Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Sharp Two Edged Sword Called 'Consistency' in the Demand for Absolute Conformity in the SBC

Yesterday the comment section of Art Roger's blog contained this interesting comment from Bill Brown:

"New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote their own statements of faith, because when they were formed the Southern Baptist Convention did not have one.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary adopted Southern's Abstract of Principles when it was formed.

Until very recently New Orleans, Southern, and Southeastern's faculty signed ONLY their institution's (respective) statement of faith. Southwestern, Golden Gate, and Midwestern's faculty signed the current version of the Baptist Faith and Message.

After one seminary president pushed behind the scenes to have all International Mission Board missionaries to subscribe to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (this was shortly after the Southern Baptist Convention adopted the BF&M 2000), and to be subject to scrutiny as to their fidelity to the BFM 2000 during the term of their service, International Mission Board executives pointed out that 3 of the 6 seminaries did not require faculty to sign the Baptist Faith and Message.

The presidents then had the trustees adopt the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as a secondary doctrinal standard and faculty had to sign both.

Seems to me like a lot of people have been doing quite a bit of signing in the last five years. I don't necessarily disagree with the principle of employees signing a document that expresses one's general affirmation of foundational Biblical principles of the gospel --- there must be some standards of the Christian faith, without a doubt.

But the problem arises when there is a demand for conformity on the non-essentials. Cooperation within a convention is killed when that happens. When major confessions around which we cooperate are loaded down with doctrines that are not essentials of the Christian faith or Baptist identity, then everyone within the Southen Baptist Convention loses.

Again, we should require conformity on the essentials, but every confessional document will contain items that are not essentials of the Christian faith and the historic disctinctives of Baptist believers. Remember, Baptists have always been known as 'people of the Book,' and our inherent Baptist values of religious liberty, free dissent, and freedom of conscience, have been the forces that insure we consistently base our distinctives on the Bible, and not tradition, and if we do happen to fall into the trap of traditionalism, courageous Baptist dissenters have always been there for us to provide correction.

There must be room for some allowances in those areas of NON-ESSENTIALS to the Christian faith and historic Baptist identity or we better change the name of our funding mechanism to the 'non-cooperative program' since there is no need for cooperation in complete uniformity. In short, there must be some flexibility within the SBC regarding doctrinal interpretations over the non-essentials in order for us to continue to expand our ministries to reach the world for Christ.

The demand for absolute creedal conformity can also become a two-edged sword that cuts deeply those who once thought they wielded it. Without flexibility over non-essentials in our statements of faith, a whole lot of good people could be fired, terminated, excluded, and shipped to Siberia, (sorry, just had to throw that one in :) --- right now!

Let me illustrate to you what I mean.

I wish in this post to only address those employees of Southern and Southeastern Seminaries. Your employment is directly tied to your affirmation of the Abstract of Principles, which you signed upon your employment. As you know, your respective seminary's charter contains this fundamental law:

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

The future employment of every employee of Southern and Southeastern, by charter and bylaw, is dependent upon an adherence to the Abstract of Principles. Every employee has affirmed by personal signature his or her agreement of, and practice in accordance with, the Abstract of Principles.

Many would say that integrity demands employees either live completely and totally by the Abstract of Principles because they signed them, or they should voluntarily resign from their positions if they choose not to abide by the Abstract of Principles. If they can't totally and completely affirm all of the Abstract and refuse to resign, then the trustees should move to terminate in accordance with the charter. And who could argue? It's a matter of integrity.

Okie dokie. Now that I'm getting in the groove of thinking like a few of my fellow bloggers on this issue, it's time to put this principle into practice. :) Let's take a look at those things which our SBT and SEBT professors should and should not be doing and believing according to the document they personally signed called The Abstract of Principles.

(1). First, every professor must drink wine at the Lord's Table in fulfillment with his contractual obligations.

Article XVI states, "The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine."

Let's not argue about how many brain cells might die when one drinks wine at communion, one's integrity as an employee of the institution is at stake.

If a professor objects by saying, 'Culture' has changed! I know that our Southern Baptist forefathers were drinking wine at communion in 1858 when the Abstract was written, but modern Southern Baptist's don't drink wine at communion! One might understand the professor's thinking, but should it not be expected that a written caveat to the professor's affirmation of the Abstract might be found, possibly right next to his signature? If not, some might say integrity demands he resign. :) Hmmm.

(2). On Sunday, the Lord's Day, the professor had better have not ever gone to a ballgame, or even watched one on television (including in the privacy of his home), or read a secular book, or watched a movie from Blockbuster, or participated in any other 'worldly' amusements or he has violated his contract and the Abstract.

