MAINSTREAM MESSENGER

Vol. 3, No. 3     July 2000    Editor:  Bruce Prescott

Different Visions of Baptist Life and Faith

"There are two different visions of Baptist life and the Baptist faith."  Al Mohler

Mainstream Baptists

SBC Fundamentalists

God reveals himself by incarnation. God uniquely and supremely reveals himself in Jesus Christ. Revelation The Holy Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man.
The Bible is the record (testimony) of God’s revelation of Himself. Testimony All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ. Criteria The criteria by which the Bible is to be interpreted are “doctrines revealed in Holy Scripture” that “we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.”
Every believer under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit is an official interpreter.

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Official Interpreters

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The “blue ribbon” committee members Paige Patterson appointed to revise the BFM are the official interpreters.

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1) Confessions of faith are guides that are not “official creeds carrying mandatory authority.” 

2) Dialogue with others in a face to face community. 

3) Reflection on the Church’s historical traditions and testimonies.

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Guides for Interpreting Faith

 

1) Confessions of faith are guides that are “instruments of doctrinal accountability.”

2) Submissiveness to the authority of pastors, elders, deacons, administrators, etc. who hold believers accountable . . . under the word of God.”

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Soul competency “under God.” Believers are directly accountable to God. Every person is accountable to Christ for reading the Bible and interpreting His will for their own life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Soul Competency Soul competency “under the church.” Believers are “accountable to each other under the word of God.” Every person is accountable to others for how they read the Bible and interpret God’s will for their life.
Each believer receives gifts from the Holy Spirit that are to be exercised in serving the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit determines how gifts are distributed and calls whomever He wills to serve as pastor. Pastors are “servants” of the church. Priesthood of Believers Each believer receives gifts from the Holy Spirit that are to be exercised in serving the body of Christ. Women cannot receive gifts giving them direct authority over men and cannot serve as senior pastors. Pastors are “rulers” of the church.
Each believer respects the right and responsibility of others to be accountable directly to God. Each believer follows the dictates of a conscience that is directed by the Holy Spirit and guided by confessions of faith, dialogue with others, and reflection on the traditions and testimonies of God’s people throughout history. Whenever believers conscientiously hold differing convictions, we agree to respectfully disagree agreeably.

Liberty in Christ

Accountability to the church is “voluntary.” Missionaries, denominational employees, and seminary professors who disagree with the new confession of faith are free to resign.  Al Mohler said, “No one is forced to accept [the terms of ] employment.” Members who disagree with the pastor and/or the new confession of faith are free to move their membership. No one is forced to remain a member of a Southern Baptist church.

Chart produced by Dr. Bruce Prescott

 

 

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