Why Article VII of the Baptist Faith and Message Should be Changed (Part II)

In Part I of this series, I discussed the current wording and implications of Article VII as well as the current practices of Southern Baptists.  Here, I would like to propose amended wording for the article.

Amended Wording for Article VII:  A Proposal

Below, I offer the current wording with the two emendations marked throughout as well as a “cleaned up” version of the amended article.  First, the article with emendations:

VII. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church [believers], through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.

Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.

 Now, a “cleaned up” version of the amended article:

VII. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead.

The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby believers, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.

Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.

I am therefore proposing two changes:  (1) striking the final sentence of the first paragraph and (2) broadening “members of the church” to “believers.”

Rationale and Concluding Thoughts

I would like to make two important points:

  • The amended version of Article VII that I am proposing does not move the Baptist Faith and Message from a close/d communion position to an open communion position.  It simply broadens it enough to allow for breadth of interpretation.
  • One could hold to strict closed communion and vote for this amendment in good conscience knowing that the amended article would not discount their position.

The issue, therefore, is not which position Article VII will advocate, but whether or not it is necessary for Article VII to advocate a position at all.  To put it in a little more incendiary form, the real issue is whether or not the Baptist Faith and Message should make room for honest and sincere Baptist believers in Jesus Christ to differ on this particular question and still reside in agreement on our common confession of faith?

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