4 thoughts on “Do You Believe?

  1. ATTRIBUTES ONE TO FOUR, SIX TO NINE

    I am currently researching on past Baptist Confessions of Faith for my third book, and interestingly, the first article of the Articles of Faith of the Baptist Bible Union of America, 1923, appears to have captured eight of the ten attributes mentioned. The article reads,

    I. OF THE SCRIPTURES
    We believe that the Holy Bible was (a) written by men supernaturally inspired; (b) that it has truth without any admixture of error for its matter; and (c) therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the age, the only complete and final revelation of the will of God to man; the true center of Christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions should be tried.

    (Explanatory)

    By “THE HOLY BIBLE” we mean that collection of sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation, which, as originally written, does not only contain and convey the Word of God, but IS the very Word of God.

    By “INSPIRATION” we mean that the books of the Bible were written by holy men of old, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, in such a definite way that their writings were supernaturally inspired and free from error, as no other writings have ever been or ever will be inspired.

    Placing this article vis-à-vis the ten attributes provided, we have the following:

    USEFUL, AUTHORITATIVE, and SUFFICIENT – we see this in the words “the TRUE CENTER OF CHRISTIAN UNION and the SUPREME STANDARD by which ALL human conduct, creeds and opinions should be tried.”

    INERRANT – we see this in the words “their writings were … FREE FROM ERROR.”

    GOD-BREATHED – we see this in the words “the books of the Bible were written by holy men of old, as they were moved by the HOLY SPIRIT, in such a definite way that their writings were SUPERNATURALLY INSPIRED.”

    IMMUTABLE – we see this in the words “the Holy Bible … IS, AND SHALL REMAIN TO THE END OF THE AGE, the only complete and final revelation of the will of God to man.”

    COMPLETE – we see this in the words “the … COMPLETE … revelation of the will of God to man.”

    PURE – we see this in the words “it has truth WITHOUT ANY ADMIXTURE OF ERROR for its matter.”

    ATTRIBUTE FIVE

    What about the fifth attribute PEFECT?

    The New Hampshire Confession of Faith served as the parent document for the Baptist Bible Union confession. Robert George Delnay writes, “The [Baptist Bible Union] confession was a careful revision of the New Hampshire Confession” (Delnay 1974, 40). At about the same time, Billy Vick Bartlett writes, “The Baptist Bible Fellowship uses the same statement of faith (THE REVISED NEW HAMPSHIRE CONFESSION OF FAITH penned by Norris and Shields FOR THE BAPTIST BIBLE UNION) as did the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship” (Bartlett 1975, 100). And it was the 1853 version of the New Hampshire Confession, not the 1833 version, that was used. Delnay points out, “In their [W. B. Riley and J. Frank Norris’] work of revision they used THE 1853 VERSION of the New Hampshire Confession as their starting point” (Delnay 1983, 16).

    Now the first article of the 1853 version of the New Hampshire Confession reads,

    I. OF THE SCRIPTURES
    We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction: that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error, for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.

    Delnay notes the differences between the Baptist Bible Union confession and the New Hampshire Confession as far as the article concerning the Scriptures is concerned: “From the article on the Scriptures they [Riley and Norris for the Baptist Bible Union] omitted some four lines that looked descriptive (i.e., “And is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction, …”) and added two statements, 1. specifying that the collection of 66 books, in the original, “IS the very Word of God,” and 2. spelling out inspiration and inerrancy, without actually specifying that inspiration was either plenary or verbal” (Delnay 1983, 16).

    The point is this. We find the attribute, PERFECT, in the words “the Holy Bible … is a PERFECT treasure of heavenly instruction”! If Riley and Norris had not omitted those “four lines that looked descriptive,” the Baptist Bible Union confession would have covered nine of the ten attributes mentioned!

    It is also noteworthy to highlight that unlike the New Hampshire Confession, the Baptist Bible Union Confession – with the addition of the two aforementioned statements – attributed inspiration not only to the writers, but also specifically to the writings (cf. Delnay 1983, 10), enabling us to say that the BIBLE is GOD-BREATHED.

    ATTRIBUTE TEN

    Of course, with the preceding nine attributes brought to the fore, at the end of the day, we can say that the Bible is BEAUTIFUL.

    REFERENCES

    Bartlett, Billy Vick. The Beginnings: A Pictorial History of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. Vol. 1. Springfield, Mo.: Baptist Bible College, 1975.

    Brown, J. Newton. The Baptist Church Manual. Philadelphia, Pa.: American Baptist Publication Society, 1853.

    Delnay, Robert George. A History of the Baptist Bible Union. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Piedmont Bible College Press, 1974.

    Delnay, Robert George. “A History of the GARBC Confession of Faith.” Paper presented at Baptist Bible College and School of Theology, Clarks Summit, PA, March 15, 1983.

    Lumpkin, William L. Baptist Confessions of Faith. Edited by Bill J. Leonard. 2nd revised edition. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2011.

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    1. Excellent observations. Thanks for developing the point further. I can’t help but think that unless our interlocutors can show us that the Bible prohibits believing in a standard sacred text or that the Bible commands belief in multiple versions of the Greek, we are at an impasse. Our side finds itself squarely within historical exegesis and the subsequent Protestant confessions while our opponents have neither an exegetical nor theological grounding for their position. Perhaps it is time to take back the academy from such poor Christian scholarship.

      Liked by 1 person

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