Saturday, July 20, 2019

Doctrinal Accountability

Following up briefly on yesterday’s The Criterion, I note a couple of ideas on doctrinal accountability current in bygone days of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was created in 1859 – 4 years after the founding of the SBC in 1845).  At its founding, the school required faculty members to teach “in accordance with and not contrary to” its confession of faith, the Abstract of Principles. James Petigru Boyce (first president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) wrote, “It is therefore, gentlemen, in perfect consistency with the position of Baptists, as well as of Bible Christians, that the test of doctrine I have suggested to you should be adopted. It is based upon principles and practices sanctioned by the authority of Scripture and by the usage of our people. In so doing, you will be acting simply in accordance with propriety and righteousness. You will infringe the rights of no man, and you will secure the rights of those who have established here an instrumentality for the production of sound ministry. It is no hardship to those who teach here to be called upon to sign the declaration of their principles, for there are fields of usefulness open elsewhere to every man, and none need accept your call who can not conscientiously sign your formulary.” (Memoir of James Petigru Boyce, pp. 140-141)

Edgar Young Mullins (fourth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) wrote, “The Baptist denomination is not a free-lance club as some would like to make it...Baptists have always insisted upon their own right to declare their beliefs in a definite, formal way, and to protect themselves by refusing to support men in important places as teachers and preachers who do not agree with them. This group right of self-protection is as sacred as any individual right. If a group of men known as Baptists consider themselves trustees of certain great truths, they have an inalienable right to conserve and propagate those truths unmolested by others in the denomination who oppose those truths. The latter have an equal right to unite with another group agreeing with them. But they have no right to attempt to make of the Baptist denomination a free-lance club.” (Baptists and Creeds)

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