The Southern Baptist Convention is in trouble.

Full of incredible, Bible-believing, conservative, evangelical, and doctrinally sound men and women, the SBC is enduring a steep decline in attendance, baptisms, and missions.

The reason?

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, a “confession” pushed to the Convention by then SBC President Paige Patterson, is now being used by current SBC leadership as a bully club to exclude churches, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Community Church, from cooperation in missions and evangelism.

Ironically, Saddleback Church has led the SBC for decades in the number of conversions, baptisms, and world missions.

Historically, the SBC has had people in leadership from various theological positions in soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology, and pneumatology. We’ve had Calvinists and Arminians, proponents of elder rule and advocates of congregationalism, dispensationalists and preterists, and cessationists and continuationists.

These various positions of SBC people are why the SBC has been called “a cooperating convention.”

Our cooperation is around Jesus Christ and leading others to know Him.

Our unofficial motto: In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.


The Change in the SBC Since 2000

Demands for conformity and disfellowship over disagreement have become widespread since 2000.

That’s the year the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message replaced the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message.

The trouble began then, and some tried to help what seemed like the downfall of the SBC.

Al Mohler proposed to establish a theological triage system whereby people may know the difference between first-tier (primary), second-tier (secondary), and third-tier (tertiary) doctrines.

Mohler’s proposal was brilliant. 

Some wrongly say that everything in the BFM 2000 is PRIMARY DOCTRINE. If a Southern Baptist church or pastor expresses any disagreement with the BFM 2000, they should be expelled from cooperating in missions and evangelism in the SBC.

This demand for conformity in a Baptist cooperating  Convention is hazardous.

Demands for conformity with discipline for disagreement are more ‘cultic’ than Baptist.

We are in trouble if a Southern Baptist cannot point out, debate, and stand firm on Scripture where they believe the BFM 2000 contradicts Scripture.

If a Southern Baptist voices a disagreement with some of the interpretations of tertiary doctrines found within the BFM 2000, and we then begin to ‘question’ Southern Baptist’s conservative credentials, we have prostituted our heritage as Baptists.

We’re in the bizarre place of calling ‘liberal’ people who champion their belief in the authority of the Bible over a man-made confession.

Think about it. In 2023 and 2024, the SBC will be seeking to disfellowship churches and pastors who believe in the Bible more than they do in a Confession.

This is SBC absurdity at its highest.

SBC leaders who proclaim to believe in sola Scriptura are booting people who actually practice their belief in sola Scriptura.

Southern Baptists have fallen asleep at the wheel. We had better wake up and speak up. Someone needs to have the prophetic courage and fortitude to show, RIGHT NOW,

FUNDAMENTALISM is any philosophy that adds to the sacred Word of God.

LIBERALISM takes away from the sacred Word of God.

Both ideologies are dangerous, and although we successfully resisted the dangers of liberalism in the latter portion of the 20th Century, we must now fight the dangers of Fundamentalism in the 21st Century.

It’s the Pharisees and the Sadducees in the days of Jesus all over again.


FIVE POINTS of Disagreement in the BFM 2000


At least five tertiary doctrines are in the BFM 2000, over which solid, conservative evangelical Southern Baptists disagree.

Unlike fundamentalists who wish to exclude those who disagree with tertiary doctrines in the BFM 2000, I believe it is healthy for people to discuss and debate various interpretative views on those doctrines that are not essential to the faith but contained in the BFM 2000.

A FUNDAMENTALIST believes everything in the BFM is a PRIMARY doctrine. I’m sure he wishes to prove I can’t point to disagreements among Baptists on tertiary issues in the BFM 2000.

I can, and I will.


ONE: The BFM 2000 states infants are innocent and NOT under God’s condemnation until they “become transgressors” and sin personally. 


The BFM 2000 in Article III states this doctrine as follows:

“Infants come under God’s judgment as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

However, The Abstract of Principles, the institutional confession of Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary teaches:

“Adam transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation . . .” (Abstract of Principles, VI)

According to Southern Seminary’s Abstract, this’ condemnation from God is BEFORE an infant has committed ‘actual transgressions’ or is capable of ‘moral action.’

Southern’s Abstract of Principles is consistent with the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message on infant condemnation. Still, the Abstract contradicts the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

Should the SBC “kick out” Southern Seminary and President Al Mohler?

Of course not.

There is room for both interpretations in the SBC regarding the point at which people actually fall under the just condemnation of God, either (1). At the impartation of the soul (the Reformed view), or (2). When that soul grows to maturity and is capable of moral action (the ‘age of accountability,’ the Semi-palagian view).

No SBC Calvinist nor SBC semi-pelagian is demanding conformity to his viewpoint in the Southern Baptist Convention. Still, if the LAW Amendment passes at the 2024 SBC, it won’t be long before they come after the Calvinists who disagree with the 2000 BFM.


TWO: The BFM 2000 demands ‘closed communion’ at the Lord’s Supper.

Article VII of the  BFM 2000 states this doctrine as follows:

Being a church ordinance, (baptism) is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism has already been defined in Article VII as baptism by immersion. Since the word ‘baptism’ (Gk. ‘baptizo’) means ‘to immerse,’ one would be hard-pressed to call himself Baptist without believing in baptism by immersion.

However, there has been disagreement among Baptists over whether or not Baptists could share communion with believers who have not been ‘properly’ baptized. There is no question that baptism is a prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper (or fellowship/communion) with other believers. However, the question becomes, if someone is not baptized by immersion, can they still be a partaker of ‘communion’ with the family of Christ?

