of Scripture is ultimately inconsistent with the revealed nature and character of Jesus that their interpretation of Scripture must change.

Christiane said...

Is the Christian faith is a "religion of the book", as interpreted by men, using only'the Book'? Sola scriptura?
What IS the effect of the Holy Spirit on the reader of Scripture?
Did Christ send the Spirit to us as a paraclete to help us?

Is Christianity the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living".

If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the Eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open minds to understand the Scriptures."

After the BFM2K went into effect, men used it to harm missionaries, in spite of the resounding pledge of the authors' preface:
". . confessions are only guides, having no authority over the conscience."

Amazing.

And it can be noted that the preface does say that the BFM2K was an attempt to respond to a hostile culture.

And yet, the man who personally appointed the authors of the BFM2K
did, himself, abandon Christian charity openly in the well-documented case of Dr. Sheri Klouda, whose family suffered also from his decisions and actions.

One has to ask: was there a reason that the removal of 'certain words' from the 1963 BFM was so important to the hand-picked authors chosen by one man?

I speak of these words:

“The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”

As Wade wrote: "This statement, tragically, is left out of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message."

For some, the tragedy was palpable and affected their lives directly as they were forced to sign the Patterson-appointed authors' document or lose the most important work of their lives: the spreading of the Gospel of Christ in the mission field.

And then, there was the carnage of a man who felt free to inflict suffering on a woman, because she was a woman. And she suffered.
And her family suffered.

Power is a terrible thing when you can appoint people to take words like “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ” out of a document.

I guess the words were too powerful an impediment to what those 'in control' felt they needed to do to establish their authority.

It's a shame, but there it is.
A 'loop-hole' was closed.
And the suffering of others became permissible, in spite of, certainly no in obedience of Christ's 'law of love'.

And the 'offending words'? The ones that might have prevented the carnage? Purposefully removed.
Loop-hole closed. Mission accomplished.
At the direction of the 'authors' appointed by one man.

Looking at the 'preface' of
the BFM2K and in examining the shipwreck that took place with the missionaries and with Dr. Klouda upon the installation of the
BFM2K,
one must ask 'whose conscience' the BFM2K has no authority over, and 'whose conscience' it did have authority over.
Did the establishment of the
BFM2K lead to obedience to the Lord Christ, or obedience to a document whose authors were appointed by 'someone else', another Master ?

Rex Ray said...

Here is part of what Dr. Bruce Prescott wrote:

"Liberty of conscience used to be something that every Baptist held dear.

Those early Baptists were opposed to anything that "emboldens people to judge the liberty of other men's consciences.

Sentiment against creeds was still so strong in 1845 that the Baptists who founded the Southern Baptist Convention refused to write a statement of beliefs. They would follow 'no creed, but the Bible.'

In the 1963 revision, an explicit statement was added declaring that BFM statements were not 'official creeds carrying mandatory authority.

Herschel Hobbs, chair of the 1963 BFM committee, predicted that, 'In all likelihood the only thing that would divide Southern Baptists with regard to their faith would be for one group -- to the right or left of center or even in the center -- to attempt to force upon others a creedal faith.'

The revisers of the 2000 BFM deleted the 1963 statement denying that the BFM carries 'mandatory authority' and replaced it with the assertion that BFM's are 'instruments of doctrinal accountability.' (See Preambles)

That statement alone would have been enough to convince our Baptist forefathers that people were being emboldened, 'to judge the liberty of other men's consciences.'

Historically, Baptists have insisted that every believer is competent to interpret the scriptures according to the dictates of a conscience that is guided by the Holy Spirit.

Under the traditional understanding of 'soul competency,' each soul is directly accountable to God for his/her beliefs and actions.

The 2000 BFM redefines 'soul competency.' It makes every soul accountable to the church for his/her beliefs and actions.

Southern Baptists are now 'accountable to each other under the word of God.' (Preamble, 2000 BFM)

Rather than reading and interpreting scripture for themselves, twenty-first century Southern Baptists will be holding each other accountable for adhering to the official interpretations of scripture that have been codified in the 2000 BFM.

The most unconscionable change in the 2000 BFM is its promotion of the Bible at the expense of Jesus.

The preamble to the 1963 BFM declared that, 'Baptists are a people who profess a living faith. This faith is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ who is 'the same yesterday, and today and forever.' Therefore, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

The preamble to the 2000 BFM deletes that statement entirely and replaces it with a declaration that, 'Our living faith is established upon eternal truths.'

In 2000, 'living faith' is understood to be mental assent to the logic of a doctrinal expression of 'the truth as revealed in scripture.'

In 2000, the affirmation that Christ is the "criterion" by which the Bible is to be interpreted has also been removed.

Jesus has been demoted and the Bible has been promoted. Now the Bible is understood to be the supreme revelation of God and Christ is merely 'the focus of divine revelation.'

The Lordship of Christ over the process by which believers interpret the Bible for themselves has been replaced by a process in which believers adhere to the interpretations provided for them by the 2000 BFM."


The HORROW of Dr. Bruce Prescott’s truth is shown by Jerry Rankin’s, IMB President, ‘Reflections on Response to Missionaries Affirming the BFM’ on the reason missionaries were fired:

“The issue is not about individuals being terminated, but it is about the credibility of the International Mission Board being doctrinally accountable to our denomination.”


Yep, it’s like Linda and Lydia implied; the 2000 BFM puts Baptists on a Roman Catholic road.

Move over Christiane, the ‘big dog’ is moving in! :)

Christiane said...

Hi REX RAY:

It's me, L's

Sharing from the catechism of my own faith:

"Conscience is man's most secret core, and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths"

In my religion, when we will face judgment, we can not blame another entity or person for our own actions. We are to act in response to our own informed conscience as inspired by the Holy Spirit, as God is our Witness.

