Monday, August 08, 2005

Baptist Faith and Message

The Baptist Faith and Message says some good things about the nature of a local church. It would be helpful if pastors and churches would take time to consider seriously the claims of this statement. Other Baptist confessions have more complete statements, but what the 2000 BFM says is good as far as it goes:

VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Notice the emphasis on life and activity. Churches are comprised of baptized believers who "associate," "observe," are "governed," "exercise," and "seek to extend the gospel." Church members are to have spiritual life. At least, that is what we formally confess. Our practice, however, tells a different story.

Despite what the confession says, the majority of Southern Baptist church members are not "associating together" in church, being "governed" by the laws of Christ, "exercising" spiritual gifts, or "seeking to extend the gospel." What we say we believe and what we actually believe and practice are two different things.

It might prove useful if the articles of the BFM--or at least selected articles--were expounded in a devotional and applicable way during the Bible study times of the annual Southern Baptist Convention. Pastors could be given models of how to teach the confession to their churches and encouraged to use the confession to promote spiritual health through reworking the church's approach to how members are accepted and maintained in the body of the church.


Eric M Schumacher said...

I think expounding articles of the BFM is a great idea for the annual SB Convention (and state and local associations). Of course, depending on who does the expounding, we might discover that we lack agreement on what some of the articles mean. Then again, discovering that may be a step toward the solution.

jthomas899 said...

I am going to teach thru the BFM this Fall as part of our Discipleship Training. Are there any solid resources that would help me?


Tom said...

BP published a series of expositions by Southern Seminary professors. They were mostly very good. You can search their archives.


GeneMBridges said...

We need an upgrade in Sunday School literature throughout the Convention. I wonder what would happen if Lifeway was to devote an entire cycle in each curriculum to teaching through the BFM?

shane said...

Every SBC seminary student should carry a copy of the BFM 2000 and the Abstract. . . the current "confessional fidelity" talk from some seminary presidents doesn't line up with the reality of what many professors are teaching--not just in regard to the doctrines of grace, but as you point out, in relation to the nature of the church.

I often had to defend things that are plainly taught in the BFM while attending a fundamentalist-led SBC seminary.

jthomas899 said...

Tom, thanks for the advise on BP. I am also planning to work in the 1689 confession in the studies. I am planning to focus on Baptist History for our Spring term of Discipleship Training.


blepein said...

I have taught Justification By Faith Alone the last 5 years at my church and I use Chapter 11 in the WCF and or the LBC of 1689. I use the BFM on Grace and Salvation. Most Southern Baptists have never seen or heard of these documents. By teaching essential biblical doctrines like sola fide or sola scriptura, folks can be taught theology and some church history at the same time.

Ron said...

Back when I was at an SBC church I became a Bible study teacher. The first thing I did was teach BF&M. I was completely floored that I couldn't even get complete agreement on Baptism of disciples alone. Regarding assurance, it was stated plainly by one person that after a confession of faith you could be become a devil worshiper and you're still saved. I hope you all's sessions go better...

jthomas899 said...

My reason to study the BFM is to slowly expose people to the doctrines of grace. I plan also on studying a history of baptist confessions, and then in the spring have a class on Baptist History.


The Monk said...

RON stated: "The first thing I did was teach BF&M. I was completely floored that I couldn't even get complete agreement on Baptism of disciples alone."

IMO most Southern Baptists do not adhere to the BFM. This is especially true in matters related to a regenerate church membership.

Steve Weaver said...


I'm posting a series of blogs on the use of confessions of faith among Baptists in the 18th and 19th centuries. Parts 1-3 are now available on my blog, with two more to come.

shane said...

I have recently came to accept 5 point Calivinism after years of being a hyper-arminian charismatic/pentecostal. I thank God for bringing me out of that movement.

I am a member of a Baptist church in Alabama. I am also currently taking a class from the seminary extension. I really enjoy it and hope to complete a diploma from there.

What brought me to Calvinism is that I believe a person is secure in their salvation. So I decided I couldn't accept Arminianism because of that. At the time I couldn't accept Calvinism either because I thought it killed evangelism. But as I studied I found that Calvinism is very Biblical. I spent about a week or two almost a hyper-calvinist but, even more study brought me out of that.

It will be interesting if my theological beliefs are made known at my church. It has the typical belief of Arminianism with a touch of eternal security. I really don't think that Calvinism will go over very well there. I may be wrong though.?.?.

I will be able to use the Faith and Message for my defense. It covers election and perseverance of the saints. If you believe those two I don't see how hard it would be to believe the other three.

Enjoy the site.