Article XVII states, "The Lord's Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

No excuses here. His employment is determined by by his unqualified compliance. If a professor has violated this Article, both the charter and personal integrity demands the employee of SBT or SEBT resign. :) Hmm.

Those two were just for grins: Now comes the serious stuff.

(3). A professor better affirm and teach that God graciously elects from before the foundation of the world only some, not all, of the guilty human race for salvation, and that His election of some sinners is not because of anything foreseen by Him, but purely because of His free and sovereign grace.

Article V states: "Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life -- not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ -- in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified."

(4). A professor better believe and teach that the Spirit's regenerating work precedes a sinner's faith, and this regenerative and effectual Spirit work leads to the sinner believing. Further, he better believe that when the Spirit regenerates and the sinner believes, all other graces (repentence, perserverance, etc . . .) are guaranteed.

Articles X and XIII state, "Saving faith . . . is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness." "Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end . . ."

(5). A professor better believe and teach that God alone justifies the ungodly by free grace, and not because of anything they have done, including faith.

Article XI states, "Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal of sinners . . . not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ

What I have written in this post is a logical deduction using the arguments of those who demand 'doctrinal accountability' and 'personal integrity' for those who 'sign' confessions, creeds, or statements of faith.

I am not advocating that the professors who have 'violated their integrity' be terminated. I am simply showing the absurdity of not giving freedom to Southern Baptists to express disagreement in those confessional areas that are non-essentials of the faith. There are some Southern Baptists (maybe one hundred out of 16 million) who would actually believe and do everything the Abstract of Principles demands.

I personally believe that employees of any SBC agency should be able to sign the Abstract and write down where they personally disagree, and unless it is a violation of an essential of the Christian faith and the historic understanding of Baptist identity, we should allow them to keep their jobs.

But I will abide by the wishes of others regarding this issue. I just hope that not too many people listen to those who demand absolute conformity and uniformity, without caveats, when signing confessional documents or a bunch more people will be without jobs in the SBC. :)

I keep having this image in my mind of King Saul falling on his own sword.

Let's keep the doctrinal requisites for our cooperation in the SBC as broad as possible. Let's cooperate around a high view of the nature of Scripture, an evangelical belief in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, our historic Baptist identity (believer's baptism, religious liberty, etc . . . ) and the coming judgment for sinners who reject the only Savior given to men.

I think we might actually be able to continue to expand the kingdom of Christ through our Southern Baptist ministries if that kind of gentle, understanding spirit characterizes our love for one another and our cooperation with each other.

Does anybody else see the logic in what I am saying, or am I whistling in the wind?


Have a great day.

In His Grace,



Wayne Smith said...


Are you telling us that
Dr. PAIGE PATTERSON had to sign The Abstract of Principles with no CAVEATS when he was PRESIDENT at SEBTS?

Can you see the headline on

Can you see the Headlines in the Baptist Press?

In His Name
Wayne Smith said...

One of the principles of logic is consistency.

I am trying to make a point of logic.

I am frankly not concerned with Dr. Patterson's lack of total affirmation of the Abstract.

I consider him a brother in Christ, an effective leader in the SBC, and will continue to support him and his leadership at Southwestern.

I have no personal problem with being consistent in this area of 'doctrinal accountability.'

In His Grace,


Mark said...


I think you just broke the homerun record for the longest ball hit out of the park.


irreverend fox said...


how can we as a convention "officially" declare what we consider to be an essenstial doctrine.

I think that is the question I have been asking all along.

Bob Cleveland said...


This phenomenon is common in secular matters, too. Some years ago, OSHA and ATF had rules about storage of explosives on a jobsite: one said you MUST label the building "EXPLOSIVES", and the other said you MUST NOT label the building.

Every time legislators, or any other leaders lay down new rules, they will have effects they never envisioned.

It's a lot like the difference in regulation and rules for making autos vs. airplanes. Priced a new Cessna lately?

My pastor said you can get so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good. If the trustess keep it up, they're gonna get there.

There's a biblical word for that. It's "Pharisees". said...


I think we are going to have to figure that one out, but until we do, I think all of us should be careful issuing declarations of who is, and who isn't, in the Southern Baptist tent.


CB Scott said...

Who needs a tent? We have the Bible, The Great Commission and local churches authorized to proclaim the gospel to all nations.

Who needs a mystic tent?


Christopher Redman said...


It is my belief that many professors do not believe in the articles of election and regeneration preceeding faith as explicitly communicated in the Abstracts.

I was on campus at SBTS last week with a friend of mine who attends. He told me that one of his classes debated the issue of regeneration pre or post faith and the professor denied pre-faith regeneration.

