MAINSTREAM MESSENGER

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

Better than the 2000 BFM

The SBC's 1946

Statement of Principles

Preamble

From time to time through all our modern history, Baptists have declared their principles which define their meaning and mission in relation to the gospel and in relation to the world. Surely, now when the world is writhing in terrific crisis we are under obligation to restate our principles, to make clean that our faith is good news for all mankind. It is with this sense of obligation and with this purpose that the Southern Baptist Convention, at its Centennial meeting, undertakes to state afresh the basic principles that we must proclaim to the whole world in our day.

Principles

Our distinctive belief is our Doctrine of Man in the personal order of life, that is, what God says concerning man.

God places infinite and eternal value on the individual man and makes him the focal unit in all His dealings with mankind.

Every man is endowed by the Creator with competence as a person to deal with God and with his fellowmen in all rightful relations.

God gives to the individual man natural, inalienable rights and privileges which should be recognized in human society. These rights should not be violated by compulsion or by undue constraint or restraint so as in any wise to interfere with the individualís free functioning as a unit in all relationships.

Man consequently has supreme and compelling responsibility under God for the full realization of his possibilities as human being, for seeking and receiving fellowship with God, and for fulfilling the purposes of God in all human relations. To the end of this divine economy for humanity, God has provided in the gospel of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the renewal of the individual soul by regeneration and for its response through the grace of God to the divine ideal.

Out of this doctrine of the individual grows the Baptist conviction concerning all aspects of religious experience and life.

First, this religious experience of regeneration and conversion is the beginning of the Christian life and is prerequisite to church membership.

Second, the local church, a voluntary fellowship of baptized believers, is responsible directly and only to Christ, the Creator and Head of the church. It is a democratic body in which all the members are equally free and responsible participants. Its divinely called ministry is chosen by the church itself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Third, the one and only authority in faith and practice is the New Testament as the divinely inspired record and interpretation of the supreme revelation of God through Jesus Christ as Redeemer, Savior and Lord.

Fourth, this basic belief demands the separation of church and state. Each must be left free to serve in its own divinely appointed sphere for the welfare of mankind; but neither undertaking to control the other or to be supported as such by the other.

Fifth, the comprehensive statement of all these doctrines is contained in our insistence upon religious liberty. By this we mean, and must mean, not only freedom of individual worship and fellowship without interference by the state; but we mean also specifically and insistently the right of propaganda through evangelism, education, and the development of Christian institutions. This we claim not as for ourselves, but for all men of all religious beliefs and of all theories of social order which are not obviously immoral or detrimental to the common welfare of men; and we demand this not as a concession or toleration, but as a basic right under God.

Fields of Application

These basic principles find the spheres of their operation in all the principal concerns of humanity. The Christian movement is not isolated from the common concerns and life of mankind, but as a declarative, prophetic movement charged with a gospel for men in all relations, is a leavening and instructing agency in the midst of society for the good of the human race and the glory of God in the coming of His Kingdom.

To this comprehensive end, Christians are under obligation to seek for true Christian unity in experience and spiritual fellowship; and for the voluntary cooperation of all Christian believers in the total work for which the gospel is designed. This cooperation should not issue in any ecclesiastical overlordship of the individually redeemed or their churches.

Recognizing the divine sovereignty over all the people of the world, we must do all possible to prevent the organization of the world on the principles of materialism, selfish nationalism, arrogant imperialism and power politics; but rather insist upon the principles of the oneness of humanity, the rights of all men alike under God, and the Christian ideals of brotherhood, justice and truth, remembering that Godís supreme word for the organized life of humanity is righteousness.

To this end it is necessary to resist all inequalities of basic rights and privileges in the church and in society, which arise out of racial prides and prejudices, economic greed, and class distinctions; everywhere proclaiming and practicing human brotherhood under the will and purpose of God.

Our Christian faith repudiates and opposes all forms of exploitation, manipulation or neglect and indifference on the part of any section of our human race by any other section on any and every pretext whatsoever. The Christian religion lies at the base of all. In it alone is there hope of the application of these principles in other relations of men.

It is especially urgent therefore, at this time, that these principles should be recognized when we are face to face with the necessity for the reconstruction, the rehabilitation and the reorientation of the lives of all peoples and the corporate life of humanity. Upon the Christian forces lies the responsibility for introducing now the gospel, the purpose and the power of God unto salvation for all men.

There can be a Christian order only as it is constituted of and by genuine Christians. Neither the world nor any part of the world can be organized and conducted on Christian principles except as there are Christians incorporating these principles. Here lies the imperative for an immediate undertaking for worldwide and thorough evangelizing of all peoples. Christian missions must be comprehensive, thorough and universal. New men are essential to a new world.

The preceding report submitted by the committee on Statement of Principles:

L. L. Gwaltney, Alabama

Norman W. Cox, Mississippi,

H. A. Zimmerman, Arizona

B. Locke Davis, Missouri

O. W. Yates, Arkansas

C. R. Barrick, New Mexico

R. W. Weaver, District of Columbia

O. T. Binkley, North Carolina

R. Q. Leavell, Florida

E. C. Routh, Virginia

J. B. Lawrence, Georgia

W. R. Pettigrew, South Carolina

B. J. Murrie, Illinois

R. G. Lee, Tennessee

J. R. Sampey, Kentucky

E. D. Head, Texas

W. W. Hamilton, Louisiana

Charles E. Maddry, Virginia

J. T. Watts, Maryland

Ellis A. Fuller, Kentucky, Chairman

 

 

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