Monday, September 19, 2011

What is the Best Part of the Baptist Faith and Message?

Hey! This is just my opinion of the Best Part of the BF&M. You are welcome to share your preference for another part. For me, I recognize the BF&M 2000 as THE Baptist Faith and Message.

In Article I it (all historical versions) says, in part, {The Bible} “is,  and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried”.

Remarkably, this phrase is unchanged since the 1925 version of the BF&M.

While the phrase includes reference to ‘creeds’, I am more impressed with the part about ‘human conduct’ and ‘religious opinions’. I am a human and I get to assess my ‘conduct’ every day. I also have a lot of ‘religious opinions’. So I interpret this part of Article I in a very personal way. In fact, the Bible has so much to say that I find it virtually impossible to find any personal opinion that the Bible does not speak to in some way. So I affirm the part about ‘religious’ opinions and assert that it should apply to ‘all’ opinions. That is my opinion.

Now the BF&M is for Southern Baptists in particular. But the concept of laying our conduct and religious opinions along the supreme standard of the Bible is worthy of all Christians to consider. Think the Thoughts. Do I measure up to the supreme standard? If I don’t, then I call it “sin”. Then I seek repentance and measure myself again later.

I find that the time I spend in confession of sin is a whole lot more than just ‘mentally verbalizing’ my failure. Confession of sin is not some magical incantation to get me off the hook with God. The Holy Spirit tends to lead me to dwell on the context of my sin as well as the issues involved. He also leads me to dwell on forgiveness. It is like God wants me (us) to talk with Him about our sins; our conduct and opinions. Confession of sin is not an unpleasant bother that I (we) just try and get through. There is real Divine fellowship here! We can think through what we have done and what we believe. It is amazing how God may recall His words to you about your conduct and opinions. It is amazing how He will love you through this time. It is precious to Him. It can be precious to you. I find that I enjoy telling others of my sin, confession, repentance and forgiveness. {Of course, I don’t enjoy telling gossips much of anything.}

I won’t talk here about a perfect world. We don’t have one. I won’t talk about a perfect convention (or denomination). We don’t have one. I won’t talk about a perfect church. We don’t have one of those either.

I will attempt to talk about a faithful group; whether it be a church, convention or nation.

Is it the practice of those who are leaders in the group to compare their opinions and conduct to the supreme standard of the Holy Scriptures? Is it your practice to compare your opinions and conduct to the Holy Scriptures? If I see this practice in a leader I trust them more. I am skeptical about the influence of a person who does not practice the humility of confessing their own sin. This skeptical conduct of mine seems to compare well with the Supreme Standard.

When you find that your expressed opinions or past conduct do not meet the Supreme Standard of the Holy Scriptures; do you admit it to yourself? Do you admit it to others?

In my opinion, Southern Baptists will thrive or decline in direct proportion to their faithfulness to this particular part of the Baptist Faith and Message. I am aware that it does not apply to the areas of our fellowship that have nothing to do with our opinions and conduct. However, I can’t find any areas of our fellowship that have nothing to do with our opinions and conduct. So it seems to apply everywhere, all the time. That makes it a fellowship issue (1 John 1:6, 7).

And as long as this portion of the BF&M is there; it doesn’t matter which version of the BF&M your group follows. You HAVE a basis for discernment. You have the basis to compare your opinions and conduct to the Bible, and you have the basis to compare other’s opinions and conduct with the Bible.

Having accepted the BF&M as your Statement of Faith, it ought not to be considered divisive if you dare to compare. Since you have it for a purpose; is it wrong to use it?

In my opinion, if I dare to compare someone’s opinions and conduct to the Holy Scriptures; and do not use the Holy Scriptures to do so; then I am just pitting my frail, narrow, untrustworthy opinion against another person’s frail, narrow, untrustworthy opinion. In my opinion, this doesn’t please God or anybody else.

Judge yourself first (Matthew 7:1-5). Dare to make decisions (Galatians 6:1, 2), and gently restore others to God’s opinions and conduct. Have confidence that the Supreme Standard is both wise and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Keep love primary (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Some groups are still in disagreement over which version of the BF&M to hold. Some are suspicious of the BF&M 2000. Some are suspicious of the suspicions of those who will not hold the BF&M 2000. What will be the public outcome of such a disagreement? Well, the character of the character’s who speak to the issue will have a lot to do with the outcome. Perhaps each can measure their own opinions and conduct along the Supreme Standard of what God says about our opinions and conduct.

A lot more could be said; care to say it?

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