Further, some professors, state that Dr. Mohler and Akin have stated that it is their opinion that professors can hold to semi-pelagian free-will and election conditioned on forseen faith and still sign the Abstracts.

I don't buy this. I know that Mohler does not hold this view personally and can't see why he would allow professors to teach this way. In fact, I don't think he does allow professors to teach this way but it may still happen.

What many SBC leaders and professors reject or simply don't understand is that the Abstracts explicitly reveal 4 point Calvinism and yet Page Patterson himself says that he holds to 3 points. Dr. Reynolds says that he holds to 3 points. Many say they hold to 3 points.

There is inconsistancy here and Calvinists are still demonized even after 25 plus years of the conservative resurgance.

Chris said...


Good question. It probably ought to be asked of those who seeking to remove leaders for reasons other than you just articulated.

Wade said...


I would gently disagree.

In fact, I would say that any Calvinist who demands full conformity to all the points of Calvinism for SBC leadership is making the same mistake of those who demand that we who do believe in the doctrines of grace must NOT believe them in order to serve.

It cuts both ways.

But you do make a good point about the lack of integrity when one signs documents affirming his belief without honestly writing down where he disagrees.

In His Grace,


Christopher Redman said...


Thank you for your response. I, however, am not advocating that a qualification for leadership in the SBC is that leaders hold to all of the points of Calvinism.

However, I think that in order to have integrity with the Abstracts, a professor should be able to affirm 4 of the 5 points unless he does voice a "caveat" when signing.


CB Scott said...


In that we agree. That was the reason for Memphis, atleast for me. That was the reason for my post about the BF&M.

Now, If you allow me, may I push it one step farther. Would you agree that the very nature of the Bible and the gospel itself eliminates some who claim fellowship with us?


RM said...

I was just sitting here thinking this morning about how many more people would be saved and how many more Baptists would be happen if we would just quit arguing about stuff that doesn't really matter in the long run. Seminarians and those who think themselves to be so intelligent have been arguing over these same points for decades and there is still no consensus.

We have been fighting way too long and damaging the reputation of Jesus too persistently--its time to agree to disagree on some minor things and love each other as we do the major things--winning people to Jesus and growing His church. Over the past few years I have learned that there are actually some moderates who are saved--hopefully they will learn to think the same of us conservatives.

Guys, let's put the swords aside and fellowship and grow together for a change. The fight simply isn't worth it. I hestitate to think of how we are going to answer when we stand before the Lord and He asks us why we spent so much time arguing and fighting. said...


Of course. said...

Pastor Jeff,

The issue simply put is 'in communion we will as a local church fellowship with those who are not members of our local church but have personal faith in Christ and believe their baptism to be in accordance with Scripture?'

We are not talking about lost people. We are talking about Presbyterians, Methodists, Mennonites and other 'believers' who have either the mode of baptism wrong (sprinkling, pouring, etc . . ) or the candidate for baptism wrong (infant baptism).

When we celebrate the Lord's grace through communion our church recognizes that there are people who worship with us, particularly in the size of church we have, who are not members, but are Christians.

They are not 'baptized' in the manner we believe to be biblical, but they believe their baptism to be biblical. Again, we are NOT talking about lost people!

Our church will only grant membership to people who have been baptized as believers by immersion (a Baptist distinctive), but we will celebrate Christ around the Lord's table with Christians who are not members of our local church, but are members of other churches and are just visiting.

We all know that a Presbyterian baptized as an infant would not be a member of a Baptist church --- but the issue is 'if the Presbyterian believes in Christ and has been properly baptized (in his mind!) will we share the Lord's table with him?

My answer is that of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Since the Lord's Table in heaven will not exlude any believer in Christ, 'properly' baptized or not, and since the local church only is a portion of the univeral church called 'the Bride of Christ,' we will welcome those to the Lord's table who are part of God's family, but not members of our local church. Salvation is of the Lord through faith in Christ, and not baptism.

We practice a strict membership in our local church --- but only close (not closed) communion.

Some have pointed out that this communino practice of our church may contradict the BFM 2000. I was not aware of this interpretation by some, but if there is a contradiction, I can assure you our church will not change her practice to conform to the BFM 2000. We will simply and gently point out we believe our practice to be the Biblical, gracious, logical and consistent way to fellowship with believers who disagree.

Of course, we would never demand other Southern Baptist Churches follow our example (but probably the majority already do), we will simply say that we will not change our practice in order to follow what we believe to be tradition without Biblical basis.

If a Southern Baptist objects to our response I will simply ask,

"Will Jesus Christ bar a believer from His table in heaven because he was not 'properly baptized?'

