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Baptists have strived to avoid doctrinal statements that “resembled a creed or statement of beliefs to which their people were forced to subscribe.” Confessions of faith were however at times solidified at the precipice of doctrinal dispute. The Baptist Faith and Messages doctrinal statements were written and revised on three occasions in the face of such discord. This paper seeks to identify that, while the three versions have significant differences in vocabulary to combat the cultural issues of the time, all three remain unchanged in their core message and remain cohesive with traditional Baptist teaching.
The evolution controversy in the early 20th century generated the need to react to the heresy by modifying the New Hampshire Confession of 1833 in a manner that reinstated Baptist faith by applying the same biblical principles amidst a changing culture. The Baptist Faith and Messages was thus created as a doctrinal statement of confession to affirm biblical beliefs without a creedal formula. A similar need arose to revise the BFM in 1963 in order to defend the entire Bible as the inspired Word of God in contrast to the Ralph H. Elliot controversy. The need for the 2000 version of the BFM arose in part due to the egalitarian view, which allowed females the same offices as men (such as elders and pastors), which Baptists have traditionally reserved for men alone.
The doctrinal statement of 1925, section XII, offers a basic overview that the church body of Christ are to be baptized, observe the ordinances, be governed by Christ’s laws, exercise the gifts, rights and privileges of the Word, and extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. The specific church offices are defined as: bishops or elders, and deacons. T...

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Works Cited

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. “What’s All the Fuss About? An Analysis of the ‘Baptist Faith & Message’ Statement and What it Could Mean for You and Your Church.” Cooperative Baptist Fellowship: 1-12, accessed January 18, 2014,

Hammett, John S. Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2005.

McBeth, H. Leon. The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1987.

Wills, Gregory. “The Church, BF&M Article 6.” In “An Exposition from the Faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on The Baptist Faith and Message 2000.” The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: 22-23, accessed January 18, 2014,
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