Denny Burk is NOT alone: Comparing 1963 to 2000 Baptist Faith & Message

When Denny Burk took issue with Andy Stanley, claiming that what Stanley said in a recent sermon “undermines what evangelicals hold to be the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture,” (see here) Burk is only echoing the change the Southern Baptist Convention made from its Baptist Faith & Message from 1963 to 2000.

  • The Baptist Faith & Message 1963:

I.  The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the
record of 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 any mixture of error, for its matter. 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.
The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.

  • The Baptist Faith & Message 2000:

I.  The Scriptures

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 any 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 of divine revelation.

When this change was made, which appears to elevate the Bible above Jesus, Christianity Today had this to say, “BFM2000 is poorer without the rich Christocentric language of the earlier statement [BFM1963]. Jesus Christ is surely the center of Scripture as well as its Lord. One can affirm this while also welcoming the clear affirmation of the Bible as God’s infallible, revealed word”
(August 7, 2000, p. 36).

So when Burk challenged Stanley he was really not alone, he had the BFM2000 behind him.  This change from BFM1963 approaches something of bibliolatry, the worship of the Bible.  And neither am I saying that Denny Burk or the BFM2000 is guilty of this.

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5 Responses to Denny Burk is NOT alone: Comparing 1963 to 2000 Baptist Faith & Message

  1. Simon says:

    TC, can you please explain what “verbal plenary inspiration” means? I’m worried that this has the functional meaning of something akin to what Muslims believe about the Koran. For all intents and purposes, for conservative evangelicals, the Scriptures are holy dictations. Although they would deny this, the way the text is treated is very similar to how the Koran is treated in Islam. This is not the proper Christan usage of the Scriptures, nor the proper Christian belief about the Scriptures. I just wonder what “verbal inspiration” means and how this functions.

    • TC says:

      Simon, simply this, in the original autographs, documents, whatever God wished to reveal, the writers were carried along by the Holy Spirit to do so (2 Pet 1:21). 😉

  2. Simon says:

    Thanks for that explanation. Why do we need the term “verbal” to describe this? Is it the case that the evangelical doctrine of inspiratation originally meant that the Bible was literally dictated, but now scholars know better and have modified the definition? If this definition applies only to the original autographs, then what does the evangelical believe about the Scriptures that we have received? Because none of the autographs and original documents exist today.

  3. I just took a look at your blog after being referred by a post from Todd Beal. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to comment on the above post.

    We are currently in the process of updating our congregation’s statement of faith and bylaws. One of the things involved is changing from the 1963 to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. When I did a comparison of the two, what I found was a document intent on clarifying and strengthening what was already understood to be true. In order to refute error that had taken advantage of “loop holes” in the 1963 document, the 2000 Message only strengthened what most Baptists consider true orthodoxy. That being said, I don’t see how the above change does anything to elevate the Bible above Jesus. On the contrary, the above change is only stating that all of Scripture points to Jesus and is a revelation of Him. In other words, without Jesus there would be no need for the Bible.

    But, overall, thank you, T.C., for even letting this be a concern to you.

  4. TC says:

    Simon, we’re talking the words in their entirety being inspired here. Now, how we interpret such becomes the rub.

    We’re talking copies of the original mss. We believe the Word has being preserved, providentially nonetheless. Per textual criticism, we’re really not alarm at variant readings here and there.

    Anthony,

    Thanks for stopping by and offering your 2cents on the matter. Greatly appreciated.

    Regarding your comment, I understand. I know some local churches still hold to the 1963 because of some of these changes. So I understand where you’re coming from.

    Don’t you see a difference between “the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ” and “All Scripture is a testimony to Jesus Christ…”? If not, then we’re blowing smoke here, including that ChristianityToday article.

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