Article One - Holy Scripture
Southern Baptists have
affirmed repeatedly and decisively an unswerving commitment to the divine inspiration and
truthfulness of Holy Scripture, the Word of God revealed in written form. We believe that
what the Bible says, God says. What the Bible says happened, really happened. Every
miracle, every event, in every one of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments is true
and trustworthy. In 1900, James M. Frost, first president of the Baptist Sunday School
Board, declared: "We accept the Scriptures as an all-sufficient and infallible rule
of faith and practice, and insist upon the absolute inerrancy and sole authority of the
Word of God. We recognize at this point no room for division, either of practice or
belief, or even sentiment. More and more we must come to feel as the deepest and mightiest
power of our conviction that a 'thus saith the Lord' is the end of all controversy."
The Baptist Faith and
Message affirms this high view of Scripture by declaring that the Bible "has God for
its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error, for its
matter." The chairman of the committee who drafted this statement, Herschel Hobbs,
explained this phrase by reference to II Timothy 3:16 which says, "all Scripture is
given by inspiration of God." He explained: "The Greek New Testament reads 'all'
--without the definite article and that means every single part of the whole is
God-breathed. And a God of truth does not breathe error."
Recent developments in
Southern Baptist life have underscored the importance of a renewed commitment to Biblical
authority in every area of our denominational life.
In 1986 the presidents of
the six SBC seminaries issued the Glorieta Statement which affirmed the "infallible
power and binding authority" of the Bible, declaring it to be "not errant in any
area of reality." The miracles of the Old and New Testaments were described as
"historical evidences of God's judgment, love and redemption."
In 1987 the SBC Peace
Committee called upon Southern Baptist institutions to recruit faculty and staff who
clearly reflect the dominant convictions and beliefs of Southern Baptists concerning the
factual character and historicity of the Bible in such matters as (1) the direct creation
of humankind including Adam and Eve as real persons; (2) the actual authorship of biblical
writings as attributed by Scripture itself; (3) the supernatural character of the biblical
miracles which occurred as factual events in space and time; (4) the historical accuracy
of biblical narratives which occurred precisely as the text of Scripture indicates.
In 1991 the Baptist Sunday
School Board published the first volume of the New American Commentary, a projected
40-volume series of theological exposition on every book of the Bible. The commentary was
intended to reflect a "commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture" and "the
classic Christian tradition." The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was adopted
as a guideline more fully expressing for writers the intent of Article I of The Baptist
Faith and Message.
In light of these
historical commitments, we call upon all Southern Baptists:
to foster a deep
reverence and genuine love for the Word of God in personal, congregational and
to use the Scriptures in
personal evangelistic witnessing, since they are "able to make one wise unto
to read the Bible
faithfully and to study it systematically; and-to encourage the translation and
dissemination of the Bible throughout the world.
We commend to all Baptist
educational institutions and agencies the Report of the Peace Committee (1987), the
Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) and the Chicago Statement on Biblical
Hermeneutics (1982) as biblically grounded and sound guides worthy of respect in setting
forth a high view of Scripture. We encourage them to cultivate a biblical world view in
all disciplines of learning and to pursue a reverent, believing approach to biblical
scholarship that is both exegetically honest and theologically sound. There need be no
contradiction between "firm faith and free research" as long as both are
exercised under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and in full confidence of the truthfulness of
Article Two - The
Doctrine of God
The God revealed in Holy
Scripture is the sovereign God who created the worlds and all therein, the God who called
Israel out from the nations as a witness to His name, the God who spoke from a burning
bush, and the God who decisively and definitively revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus
Christ, through whom He brought redemption and reconciliation.
Baptists, and all
evangelical Christians, recognize the centrality of biblical theism. We honor and worship
the one true God and our first act of worship is to acknowledge Him even as He has
This means that we affirm
God's nature as revealed in Holy Scripture. He alone has the right to define Himself, and
He has done so by revealing His power and His grace, seen in His absolute holiness and
love. The biblical doctrine of God has been compromised in recent years as efforts to
redefine God have rejected clear biblical teachings in the face of modern challenges.
Southern Baptists cannot follow thiscourse. As a fellowship of evangelical Christians we
must recommit ourselves to the eternal truths concerning God, even as He has freely,
graciously, and definitively revealed Himself. As Norvell Robertson, one of our earliest
Southern Baptist theologians wrote: "The Word of God is truth. What He says of
Himself is true...He alone knows Himself."