We are asked to consider the Church's teachings, and also the reality of our situation at the time, but then,
the door closes and we are alone with God in the sanctuary that is 'conscience', where none other may intrude.

Love, L's

P.S. Praying for Belle and for you. I know what you are going through isn't easy. But know that you both are being prayed for mightily. Much love, L's

PPS. I have never been able to 'run with the big dogs'. But here is a story to cheer you up:

My husband and I splurged and rented a Cadillac to go north to visit family. (His decision, I'm very cheap.)
I found out why.
We get out on the highway and we are passing cars like crazy. I said, 'boy, this car has pick-up' and he replied:

"Yep. With THIS CAR, we can 'run with the big dogs'.

Well, the bigger dogs caught us on the way home: two speeding tickets within the same hour but in different states.

My husband slowed down.
Now he says Cadillacs have too much pick-up for him. Love, L's

Benji Ramsaur said...

It seems like there might be 2 main issues going on with people in relation to the 1963 & 2000 BF&M's.

1. The relationship between Christ and the Scripture.

2. The relationship between the individual member and the church.

When it comes to #1, I agree with the CR advocates. We should love and obey Jesus. Not Jesus[?]. And I support the idea that any professors who were advocating Jesus[?] in the seminaries needed to leave. I love Rex, but I don't want my money supporting a Rex teaching in a seminary. I want to be upfront about that.

However, when it comes to #2, I'm not sure I am fully on board with the CR [or what the consequences of the CR have been]. I am open to the idea that I might be misunderstanding something, but some seem mighty close to believing in the infallibility of the church.

Yes, I agree that a congregation has the right to discipline a member for heresy. Accordingly, I do not believe a heretic can justifiably appeal to "liberty of conscience/soul competency/soul freedom" in order to justify their heresy.

However, I also believe that Liberty of conscience is not *limited* to mere secular government interference, but includes the wrong interference of the church as well. I don't see where the statement on Liberty of conscience in the 1689 London Baptist confession makes *any* limitation.

One might say that there is "tension" in what I believe concerning the relationship between the individual member and the church, but I think I can live with that tension.

If someone believes that "majority trumps individual", then I would remind them that "Jesus trumps majority and individual".

If majority [wrongfully] trumps individual, then majority meets Jesus at the end.

Jon L. Estes said...

By what criterion do we discover, know, learn about and interpret Jesus?

If one says the Holy Spirit alone is, this sufficient?

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon L. Estes said...

Benji,

You say...

"It seems like there might be 2 main issues going on with people in relation to the 1963 & 2000 BF&M's"

Could there be a #3.

3 - The relationship between a believer and their convention (as in employees and those who serve as trustees?

John Fariss said...

No statement is perfect, none written by humans, no matter how carefully or prayerfully it is derived. Every statement--even those from within the written Word--is subject to abuse, misinterpretation, and misuse. So if the question is, "Could the 'criteria' statement in the 1963 BF&M be used to justify something unScriptural, unBiblical, unChristlike, or unBaptist?" the answer is unequivocally "YES!" But because it is likewise a man-made statement, so could the 'testimony' statement from the 2000 BF&M. Consequently, the real question should be, "Which statement is going to result in greater myopia, and more reliance upon Jesus Christ as the living Word and ultimate revelation of God?"

I was not aware that the 1963language had neo-orthodox connections, but so what? Just because someone who is/was neo-orthodox wrote something or used a certain phrase does not automatically mean that the statement is anathema. Indeed, neo-orthodoxy being opposed to classical liberal theology, there are points of congruence with Baptist, even Southern Baptist life--if we can overcome our knee-jerk reactions to it.

As to the criteria statement, all of us view (or interpret) Scripture through some lens, and with various presuppositions and assumptions. I have heard many brothers in Christ say that their only presupposition is something to the effect that "that Scripture is the inspired, infalliable, inerrant word of God," but when you listen to them, you find that other criteria are indeed active, often based on 19th Century fundamentalism and/or the very individualistic view of Scripture common to frontier American Christianity. Some use the lens that not only were the (non-existant) autograph copies of Scripture inerrant, but also their favorite translation. This view is especially common, I think, among KJV only adherents, some even correcting the Textus Recepticus from the KJV at the points where they diverge. Many also fail to take into account the difference between an ancient Middle Eastern perspective and a western, post-enlightenment perspective. Their lens then becomes that a Biblical statement will mean the same thing to "us" as it did to "them" without accounting for any differences in context, or seeing a need to understand the presuppositions of Scripture. As an extreme example, the statement, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk" from Exodus 23:19 & 34:27 as well as Deutronomy 14:21 becomes an end in itself, an unfathomable dietary restriction from the heart of God. But properly understood, we find that boiling a young goat in its mother's milk was a pagan religious ritual, and that to do so was was tanamount to worshipping other gods. It was the same principle that cost many early Christians their lives when they refused to burn a pinch of incense before Caesar's statue--it would have been subtle aquesience that Caesar was divine. Consequently, the real point is not a divine dietary restriction, but that His people are to worship no other gods.

Perhaps some will say this is a neo-orthodox perspective, and that well may be. After all, one of Barth's principles was "faith seeking understanding." However, that was far older than Barth, as he readily conceded, dating back at least to the 1200s (or so) AD, and the work of Anslem. Regardless of its origins, I have no problem with approaching either faith or Scripture from that perspective. And the 1963"criteria" statement resonates much better with me than the 2000"testimony" statement. It at least specifies a lens for interpretation rather than ignoring the fact that everyone will use SOME lens.

John

Jon L. Estes said...

What does one mean when they say...

I have a high view of scripture.

My NT professor would say this and then deny the virgin birth.

Two Mormons stood on my porch and I asked them about their view of the bible (not the book of Mormon) and they both agreed they had a high view of scripture.