I will await an answer from my closed communion friends to that question, and if they cannot answer in the affirmative with Scriptural proof, I and my church will proceed to follow the example of my Lord.

All this may sound silly to some, but when you are hiding in the basement of a home in Afghanistan from Taliban forces and happen to be with Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregational and other evangelical missionaries, it's a little silly to fight over who can, and cannot share communion with each other.

In His Grace,


davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, Yes, I see the logic in your post. Its very logical. Thats probably why it wont work... said...

Christopher Redman,

I could not agree more with signing while writing minor points of disagreements that do not deal with the essentials of the faith.

That, too me, is the honorable, Baptist way. It also keeps one's integrity intact.

Wade said...


We may be surprised.

Baptist people are pretty smart.

We'll get there.

Anonymous said...

Just a question. You stated that your church will only grant membership to people who have been baptised by immersion and you also said that this is a baptist distinctive. What does your church do with someone who may wish to join but was baptised by immersion (as a symbol, not baptismal regeneration)in a non-denominational church or fellowship? said...

T Walker,

You have just described believer's baptism.

We would examine the person's faith in Christ and tell us about his baptism.

If it is by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ, and was a testimony of his trust in the gospel (i.e. he doesn't trust in his baptism, but his baptism points other to where his trust is --- Christ), then why would we NOT receive him into membership?

We would accept him by his statement of faith in Christ and his testimony of believer's baptism.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for making your blog where people can respond without a blogger ID. Allow me to make a few responses to your thoughts on the Lord's Supper.

1. Your view of the Lord's Supper is not close communion, but open communion. If you study church history you find your views on communion are identical with John Bunyan and Robert Hall. On the other hand, the great defenders on close communion such as William Kiffin, Joseph Kinghorn, R.B.C. Howell, and John Dagg would strongly disagree with your pratice of allowing non-immersed Christians to partake of the Lord's Supper just because they believe they have been properly baptized. From a strictly historical viewpoint your view is open communion, not close communion.

2. As I have mentioned before Spurgeon is not really in the open communion camp. While Spurgeon did practice open communion - a non-immersed individual could only take the Lord’s Supper at his church for three months. After that time if they refused to be properly baptized, they were refused the elements. Also at the end of his life, Spurgeon admitted that the closed communion position was more biblical, but he was unable to change the position of his church. This information is found in John T. Christian’s book “Close Communion.

3. Your argument about eating at the Lord's table in heaven with non-immersed Christians being a basic for practicing open communion does not hold up. The great assembly in heaven will be made up of both immersed and non-immersed Christians, but that doesn’t give us any basis to allow non-immersed Christians to join our local assemblies without being immersed. If you are going to be consistent then both would have to be true. As I have said before every person in the N.T. who observed the Lord’s Supper was immersed, and Acts 2:41-42 and Matthew 28:19-20 give us a biblical basis for restricting the Lord’s Supper. The biblical pattern is salvation first, baptism second, and the Lord's supper third. We have just as much right to refuse a lost person from coming to the Lord's Supper as we do a non-baptized Christian. Neither meet the biblical qualifications. said...

Ben Stratton,

Excellent post.

I fall in line with Bunyan, Hall and Spurgeon.

I reject your deathbed anecdote of Spurgeon, but accept the three month limitation as accurate. I don't think we have anyone in our church who has ever exceeded the three months.

Your last comment on consistency is also well received. However, since I do believe Baptism by immersion is Biblical I think I will stand on Scripture and not logic --- :)

So, since you also agree with me that Christ will have people at His table in heaven who have not been 'properly' immersed, I think I'll continue to follow His example, while strongly teaching believer's baptism, and continue as I am.

But, again, great post!


Anonymous said...


Outstanding post.

You have clearly, but yet graciously, shown the hypocrisy of some in the SBC. I am grateful for this blog.

What is ironic to me is that there might actually be some who have demanded absolute conformity to confessional creeds, are contractually obligated to teach the Abstract of Principles and then try to say "I don't believe all the Abstract teaches, but I don't have to state my disagreement when I sign it."


I am reminded that Jesus spoke about people who try really hard to pull out a speck in another person's eye, and they miss the gigantic log in their own.

I appreciate your integrity, your honesty, your theological acumen, and you graciousnes in dealing with people who don't seem to understand what the problem in the SBC really is.

You are making extraordinary progress opening the eyes of many people, including this grateful pastor.

The sooner we recognize that we agree on the essentials but WE WILL NOT BEND to those who demand conformity on the non-essentials, the better off we are.

