August 4, 1999

Don't review the Baptist Faith & Message—Discard it
___By Leonard Molone
___Director of Missions
___Caprock Plains Baptist Area
___Oh, happy day--another decision has been made and announced by the Southern Baptist Convention powers that be. We are told that the Baptist Faith & Message needs to be reviewed--again! Such thinking is not new. It was, you remember, amended last year to include what some have called the "family" statement and what others have called the "beat up the women" statement.
___The rationale used for suggesting the need for reviewing the document is that it does not reflect where the convention is today. Is there any difference between the "convention" and the "leadership" of the convention?
___And I am thinking that reviewing the statement will almost automatically mean a revision. Where, exactly, does the document not reflect where the convention is today? If revised, what might the revised standard version contain?
___Could we expect to see the appearance of the word, "inerrancy"? If so, I would hope the authors of the revision would do everyone a favor by being very clear and precise on the meaning of the word.
___Would the possible revision be Calvinistic in theology? Some very influential leaders might strongly favor adopting that theological position.
___Will something be included about the authority of the convention and its leadership? The kind of authority of which I speak is that which seeks to get everyone in lockstep, not by thinking but by submitting.
___What would be the outcome of this possible revision? For one thing, it will produce a narrower document than presently exists. The narrower document, because of content, will exclude more and more people because it will not reflect the average, middle-of-the-road Baptist. By becoming more exclusive, the participation in the convention will become less, support will continue to decline, paragroups will prosper and eventually the SBC leadership will be able to hold their future conventions in the men's room of the convention hall.
___I have a suggestion. Instead of reviewing and revising the Baptist Faith & Message, reject it. Discard it altogether. The document was once intended to summarize what most Baptists believed most of the time. With what has been done, and fear of what might be done, it is becoming an increasingly narrow document that reflects only one segment of the SBC. Discarding the document is worth considering because it has become a creedal weapon. Not true? Do convention personnel, professors and anyone else who wants to serve on committees, boards or agencies have to adhere to the content?

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