One can claim a lot of things and they not be so.

Timothy Snider said...

Hello Wade:
(Apologies to readers - this goes a little long.)

In your comment of Monday at 12:37, you write:

I believe that the tithe is an Old Covenant law. There were actually three "tithes" for Israel and a third tithe (10%) every three years - thus every Jew gave 33% to the government/Temple.


--End Excerpt--

I know this 'rabbit trail' deviates from the scope of the post, but wanted to comment on this tithing issue in 3 ways:

1. I had been taught (and currently endorse) this viewpoint years ago, but was told there were 2 yearly tithes and a subsequent tithe every 3 years for a total of 23% prorated annually. Your statement is different - the total is different - also you indicated 'three tithes' followed by a 'third tithe.' If you're sources/study are 'better' than mine, then you actually have a 'fourth' tithe. Could you explain on a future blog post?

2. Irregardless of 23% or 33%, it still exceeds the mainstream Southern Baptist teaching of 10%. I've quietly held the viewpoint of 'grace giving' in a SB church that stages the stewardship campaign yearly preaching the 10% message. On the one hand, I've always found it sad that it sets up some poor, but giving, people to fail when their 1-9.99% gift is considered 'cheating God.' (Does God's work not get done with this 'poisoned' money?) On the other hand, if you've not done so, check into Randy Alcorn's Book "Money Possessions and Eternity" and his writings on the tithing issue where he gives a very balanced, fair, and respectful treatment of both sides of the issue. He makes the point I think you would concur with in respect of a 'new covenant': If we're going to call it 'grace giving,' then why does that philosopically allow us to 'cheapen' grace by tossing in a few bucks every week?

3. Finally, if we're going to teach a tithe, let's be consistent in our definitions. I've personally met deacons and church leaders who give public testimony of the blessings of tithing (and I believe there are blessings) when they tithe on 'net income.' To be sure, in today's payroll departments, with the myriad taxes, entitlements fundings, health plans, and cafeteria plans making up the difference between 'gross' and 'net', the difference in a true tithe on either plan can be truly 'gross.'

Sorry so long. Tim

Benji Ramsaur said...

Christiane,

I'm not sure what you are asking. If you are saying that my position concerning professors [which would not include Klouda] is one in which "harm" is done and thus is not justifiable, then I think you are the one who does not have the justifiable position for your position allows room for great harm.

I am not saying that there should not be patience in discerning where someone is coming from concerning one's view of the relationship between Jesus and the Scripture.

James 1:19 should be heeded.

However, if at the end of the day, what someone is advocating comes out looking like this:

"Jesus is my ultimate authority and not the Bible [as if Jesus is giving one 'revelation' that is higher than the New Testament Scriptures that make up part of the Bible]"

Then that is a recipe for idolatry and should not be tolerated for it is teaching that can have such impact that its influence can lead someone to the second death--the lake of fire.

That pain trumps temporal pain. And the temporal pain has been brought on by those teaching this false teaching and not by those who want the Jesus revealed in the Bible to be honored.

I'm not advocating torture. I'm advocating the removal of bad teaching that, yes, sadly includes the teach[er].

At BEST those who are advocating this position are mixed up/confused.

At WORST they are simply idolatrous who are no better off than the one who carefully carves out his dumb idol.

And if someone, for example, is advocating this [Jesus vs. Bible teaching] because they want to continue to lick their Darwin/Jesus swirl ice cream cone, then that is *not* my problem.

It's theirs.

Christiane said...

Sorry BENJI, I deleted my comment to you before I saw your comment in reply. Give me a moment, and I will respond after I read your comment. Oops!

Love, L's

Benji Ramsaur said...

Jon L. Estes,

"Could there be a #3."

Yes

Christiane said...

Hi BENJI,

Was 'harm' done?
Were people hurt?
Was something precious taken from them?

The answer is 'yes'.

In Dr. Klouda's case, the harm was great.

What I asked of you basically was this:

is it ever permissible to harm the dignity of another human person in order to do some percieved greater good?

My faith says 'no'.

Does the SBC claim that the Law of Crist's Love allows harm to come to people in His Name? Or not?
Is there ever any 'doctrine' that is greater than Christ's Commandment to love one another as He has loved us? If so, what is that doctrine? Love, L's

P.S. If you google in 'Catholic Catechism: conscience', you can get a little more background on where I'm coming from.

If you need to 'vent', please do so. I think it's a good thing when someone say's
'go ahead and vent, I love you anyway'. :) Love, L's

Benji Ramsaur said...

John Fariss,

Yes, we all have presuppositions.

Yes, even those who claim that their only presuppositions are those in the Bible can have "other" presuppositions.

However, I would also say [and I think you would agree] that a congregation who claims that they only discipline erring church members might end up in reality disciplining members who were in the right.

But that does not take away the "ideal" for a congregation to only discipline erring members.

In the same way, the ideal [in my opinion] is for one to "strive" for adopting the presuppositions of Scripture to be one's own presuppositions.

You speak of "faith seeking understanding".

But the question is "faith [in what]..."

I say "faith in New Testament revelation" ultimately. If someone says "No, faith in Jesus" ultimately, then there is a real problem between myself and the other person.

God Bless,

Benji

Benji Ramsaur said...

Christiane,

Thank you for your kind response. Based on your reasoning I think, even Jesus was wrong about even Jezebel.

Revelation 2:20.

Even someone who taught that Joseph Smith is the true God in a seminary could not be dismissed based on your reasoning.

Christ taught both the law of love [John 13:34-35] and intolerance [Revelation 2:20] and thus there is not necessarily a contradiction between the two.

Grace to you,

Benji

flboy said...

I personally want nothing to do with the BFM 2000. I believe it was written under the influence a small group of leaders in the SBC to promote their interpretation of the scriptures. This has caused more harm to the churches and missionaries of the SBC than anyone this side of heaven will ever be able to comprehend.

