A desire to properly understand the message of God's Word and submit to its authority in my daily life.
Inherent in this statement, are several key concepts. My submission to the Word of God is my practical application of the Lordship of Christ in my life, which, as a Christian, is my bottom-line loyalty and first core value. At the recent Spanish Baptist Convention, in one of the messages given from the platform, it was mentioned that in all of the Baptist Confessions of Faith up until the New Hampshire Confession of 1833 the article on the authority of the Bible did not come first in the list, but somewhere further down the line, after articles on the Person of God, the authority of Christ, etc. It was stated that this was a reflection of "landmarkist" tendencies among Baptists in the States at that time. If my memory of history doesn’t fail me, the "landmarkist" movement didn’t really gain steam until several years after this. I can see, however, how this placement may have been a reflection of growing concern over theological liberalism, which was blossoming in several circles of Europe at this time. (Perhaps some of you "church history buffs" can help me out here.)
From my understanding, it is impossible to divorce the authority of God from that of His Word. It is true that in Jesus, and the New Testament, we have the key for properly understanding and applying the message of the Old Testament in our lives today. But, when I place as the first core value my submission to the authority of the Word of God, I believe this is nothing more than the manner in which I submit to that of its Author, and show my love and allegiance to Him.
Also, if the authority of the Word of God is so important for me, I want to do everything I can to understand properly its message. It is not good enough to give "lip-service" to the Word of God, and then, by means of shoddy hermeneutics, do blatant violence to what it is meant to say to us. At the same time, I realize my understanding of God’s Word will never be infallible, this side of heaven. I therefore, must be somewhat flexible in my demands for conformity on matters on which others, who have the same love for the Word of God, and the same desire to take seriously its message, come to different conclusions.
I believe that the Baptist Faith & Message does a good job of summarizing key doctrinal issues originally communicated to us in the Bible. Although the BFM is not infallible, my study of the Bible, up to this point, has led me to adopt personal beliefs in line with all of those stated in the BFM, with the exception (as previously stated on this blog) of what I believe to be a misguided affirmation of "closed communion." As long as Southern Baptists are willing to accept my convictions on this matter, though, I personally don’t see this particular wording of the BFM as a big enough issue on which to part ways.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, who is committed to understanding and obeying His Word, I, at this time, feel at home in the Southern Baptist Convention. In the eventuality my sincere understanding of the teachings of God’s Word were ever to begin to conflict unreconcilably with standards imposed by the SBC, the logical response, in my mind, would be to search for a "spiritual family" (within the larger context of the Body of Christ around the world) more compatible with my convictions. I remain hopeful that day will not come anytime soon.