Pastor Ben

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, Where are the great theologians of the new testament church of the book of Acts? Where are the statements of faith or other abstracts or a certain theology listed which were required for the Christians to sign and obey? ....I don`t see it. What I do see is Christians preaching the message of salvation to others around them ( Jesus Christ crucified for the remission of sin, and repentence ). There are a few other things mentioned such as new converts added DAILY, miracles, wonders and signs and alot of worship...... Where are we now? said...

There's hope David.

I really believe an evangelical revival is coming. said...

Thanks for the kind words Ben.

I'm glad you catch the drift of my post --- some seem to have a hard time.

I do not believe that professors who do not advocate or teach total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption, and effectual grace step down -- at all.

Even though they signed a document that teaches all five points of Calvinism, and anyone with a modicum of theological acumen would understand that the Abstract is teaching all five points --- ask Dr. Mohler.

The point I am making is that people who are under contract and have signed a document disagree with it, did not write down there disagreements, and now are calling for dismissals from leadership and trusteeships those indviduals who affirm the BFM 2000 and wrote down where they disagreed with it on the non-essentials.

The irony is thick.

However, if you take the position which I have advocated from day one, that Southern Baptists cooperate around the essentials, and give plenty of room for disagreement in the non-essentials, then there is no problem with people who have violated their word and are employed at an institution that in its very charter calls for the termination of professors who do not hold to five point Calvinism.

Five point Calvinism is not an essential of the faith. It is a valid interpretation of Scripture, and it is the historic Southern Baptist view, but it is not essential to believe to be in leadership of the SBC --- except at Southern and Southeastern.


Some people just have a hard time seeing it.

David Rogers said...


I definitely see the logic in what you are saying here. That is why I have come out publicly with the views I have lately.

So far, no one has dared to come out and say that I, as an IMB missionary, should be fired for holding to "modified open communion" (as Nathan Finn would put it). Yet, I am in agreement that my belief does not match up with a strict interpretation of the BFM (1963 and 2000) on this point. Both upon appointment, as well as later when all IMB workers were asked to sign their affirmation of the BFM 2000, I signed with a "caveat" on this particular point.

That would really be ironic, though, wouldn't it: the son of Adrian Rogers, chairman of the BFM 2000 committee, fired for disagreement with the BFM 2000?

Thankfully, I think the vast majority of Southern Baptists have enough common sense how absurd this would be.

Laura said...

Wade, this is absolutely fantastic. My profs are forbidden from drinking alcohol or even from teaching that moderation is a tenable position, but MUST take wine with communion? Hilarious!

On an unrelated note, it's great going to Southern when C.J. Mahaney is here all week long! Hooray!

Laura said...

By the way, I think everyone here at Southern (including Dr. Mohler) knows of at least one 4-pointer on the faculty, but they still play racquetball together. said...

David Rogers,

I really like you.

I like your spirit. Your grace. Your humility ---

And your love for missions and the SBC.

I have learned a great deal from blogging. One of the things I learned from my brothers Wes and Les is that my modified open communion view does not line up with the BFM 2000.

Obviously, you are much brighter than I am, and you knew of the conflict before I.

So, I will simply be adding that disagreement to my small list of minor disagreements with our convention's confession. As you and I have stated repeatedly, we affirm all of the essentials of the faith in the BFM 2000, and willingly call ourselves inerrantists, our convention must allow minor disagreements on the non-essentials.

By the way, you and I do have a tendency to be a tad stubborn, but we rest in the fact that we are basing our convictions on what we see the Word of God to teach and not the traditions of man.

I'm not sure that the convention will move to fire David Rogers, son of Adrian Rogers, for his minor disagreement with the BFM 2000, but some people might attempt to remove Wade Burleson as a trustee for minor disagreements with the BFM 2000.

I do not believe for a moment they will succeed, but there is no need for anyone to talk people out of trying. If they do try, it will only give a much larger platform for needed change within our beloved convention.

In His Grace,

Wade said...

I don't think it is your seminary that is not in general conformity to the Abstract. It's your cousin to the east.

irreverend fox said...


you seem to be leading this charge. How can I and others help you "figure it out"?

Wade, I'm tired of complaining. Let's do something and bring this before the sbc in 07. No more complaining, let's do something about this. If the convention shoots us down, so be it.

Anonymous said...

A Baptist woman came home, screeching her car into the driveway, and ran into the house. She slammed the door and shouted at the top of her lungs, "Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery!"
The husband said, "Ohmigosh! What should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?"
"Doesn't matter," she said. "Just get out."

Bryan Riley said...

You are making sense to me.