As a missionary in Japan, I saw missionaries, some of the best the IMB has ever had, who would not sign forced to resign or be terminated. I think this was the beginning of the “do what I tell you, or get out” mentality that seems to be so prevelent in the SBC and especially in the IMB today.

If you think this is not true, contact me, and I can give you our own story and direct you to many missionaries in many parts of the world who can share their story. I heard many missionaries, including myself, say that they signed it only because they did not have a job lined up in the states.

I also believe the forced signing of the BFM2000 was the beginning of much outside influence being exerted on the trustees of the IMB, many who were very sympathic to the new BFM 2000 and believed that everyone who claims to be a SB should endorse it. I believe the BFM2000 was nothing but a political tool to force out many good servant leaders, many Holy Spirit directed missionaries and many pastors who would not bow to the pressure to endorse it.

I believe this was the beginning of the decline of the SBC in the states and the decline of the IMB around the world. I know that was true in Japan where my wife and I served. The Japan Mission is a mear shell of what it was in the 1990's. My heart breaks for the missionaries who have left, but it breaks even more for the thousands of Japanese who could have had a witness from a missionary, but did not because that missionary couple was forced to return to the states.

I know this is true because we are soon to be resigned/terminated from the IMB. We will join a large company of former missionaries who love the Lord and the people groups that we worked with.

With a broken heart,
RWP

Christiane said...

Your welcome, Benji.

Now Benji, you know I rarely reason. What I say is mostly emotional platitudes. Except, at the heart of it is this:

No human person made in the image of God should ever be treated poorly by any Christian person.
Ever.

Someone new here said something about the importance of 'kindness'.
I think he must have got it from the Gospels.

I don't know from Revolution about the Law of Intolerance. So I cannot comment on your interpretation of the Book of the Apocalypse.

Thanks for responding, Benji.
Love, L's

Joe Blackmon said...

The entire reason for the "criterion by which scripture is interpreted is Jesus" business in the 1960-whatever BFM was to give liberals and moderates a way to say "Well, that couldn't possibly be what Scripture means. Jesus is much too loving to ever have meant that." The protests againt removing that phrase have NOTHING to do with any real concerns by Bible believing Christians.

Rex Ray said...

Benji,
Hey! I never thought of teaching in a seminary! If they’d let a 77 year-old, I’d teach without pay and you could keep more money in your pocket. :)
What do you think about interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus?

Would you let a person teach that led SWBTS to the height of its glory in respect and attendance – Russell Dilday? Here is what he had to say on the subject of Wade’s post:


BFM63 says, "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ." BFM2000 substitutes, "All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is himself the focus of divine revelation."

BFM2000 also deleted from BFM63, "Baptists are a people who profess a living faith. This faith is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Therefore, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures."

This seems to many to be a serious rejection of a very important hermeneutical principle. Baptists (and most evangelicals) have valued what is called the theological principal of Biblical interpretation. This principle teaches that the Bible is a book of faith, not just history or philosophy. Therefore, the Bible cannot be fully understood from the outside by grammar, logic, rhetoric, and history alone. It must be understood from its center – Jesus Christ. This Biblical center yields itself best to those who have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and who are indwelt by the Spirit of God. Because of this personal relationship with Jesus, the believer knows personally the author of Scripture and has the promise of illumination from the indwelling Christ.

This theological principle, expressed in the Christocentric language of BFM63, "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ," declares that the guiding key to Biblical interpretation is Jesus Christ. Through Him as a criterion, or standard, the Bible becomes unified, self-consistent and coherent. Jesus said, "The Scriptures … bear witness to me" (John 5:39). Therefore, we are to interpret the Old Testament and the rest of the Bible in the light of the life and teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, illuminated by our own direct experience with the living Christ. It is through Jesus as the criterion that we interpret the Old Testament prophecies, the ceremonial, civil, dietary, and moral laws of the Old Testament. As Martin Luther insisted, the Bible is always to be understood from its center – its heart – its Christ.

The intentional deletion of this Christological principal of Biblical interpretation is, to many, the most serious flaw in BFM2000. It appears to elevate the Bible above Jesus and to weaken the idea that He is Lord of the Bible. Critics have responded:

"This amounts to nothing less than idolatry." It is pure bibliolatry." "I’ll bow down to King Jesus, but I will never bow down to King James."
(Quotes from article in Biblical Recorder, July 29, 2000, p. 11)

Rex Ray said...

Russell Dilday continues:

The committee defended its deletion in their press release of June 5, 2000: "This statement (Jesus is the criterion) was controversial because some have used it to drive a wedge between the incarnate word and the written word and to deny the truthfulness of certain passages." Ken Hemphill calls the Christocentric language "a loophole to avoid the plain teaching of certain Biblical texts which persists among moderates…. it is used by some unprincipled Baptist scholars to ignore difficult texts which they did not believe to reflect the character of Jesus" (Baptist Standard, February 26, 2001, p. 3).

But surely this crucial Christological principle treasured by Baptists over the years should not be abandoned just because some misguided interpreters are said to have abused it.

Reflecting on this change, an editorial in Christianity Today says, "BFM2000 is poorer without the rich Christocentric language of the earlier statement. Jesus Christ is surely the center of Scripture as well as its Lord. One can affirm this while also welcoming the clear affirmation of the Bible as God’s infallible, revealed word"
(August 7, 2000, p. 36).

Joe Blackmon said...

But surely this crucial Christological principle treasured by Baptists over the years should not be abandoned just because some misguided interpreters are said to have abused it.

It was necessary for PRECISELY that reason that the liberals most beloved loophole needed to be removed.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Rex,

"What do you think about interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus?"

Allow me to add something to that and then I will answer it.

