THE BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE, Article Fifteen
This is Part 15 of a continuing series of articles examining the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This statement of faith was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting on June 14, 2000 “to set forth certain teachings which we believe.”
Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. Moreover, the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ's people. In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.*
The Gospel is not anti-intellectual. To be a follower of Christ does not require that you check your brains at the church door. Far from it—the Father is the source of truth, Jesus is the embodiment of truth and the Holy Spirit is the revealer of truth.
Sin is the reason for darkness. This world’s philosophy is distorted. Satan is the author of lies and deception. Our natural way of thinking and perspective on life is warped by our carnal nature.
Wherever the Gospel of Christ has been preached, true light has flooded that culture. Recently, a virulent form of atheism has been spewing venom toward Christianity, trying to blame the church for virtually every evil in society. Quite the opposite is the reality—the Biblical message lifts any culture to a higher plane, it elevates the standard of living and level of education. People become literate and learn to read the Bible. The principles of wisdom contained in the Sacred Volume inspire institutions of learning.
Did you know that the great universities of America had their roots in Christianity? They were established to help spread the Gospel. They provided training for ministers of the Word. This was their purpose. Sadly, many of them have drifted far from their course and crashed on the rocks of rationalism.
Southern Baptists have resisted that tide, though it has flowed strongly against us at times. After a struggle for the soul of the denomination, the ship has righted itself and now is on course providing quality scholarship along with sound doctrine. Alas, that cannot be said of all the state institutions—most Baptist schools in this state having been hijacked by liberalism where no refuge can be found for conservative thought. But on a national level, the seminaries are steadfast in the faith.
What’s a parent to do about college? There are grave dangers in sending a student to a secular school. Their faith will be attacked. It will be attacked repeatedly and forcefully. Secular schools are populated with professors (with few exceptions) who are pawns for humanism. Will a Baptist kid thrown into such a lion’s den be a Daniel who can survive with their faith intact? Most do not. Only slightly better are the Baptist schools of North Carolina. Their approach is more subtle, but therefore, maybe more dangerous. A student sent there will find pockets of evangelical faith, but mostly a lot of the same as in a state school. It will not be long until the Baptist State Convention breaks ties with these schools—it has already virtually taken place.
If you can—and it isn’t always possible—the best choice would be Liberty University—a Baptist school in Virginia that under girds rather than undermines faith and yet offers high academic quality. But, like most private schools, it is expensive. A community college where a young person can make the transition into adulthood, face serious issues, learn to flesh out his own faith and yet still remain in contact with his parents and church can be an economical option with the opportunity to transfer to a school like Liberty.
We are blessed at Pole Creek in having a number of young people who have responded to God’s call to vocational ministry. Your mission dollars help to support them in their studies. What a great investment in kingdom work!
* Deuteronomy 4:1,5,9,14; 6:1-10; 31:12-13; Nehemiah 8:1-8; Job 28:28; Psalms 19:7ff.; 119:11; Proverbs 3:13ff.; 4:1-10; 8:1-7,11; 15:14; Ecclesiastes 7:19; Matthew 5:2; 7:24ff.; 28:19-20; Luke 2:40; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 2:3,8-9; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14-17; Hebrews 5:12-6:3; James 1:5; 3:17. (Baptist Faith and Message, 2000)