I have these questions: What is the balance between doctrinal integrity and personal pride in one's position on doctrine? I know there is tension with the line of thought that holding to any doctrine is prideful and I don't agree with that belief; however, I also have to wonder about those who constantly, like a clanging cymbal, proclaim certain aspects of doctrine as the one and only possible understanding of the Word, whether or not it is the result of pride, a "see how smart and spiritual I am because I have all the right answers." The more I study I feel like the less I understand and the more I need to look to Him. Again, I'm not proclaiming my personal experience as a false humility or trying to say that the best approach to theology is a quasi-agnostic one; I'm simply struggling with what I see as problematic dogmatism, something I definitely used to practice. I also definitely still have many opinions about theological issues, but I have seen my own opinions change over time, have seen very biblical and godly men and women have different opinions than my own (and reasonable ones at that), and realize that God's ways are much higher than my own.

Just as you asked us, am I making any sense? said...


You make perfect sense to me. A well written, humble presentation of your beliefs. We could use more of that in the SBC.


Trust me on this one. Show up in San Antonio. There will be plenty to address.

Anonymous said...

Just one small clarification. The faculty members at NOBTS have been signing the BF&M before the 2000 edition -- not just very recently. There has been a double signing of the Abstracts and the BF&M for years by all new faculty -- both documents were signed. The faculty also signed the BF&M 2000 -- the first seminary to do so, I believe.

irreverend fox said...


Wade, I'll be there! But if I come, you'll have to take me out to lunch or something...I am your number one, most loyal, brightest, most humble commentor after all!


I was planning on being there at any rate, now I can't hardly wait!

Bryan Riley said...

Speaking of whistling in the wind... Have you seen this post on point? It's a great read.

Here's a taste:

My apologies to my female readership for the frankness of the metaphor, but I honestly could not think of a better comparative picture for the thoughts that have been running through my head this week.

For the past several weeks, I have been immersed in missions work here in central Maryland, and have been consequently unable to contribute to the rowdy online discussion that is the blogosphere. Nevertheless, I have been able to take some time to read much of what is being said out there regarding first, second, and third order doctrinal issues, and as I observe the way in which various bloggers are addressing these issues, I have come to the conclusion that some wear boxers, and others wear briefs. Some are tight-fisted, gut-wrenched, red-faced, and stressed-out about everything, as if the rise or fall of the evangelical world depends on everyone else coming to their understanding of what it means to be a "conservative." Others are just as theologically sound, but not angry about it.

What I aim to do in the next few paragraphs is draw a distinction between the two. But before I do, a word of clarity is in order: If you are here looking to justify belief in an self-contradicting Bible, women pastors, the notion that being gay is cool with Jesus, the idea that one can enter the Kingdom without a personal relationship with the King, or any other clearly unBiblical idea, I'm afraid you have come to the wrong place. My purpose here is to distinguish within evangelicalism between those who are able to hold to sound doctrine without blowing a gasket, and those who can't. said...




Brian, thanks for the head up! Joel is a great guy and an asset to the SBC.

Steve Young said...

I do believe that there is an unhealthy move toward a rigid understanding of the BF&M. As to the Abstract, there was a time not to long ago that Honeycut and Molly Marshall-Green signed. Talk about inconsistency. I do believe that those kind of issues are swinging the pendulum today. I do not want it to go too far, neither do I wish to see it swing back to the late 70's or early 80's.

Bob Cleveland said...


My twisted mind just thought of another off-the-wall thought.

If one were so principled as to be unable to sign the BF&M on serious doctrinal concerns ... non-essentials of the faith ... at the risk of ending a career ... it occurs to me that such a principled person is just the sort you'd want about Kingdom work.

On the other hand, someone who'd sign regardless of convictions, on the grounds that they'd just do what they were led to do later, regardless of having signed it, they would be fine in seminary or IMB service.

Which would you want in Kingdom service?

I also find it fascinating that a posting and thread which talks about you seems to be getting 50% more comments than your own posting.

KOKO, brother.

Robert Hutchinson said...


that would be article xiv of the bf&m '63 & '00 or xxii of the '25.

XIV. Cooperation

Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ's people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

thanks for bringing it up. we need to read and meditate on this article a little more often.

Bob Cleveland said...

To paraphrase one of my favorite old OLD poems, when someone draws a circle that shuts people out, they've actually drawn a circle that shuts themselves in.

John Moeller said...


Do you think that “The Lords Supper” pertains only to the ordinance done in the church…aka, the bread and juice given while reading the proper verses ... The original Lords Supper was actually a dinner, where during the dinner Jesus spoke and the bread was passed and then after dinner the wine was passed.

1Corinthians 11 seems to indicate that it was a gathered dinner where some didn’t wait on others before beginning the feast. I am not “dinging” the church function, but think it really has a broader meaning. Aka, we have a blessing before a meal. Is this tradition or are we to “as oft as you do this (eat a meal), remember Me”?