"What do you think about interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus[?]"

No

Jon L. Estes said...

""What do you think about interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus?""

My Jesus or Joseph Smith's Jesus? And for that thought how do I know my Jesus is the right One? JS's followers think there Jesus is the right one.

Do you think I ought to go to scripture and see how it reveals (revelation) Jesus instead of taking a Jesus of my interpretation and figuring out scripture?

Benji Ramsaur said...

Rex,

"Therefore, we are to interpret the Old Testament and the rest of the Bible in the light of the life and teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, illuminated by our own direct experience with the living Christ. It is through Jesus as the criterion that we interpret the Old Testament prophecies, the ceremonial, civil, dietary, and moral laws of the Old Testament."

I actually resonate with much of what he is saying in this quote. However, when you read what he says with more of his context, then it becomes problematic in my eyes.

God Bless,

Benji

Benji Ramsaur said...

Rex,

Scratch what I said above.

"Therefore, we are to interpret the Old Testament and THE REST OF THE BIBLE in the light of the life and teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, illuminated by our own direct experience with the living Christ. It is through Jesus as the criterion that we interpret the Old Testament prophecies, the ceremonial, civil, dietary, and moral laws of the Old Testament." (caps mine)

What he said in caps I have a serious problem with.

linda said...

I remember when Southern Baptists, at least in my area, generally agree with one another as to what the Bible taught.

They came to those beliefs one person at a time, studying the Bible with the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Now the elite few want to tell us what to believe.

For many of us, the issue that drove us out was not that we disagreed with the conclusions the CR proposed.

What drove us out was that we were supposed to accept them not by reading the Bible with the illumination of the Holy Spirit, but JUST BECAUSE THEY SAID SO.

Many of us were just as conservative, maybe more so, as far as doctrine was concerned, or as far as morals were concerned, or as far as defending the Bible.

But we can read, and our Bibles clearly teach us that our great high Priest is Jesus Christ. He is the final authority, and indeed our ONLY spiritual authority. No human or group of humans can have that place.

THAT is why we object to the BFM2000.

John Fariss said...

Benji,

The full phrase, which I did not quote, is, "Theology is faith seeking understanding." Consequently, I was not speaking of the object of one's faith per se (Jesus, which Jesus, the Bible, etc.), as it may have seemed. As to the difference in faith in Jesus verses faith in the NT revelation, I would not pick one over the other, but would rather say faith in the Jesus of the New Testament, which I think identifies both the source and object of our faith, AND the identiication of that source and object. Faith in Jesus "alone" can lead to excesses such as we find in modern pentacostalism and other "post-Biblical" so-called revelations, while faith in the NT revelation alone can lead to a dry and sterile understanding of truth as a propositional matter.

Consequently, I would agree that the Jesus in which one must have saving faith is the Jesus of the Scriptures, as opposed to the "historical" Jesus (as turn of the century liberals called it), or the Jesus of the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. And from that wellspring comes the cruciality of the Bible. BTW: I have heard the stories about usually unnamed professors pre-CR denying various OT events or narratives based on the criteria statement that "Jesus would not have said/done that." However, I went to SEBTS pre-CR, and had many of those "liberal" professors, and never heard any of them say anything like that. But then, they were more concerned with what the Bible actually said than what the BF&M said about the Bible anyway.

You also said, "In the same way, the ideal [in my opinion] is for one to 'strive' for adopting the presuppositions of Scripture to be one's own presuppositions." It is possible we are using the word "presuppositions" in two different ways, or at least with some subtle differences. I would say that it is not possible for us to adopt the presuppositions of the 1st Century Judao-Christian world as our own; we have been exposed to post-enlightenment thinking, and barring brain damage, it is not possible to shed ourselves completely of that--nor should we, if we are to be "in the world" at all. It is, by analogy, a Heisenberg uncertainity principle, in which mere observation affects behavior. However, I think we can move toward a realization of (1) what those 1st Century presuppositions were, and thus get a better understanding of how the original audience understood the text, and (2) move toward a realization of what our own presuppositions are, and thus become equipped to accurately "translate" the text into our own time and settings.

John

Benji Ramsaur said...

John,

"faith in the NT revelation alone can lead to a dry and sterile understanding of truth as a propositional matter."

What I am saying is that faith in the NT revelation *is* faith in the living Jesus [Heb. 1:1-2, Jn. 16:13-15, etc].

It is faith in the NT and thus faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus apart from faith in the NT is no faith in Jesus at all.

It is cutting the umbilical cord between Christ and the Apostles that jettisons objectivity and thus allows one to take the name of Jesus and shape it according to one's desires.

The NT is more than mere propositions. It contains stories and images along with the propositions that make its communication rich and wonderful.

"we have been exposed to post-enlightenment thinking, and barring brain damage, it is not possible to shed ourselves completely of that--nor should we, if we are to be "in the world" at all."

Perhaps one will not shed all of it now like someone will not become perfectly like Christ now. However, just as Paul "pressed on" to be like Christ so I think one should press on towards allowing the NT to shape one's thinking at the deepest level. Accordingly, this helps one live as someone who does "not" belong to the world even though living in it.

What I mean by presuppositions is one's *ultimate* commitments.

Notice where the "transcendent" words of the Messiah abide [John 3:31-34; 15:7].

God Bless,

Benji

Lydia said...

"No human person made in the image of God should ever be treated poorly by any Christian person.
Ever."

Does that mean a Christian could never serve on a jury and send someone to prison because that would be treating them poorly?

Who gets to decide what 'treating them poorly' means?

Jon L. Estes said...

"Who gets to decide what 'treating them poorly' means?"

Great question. I know as a pastor I have been accused of treating people along my journey poorly but more times than often we simply found disagreement on something and I stood my ground.

