A Reply To A Reply to Jared Moore Regarding SBC’s Seminaries and the BFM | Obscurantism At SBC Today

Reply to Jared Moore Regarding Southern Seminary and the BFM, Part 1 | SBC Today.

Your committee respects and celebrates the heritage of the Baptist Faith and Message, and affirms the decision of the Convention in 1925 to adopt the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, “revised at certain points and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . . .” We also respect the important contributions of the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message… The 1963 committee rightly sought to identify and affirm “certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.” Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. “Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.” BFM2k

The 1925 Statement recommended “the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . . .” Your present committee has adopted the same pattern. It has sought to build upon the structure of the 1925 Statement, keeping in mind the “certain needs” of our generation. At times it has reproduced sections of that Statement without change. In other instances it has substituted words for clarity or added sentences for emphasis. At certain points it has combined articles, with minor changes in wording, to endeavor to relate certain doctrines to each other. In still others — e.g., “God” and “Salvation” — it has sought to bring together certain truths contained throughout the 1925 Statement in order to relate them more clearly and concisely. In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement

…Such statements have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority. Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.
Preamble ’63

In pursuance of the instructions of the Convention, and in consideration of the general denominational situation, your committee have decided to recommend the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of present needs, for approval by the Convention, in the event a statement of the Baptist faith and message is deemed necessary at this time. Preamble ’25

We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse. The New Hampshire Baptist Confession, 1833

He was created in a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors. ’25

In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation. ’63

In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. BFM2K

As can be seen, even though the wording has been changed, by the BFM’s own declaration the intent has not, nothing has been deleted.

It is not Jared Moore who is wrong. It is Harwood. Harwood rejects the BFM’s formulation of its heritage. Not only can some who disagree with Harwood’s interpretation of the BFM at Southern Baptist seminaries affirm it, they are compelled by the logic of the document and their faith to do so.

I believe there was a reason for the obscurantism of the BFM’s rewording of the ’25 and the New Hampshire, but a discussion of that would be a digression. The fact is that the “and” clause does not stipulate a result, merely the condition. Reading it as such, with the view of the NCF and the ’25 in mind, nothing has changed. All mankind has inherited a nature which will lead to sin and they are under condemnation. The sentence could well read, Therefore, (they)are under condemnation, without violating any intent of what is causal, namely, that they in the federal headship of Adam transgressed and lost their innocence. Notice, that man is the parallax. Though Adam is at first in view, the focus shifts to the whole as his posterity inheriting what he had become.  It’s precisely that which allows for the orthodox Christian, anti-semi-pelagian, position of inherited guilt in the BFM.

Try as he might, Harwood cannot extricate the they from the man who fell from his original innocence into guilt. Free choice is indeed exercised, but it is concluded that each freely chose in Adam who in the BFM is called man, which is to say, as the NCF’s shift of focus concludes, mankind. It is not that we are guilty for Adam’s choice. To the contrary, the construction of the BFM concludes we all chose individually in Adam. That being the case, each is guilty prior to rational moral choice in actual time. The declarative judgement is seen in what will happen. It is not what comes after which incurs guilt, but the guilty condition which secures action.

So, the BFM concludes that mankind (each individual) fell from his original holiness and righteousness. Innocence in the ’63 and 2000 has been substituted for that. No matter how you slice it, all inherit unrighteousness and unholiness prior to capability of moral action. As the BFM heritage unequivocally states, mankind, the whole posterity, fell in Adam from that innocence inheriting a nature contrary- unholy, unrighteous- and guilty as charged, having freely chosen in Adam. Mankind is not neutral, but lacking the former state of innocence, he is guilty.

By its own admission the BFM has not deleted or change the original intent of:

We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.

Update: Harwood misreads the BFM and misrepresents its intent.  One respondent accurately notes the double-speak Harwood engages in to avoid the clear teaching of the BFM and of Scripture:

I do not understand your comments above. I understand that you are saying that an infant who has never became a transgressor is not guilty and thus not under condemnation.

But then you state “I am aware of no biblical text in which God states, “You are judged guilty and condemned due to the sin of Adam.” Of course we’re all in sin, condemnation, and death due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).”

This is confusing. Are we ALL under condemnation or not? It appears to me that according to your theology that some of us are not condemned until we actually become transgressors. Or maybe we are under condemnation with no guilt. But then can you flesh out how one can be under condemnation but have no guilt?

Carl is right, Harwood is confused and so speaks with a double mind, redefining as he goes. The result is semi-pelagianism and patently against the tradition of the BFM and the orthodoxy of Christianity. Harwood is astounded in this second part that many call him what he is, a false teacher, a teacher of heresy. In the first part he took umbrage at being addressed publically for making a public statement. In the modern tongue, “Well duh!”

It is astounding that Harwood has a PhD. Condemnation is the sentencing for guilt. It is simply amazing that the SBC is being led by such fools thinking themselves wise.

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