What We Believe

As a church in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, we affirm the Baptist Faith and Message, adopted by the SBC in 2000. You can read more about the Baptist Faith and Message by clicking here.

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.

II. God

There is one and only one living and true God. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

A. God the Father
God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

B. God the Son
Christ is the eternal Son of God. Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. He took upon Himself human nature yet without sin. In His substitutionary death on the cross, He provided redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body, ascended into heaven, and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, reconciling God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

C. God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. He enables all to understand truth, exalts Christ, convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He calls humanity to the Savior, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration, He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and gives spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

III. Man

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence. All humanity therefore inherits a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. As soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship. Christ died for all of humanity and every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

IV. Salvation

Salvation redeems the whole man and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. Salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment to Him as Lord and Savior.

B. Justification is God's full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

C. Sanctification begins at regeneration and sets the believer apart for God's purposes. It enables believers to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.

D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.V. God's Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man. It displays God's sovereign goodness and excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end and will never fall away from the state of grace but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

VI. The Church

Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ. It is an autonomous, local congregation of baptized believers, observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the offices are limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

VII. Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is a prerequisite to the privileges of church membership. Anyone wishing to join Friendly Baptist Church must be immersed after their salvation in our church or in another Southern Baptist Church. Those who have been baptized in another denomination are requested to be rebaptized to identify with our church, denomination, and beliefs.

The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming. It is observed every fifth Sunday, typically in the evening service.

VIII. The Lord's Day

The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

IX. The Kingdom

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God's will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.

X. Last Things

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

XI. Evangelism and Missions

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.

XII. Education

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 the church, a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ and by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures.

XIII. Stewardship

God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual responsibility to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions. Christians should contribute cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth.

XIV. Cooperation

Christ's people should cooperate to advance the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of the churches. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries to extend Christ's Kingdom. Christian unity is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ's people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

XV. The Christian and the Social Order

All Christians should seek to make the Christ’s will supreme in their own lives and in human society. Means and methods used to improve society and establish righteousness among men can be helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.

XVI. Peace and War

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 true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.

XVII. Religious Liberty

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. No ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

XVIII. The Family

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. As stated in Scripture, a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Report of the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee

During the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas a motion was made as follows: "That the President of the Southern Baptist Convention appoint a committee to review the Baptist Faith and Message of May 9, 1963, for the primary purpose of adding an Article on The Family, and to bring the amendment to the next convention for approval." In response, Convention President Thomas D. (Tom) Elliff appointed the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee, which presents the following report.

Introduction

The committee was keenly aware that this task is a sacred trust. The Baptist Faith and Message has not been amended since 1963 when the inimitable Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs led the effort to develop a statement of faith for Southern Baptists. It has stood the test of time as a clear declaration of Southern Baptist faith. The assignment to produce a concise, clear statement that expresses the generally held beliefs of Southern Baptists concerning family was a daunting one. Therefore, the committee approached its responsibility with prayer, reverence, and diligence.

The statement on family is thoroughly biblical. Every line is deeply rooted in the clear teaching of Scripture. Its language is theological and thus in keeping with the language of the original document. The committee sought to use words and phrases that would carry the same timelessness as the Hobbs statement. The proposed article is stated in the positive. The intent is to declare what is believed rather than to describe what is disbelieved. Again, the original statement of faith follows this pattern.

The committee felt a commentary on the Article would be helpful. This commentary expands and provides a strong foundation for the proposed Article. While the family statement stands firmly on its own, the commentary enhances understanding. The commentary will be a useful tool for those who seek to comprehend Southern Baptist beliefs regarding family.

Proposal

XVIII. The Family

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.

Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Gen. 1:26-28; 2:18-25; 3:1-20; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6:4-9; Josh. 24:15; 1 Sam. 1:26-28; Ps. 51:5; Ps.78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Prov. 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Eccl. 4:9-12; 9:9; Mal. 2:14-16; Matt. 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 7:1-16; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Col. 3:18-21; 1 Tim. 5:8, 14; 2 Tim. 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 3:1-7.