Some of these people along the way left the church because of the poor treatment they "FELT" they were receiving.

I can live with the differences (for the most part) we have in what is good and bad but living by what is right vs. wrong is totally a different discussion. Right must be selected, even if it hurts someone else.

Christiane said...

Hi LYDIA,

Strange you should ask with that particular example. I just finished jury duty for one-month for my city. (Petit Juror)

I was 'voix-dired' (sp?) for two cases and 'dismissed' for each one. In the first case, my second-cousin was the under-sheriff of our city, and the defense apparently didn't want anyone whose relatives were law officers, least of the city's under-sheriff.

The second case was a law-suit: a woman suing a man who hit the back of her car. She wanted a jury trial. I didn't make the jury there either: this time, the defense didn't want anyone who had an immediate family member who was a physician.

Back to your question: who gets to decide what 'treating them poorly' means.

It's individual. Each person must face God alone with their conscience. Some religions teach that 'torture' is acceptable, if the outcome is productive.
Some religions don't.

Some religions teach that it is okay to use all kinds of humiliation and show all kinds of contempt in the service of defending 'the truth'.
Some religions don't.

If someone's faith allows them to do evil things to people in order to get a 'good result': that's between them and God.

If your faith tells you that you cannot disregard the dignity of another person who is made in the image of God, as a means to an end.
Then you have another answer to how people should be treated: love them as Christ loved us, impossible to do without His help.

For me, 'treating people poorly' is breaking the Golden Rule AND in doing so, also violating the Law of Charity given to us by Christ.

I'm sure you have your own opinion.
And you should. And it should be respected as your opinion, formed according to your conscience. No one has the right to interfere between your conscience and the Good Lord. No one.

Well, enough rambling platitudes from me. (Maybe I'll make a jury next time when the city calls me back for duty, in about three years.)
Love, L's

Baptist History Guy said...

A number of readers have brought up a good issue--the issue of soul liberty as it relates to Baptist confessions. My book has two full chapters on that issue. The first deals with soul liberty and the second with soul competency (a different but related concept first developed by E. Y. Mullins in 1907). A careful study of Baptist practice prior to the 20th century shows that Baptists understood soul liberty in three different contexts: (1) civil society, (2) the local church, and (3) the association between churches. For a good study on this see Greg Wills, Democratic Religion.

In the civil, or public context Baptists have always, and continue, to support the rights of individuals as members of society to believe what they will without the interference of the state or a state supported ecclesiastical institution. This is fundamental to our understanding of religious liberty and that God alone is Lord of the conscience.

In the second instance, the local church, Baptists up until the 20th century understood that there were voluntary, self-imposed limits on religious liberty based on one's membership in a church. It was expected that one who joined a church did so because he/she found substantial agreement with the doctrines of that church and was committed to supporting and advancing those doctrines (usually expressed in a short "Abstract of Principles" of some kind). If a person began to deviate too far from accepted norms of theology leaders in the church would seek to help him regain a proper understanding of the Word, but if they could not, he would be excluded from the church to prevent his teachings from becoming a source of division in the body.

At the level of the Baptist association the same principle applied to churches in the association. If a church and/or its pastor began to preach and teach doctrines contrary to what was held by the majority of the churches in the association, the association would move to withdraw fellowship from that church unless and until it reasserted the beliefs held by the association as expressed in a confession of faith. So, Baptists have a long history of using confessions as "instruments of doctrinal accountability."

That all began to change in the 20th century. The newly developed concept of "soul competency", rooted in Enlightenment philosophy, coupled with the individualistic spirit of American democracy, became an acidic corrosive on the body politic of Baptist life. More and more truth was in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, and every person was free to believe what he or she willed and still expect to be treated as a member in good standing in a Baptist church under the guise of the "priesthood of the believer" (the old Baptist expression was "priesthood of all believers", emphasizing the corporate, shared nature of our priesthood).

Persons interested in looking into this further should read the book by Wills mentioned above as well as The Baptist Way by Stan Norman and chapters 4--5 of The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. You might also look at Has Our Theology Changed?, edited by Paul Basden.
AJS

Lydia said...

Could you send someone to prison for breaking the law? Would that be considered 'treating them poorly' according to your religion?

Just curious because a few threads ago, some of us were considered mean and cruel for not wanting to give Obama money for his health care plan. Seems this view was connected to mean we do not care for those who have no health insurance, somehow. :o)

Rex Ray said...

Flboy or RWP,
Most people are so wrapped up in their activities, that few will hear your words. Only time and history will prove your knowledge and wisdom. My heart goes out to you as you say goodbye to our feuding SBC, our legalist IMB, and the BFM 2000 CREED.

Years ago, three missionary couples had a meeting in our home in Grand Prairie, TX. One said in words to the effect that he had been a missionary all his life and that was all he knew and who would hire a man who was fifty? I’ve lost contact with him.

Another, my son, at present does not attend a Southern Baptists church. The third missionary said, “We must obey God and not man.”

I wrote Jerry Rankin and thanked him for being a friend to my son, and complained that the third missionary was facing being fired for accepting being pastor at Tokyo Baptist Church. Rankin replied:

“I cannot imagine anyone considering firing Dennis ____. He and Judy are effective missionaries, and I recall his becoming pastor of the Tokyo Baptist Church. Under Dennis’s leadership, Tokyo Baptist Church has certainly demonstrated an effective ministry which the IMB endorses.”

A couple of months ago, my missionary cousin visited Japan on a conference and said Dennis was still the pastor but was no longer a missionary.

Rankin may be President of the IMB, but in my opinion, the ‘powers that be’ make him a puppet on a string.

I’ve spent over a year in Japan on thirteen volunteer construction projects for the IMB, and the many missionaries I got to know felt they were walking a wire rope.