The same broader meaning of baptism should be seen too. The outward action of an inward change of heart. The Jordan river, the ocean, a pool, chlorinated, non-chlorinated, dunked, dipped, splashed or sprinkled. I like dunking, Jesus did that, but the method doesn’t determine the validity, the changed heart determines that…..Is the division in Christianity over this worth it? Are dunked’s better than splashed’s?

All of these discussions go back to the root point. You can’t box God, and creating a BFM as well as other documents outside of the very basics of the faith will only create strife in the SBC….. said...

Good comments all.

Living Dust, I cannot publish your comment. I agree with all the principles you articulate, but I do not wish to impugn the character, speak to the intentions of, or assign evil motives to those who disagree with us.


Bob Cleveland said...

Wade: I'll ask the tough question, so gird your loins and answer THIS one for all the world to see:

Do you agree wholeheartedly with the following statements from the BF&M 2000?

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

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

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

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

If you do, then I'd like to know how your stance on communion violates the entire BF&M.

ps: I don't think it does, any more than churches which...

Serve communion only to their local membership.

Serve communion only to properly baptized Southern Baptists.

Serve communion only to those baptized in churches which teach non-salvific baptism with or without eternal security.

If you deny them, you deny the preamble, which is as much a part of the BF&M as anything. Hence you've denied the BF&M.

Or not. Just my opinion.


Robert G. (for GROUPIE) Cleveland

Chris Bonts said...


I have read your blog and comments and am afraid that your appraisal of the situation comes close to rhetoric at some points. At others you are guilty of finding something in the Abstracts that just isn’t there.

You noted . . .
(1). First, every professor must drink wine at the Lord's Table in fulfillment with his contractual obligations.

No, every professor does not have to drink wine. First of all, the word does not imply some level of alcoholic content. Baptists frequently use the word wine to describe the element taken in the Lord’s Supper even though it is not fermented. Even if the writers of the Abstract intended the word to mean alcoholic wine, professors are only under obligation not to teach contrary to the Abstract in the classroom. An individual would not have to violate his conscience and drink wine at the supper in his church just because he was a professor.

You stated . . .
(2). On Sunday, the Lord's Day, the professor had better have not ever gone to a ballgame, or even watched one on television (including in the privacy of his home), or read a secular book, or watched a movie from Blockbuster, or participated in any other 'worldly' amusements or he has violated his contract and the Abstract.

Wade, this is just rhetoric. I suggest you listen to Dr. Mohler’s recent sermon on the Lord’s Day to find what is taught at Southern on this topic.

(4). A professor better believe and teach that the Spirit's regenerating work precedes a sinner's faith, and this regenerative and effectual Spirit work leads to the sinner believing. Further, he better believe that when the Spirit regenerates and the sinner believes, all other graces (repentence, perserverance, etc . . .) are guaranteed.

The Abstract does not demand that regeneration precede faith. As you noted, “Articles X and XIII state, ‘Saving faith . . . is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.’ ‘Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end . . .’” Someone can conclude that faith is a gift from God without necessarily concluding that it is preceded by regeneration. Your citation is silent on a temporal precedence of regeneration.

Finally, God does justify by grace, but again, you have turned the Abstract upside down in your attempt to create disagreement with the BF&M2000.

You stated,
(5). A professor better believe and teach that God alone justifies the ungodly by free grace, and not because of anything they have done, including faith.

Article XI states, "Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal of sinners . . . not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ.

The only way you can draw the conclusion you have drawn is if “faith” is redefined as a work. It is not. Paul contrasted faith with works. Jesus said belief was the work of the Father. Faith is not something wrought or done by us, it is the passive reception of the gift of redemption and is only received after the effectual call of the gospel removes the demonic blinders enabling us to come to the Father. We are justified by grace through faith. Your interpretation of the Abstract nullifies that possibility.

I stood and spoke for you at the convention even though we have never met, so please don’t dismiss my comments as the ramblings of a raging Fundamentalist who is mad at everyone. I agree with much of what you are saying. I do think we run the danger of narrowing the boundaries too much if we are not careful, but you have missed the point with this post. Posts like these are not going to help your cause.

Chris Bonts

LivingDust said...

Brother Wade,

Thanks for your note. For clarification, I do not see any evil motives or disreptuble character in those who disagree with us. They are brothers in Christ who disagree and are holding fast to their convictions. The disagreements we see and hear around us are causing considerable friction in the SBC. Unfortunately, they continue to fester and remain unresolved.

I will post my proposed solution for "reducing the friction" on my blog.

Bryan Riley said...