Commentary

The family was defined by God as the foundational institution of human society. From the beginning, God has used the family as the primary classroom and as the foremost object lesson for teaching His people about Himself and for challenging them to the holy lifestyle He demands. Before there were civil governments or assemblies of worship, God established the home by creating the man and the woman and bringing them together in the Garden of Eden to engage in spiritual ministry through companionship, dominion, procreation, and worship.

Marriage

God's purpose for marriage was introduced in creation (Gen. 2:24) and then reaffirmed in the Gospels (Matt. 19:5) and the Pauline epistles (Eph. 5:31). This biblical principle for marriage transcends time and culture. Marriage, according to Scripture, is a covenant commitment to the exclusive, permanent, monogamous union of one man and one woman, and thus it cannot be defined as a flexible contract between consenting human beings. Rather, the strong and enduring bond of marriage, pledged in the presence of God Himself, is enriched by the couple's unconditional love for and acceptance of one another.

Believers must resist any claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships that biblically have been declared illicit or perverse lest they fall prey to an accommodation to the spirit of the age. Deviation from God's plan for marriage mars the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and distorts the oneness God intended in the sexual union between one woman and one man. The perversion of homosexuality defies even childbirth, since it negates natural conception (Rom. 1:18-32).

In marriage, two people physically become one flesh (Gen. 2:24); two families are socially grafted together; and the husband and wife portray spiritually the relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:23-27). The union is designed to provide a lifetime of spiritual and emotional support (Deut. 24:5), to offer a channel for the mutual satisfaction of sexual desires, and to present the best setting for conceiving and nurturing the next generation. The complementary relationship between husband and wife is presented as part of the pre-Fall perfect setting (Gen. 2:8-25) and then carefully defined within the canon of Scripture for succeeding generations (Eph. 5:21-33; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).

Marriage, according to God's plan, is a lifelong commitment. The breaking of its bonds brings hurt to all those involved, and thus every effort ought to be made for marital reconciliation and restoration (Mal. 2:16). Jesus clearly did not advocate divorce but called attention to His design for marriage presented "in the beginning" at creation (Gen. 2:24), while noting that the "hardness" of the human heart could on occasion circumvent that plan (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Luke 16:18; Rom. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:1-16).

The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women just as it brought chaos and tragedy throughout the world. The husband's loving, humble headship has often been replaced with domination or passivity. The wife's voluntary and willing submission has often been exchanged for usurpation or servility. Redemption in Christ would call for husbands to forsake harsh or selfish leadership and to extend loving care to their wives (1 Pet. 3:7) and for wives to forsake resistance to the authority of their respective husbands and to practice willing, joyful submission to that leadership (1 Pet. 3:1-2).

Husbands

God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). This love is protective, nurturing, serving, and edifying. It is not replaced with, but accompanied by, headship. This headship calls the husband to a loving leadership in which he cares responsibly for his wife's spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.

As defined in Scripture, the husband's headship was established by God before the Fall and was not the result of sin (Gen. 2:15-17; see also Num. 1:2-3, 17-19). It is a responsibility to be assumed with humility and a servant's heart rather than a right to be demanded with pride and oppressive tyranny. The wife is to respond to her husband's loving headship with honor and respect (Eph. 5:21-22, 33; 1 Pet. 3:1-4).

Servanthood does not nullify leadership but rather defines and refines its outworking. The balance between servanthood and leadership is beautifully portrayed in Jesus Himself (Luke 22:26; Heb. 13:17), who models servant leadership for the husband and selfless submission for the wife (Eph. 5:23-27; Phil. 2:5-8). Not only did Jesus model the Creator's plan for different roles, but He also affirmed the equality in Christ of the husband and the wife (Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7). As the wife submits herself to her husband's leadership, the husband humbles himself to meet his wife's needs for love and nurture (Eph. 5:25-29; 1 Pet. 3:7).

Wives

Wives, on the other hand, were created to be "helpers" to their husbands (Gen. 2:18). A wife’s submission to her husband does not decrease her worth but rather enhances her value to her husband and to the Lord (1 Pet. 3:4). This humble and voluntary yielding of a wife to her husband's leadership becomes a resource for evangelism (1 Pet. 3:1-2), an opportunity for glorifying God (1 Pet. 3:4-6), a channel for spiritual growth as ultimately the wife trusts herself to the Lord, and a means for bringing honor to His Word (Titus 2:3-5).

