Friday, May 28, 2010

This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - The Scriptures

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 begins with an article on Scripture.  Any discussion on theology and any survey on what any denomination, faith, or person believes must begin with what they believe about God’s Word.  Our understanding of the Bible determines everything else.  

We would know very little (and even it would be speculative) about God, the meaning of life, salvation, creation, morality, and the afterlife if it were not for special revelation.  God has revealed Himself in three ways: Creation, Conscience, and Canon (the Bible).  Creation and Conscience represent “General Revelation” (meaning that God has revealed Himself “generally” to mankind.  Canon (Scripture) is God’s special revelation in which He gave direct revelation to us.  Without such special, divine revelation, we would be short on answers. 

This means that what we believe about Scripture determines our understanding of God, sin, mankind, creation, salvation, Jesus Christ, righteousness, morality, and truth.  The BF&M 2000 reads:

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 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 on divine revelation.

This is a well-written summation of what we believe Scripture to be.  God is its author, salvation is its thesis, and truth is what it dispenses.  If God is perfect and without blemish or error, then so must be His declarations.  Scripture is perfect, without error, and timeless.  The God of the Bible is still the God of today and what He has revealed still stands.

Scripture is the primary and ultimate source for truth.  It trumps philosophy and sitting in your basement with legs crossed humming.  Humans cannot fully understand God apart from His direct revelation and with His revelation we can better understand, worship, obey, and submit to our creator.  A world without revelation is a world of walking in dense fog. 

We believe in what the Reformers called Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone).  This means that only Scripture is inspired and only Scripture is authoritative as God’s Word.  We reject tradition and experience as inspired.  This doesn’t  mean that learning from past theologians and Christians or from personal experience isn’t insightful, but they are not inspired.  Men err.  God doesn’t.

Secondly, Scripture is closed & is only the 66 books of the Bible.  We reject the Apocrypha (commonly used in the Catholic Church) and any writings after Revelation.  All false Gospels are rejected as uninspired and we believe that God will not give any new revelation.  Anyone who claims to have “a word from the Lord,” must be evaluated in light of revealed Scripture.  In other words, no one can say “God told me,” or “thus says the Lord,” and it truly be from God unless it agrees with what God has already revealed in His Word.  God has spoken and instead of wanting new revelation, we have enough and all that we need in the Old and New Testament.

The doctrine of Scripture is central to Christian and Baptist beliefs.  Unless we have a sound understanding of what the Bible is and what it reveals, everything else will be an educated guess.  We can know very little about God or life apart from His divine revelation.  Let us be thankful that God has willed it to reveal Himself though He was never obligated to.  Let us treasure Scripture everyday and seek to know more about the God who revealed it.

For more:
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Introduction 

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