I love and appreciate the Baptist Faith and Message. In spite of what others may think about the document, I am consistently impressed with its thoroughness that is communicated in spite of its brevity. Unlike some other faithful Southern Baptists, I am a fan of all versions of the BF&M, including the newest 2000 version. Having said that, I would like to point out my one point of contention with the BF&M and ask if I’m the only one who sees this as a curious statement, at the very least. Consider with me, if you will, Statement VII:
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 Saviour, 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 prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
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.
Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.
While I am firmly committed to the theology communicated through the statement on baptism, I do have a question regarding the final statement on the topic of baptism. In the statement we are told “Being a church ordinance, it [baptism] is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.” While I am a strong believer that baptism is necessary, in the sense that it is the first step of obedience as prescribed by the Lord, I am also unconvinced that one is unqualified to receive the Lord’s Supper without having been baptized. I see the biblical admonition to “repent and be baptized”, and as a result of that I can see, from a pragmatic point of view, that baptism can generally be expected to have occurred before someone is regularly partaking of the Lord’s Supper. However, I find it at least curious that, apart from a clear biblical command, we have placed such a restriction in our statement of faith.
I’m interested to know if I’m the only one who finds this strange? Are there others who agree that this is an unnecessary, if not extra biblical expectation?