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Baptist Faith & Message

Introduction

The Baptist Faith & Message

On June 14th, 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a revised summary of our faith. The committee's report says in part:

"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, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.

Baptist churches, associations, and general bodies have adopted confessions of faith as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability. We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.

As a committee, we have been charged to address the "certain needs" of our own generation. In an age increasingly hostile to Christian truth, our challenge is to express the truth as revealed in Scripture, and to bear witness to Jesus Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

The 1963 committee rightly sought to identify and affirm "certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified." Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. "Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us."

It is the purpose of this statement of faith and message to set forth certain teachings which we believe."


Message from the Chairman of the Committee

Dear Southern Baptist:

On behalf of the Committee on the Baptist Faith and Message, I am pleased to release this report and recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention. President Paige Patterson appointed our committee by authorization of the Convention as it met in Atlanta last year. Meeting over a period of several months, we reviewed the confessional history of our denomination and considered the challenges faced by the Baptists of this generation. We were guided by the rich heritage embodied in the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message. We have sought to retain all the strengths of that noble heritage, to clarify the truths there expressed, and to address the needs of our own times.

Baptists cherish our doctrinal inheritance. We are a people of the Book, who recognize no other authority for faith and practice but God's Word. Thus, we receive and affirm those doctrines revealed in the Bible, and we are unembarrassed to take our stand upon the solid rock of biblical authority. Our confessions represent statements of those doctrines revealed in the Bible. The Bible is the source of our authority, not merely a support for our historic doctrines.

In 1925, the Southern Baptist Convention first adopted the Baptist Faith and Message as a public statement of our faith and doctrine. Nearly forty years later, faced with new challenges and questions, the Convention adopted a revised edition of the Baptist Faith and Message in 1963. Now, again nearly four decades after the Convention's last comprehensive action, a new generation must take up the stewardship of the faith "once for all delivered to the saints" [Jude 3].

Our generation faces the reality of a postmodern culture, complete with rampant relativism and the denial of absolute truth. A pervasive secularism has infected our society and its corrosive effects are evident throughout the life of our nation. Moral decay and assaults upon cherished truths dominate the arena in which we must now minister, and to which we must now proclaim the Gospel.

Our profound respect for the heritage of the previous statements is reflected in the intentional decision of our committee to incorporate language from both the 1925 and 1963 editions in our recommendation. Both of these historic statements speak to the present, as well as the past.

Scripture instructs us always to be ready "to give an account" for the hope that is within us [I Peter 3:15]. This is our motivation and the cause to which we have dedicated this process. As the Baptists of old acknowledged, each generation faces the responsibility of speaking to the issues of its day, and facing the challenges of its own climate.

The preface to our report sets forth the rationale and method for our work. With the 1963 committee, we cite the principle set forth by our forebears in 1925: "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."

We now propose a new edition of our honored confession. This generation must set forth its witness to the truths revealed in the Bible. Where necessary, we have proposed changes and additions to certain sections. We have retained the structure of the confession and the substance of each article. We have proposed no new articles. Several of the articles are presented without any revision at all. Our recommendation is intended to clarify our doctrines for this present age, and to define our beliefs against the backdrop of modern confusion.

Our hope is that a rising generation of Baptists will recognize the significance of our biblical doctrines, embrace our Baptist heritage, and own this confession of faith for themselves.

The following is a summary of revised articles included in our report:

In other articles we have made minor clarifications, adjusted language to modern usage, and added phrases from the 1925 statement as appropriate.

Sincerely,
Adrian Rogers, Chairman

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