Tuesday, July 1, 2014

SBC's statement of faith critique

The SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) has no dogmatic creed they go by technically. However, they do issue an official statement of faith called The Baptist Faith and Message. This statement of faith they state can be changed--and it is.

The old BFM made very strong statement about not doing unnecessary work on Sunday, whereas the new one of 2000 is far less vague and leaves it up to a persons conscience.

The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.--BF&M 2000, VIII. The Lord's Day                        

The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted..--BF&M 2000, VIII. The Lord's Day                        

 Constantly, the BFM affirms religious freedom, and states they believe in a separation of Church and State--probably because Baptist were rarely ever the majority in any government.  Despite this claim they SBC's BFM makes several statements where they encourage people to affect government--just as they do through resolutions. They've had a history of pushing against any use of alcohol, however, they claim a separation of church and state--despite their 1925 affirmation that they use "bread and wine" for the Lord's supper, which they changed in the 1963 to "fruit of the vine"--which refers actually to another cup at the Last Supper!
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The act is a symbol of our faith in a crucified, buried and risen Saviour. It is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation and to the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, commemorate the dying love of Christ. --1925 Baptist Faith and Message, XIII. Baptism and the Lord's Supper                        

The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.--1963/2000 Baptist Faith and Message,VII. Baptism and the Lord's Supper
They mention both their "ordinances" of baptism and the Lord's supper as "a symbolic act of obedience," they only unique thing they do is state baptism is by immersion, this down plays the Biblical view of baptism which according to Jesus in Mark 16:16 he who "believes and is baptized shall be saved," and St Peter in Acts 2:38 who teaches "repent and be baptized for the remission of sins." It is less than an "ordinance" which the bible never calls it--strangely they have a problem with the term "sacrament" when the term they use is not used either!  Baptism is something done to you through a minster by God Himself to wash away sin! Interestingly enough, the creed does not make an explicit mention of having to be "old enough" to be baptized, no direct mention of credo-baptism--which is THE DOCTRINE that separates the Baptists from others!

 Continuing, the fact is their idea of separation of church and state is--we do not get tax, you cannot enforce anything on us that we do not like, but we can push our Baptist values and morality on society as a whole:
Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly  love. --XV. The Christian and the Social Order
Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. --XVII. Religious Liberty                        
 Though many of the SBC's moral views are good and unobjectionable, it still seems in consistent with their idea of separation of church and state--look at my page on alcohol and see how they rail against FDR for letting prohibition be undone with the 21st amendment!
The SBC webpage says their members range from Calvinist to Arminian, yet the SBC's Baptist Faith and Message seems to be very Calvinist on some points and Arminian on others. For example, they seem to affirm Once saved always saved/eternal security saying:
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility. 
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.--2000 Baptist Faith and Message, V. God's Purpose of Grace                           
The first paragraph does not use the term "free will" but "free agency" a term the Mormons like too, perhaps the SBC is just keeping and old term or wants to avoid the free-will debate, either way generally you would not see this in a Reformed creed other than to negate it somehow, or define it in a very narrow way.  Then the second paragraph explicitly states they believe you cannot fall from a state of grace, but that graces can be "impair[ed]."   This section does not allow for a person to have faith for a time, but states they will persevere.

Notice also their statement on the Last Things is very nonspecific and agreeable to many non Baptists. No mention of a pre-tribulation rapture which is common among Baptists.


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