Thus, we must submit
ourselves to the knowledge God has imparted concerning Himself and His divine nature.
First, Baptists affirm
that God is limitless in power, knowledge, wisdom, love, and holiness. He suffers no
limitations upon His power or His personality. He is not constrained by any external force
or internal contradiction. We reject any effort to redefine God as a limited deity.
Second, Baptists affirm
that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is none other than the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, of Sarah, and Rachel, and Ruth. God's self-revelation in Scripture is
progressive, but fully consistent. He is the universal Creator and thus deserves universal
recognition and worship as the one true God.
Third, Baptists affirm
that God is one, and that he has revealed Himself as a Trinity of three eternally
co-existent persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We acknowledge the Trinity as essential
and central to our Christian confession, and we reject any attempt to minimize or
compromise this aspect of God's self-disclosure.
Fourth, Baptists affirm
that God has revealed himself as the Father of the redeemed. Jesus characteristically
addressed God as His Father, and instructed His disciples to do the same. We have no right
to reject God's own name for Himself, nor to employ impersonal or feminine names in order
to placate modern sensitivities. We honor the integrity of God's name, and acknowledge his
sole right to name himself even as we affirm that no human words can exhaust the divine
majesty. But God has accommodated Himself to us by naming Himself in human words.
Fifth, Baptists affirm
that God is the sovereign Creator of the universe, who called all things into being by the
power of His Word, and who created the worlds out of nothing. His creative acts were free
and unconstrained by any other creative force.
Sixth, Baptists affirm
that God is sovereign over history, nature, time, and space, and that His loving and
gracious providence sustains and orders the world.
These statements, based
upon Scripture and undergirded by historic Baptist confessions, force our attention to
contemporary compromises which threaten the fidelity and integrity of our faith.
We call upon the Southern
Baptist Convention, its churches and its institutions, to beware lest revisionist views of
God such as those popularly modelled in process and feminist theologies, as well as the
esoteric doctrines of the New Age movement, compromise our faithful commitment to biblical
Article Three -
The Person and Work of Christ
Jesus Christ is the center
and circumference of the Christian faith. The God of heaven and earth has revealed Himself
supremely and definitively in the Son, and the most fundamental truth of Christianity is
that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (II Cor. 5:19).
Jesus Christ is the sole
and sufficient Savior of the redeemed throughout the world and of all ages. He is the
divine Word by which the worlds were created; He is also the unique and solitary Savior in
whom alone there is redemption and forgiveness of sins. From beginning to end the Bible
proclaims salvation through Jesus Christ and no other. The Church is commanded to teach
and preach no other gospel.
In His incarnation --an
event in historical space and time --Jesus Christ was the perfect union of the human and
the divine. He was truly God and truly man, born of a virgin and without sin, remaining
sinless throughout His earthly incarnation. He was crucified, died, and was buried. On the
third day, He rose from the dead, the first fruits of the redeemed. He ascended to the
Father and now rules as King and Judge. He will consummate the age by His physical return
to earth as Lord and King.
Scripture bears faithful
and truthful witness to Jesus Christ. Thewords and deeds of Christ set forth in the New
Testament are an accurate record of what He said and did, even as the Old Testament
prophetically revealed His identity and His purpose of redemption. The miracles of Jesus
as revealed to us in Scripture were historical events which demonstrated Christ's identity
and His power over sin, death and Satan.
All human beings, marked
by original sin and their own individual sins, are utterly helpless before God and without
excuse, deserving of eternal punishment and separation from God. Nevertheless, in Jesus
Christ and His cross, God revealed both the extent of our lostness and the depth of His
redemptive love. All human beings-- in all places and of all ages-- are lost but for
salvation through Jesus Christ. He is the only hope of salvation and the only Savior.
Christ's redemption was
wrought by His atonement which was both penal and substitutionary. Christ died in our
place, bearing in His body the penalty for our sin and purchasing our redemption by His
The cross of Christ is
thus the apex of God's plan of redemption, revealing God's absolute holiness and infinite
love. The gospel of that cross is the only message which can and does save.
The redeemed are justified
before God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for their
salvation and acknowledging Him as Savior and Lord.