Pastor Jeff's comment made me think...It is interesting that, in the area in and around Arkansas that the growth of conservative fellowship bible churches began and exploded after the so-called conservative resurgence. Not saying there is a direct correlation, but it was an interesting thought. said...


Thank you for your comment. I know it took a great deal of time to write and I appreciate your thoughtful input.

I do believe you have missed the point. I am not seeking to interpret the Abstract.

Frankly, I don't care what it teaches :).

I am showing the absurdity of those employeed by Southern trying to tell others they are not Southern Baptist if you don't agree 100% with the BFM 2000.

There is no way every employee of Southern agrees with all the principles of the Abstract.


I don't think they should have to agree with them all.

It is just inconsistent for those who sign the Abstract but don't affirm everything it teaches to demand others agree 100% with the BFM on the nonessentials of the faith.

Including 'closed communion.'

wade said...

Bob Cleveland,

One of the most articulate, logical, pointed and helpful comments ever on my blog.



Unknown said...


Chris makes a point I think that has been effectively made elsewhere. Yet, you say,

"I do believe you have missed the point. I am not seeking to interpret the Abstract.
Frankly, I don't care what it teaches :).
I am showing the absurdity of those employeed by Southern trying to tell others they are not Southern Baptist if you don't agree 100% with the BFM 2000."

How exactly does it show the absurdity if it does not contradict, if the professors actually affirm the entirety of both documents? Wasn't that the basis of your argument?

Just one more before your 40 days of purpose. ;) said...


What else does anyone expect those who demand absolutely conformity to say about their full compliance with an Abstract that they must 100% fully affirm and teach in order to keep their jobs?

(1). They must either confess they are in full compliance by reinterpreting the clear meaning of the words to fit what they actually believe, teach and practice . . .

(2). Or they must write down where they disagree.

To keep this answer short let me just use two examples:

It is clear that the Abstract teaches explicitly to abstain from secular amusements on Sunday. It is also expliity clear that the Abstract teaches that God chooses 'some' to salvation before the foundation of the world, and bypasses others, and that God's choice guarantees that the elect will believe because faith is 'wrought' in the hearts of the elect. The words of the Abstract CANNOT be interpreted to NOT say this without distorting the clear use of the English language. They are clear and I am quite positive Dr. Mohler would affirm this.

And yet there are professors who do not hold to either the Sabbath practice articulated in the Abstract or this doctrine of unconditional election.

My point is simply under the 100% compliance view of 'doctrinal accountability' these professors should be fired.

Under my view they should be allowed to stay because they affirm the essentials of the gospel and have a high view of the nature of Scripture. It seems obvious that administrations of SBTS and SEBTS practice my view --for which I am glad.

But I am not addressing anyone in administration. I am addressing a professor who better be glad more like him aren't in leadership or he would be without a job.

With my view on how we should all cooperate as Southern Baptists around the essentials of the faith and Baptist identity he keeps his job.

THAT's the point. I stand by it because it is clear, logical and consistent.

I am not arguing for whose beliefs are 'correct.' I am arguing that you can believe in unconditional election and conditional election and be a true Southern Baptist.



Robert Hutchinson said...


i'd be interested in a statement like that too. just wish we weren't in need of one. :(


Rex Ray said...

Let’s see—you said on Monday, October 30, “I have received probably 100 comments favorable for a statement of cooperation…there have been 4 that could be considered critical of it including the 2 that focused on Ron’s comment—for the sake of keeping the focus on the issue at hand I am closing the comment section.”

Well, well, well—what kind of truth and grace is that? Should Ron’s comment be deleted because two people didn’t like it? He wrote what he thought was the truth. Let’s hear what these two guys say. I thought discussion was the basis for your blog. To shut the post down is what Hitler did to newspapers.

Wade, a few times you have disappointed me, but this is the first time I’m angry. You say you want to change the SBC, but you’re not going to do it with your tail between your legs.
Rex Ray

Rex Ray said...

Once there were hundreds of swimmers waiting their turn to swim one mile in a triathlon contest. The best swam first. Safety boats stayed with the leaders while the slowest swimmers were on their own. Two ‘jokers’ almost drown before they got 50 yards. A race official screamed his head off on a bull horn at the safety boats to help, but their motors muted his cries. The two hung to a buoy until two others drug them to shore. A race official canceled the contest and made the swimmers get out of the water.

Wade, how do you think the people felt toward those two jokers and the official? How do you think hundreds feel about the two unprinted comments that influenced you to stop comments to the best post you have ever made?

I’m making this comment under your “Two Edged Sword” because that’s what’s needed to handle a certain two ‘jokers.’
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...