The term "helper," which is also used by God to identify Himself (Ex. 18:4; Deut. 33:7), describes the woman God created to become a partner with the man in the overwhelming task of exercising dominion over the world and extending the generations (Gen. 1:28; 2:18). There is no hint of inferiority in the term, which describes function, rather than worth. As the man's "helper," the woman complements him through her own unique function in the economy of God; as one "comparable to him," she, too, is created "in the image of God" (Gen. 2:18). Both bear God's image fully, but each expresses that image in God-ordained ways through manhood or womanhood. Thus, distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order (Gen. 1:27). Their differing roles in relating to one another provide a picture of the nature of God and the way He relates to His people. As the realities of headship and submission are enacted within loving, equal, and complementary male-female roles, the image of God is properly reflected.

Parents and Children

The family is the natural setting for molding and nurturing a child in the ways of the Lord (Prov. 22:6). Parents are admonished to take seriously their responsibility for the spiritual formation of their children by introducing them to God (salvation) and teaching them His Word (discipleship). Fathers and mothers are responsible (1) to model biblical manhood and womanhood through incarnational living, in which their children are able to observe the sanctification process in the lifestyle of their parents (Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; Josh. 4:6-7); (2) to teach their children moral values from the Scripture; and (3) to lead them to love and serve the Lord through consistent discipline (Ps. 78:4-8). The boundaries of a young child are established by his parents (Prov. 3:12; 13:24; 22:6; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17; Eph. 6:4). However, the ultimate goal of parents is to move the child to personal accountability to God (Ps. 119:9-11).

Childless couples, as well as single men and women, have the opportunity to pass on a godly legacy through involvement with the children within their extended family circles, in their churches, and in their respective communities.

Conclusion

Doctrine and practice, whether in the home or the church, are not to be determined according to modern cultural, sociological, and ecclesiastical trends or according to personal emotional whims; rather, Scripture is to be the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). God chose to reveal Himself to His people through family language: He used the metaphor of the home to describe the heavenly dwelling where believers will join Him for eternity. He selected the analogy of family relationships (husband/wife and parent/child) to illustrate how believers are to relate to Him: God is the Father; Jesus is the Son; the Church is the Bride of Christ; believers are His children. The most basic and consistent spiritual teaching, character development, and discipleship training should occur within the family circle (Deut. 6:4-9). A Christ-centered family has the potential to give a "word about God" to a world indifferent to spiritual truths. Those within the family circle have a unique opportunity to study the Bible and to learn theology through object lessons built into the very structure of the family.

Godly families help build the church just as churches ought to help build godly families. Scripture makes frequent connections between the life of the family and the life of the church (1 Tim. 3:5; 5:1-2). Leadership patterns in the family are consistently reflected in the church as well (1 Tim. 2:9-14; 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

We heartily affirm and commit ourselves to upholding the concept of the family as God's original and primary means of producing a godly offspring and thus passing on godly values from generation to generation (Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 78:5-7).

Recommendation

The committee expresses appreciation to Dr. Thomas D. (Tom) Elliff for the privilege of serving Southern Baptists in this very significant capacity. It is pleased to commend its report to messengers of this 1998 Southern Baptist Convention and recommend the adoption of Article XVIII on The Family for inclusion in the Baptist Faith and Message.

Respectfully submitted,
Anthony L. Jordan, Chairman
William R. (Bill) Elliff
Richard D. Land
Mary K. Mohler
Dorothy J. Patterson
O. Damon Shook
John G. Sullivan

Anthony L. Jordan
Executive Director-Treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma

William R. (Bill) Elliff

Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Little Rock, ArkansasRichard D. Land

President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist ConventionMary K. Mohler

Homemaker and Director of the Seminary Wives Institute of The Southern Baptist Theological SeminaryDorothy J. Patterson

Homemaker and adjunct faculty member of Southeastern Baptist Theological SeminaryO. Damon Shook

Pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston, TexasJohn G. Sullivan

Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention

DEVELOPED BY COLLISION MEDIA