Controversial documents of the Southern Baptist Convention:
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest single
Protestant denomination in the United States, with a membership of about
16 million. It is second only to the Roman Catholic church in the U.S. in
size. Starting in the 1970's, they went through internal turmoil due to a
conflict between moderates and fundamentalists within the organization.
The more liberal wing lost the battle. One result has been the publication
of a series of documents that have been criticized by some more liberal
Christians, feminist organizations, theologians, and Jewish, Hindu &
Muslim groups. For example, they have issued:
||A loyalty oath which their employees must sign in order to retain
their positions. Included are theology professors who were required to
affirm that the gospels were written by authors actually named Mark,
Matthew, Luke and John. Some of these educators were placed in the
awkward position of losing their employment if they did not sign the
oath, or of losing their credibility in the larger Christian community
if they assented to something that they believed to be not true.
||A statement on the distribution of power and the role of women
within the family in which the husband is to lead and the woman to
submit to her husband's authority as necessary.
A series of prayer guides to help their membership pray for and
evangelize non-Christians, so that they will be led to salvation.
The prayer guides will be the topic of the rest of this essay.
Beliefs of the SBC towards other religions:
The need for the SBC prayer guides is linked to their beliefs about other
religions. Many, but not all, Southern Baptists believe that the fundamentalist
and other evangelical wings of Christianity hold the only truly valid faith:
Liberal Christianity is seen as largely heretical. As a result, most
of their followers lack salvation and are destined for Hell. R. Albert
Jr , "a strategic leader among Southern Baptists" and
president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
stated that the liberal wing of Christianity is no longer really
Christian: "One core doctrine after another has fallen by
liberal denialall in the name of salvaging the faith in the modern
age. The game is now reaching its end stage. Having denied virtually
every essential doctrine, the liberals are holding an empty
bag....they should give up their claim on Christianity for the sake of
Other Abrahamic religions -- those which trace their origin to the
patriarch Abraham -- contain some truth but their theology is largely
invalid. This includes Judaism, Islam
and the Baha'i Faith.
Other major world religions, including Buddhism,
etc. are mostly worthless, and are influenced or actually controlled
Neopagan religions such as Asatru,
Druidism and Wicca
are forms of Satanism.
Southern Baptists (and other very conservative Christians) largely base
their beliefs about other faith groups on specific
biblical passages, which they believe to be inerrant:
1 Corinthians 10:20-21 which implies that the God(s) or
Goddess(es) of other religions are actually demons.
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 which states that believers should not
be "unequally yoked" with unbelievers. The passage
implies that followers of other religions exhibit unrighteousness and
their beliefs represent darkness.
Salvation: the prime motivation for the prayer guides:
To Southern Baptists, salvation requires that a person repent of their
sins and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Only through salvation can
one overcome a wall of separation between themselves and God which was
erected by Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. Salvation assures the
individual that she/he will avoid Hell and of attain Heaven after
There are many biblical verses, particularly in the Gospel
of John and the Epistles of Paul that state plainly that the only path
to salvation is through belief in Jesus Christ.
There are many passages, particularly in the
Gospel of Matthew and the writings of Paul which emphasize the horrors
of Hell which await the unsaved.
The SBC's "Baptist Faith and Message" states that: "Salvation
involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who
accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour....There is no salvation apart from
personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord." 1
Commenting on this text, Mark Seifrid, Associate Professor of New
Testament at the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
wrote: "...salvation is found in Jesus Christ and in him
alone....Salvation is to be found only in Jesus Christ, whom one must know
by name and call upon as Lord in order to be saved." 3
This is interpreted by many SBC members as implying that those who are
not saved by trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior will be relegated to Hell
after death. This would include:
||Those who have heard the gospel and rejected it, and
||Those who have heard the gospel message but have not trusted Jesus,
||Those that have never heard of Christ, the gospel message, or
Thus, most Southern Baptists view the vast majority of humanity to be
literally Hell bent for destruction. Both individually and
collectively, they are motivated by this belief to snatch as many lost souls as possible
from the jaws of Hell. They feel a responsibility to follow the Great Commission
of Matthew 28:19. To ignore this task is seen as an act of great
irresponsibility and lack of love towards the lost. To not evangelize a
particular religious group is sometimes even viewed as an act of religious
A statement of the 'Baptist Faith and Message," adopted by
the Southern Baptist Convention on 1963-MAY-9 states, in part:
"It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win
the lost to Christ by personal effort and by all other methods in
harmony with the gospel of Christ." 4
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. has stated that: "...from the founding
of the denomination to the present, Southern Baptists have declared that
the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be witnessed to all persons, regardless
of nationality, race, gender, or religious background." 5
They regard prayer for those who are "lost to Christ"
to be a powerful force which encourages evangelism and religious
conversion. The purpose of the prayer guides is to help their members use
prayer to promote conversion of the lost.
Related essay on this web site:
"The Baptist Faith and Message: IV. Salvation,"
2000-JUN-14 revision, at: http://www.utm.edu/martinarea/fbc/bfm/4.html
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., "In the company of fellow nonbelievers:
Liberal theology abandons the faith," 1998-JUL-8, "Fidelitas:
Commentary on theology and culture," at: http://www.sbts.edu/fmohler.html
- "An exposition
from the faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on The Baptist
Faith and Message 2000," at:
"The Baptist Faith and Message: XI. Evangelism and Missions,"
2000-JUN-14 revision, at: http://www.utm.edu/martinarea/fbc/bfm/11.html
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., "Against the Stream: The Southern Baptist
Resolutions," "Fidelitas: Commentary on theology and
culture," at: http://www.sbts.edu/fmohler.html
Copyright © 2000 to 2003 incl., by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2000-JAN-7
Latest update: 2003-APR-7
Author: B.A. Robinson