Article 2 of the Baptist Faith & Message

II. God

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

A. God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.

B. God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14; 53; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3,34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.

C. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.

In the interest of keeping this post short, I’m only going to hit the highlights.

The BF&M is Trinitarian in it’s view of the unity of the Godhead.  This means that it does not give room for unitarianism, oneness theology (Jesus only), or pantheism.  We believe that God is a unity of three distinct persons.  Those persons are, the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  Each one is God, but they are not three Gods.

We believe the Father to be God who creates, ordains, and orders all things after the counsel of His own will.  His providentially cares for all of His creation, especially those who have become sons of God by faith in Christ.

We believe the Son to be the eternally begotten Son of God, without beginning, eternally co-equal with the Father.  He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, becoming fully man while remaining fully God, in order that He might live a perfect life and thereby offer a perfect sacrifice for fallen humanity.  He was killed by crucifixion on our behalf, but He rose again bodily on the third day, and has ascended tot he right hand of the Father where he lives to make intercession for all who trust in His name.  He will return again to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son, co-equal with both the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures that reveal God to us, convict of sin, and regenerate us so that we may believe.  He also sanctifies us and keeps us for our ultimate salvation, at the return of Jesus Christ.

This article of the BF&M stands in the tradition of the Apostolic, Nicene, Chalcedonian, and Athanasian Creeds.

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3 Comments

Filed under baptist, Theology, Trinity

3 responses to “Article 2 of the Baptist Faith & Message

  1. Thomas Twitchell

    Where in Scripture does the word of God declare that God has only perfect knowledge? By stating it this way, the BFM neglects other important aspects of this perfection, namely, that God is also omnipotent and omnipresent. Separating his omnicience from these aspect alows for a forknowlege that is removed from his eternal nature. His is not just a bare knowledge, but a foreknowing that is present knowledge with him eternally. Far from being that he has a knowledge of the “free decisions” he is the intimate creator of them. We find this reflected in “It is God who is working in you both the willing and the doing of his choices.” This is a closer rendering.

    Secondly, God is not “fatherly” toward mankind, he is rather their judge. He knows how to keep them under punishment until the judgement. Romans 1 makes this very clear. God in relationship to mankind is Judge, not father. It confuses categories to transpose the providential care of the “progenitor” of creation into a father figure. He is that to the elect, alone . Last time I looked, not one of the Scriptures listed refers to God as fatherly. Did the authors of this BFM even look them up?

    The Son did not merely make provision. He did not make it for a potential salvation, but, provided actual salvation through the propitiatory sacrifice of Himself by the will of the Father. He perfectly saved those for whom the redemption was intended. To make it anything less is to make the “blood” atonement a “common” thing, Heb 10. It is blood that has sanctified, Romans 8, which is why many brothers can call upon him as Father. It cannot be that it is a blood that sits in a bucket waiting for a seeker to apply it to himself. Through the sacrifice of the Son the Fathers grants the Son to give eternal life to those whom the Father has given him, and no others. The right to become children of God, to inherit the kingdom prepared for them before the foundations of the world, is received only by those who “were born of God.” The reception and personal application of the provision is not available to all, John 1.13; 3.3; 6.32-70; 17.

    Where in Scripture does the Holy Spirit baptize anyone?

    The problems with the BFM are many. It is a loose and inadequate statement, vacuuous in real content.

  2. Thomas,
    Thanks for your comment. I am sympathetic to much of what you have written.

    I have no desire to get into a debate here, but I think you are manufacturing problems. The articles of the BF&M have never been regarded by anyone, from the first framers of the document, to the last committee , as “…complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility.”

    As for the contents of the BF&M, it is adequate for the purpose which it serves, as a statement of faith that allows for both Calvinistic and non-Calvinistic Churches that are nevertheless united on doctrines such as, believer’s baptism, the mandate of missions, the free offer of the Gospel, etc., to cooperate together for the purpose of Gospel proclamation.

    The BF&M was never intended to be a statement of faith that local Churches must appeal to as their final authority. While I am sympathetic to many of your concerns, the BF&M is still only what it is. It never has been, nor never will be a Reformed Baptist manifesto. It is simply a guide for the interpretation of Scripture for the Denomination. It contains the bare minimum essentials of what it means to be a Church in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention.

    It is also the practice of the various committees and boards to insure that those elected to the various committees and boards exceed the bare essentials of what the BF&M teaches. So while a local Church may only adhere to the bare essentials in order to cooperate with the SBC, anyone seeking to serve within the Convention itself, must exceed those essentials. For example, the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY not only requires adherence to the BF&M by it’s Professors, but also to the Abstract of Principles.

    Further, any local Church which does find itself in the position which you are articulating has the right to adopt whichever Statement(s) of Faith (or Creeds) it deems adequate for it’s own use.

    Again, I appreciate your concerns, and am mostly in agreement with you as to the doctrines which you have stated, but do not think that the BF&M negates what you have written. In fact, just the opposite. I think that if a person were to follow the logic of the BF&M consistently, that it actually points towards what we believe as ‘Calvinistic’ Baptists.

  3. Thomas Twitchell

    Yes, I agree. The problems manufacture themselves, however. You are absolutely correct that the BFM is only a cooperative tool not meant to be a definitive statement of faith, and all autonomous SBC congregations are free to adopt any statement of faith they wish. The problem comes in when local congregations view the BFM as the definitive statement of faith of the convention.

    I agree that from a Calvinistic perspective the BFM can lead to “our” conclusions. Al Mohler did indeed sign off on it and explains his reasoning exactly from the perspective that as he understands it, it is compatable with his views. To this I do not disagree. What I have pointed out, and others as well, is the wide gap that is provided by the BFM for interpretation, to which it is then used by some, and against me rescently, as an exclusionary tool. This is in direct opposition to the spirit of the BFM which allows for freedom of conscience and is not meant to be used as an ecclesiatical document of comformity to an “explicit” faith.

    Rewording may never accomplish resolving the problems because of the tendency of people to view the BFM or any other guideline coming from the Convention as if they were the last word on the subject. Often I wonder if a confession is even advisable at the Convention level for the very reason of our dependency on “authority.” It might be best that we only make reference to the foundational documents and creeds of historic orthodoxy and leave it at that. Though we would pride our selves on being people of the book, one only needs to look at the exaltation of personalities in the SBC, to understand that we are more people who honor men more than the Word of God.

    Any tahoot, those are my concerns. The rift caused by what some have called Mullinsism, will only continue to grow. And, I am not sure that there is any way to avoid the tendancy to ecumenicalism and liberalization of the faith.

    Thanks for your kind feed back. I will continue to review and reassess my own predjudices and blindnesses.

    God’s blessings,

    tt

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