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Yes!

His church welcomed all Christians at the communion table, whether properly baptized (by immersion) or not.

He believed that the Kingdom of Christ transcends the ‘local’ church, and if we will all share the ‘Marriage Supper of the Lamb” together in heaven, even with Christians not ‘properly’ baptized – as we Baptists define it – then why would we withhold the cup of fellowship and communion from believers here?

Like Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle, the churches I pastored invited all Christians to the Lord’s Table, regardless of the participant’s baptism mode (e.g., “pouring, sprinkling, etc.).

Our local church ‘membership’ is strict (only believers who have been baptized by immersion), but our communion table is open.

Nathan Finn, a professional historian and a Southern Baptist, agrees with Christianity Today and states most SBC churches practice the same form of modified open communion our church practices. I believe there is room in the SBC for both views, and if there are attempts by either side on this view to DEMAND that the other side do it their way, then a rip in our fabric of cooperation takes place.

I can’t sign the BFM 2000 without expressing my disagreement with Article VII and closed communion.

Should pastors and churches who serve the Lord’s Supper to all believers in Christ, regardless of their mode of baptism, be excluded from the SBC?

No, of course not.

Closed communion is a legitimate interpretation of the Scripture — but it is not the only conservative Southern Baptist view.


THREE: The BFM 2000 teaches justification is ‘acquittal’ and does not mention Christ’s perfect righteousness received by the believer.


The BFM 2000, in Article IV B, states:

“Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.”

Justification is defined/explained in the BFM 2000 as “God’s gracious and full acquittal . . .”

But justification is not simply acquittal; it is not merely God saying “Not Guilty.” It is the positive and forensic declaration that the believer in Christ is righteous

. Acquittal alone won’t get anyone into heaven. We need the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Protestant theologians in the tradition of the Reformation have traditionally defined justification in terms of the forensic or legal declaration of righteousness because of Christ’s active and passive obedience credited to our account.

There’s room in the SBC for people with a defective, unbiblical view of justification, an idea used in the BFM 2000.

I would never seek to remove those who hold to this unbiblical view of justification, though I hope they will one day come to believe the better teaching on justification from the Scripture.

In addition, even though The Abstract of Principles XI contradicts the BFM 2000 and correctly states that justification is receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness by faith.  

I don’t believe we should remove Southern Seminary from the SBC like the SBC removed Saddleback Community Church.

There is room for both interpretations on justification for missionary cooperation.

If there are demands for TOTAL CONFORMITY to what the BFM 2000 teaches through the LAW Amendment, then one day, any SBC church or pastor who believes justification is more than just simple acquittal will have to step down from SBC leadership or missionary service because he can’t ‘endorse’ such a low view of justification found in the BFM 2000.


FOUR: The BFM 2000 states, contrary to Scripture, that the Holy Spirit baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ


In Article II C, on ‘God the Holy Spirit,’ the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states:

“At the moment of regeneration He [i.e., the Holy Spirit] baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ.”

This Confessional statement asserts that the Holy Spirit baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ

There is not a single biblical text that says that the Spirit baptizes anyone into anything.

Every text has Jesus the Messiah baptizeing believers in the Holy Spirit, resulting in us being incorporated into the Body of Christ.

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He (Jesus) will baptize you with [lit., “in,” the Gk. Preposition en] the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; Jn. 1:33; Acts 1:5).

Everyone wins when we champion free and open debate on doctrinal issues like this.


FIVE: The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 says that all Southern Baptists should do all in their power to put an end to war


Article XVI of the BFM 2000 on ‘Peace and War’ states:

“It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.

The proper remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the 2006 SBC, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the United States Secretary of State, told assembled SBC messengers:

“We will obliterate the terrorists with our bombs.”

The messengers stood on their feet and applauded, shouted, and celebrated Dr. Rice’s statement.

Later, Dr. Jerry Rankin stated what we are doing to win the world for Christ through our gospel mission efforts. The messengers sat on their hands.

Should we review the video and find the pastors who applauded bombing terrorists into oblivion and sat on their hands when the President of the most significant missions organization in the world explained what we are doing to win terrorists to Christ?

It’s a sincere question that I ask. Those who sat on their hands in 2006 during the missions report and stood on their feet during the war report (violating the 2000 BFM, are now demanding the exclusion of churches and pastors who believe the Spirit’s giftings in Christ’s church are never gender qualified. 



(1). Demands to ‘sign’ the BFM 2000 and ‘remove’ from leadership anyone who expresses disagreement with the BFM 2000 on the tertiary issues mentioned above is evidence of a seismic shift in the historical understanding of what it means to be a Baptist.

(2). Among the reasons scholar J. Gresham Machen opposed Fundamentalism were: (a). The absence of historical perspective; (b). The lack of appreciation for biblical scholarship; (c). Brief, skeletal creeds are substituted for broad historic confessions.

Confessions are a consensus of belief, but majority views are not always orthodox, biblical views.  Never demand conformity on a confession for coooperation in evangelism or Fundamentalism will eat the cooperating convention from the inside like dry rot.

(3). Doctrine is essential, as is loving, gracious, and humble debate.

A person never get more precise doctrinally unless free and vigorous dissent is championed.

The stifling of dissent in the SBC over the 2000 BFM dumbs down the SBC to biblical illiteracy.

Unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, charity in all things.