The sole basis for authority among Baptist Christians is the Bible. Baptists, especially Southern Baptists, hold to no creeds defining their faith. We have, from time to time, expressed our concensis of what scripture teaches on defining matters through confessions of faith, known since 1925 as The Baptist Faith and Message.
The Baptist Faith and Message has been revised by Convention messengers twice since 1925, in order to apply their understanding of scripture to the relevant issues of the day. Core doctrine did not change, but each BF&M expressed Southern Baptists' understanding in light of the cultural debate of the age.
The most recent update was approved by messengers on June 14th, 2000. The committee's report says in part:
"Baptists cherish and defend religious liberty, and deny the right of any secular or religious authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches. We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.
Baptist churches, associations, and general bodies have adopted confessions of faith as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability. We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.
As a committee, we have been charged to address the "certain needs" of our own generation. In an age increasingly hostile to Christian truth, our challenge is to express the truth as revealed in Scripture, and to bear witness to Jesus Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
The 1963 committee rightly sought to identify and affirm "certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified." Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. "Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us."
It is the purpose of this statement of faith and message to set forth certain teachings which we believe."