Baptist Faith and Message

Baptist Faith and Message

The Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) is the Southern Baptist Convention confession of faith. It summarizes key Southern Baptist thought in the areas of the Scriptures (Bible) and their authority, the nature of God as expressed by the Trinity, the spiritual condition of man, God's plan of grace and salvation, the purpose of the local church, ordinances, evangelism, Christian education, interaction with society, religious liberty, and the family. [ [ BGCT's new fund for missionaries, chaplaincy board expands SBC rift] , February 27, 2002, accessed January 20, 2007.]


Although the Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845, no formal confession of faith was adopted until internationally known Baptist theologian Edgar Y. Mullins led the denomination to adopt the "Baptist Faith and Message" statement in 1925. It was updated in 1963 under the chairmanship of the distinguished Baptist pastor-theologian Herschel H. Hobbs, to be followed by a more major revision to incorporate sociological as well as theological changes in 2000. The BF&M closely parallels the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833.

Position Statements

The BF&M includes 18 topics which are position statements of the SBC. Each article or position is followed by Scripture which they use to support their position.


The BF&M was revised in 1963, amended in 1998, and again revised in 2000. [ The Baptist Faith and Message, accessed January 20, 2007.] ]

Reactions to the changes

There was both praise and criticism for the significant changes to the BF&M in the 2000 revision.


Some of the changes that were particularly well received (affirmations) by some Baptist theologians include the following:
*The controversial use of the word “inerrancy” was not inserted into the section on Scripture. Some were concerned that it would be included.
*No inclusion of more restrictive views of eschatology, such as dispensationalism. Apprehension had been expressed that such views might be espoused in the revisions.
*Inclusion of a statement that Baptists honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believer.
*Reaffirmation of most historical Baptist convictions.
*Addresses issues of contemporary concern — soteriological inclusivism (Section IV), family (Section XVIII), gender (Section III), sexual immorality, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, and abortion (Section XV).
*Clear expressions about the future direction of the SBC under the "conservative resurgency" leadership.
*Editorial changes, such as the use of gender-inclusive language, considered improvements of the form of the statement.


Baptists say their only creed is the Bible. Historically, Baptists have tenaciously defended the privilege of every believer, with the illumination of the Holy Spirit, to interpret Scripture according to his or her own conscience. This deeply engrained anti-creedal sentiment is said to be responsible for many negative reactions to the newly revised document.Dilday, Russell. "An Analysis of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000." Online:]

Additionally, both the 1998 and 2000 revisions were particularly controversial in the following three respects: [Smith, James A., Sr. "A confession of faith worthy of support." Editorial, "Florida Baptist Witness", April 25, 2002. Accessed July 11, 2007.]
*Male priority in marriage and in ministry
*Exegetical standard

Gender-based roles

For the first time in Baptist history, provisions were added to define male-dominant gender roles in both the ministry and in marriage.

In ministry

The "Baptist Faith and Message" now explicitly defines the pastoral office as the exclusive domain of men — thus prohibiting female pastors.

In marriage

Exegetical standard

Second, the 2000 revision of the BF&M removed the assertion that the person of Jesus Christ was to be the exegetical standard by which the Bible was to be interpreted, over concerns that some groups were elevating the recorded words of Jesus in Scripture (or, more often, what Jesus "did not" say) over other Scriptural passages. The traditional SBC view is that "all" Scripture is "equally" inspired by God. [Article I, The Scriptures] This revision was particularly objectionable to the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the largest Baptist convention in Texas, which was split by the formation of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in the late 1990s.


The 2000 BF&M is also noted as taking a stand on the issue of a homosexual lifestyle. This section was originally added as an amendment in 1998 to the 1963 BF&M. [ The Baptist Faith and Message, accessed January 20, 2007.] ]

Role in Baptist life

In Southern Baptist polity, actions by the Convention are nonbinding on local churches — they are considered autonomous. An individual church may choose to adopt the BF&M or may create their own statement. Despite the fact that the BF&M is not a creed, faculty at SBC-owned seminaries and missionaries who apply to serve through the various SBC missionary agencies must affirm that their practices, doctrine, and preaching are consistent with the BF&M.


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