As you will learn or be reminded in this issue of the Southern Seminary Magazine, we believe that a healthy church or a healthy seminary is one that clearly confesses what it believes and then commits to teach in accord with and not contrary to that statement of faith. The Bible teaches a very certain body of truth that is able to make one “wise unto salvation,” and a strong confession of faith will make those things clear.
Confessions pervaded the life of the early church. It used them catechetically, liturgically, and apologetically. The early church would not know how to disciple new believers, perform acts of worship, or defend the faith apart from the use of confessions.
Emerging from the Puritan separatists in England, Baptists in every generation, and from a variety of theological traditions, have articulated their beliefs in published confessions to show continuity with orthodox Christianity and to give witness to their distinctive ecclesiology and practice.
Two distinct visions of Baptist identity had clearly emerged, one rooted in historic orthodoxy, the other in a highly individualistic doctrine of soul liberty. In the Northern Baptist Convention, only one could endure.
Yet people ask us all the time, “Who are you? What’s a Baptist? How are you different than any other church or religious group?” One would hope that any church-going Southern Baptist could answer such questions with aplomb. But can they?
From the very beginning, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been a confessional institution. Every professor must sign our confession of faith, the Abstract of Principles, agreeing to teach “in accordance with and not contrary to all that is contained therein.” This pledge has remained unchanged since 1859, but the history of Southern Seminary is a history with many twists and turns.
In February of 1997, Mary Mohler met with a few wives of Southern Seminary faculty members to share a burden and a vision that wives of seminary students needed to be encouraged and trained, and in the fall of that year, Seminary Wives Institute (SWI) was born.
I did a double-take when I read the sign in front of a small, white church beside a two-lane blacktop that snaked through the hills of western North Carolina. I stopped and backed up my SUV to get a second look. The weathered 12’-by-18’ sign read: “Welcome to Trinity Baptist Church. We are an Independent,…
“I agree with every word, but only Roman Catholics read creeds.” I was walking down the sidewalk with a member of our congregation, and we had just finished discussing why our church reads creeds and confessions during congregational worship. The issue was at once simple and decisive—our church should not read creeds during congregational worship…