I. The Scriptures
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore 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. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
Clearly based upon the Reformation principle of ‘Sola Scriptura’, the Scriptures are declared to be the ‘supreme standard’ by which our religious practice, both private and corporate, should be tried. This does not exclude the use of creeds. Instead, it prohibits elevating a creed to the level of Scripture. This makes sense, because the BF&M itself is a creed. It is a statement of belief. This statement of belief is to be tried by Scripture. Where it is found to be contrary to Scripture, it is to be revised. Where it goes beyond the testimony of Scripture, it is to be refined. Where it falls short of the testimony of Scripture, it is to be reinforced.
This is in keeping with the second of the five statements concerning the use and nature of confessions of faith in Baptist history found in the Preamble to the BF&M, “That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past so in the future, Baptists should hold themselves free to revise their statements of faith as may seem to them wise and expedient at any time.”
The ‘editors’ of the BF&M knew that the only infallible and inerrant source of authority for the Church is the Scriptures. Therefore, they allowed for the fact of fallibility and errancy on their own part in the BF&M, but not in the Scriptures. The BF&M is to be judged by the Scriptures. So, at the end of each article, there is a list of Scripture proofs to show why the BF&M says what it says at each article.
As it pertains to the Scriptures, the BF&M is in the conservative tradition concerning the Inspiration, Inerrancy, Sufficiency, and Christocentricity of the Scriptures.
- Inspiration. Scripture is ‘God-breathed’. It is the very Word of God Himself. God spoke through men by His Holy Spirit in such a way that what they wrote was both God’s words and their own words. Each writer has his own peculiar style and vocabulary, but the words they wrote, although their own, are also the words of God. The doctrine upheld in the BF&M is the doctrine of Plenary Inspiration. ‘…all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.” It is without mixture of error.
- Inerrancy. Since Scripture is God’s words, it are without error. They cannot lie. It is true that Scripture does not contain everything that is necessary to know for daily living (such as, how to drive or home maintenance). But upon every subject that Scripture do speak upon, we believe Scripture to be true and man to be fallible.
- Sufficiency. Since Scriptures is God’s word and without error, they are all we need for salvation, faith, and practice in our religious lives. The Scriptures will be the judge of our actions in the future, and as such, have the authority to order our lives here and now.
- Christocentricity. Scripture is “…a testimony to Christ…”, as He is the “focus of divine revelation”. All Scripture points us to Christ. From Genesis to Revelation, He is the focus, subject, and goal of divine revelation.
Christianity is a ‘revealed’ religion. It is not a religion of man seeking after God, but a religion of God who seeks after man. That is the perspective of Scripture. God is calling out to man, “Where are you?” Not that He doesn’t know, but by asking He is revealing Himself and drawing us to Himself. This is God’s purpose in giving us Scripture. He calls to us and then shows us where we are by showing us where He is. In Scripture God reveals Himself high and Holy, reveals us as sinful and lowly, and then points us to Christ for salvation. That is the BF&M teaching on the Scriptures.