The Doctrine of Scripture
Questions for Review
1. What are the differences between a creed and a confession of faith?
2. What does orthodox mean?
3. What is a heretic?
4. What are some reasons for Baptists to have confessions?
5. What are some reasons for Baptists to know and study their confession?
6. What are two hallmarks of Baptists?
The world knows Baptists better for what they don’t believe (in) than for what they do believe. “Baptists don’t smoke, drink, or chew, or go out with girls that do.”, is a catchy phrase I hear often at work. Especially, Baptist don’t dance. When the push for the lottery a couple of years ago came to Oklahoma, the Baptists were against it. I can remember as a young adult when liquor-by-the-drink became law, the Baptist opposed it. Now I’m not against Baptists standing up against the moral ills of our society, but one has to ask the question, “Does anybody out there know what we DO believe?” Perhaps an even more important question follows.
Baptist, What Do You Believe?
That is the title of this series. That is my main goal in this study, to make you ask yourself what it is that you believe. In my Sunday school class I periodically grill my students with a series of questions:
“What do you believe about your faith? What does it mean to be a Christian? Does it matter what you believe? Is it important to know why you believe what you believe? Can you explain to a classmate their need for a Savior, and how to repent and believe? As a Christian, where do you go to find out what your faith is all about?” I go on to impress upon them that they are going to be the future pastors, teachers, music directors, deacons, etc., etc. I have noticed, that in the past year, the reality of what kind of shoes they are expected to fill has had an effect. One of the best, most effective, systematic ways to know who you are as a Christian (first) and Baptist (second) is to study the document your Southern Baptist Convention has adopted. In doing this, they have declared “This is what we believe.”
Being Baptist and Being Biblical
Being a Baptist has historically meant being biblical. We are known as a people of the Book. There should be no contradiction here. All of the confessions of faith from the very beginning of Baptist history have had their basis in Holy Scripture, and have dealt with the nature and importance of Scripture as their very first article. The BF&M2000 is no exception.
Why is The Scriptures the First Article of the BF&M2000?
The article on the Scriptures is the foundation of every other article found in this confession. Without a trustworthy source for our beliefs, how can we know that what we believe is true? Without having an authoritative standard to go by, we are reduced to all of the other religions of the world, which is nothing more than the opinions of men. Once we establish the content, quality, and purpose of the Scriptures, then we can go and confidently speak with authority on all of the other articles that follow. Note that after each article there are numerous references to Scripture that back up the statements made.
Changes in the BF&M2000
1. The Holy Bible . . . is God’s revelation of Himself to man. This is a strengthening of the 1963 article on the Holy Scriptures, which stated: The Holy Bible . . . is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to man. The two statements sound alike, but the real difference is substantial. To say that the Bible is a record of God’s revelation is to imply that its authors were nothing more than reporters and historians who chronicled the events as they happened or as they were told to them. This one word lends the idea of a second-hand source to the Bible. It leaves open the option of fallibility and errancy. This stronger statement in the 2000 revision reflects a more conservative leadership in the convention, and reflects more accurately what most SBC congregations have believed all along.
2. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. This sentence was added in the BF&M2000. Again, this addition makes a stronger first article, and reinforces Baptists’ historical belief in inerrancy.
3. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. This last sentence of the article on the Scriptures replaces a similar sounding last sentence in the 1963 confession: The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ. Again, a stronger statement has replaced a weaker. Among other things, in a very subtle way the 2000 statement comes down solidly against the Scofield style of dispensationalism. From the seed of woman in Genesis 3:15, to the offering of Isaac in Genesis 22, to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, to Psalm 110, to Isaiah 53, to the Alpha and the Omega of the Revelation of John, to all the others in between that I failed to mention; Christ is the scarlet thread that runs throughout Holy Scriptures.
The Bible is Truth
This does not mean that the Bible is exhaustive truth. God’s word cannot teach us how to repair lawn mowers, or prune apple trees. It doesn’t truthfully tell us everything about everything. But concerning those things it touches it is . . . truth, without any mixture of error.
Article I. The Scriptures (with references interspersed)
- The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. (Exodus 24:4; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21)
- It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. (Psalm 19:7-10; See especially Psalm 119; Romans 15:4)
- It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. (John 17:17)
- Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. (Psalm 119:160; Hebrews 6:18)
- It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; Luke 21:33; 1 Peter 1:25)
- the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. (Acts 17:9; Romans 16:25, 26; 2 Timothy 3:17)
- All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. (Genesis 3:14,15; Luke 24:25-27, 44-46; John 5:39; Hebrews 1:2)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1