One said, “At a time like this, we can only stay close to God.” (He is no longer a missionary.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If egos had weight, the egos of those responsible for the signing of the BFM 2000 would require wheelbarrows.

John Fariss said...

Lydia,

Treat a person with justice is never treating them poorly. If the evidence compels one to a just verdict of guilty, then "poor treatment" is not part of the equation. "Poor treatment" would apply only if an innocent person were convicted. That happens, but in my opinion, not often at all; for when it might, the checks and balances of the judicial system, with its appeals process, are a safeguard.

Let's take the question a step further now: in this the greatest and most propserous country in the world, is it just to deny health insurance coverage to someone based on pre-existing conditions? How about age? Or financial resources? Are not these, or at least some of these, also justice issues? While I don't intend to put wpords into their mouths, what do you think Amos and the other prophets like him would have said?

John

John Fariss said...

Benji,

Even though the Hebrews passage is more about the living Word than the written one, it sounds like we are pretty close together. I thinks we are both dancing around different sides of the same thing--just perhaps approaching it a little differently. I would simply say that the faith has both objective and subjective elements. The written Word is our subjective pole of faith, and the experience of Christ is our subjective one. And of course, the subjective will never contradict the objective; if it does, it is an experience of "someone" other than Jesus.

As far as my statement about not being able to shed our western, post-enlightenment identity, what I mean is that there is no way we can become a 1st Century Jewish-Christian like Paul or a 1st Cenury gentile Christian like Luke. It is only by identifying who we are, as American, western, post-enlightenment Christians that we can appreciate their perspective at all--and the differences in interpretation those suggest.

John

Rex Ray said...

Benji,
More from Russell Dilday:

"Soul competency" is the view that individual Christians may go directly to God through Christ without any other mediator. "The priesthood of the believer" is the view that through Christ each believer is a priest – both clergy and laity – responsible to God for interpreting and following the Bible and for interceding on behalf others. Both E.Y. Mullins and Herschel Hobbs called soul competency Baptists’ most distinctive doctrine.

But seminary President Al Mohler, a major voice, if not the primary composer, on the revision committee, has recently raised concerns about the historic Baptist convictions called "soul competency" and "priesthood of the believer" – especially as they were espoused by previous president of Southern Seminary, E.Y. Mullins.

In his Founder’s Day address at the seminary, March 30, 2000, Mohler said that Mullin’s emphasis on soul competency has "infected" the SBC with an "autonomous individualism" that undermines Biblical authority to this day. He blames Mullins for steering the SBC off course by making personal Christian experience more important than Biblical authority. He warned that soul competency "serves as an acid dissolving religious authority, congregationalism, confessionalism, and mutual theological accountability" (Southern Seminary Magazine, June, 2000).

The BFM2000 originally deleted the following references to these doctrines in BFM63:

Baptists emphasize the soul’s competency before God, freedom of religion, and the priesthood of the believer. However, this emphasis should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.

After growing criticism of this deletion, the following reinsertion was made less than an hour before the report was brought to the convention for approval:

We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.

While this change was welcomed by critics, it was soon discovered that the reinserted wording had been subtly changed. The singular form in BFM63, "priesthood of the believer" had been changed to "priesthood of believers." Here again, the revisers expressed their mistrust of personal, individual experience, focusing instead on accountability to an approved belief system. This in essence rejects the historical Baptist emphasis of the priesthood of each individual believer (singular), replacing it with a more Reformed doctrine of the priesthood of believers (plural).

Al Mohler defended the reinterpretation, "It is dangerous to say the priesthood of the believer. It is not just that we stand alone; it is that we stand together – and we stand together under the authority of God’s word." Other defenders of the plural form say the singular form is "a kind of private interpretation which, while adhering to an ambiguously crafted "criterion" of Jesus Christ, eviscerates the Biblical doctrines..." (Biblical Recorder, July 29, 2000, p.3). But one Baptist editor countered:

While I am content to stand before God under the authority of Scripture, I can do so whether I’m alone or in a crowd of all 15.8 million Southern Baptists. While I appreciate the committee’s efforts to at least partially restore a pair of key Baptist doctrines, I am confident it is not dangerous to be a lone priest/believer in the presence of Almighty God through the power of his Holy Spirit (Baptist Standard, July 17, 2000).

The end result of these omissions, reinsertions, and changes seems to many to indicate a lack of appreciation for – even a rejection of two very important Baptist ideals.

Rex Ray said...

Benji,
If you’re interested in Russell Dilday’s analysis of the BFM 2000, Google ‘Dilday BFM 2000’ and pick the first reference.

He listed 6 positive factors in the BFM 2000. The first being: “The committee did not insert the controversial language of ‘inerrancy’.

He commented on 12 troubling factors in the BFM 2000. I’ve posted most of his first two. This is his list:



Troubling Factors in the 2000 Revision
Negative concerns about BFM2000 seem to cluster around twelve issues:

1. The deletion of the Christocentric criterion for interpretation of Scripture.
2. The diminishing of the doctrines of soul competency and the priesthood of the believer.
3. The trend toward creedalism.
4. The diminishing of the doctrine of autonomy and freedom of the local church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
5. The trend toward Calvinism and mistrust of personal Christian experience.
6. The trend shifting Baptist identity from its Anabaptist, free church tradition to a reformed evangelical identity.
7. The narrow interpretation of the role of women in marriage.
8. The narrow interpretation of the role of women in the church.
9. The "Pandora’s box" concern – a fear of repeated future revisions to include favorite opinions.
10. The trend toward including a catalogue of specific sins.
11. The false accusation of neo-orthodoxy.
12. Inconsistency

Rex Ray said...

Benji,
You’re saying: “I don't want my money supporting a Rex teaching in a seminary” set me to thinking what I would teach in a seminary on the subject of Wade’s post.