Therefore, Baptists must
reject any effort to deny the true nature and identity of Jesus Christ or to minimize or
to redefine His redemptive work. Baptists must reject any and all forms of universalism
and bear faithful witness to salvation in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone. Furthermore,
Baptists must join with all true Christians in affirming the substitutionary nature of
Christ's atonement and reject calls--ancient and modern-- for redefining Christ's
reconciling work as merely subjective and illustrative.
Four - The Church
acknowledge Jesus Christ not only as personal Savior and Lord, but also as the Head,
Foundation, Lawgiver, and Teacher of the church which is His building, body, and bride.
The person who despises the church despises Christ, for "Christ...loved the church,
and gave himself for it" (Eph. 5:25).
In the New
Testament the word "church" sometimes refers to all of the redeemed of all ages
but, more often, to a local assembly of baptized believers. Until Jesus comes again the
local church is a "colony of heaven" (Phil. 3:20), a "sounding board"
of the gospel (I Thes. 1:8), and a fellowship through which God's people carry out the
Great Commission of their Lord. The central purpose of the church is to honor and glorify
God; the central task of the church is to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ
through evangelism and missions.
In light of
this mandate, we call upon all Southern Baptists to reaffirm our commitment to these
distinctive principles of our Baptist heritage:
priesthood of all believers.- Every Christian has direct access to God through Jesus
Christ, our great High Priest, the sole mediator between God and human beings. However,
the priesthood of all believers is exercised within a committed community of fellow
believers-priests who share a like precious faith. The priesthood of all believers should
not be reduced to modern individualism nor used as a cover for theological relativism. It
is a spiritual standing which leads to ministry, service, and a coherent witness in the
world for which Christ died.
of the local church.- A New Testament church is a gathered congregation of baptized
believers who have entered into covenant with Christ and with one another to fulfil,
according to the Scriptures, their mutual obligations. Under the Lordship of Christ, such
a body is free to order its own internal life without interference from any external
group. This same freedom applies to all general Baptist bodies, such as associations and
state and national conventions. Historically, Baptist churches have freely cooperated in
matters of common interest without compromise of beliefs. We affirm the wisdom of
convictional cooperation in carrying out our witness to the world and decry all efforts to
weaken our denomination and its cooperative ministries.
church in a free state.- Throughout our history Baptists have not wavered in our belief
that God intends for a free church to function in a free state. Since God alone is Lord of
the conscience, the temporal realm has no authority to coerce religious commitments.
However, the doctrine of religious liberty, far from implying doctrinal laxity or
unconcern, guarantees the ability of every congregation and general Baptist body to
determine (on the basis of the Word of God) its own doctrinal and disciplinary parameters.
We declare our fervent commitment to these distinctive convictions of the Baptist
tradition. We also call for a renewed emphasis on the faithful proclamation of God's Word,
believers' baptism by immersion, and the celebration of the Lord's Supper as central
elements of corporate worship.
Article Five -
With all true Christians
everywhere, Baptists confess that "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come
again." The God who has acted in the past, and is acting even now, will continue to
act bringing to final consummation his eternal purpose in Jesus Christ.Our faith rests in
the confidence that the future is in his hands.
interpretations of the end times should not be made a test of fellowship among Southern
Baptists, we affirm with confidence the clear teaching of Holy Scripture on these
essential doctrinal truths:
The return of Jesus
Christ in glory.- Christians await with certainty and expectancy the "blessed
hope" of the outward, literal, visible and personal return of Jesus Christ to
consummate history in victory and judgment. As E. Y. Mullins put it, "He will come
again in person, the same Jesus who ascended from the Mount of Olives."
The resurrection of the
body.- In his glorious resurrection, Jesus Christ broke the bonds of death, establishing
his authority over it, and one day he will assert that authority on our behalf and raise
us. The righteous dead will be raised unto life everlasting. The unrighteous dead will be
cast into hell which is the second death (Rev. 20:14-15).
Eternal punishment and
eternal bliss.- Following the resurrection and judgment, the redeemed shall be forever with
the Lord in heaven, a place of light and glory beyond description, and the lost shall be
forever with the devil in hell, a place of utter darkness and inexpressible anguish.
Nowhere does the Bible teach the annihilation of the soul or a temporary purgatory for
those who die without hope in Christ.
The second coming of
Christ is the blessed, comforting, and purifying hope of the church. We call upon all
Southern Baptists to claim this precious promise in every area of our life and witness,
and thus "to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and speed
its coming" (II Peter 3:11).
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