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The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message

  • By A. J. Smith
Questions regarding the orthodoxy of Dale Moody and Ralph Elliott propelled the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) toward a re-evaluation of its doctrinal statement, the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM). The SBC adopted this document in 1925 under the leadership of E. Y. Mullins when faced by the challenge of modernism. This dissertation argues that the 1962 Committee on Baptist Faith and Message produced a document that expressed subtle shifts in Baptist theology. This shift had the effect of assuring the conservative base while allowing enough latitude in interpretation for those serving in the academy to teach more ""progressive"" views. After a first, introductory chapter, chapters 2 and 3 trace the historical developments leading to the formation of the Committee. Biblical inspiration and interpretation were key concerns, but as chapter 3 demonstrates, other concerns drew the attention of the Committee. Chapters 4 and 5 deal with the ever-sensitive issue of the relationship between Baptist confessionalism, soul liberty, and soul competency. Each chapter examines how Baptist confessionalism functioned in relation to these concepts. Chapter 6 examines in detail the work of the Committee itself and looks at those persons or groups who influenced the outcome of the Committee's work. Of special note are the contributions made by Wayne Ward, Leo Garrett, the religion faculty of Mercer University, and the theology faculty of Southern Seminary. Chapter 7 examines four areas where the 1963 BFM altered the confessional expression of Baptist doctrines: (1) Scripture; (2) Man; (3) Salvation; (4) The Church. Chapter 8 is the conclusion. Four appendices contain early drafts of the Committee's work. A. J. Smith's work on the production of the 1963 version of the Baptist Faith and Message is fascinating. It is a case study of how culture, personality, theological conviction, and theological compromise all coalesce in producing a document that frustrated Southern Baptists on the left and on the right for 37 years. Smith shows the variety of theological dynamics that led to the necessity for such a confession and uncovers from archival material the complex interpersonal relationships that played such a large part in the final form of the ""Message."" This is a great read for anyone interested in Baptist theological dynamics or the nature of evangelical negotiation in the twentieth century. --Tom J. Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky A. J. Smith is Associate Pastor for Worship and Administration at Seven Springs Baptist Church, Calera, Alabama, and an Adjunct Professor of Church History for Liberty Theological Seminary's Distance Learning Program. He taught at Simmons College of Kentucky from 2004 to 2006 and has spoken before professional societies on Baptist history, systematic theology, and patristic theology. He has authored an article that appears in the new Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

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    Product Specs
    • SKU: 9781556354267
    • Manufacturer: Wipf & Stock Publ
    • Language of Text: English
    • ISBN 13: 9781556354267
    • Publication Date: 08/01/2008
    • Format: Paperback
    • Author: A. J. Smith
    • Page Count: 253
    • Width: 6.00 inches
    • Height: 0.60 inches
    • Length: 8.90 inches
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