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Resolution On Freedom And Responsibility In Southern Baptist Seminaries

WHEREAS, Freedom and responsibility are both teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:14-30; John 3:32); are taught throughout the Bible (Genesis 2-3; II Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:13; I Peter 2:16); and, persons and institutions must hold firmly to both to be true to the biblical revelation; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptist seminaries exist as God-called institutions of faith and learning in which freedom of inquiry rests squarely upon the revelation of God revealed in Scripture, interpreted by the Holy Spirit, and directed toward God who is the source of all truth, the judge of all human thoughts and the ultimate end of all theological study; and

WHEREAS, Baptists have emphasized throughout their history the primacy of Scripture and the liberty of conscience for all Christians as the necessary foundations for believing with freedom and teaching with responsibility; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have chosen to express their consensus of belief in statements of faith which have served to provide guidelines which, as clarified in both the 1925 and 1963 editions of “The Baptist Faith and Message,” violate neither the sole authority of the Bible nor individual conscience; and

WHEREAS, Institutional statements of faith help Southern Baptist seminaries to maintain theological continuity with their denominational heritage and establish fundamental guidelines for seminary education and for those who teach in Southern Baptist seminaries; and

WHEREAS, Such statements are not intended to stifle responsible scholarship or participation in contemporary social and political issues, but to establish norms by which responsible freedom may be maintained in seminary education; and

WHEREAS, Each Southern Baptist seminary has adopted a confessional statement as an officially-approved and provisional guide to interpreting Scripture requiring the conscientious commitment of individual faculty members and the integrity of seminary administrators and trustees in maintaining it; and

WHEREAS, The trustees of each institution under their charters are responsible for all matters of implementing these charters and are open to all documented, legitimate complaints;

Therefore, Be it RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 14-16, 1983, express its deepest gratitude and support for the succession of dedicated seminary professors who have demonstrated intellectual vigor and spiritual perception for a century and a quarter while teaching within the framework of seminary statements of faith; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That the Convention encourage seminary faculties to continue their teaching ministries within the framework of those statements of faith to which they have made commitments; call on all faculty persons to teach and otherwise to function with both freedom and responsibility and to fulfill their covenant responsibilities of doctrinal integrity to the seminary and to Southern Baptists who make possible the dynamic life of the six seminaries; and request that seminary faculties respond to the diversity within the Southern Baptist Convention by affirming the individuality of students, by acknowledging the variety of conclusions often held on given issues, and by relating positively to each student as a person created in God’s image; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That the Convention call on the boards of trustees and seminary presidents to implement the charter and bylaws of the seminaries as such guidelines stipulate faculty performance in all matters, but especially with regard to the seminary’s statement of faith, and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That the Convention request each Southern Baptist and all congregations to continue their support of the six Southern Baptist seminaries, to pray for their expanding ministries in preparing God-called persons for more effective ministries, and to encourage the continuing fidelity of the six seminaries in fulfilling their assigned purposes with both freedom and responsibility.