The Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee issued the following
statement on May 26, 2000 in response to questions and feedback
they received from Southern Baptists shortly after the release of
"We released our report on May 18 to ensure that Southern
Baptists would have ample opportunity to review our recommendation
and respond to our proposal. Thus, we are thankful for the many
responses we have received and for the outpouring of favorable response
to our proposed revision of the Baptist Faith and Message. This
response has verified the late Herschel H. Hobb's observation that
Southern Baptists' are a people united in their faith in the basic
body of beliefs commonly held by Baptists.'
"Some very good questions have been raised concerning our
report. Some have asked why we did not include more of the 1963
preamble. Our task was to compose a preamble specifically designed
to introduce the Baptist Faith and Message to a new generation.
Following the example of the 1963 committee, we included specific
language from the 1925 preamble-historic statements that have won
an honored place in our Southern Baptist heritage.
"We believe that the concepts of soul competency and the priesthood
of all believers are cherished Baptist principles. We also believe
that these are included in and defined by the sixth article of our
report, 'The Church,' where we state that 'each member is responsible
and accountable to Christ as Lord.' We are following the example
of the 1925 committee and its chairman E. Y. Mullins -- who developed
the concept of soul competency and was its first advocate. That
committee's report, like our own, lets the article speak for itself,
and does not insert such language into the preamble. We affirm soul
competency, and with Mullins define that this principle 'means a
competency under God, not a competency in the sense of human self-sufficiency.'
"Others have asked why we changed language in Article I, 'The
Scriptures.' Events in recent years have demonstrated that we needed
to clarify that the Bible is not merely the record of God's revelation,
but is itself God's revealed Word in written form. With Christians
throughout the ages, most Southern Baptists believe in verbal inspiration.
The Bible itself teaches that every word of Scripture was inspired
by God, and is therefore completely true and trustworthy [2 Timothy
3:16]. The Bible is inerrant, infallible, and is our sole authority
for faith and practice in the Church. As Herschel Hobbs repeatedly
declared to the Convention, this was all implied in the 1963 statement.
We made these affirmations clear in our proposal.
"The closing sentence of the 1963 statement on the Scriptures
has been a cause of controversy. Some have used the language defining
Jesus Christ as 'the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted,'
to drive a wedge between the incarnate Word and the written Word,
and to deny the truthfulness of certain passages. We use stronger
and more historic language in affirming the fact that 'all Scripture
is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.'
As Christ said of the Scriptures, 'these are they which testify
of Me.' [John 5:39]
"In light of modern theological controversies, we have clarified
that Southern Baptists believe in the unlimited omniscience of God,
and in the essential fact of Christ's substitutionary death on the
cross. We do not deny that other historic understandings of the
atonement add to our appreciation for the saving work of Christ,
but the central message of the New Testament is that Christ 'died
for our sins, according to the Scriptures.' [1 Corinthians 15:3]
"The secular media have directed their focus to the revisions
in Article VI, 'The Church.' Why did our committee decide to deal
with the issue of women in the pastorate? Simply because we were
driven by biblical authority, a sense of urgency, and the near unanimous
verdict of our churches.
"First, we faced the fact that the Bible is clear in presenting
the office of pastor as restricted to men. There is no biblical
precedent for a woman in the pastorate, and the Bible teaches that
women should not teach in authority over men. Second, the issue
of women in the pastorate demands attention in our time, when other
denominations are abandoning biblical teaching and calling women
to serve as pastors. Third, we spoke to the issue because Southern
Baptists are united in conviction. Far less than one percent of
churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention have ever
called a woman as pastor. For the sake of generations to come, we
should state our convictions boldly.
"The 1925 committee chose to write an article on the social
and moral demands of the Gospel. The 1963 committee revised this
article, addressing selected moral issues of that day. Our committee
has followed this precedent. We have added language calling upon
Southern Baptists to defend human life from the moment of conception
to natural death. We have also addressed the issues of homosexuality,
adultery, pornography, and all other forms of sexual immorality.
With great urgency, we make clear that racism is a wretched sin
that has no place among the people of God. Southern Baptists cannot
remain silent on these issues.
"In adopting our report, Southern Baptists will not be saying
everything we would wish to say about every doctrine of the faith.
But we will state boldly that these are convictions we affirm as
revealed in God's Word-those cherished doctrines that define the
Southern Baptist Convention and its churches."
The Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee
May 26th, 2000
Adrian Rogers, Chairman
(1) Explanatory Note: To more explicitly address
these concerns, the Committee later unanimously voted to amend its
report by adding what is now the 5th from the last paragraph of
the preamble, which reads:
"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."