Several have mentioned the history behind BFM’s, but I would go back to what I believe was the ‘original’ BFM. That being the letter sent to the Gentiles in Acts 15.

One major rule on meetings: After all the talking is finished, the most important is what is in writing.

We might call the first SBC was the first church counsel in Acts 15. They could have more in numbers than the SBC has in this day and time. :)

The non-autonomous church at Antioch was waiting with ‘bated breath’ what ‘the powers that be’ would tell them what their requirements were to become Christians. I imagine they were rooting for Paul’s thinking - hoping they didn’t have to get ‘cut on’.

In short, the decision was APPLES and ORANGES.

APPLES was the answer by Peter on how man was saved.

ORANGES was the answer by James on how Gentiles were to be accepted by Christian Jews.

All the letter (BFM) contained was ORANGES.

The party of the Christian Pharisees that demanded Gentiles follow the laws of Moses looked upon ORANGES as APPLES, and to Paul’s amassment and horror; so did many Gentiles as shown in Galatians.

Did the majority of early Christians believe ORANGES were necessary for salvation?

“My friend, you can see how many tens of thousands of the Jewish people have become followers! And all of them are eager to obey the Law of Moses.” (Acts 20:21 Contemporary English)

The large committee for the BFM 1963 were the presidents of the State conventions and invited anyone to suggest while the BFM 2000 committee were 15 hand-picked [friends?] of Patterson that met in secret.

Ahhhhh…beam me up Scottie!

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
I loved your ‘big dog’ story. Driving big fast cars is like being in “God-appointed” positions.

People get to thinking they’re above the law. ‘God-appointed’ does not mean ‘appointed-God’.

It can happen in churches, conventions, and BFMs.

Michael Ruffin said...

I've been trying to work out some of the implications of applying the principles of "Jesus as the center of Scripture" and "Jesus as the criterion for the interpretaton of Scripture" in a Wednesday night series in our church.

I post the results at http://thejesuslens.blogspot.com.

If you decide to visit, I would suggest starting with the oldest post and working through chronologically.

It's an experiment and a work in progress but comments are welcomed.

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
You mentioned Belle. I keep a diary to keep the doctor informed. This was today’s:

Wednesday September 16, 2009 Belle seems the most confused so far. She asked where she could get some water, wanted to know if the inside doors were locked, and wanted to go to our other ‘house’. While in the hall, she asked which way was our bedroom. At each door, she did not know which way to turn, but waited until I told her. In bed she asked if she was moving and wanted to know if I’d go with her. She cries knowing something is wrong. We cry together but she doesn’t know it.

Christiane said...

REX, you both do not weep alone.
My heart is breaking for her. I will pray this night. Love, L's

Rex Ray said...

Thank you.

The G Man said...

Dear Wade,

I have not read all of the post's here so please forgive me if I am repeating someone else argument. I am being looked at by a church in NC as a pastoral candidate and they hold to the 1963 version, so I googled it and up came your blog. I said to myself, hey I heard of Wade! He use to be the pastor of a church that Ben Carr use to be in. Ben is married to my spiritual sister Carolyn Horton. I was helped to walk with the Lord by her parents. Anyway, Here is a phrase that I see in the 200 version that is missing in the 1963: "Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy."
This to me is a very important statement. Whereas, the 1963 version is longer on words but very vague: "It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried."
It seems I have more questions by this statement then the 2000. For instances what is meant by: therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union? One needs to interpret this but to say that all scripture is true and trustworthy, is much more specific. Anyway, I think I can work under either one as long as one keeps a high view of scripture as you said. Thanks and look forward to your comments.

Sincerely,

Gordon A. Loop

OleDad48 said...

Wow, 5 years have passed since the last post on this blog.

I have asked supporters of the 2000 version why the committee left out that crucial phrase "interpreted by Jesus Christ." That was the most glaring omission for me as well, for all the reasons Wade gave: food laws, ceremonies, holy days, etc which have all be "fulfilled" in Christ and are no longer required (see Acts)(unless you are a Judaizer).

The answer I was given most often centers on the word "interpreted." Fundamentalists, whether Christian or Muslim, are not interested in nuance or interpretation. They just let the Word (or Koran) speak! Of course, that either means interpreting what is read, or accepting the interpretation of others. (In the case of Muslims, they take the passages of beheading Christians and Jews 'inerrantly.' And ISIS is practicing their inerrant Muslim faith, as declared in the Koran.)

SBC BFM supporters bristle at the notion they are dissing Jesus -- and the section on salvation by faith in Christ alone backs them up. But the truth remains that Leviticus has no meaning for Christians without the **interpretation in Christ** given us in Hebrews.

Concerning Christianity and Buddhism -- for me, it is simple. Buddhism is not a "Spiritual" religion at all. Buddhists focus on human thought and "spirituality." While they emphasize material body and immaterial mind, they do not promote a Spiritual (ie, personal God) dimension.

So the Dalai Lama gives his life in altruism. Without Christ, it is all works (albeit very good works, perhaps better than many carnal Christians) and of no value in his standing before God.

"He who has the Son has life. He who has not the Son has not life" (1 Jn 5). Binary. The Bible is precious because it carries us to the Christ Who saves us, gives us life. It is God's eternal Word. But I've long grown weary of Christian brothers throwing away agape-love for each other while arguing over the distinction between infallible and inerrant, or the KJV vs. NIV or ASV.

The 1979 Inerrancy battle recedes into the past, and now we are beginning to divide up over whether we "should be" a 2-, 3-, or 5-point Calvinist. This time, the wise among us are calling for discussion without rancor. It would truly be sad to see all the SBC leadership fired (again) on the basis of John Calvin's TULIP.

"And this is how the world will know that you are My disciples, that you love (agape, doing what is best for another) one another." Looking for the day when we listen to our Lord and take Him seriously.