Southern Seminary Abstract Of Principles

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Mark Osgatharp, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    The Abstract of Principles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville clearly asserts unconditional election and believer's baptism by immersion as a pre-requisite to participation in the Lord's Supper. Consent to this abstract is required of all teachers in the seminary and a departure from it's doctrine is considered grounds for dismissal from the faculty.

    Can someone tell me if this is just a token policy or is it actually enforced? Does Southern Seminary dismiss teachers who do not subscribe to the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election or who practice open communion?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  2. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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  3. StefanM

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    From what I hear it is actually being enforced.

    Previously, it carried little meaning, but in the Mohler era it is being enforced.
     
  4. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    Mark

    I think that is "close" communion ... Or is it open? Closed would be like closed pulpit, you gotta be from within the local church membership.

    I actually think it might be modified open ...
     
  5. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    El Guero,

    In traditional Baptist understanding, open communion is the practice of inviting unbaptized persons to participate in the Lord's supper. The Abstract of Principles clearly teaches "close" communion, which means participation in the Lord's supper is restricted at least to those who have been immersed after a profession of faith in Christ.

    My question is whether or not the Seminary actually makes adherence to close communion, as well as Calvinism, a condition of teaching in the school.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  6. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    Good question. I really do not know the answer to that.
     
  7. Brother Ian

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    I thought open communion was when the local congregation allowed non-members of that church to participate (as long as they are born-again believers) in the Lord's Supper.
     
  8. Humblesmith

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    Maybe I'm missing something here....but when I read this abstract, I don't see where it's requiring anything of those taking communion. It merely has a sentence or two summarizing each major belief.....hence the name 'abstract'. I don't see that it says anything about conditions for those taking communion.

    Am I missing something?
     
  9. The Shogun

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    Please note that the AoP is not a "Southern Seminary" only document..... It is a historical SBC document....

    For instance:

    Article IX of the By-Laws of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Inc., adopted December 7, 1950, provides that "All members of the faculty shall be required to subscribe to the Articles of Faith, or Beliefs, as adopted by the Board, and publicly sign these Articles at the opening of the session at which they enter upon their duties." These articles were originally prepared for and adopted by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, founded in 1859.

    http://www.sebts.edu/prospective_students/what_we_believe/index.cfm

    Other SBC entities use the document also....
     
  10. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Yes, you are missing something. The abstract teaches that baptism by immersion of a believer is pre-requisite to participation in the Lord's supper. It also states that any teacher who departs from these principles will be dismissed from the faculty.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  11. JGrayhound

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    I don't see what the problem is.

    The Abstract states:
    "The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be observed by His churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate His death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond, pledge and renewal of their communion with Him, and of their church fellowship."

    What exactly is your problem with that?
     
  12. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Grayhound,

    The abstract also says,

    "Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It is prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in the Lord's Supper."

    Any way you turn those words they preclude the modernistic practice of "open communion." So my question remains: does Southern Seminary bar open communionists from holding faculty positions?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  13. gb93433

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    It's like any other document. It is not worth the paper it is writen on unless it is enforced.

    Recently I was told by a former faculty member of SWBTS that one of the older faculty members at SWBTS never signed the current BF&M as is. He was allowed to scratch out some of the additions so that it conformed to the previous BF&M.

    It's all about politics and image.

    Politics dictates the practice of the time. Just look at Whitsitt. He was fired for teaching the same things about Baptist history that is being taught today in all of the SBC seminaries.
     
  14. gb93433

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    Seems to me that what is written is that Baptism and the Lord's Supper is open to all believers.

    It says, "obligatory upon every believer. . ."
     
  15. JGrayhound

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    Mark,

    You have a problem because you think non-believers should be allowed to take the Lord's Supper?
     
  16. Humblesmith

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    In the churches that I've been exposed, "open communion" means "open to any believer, even those who are not a member of this local church." On the other hand, "closed communion" means "only members of this local church." Perhaps there are other definitions; this is the only one I've ever seen.

    Next, yes, the abstract holds that believers' baptism is a prerequisite for communion. To most people, this would limit communion to those who professed belief in Christ and were baptized. This is normal to almost all churches; most churches have this rule.

    The sentence "It is a prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in the Lord's Supper." says nothing about membership in a specific local church ("closed communion") as a requirement for communion. It could be speaking of any local church. The "and" there is not conditional.

    Further, the abstract says nothing about "unconditional." Further, it says nothing about belief in election being a prerequisite for communion. Faculty may be held to belief in the abstract, but what does this have to do with laymen taking communion?

    Methinks he doth protesteth too much.
     
  17. Hardsheller

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    I agree with Humblesmith.

    "Open Communion" in Southern Baptist Churches has historically been defined as allowing Baptized Christians other than the members of the local congregation to participate.

    "Closed Communion" has always meant that the Lord's Supper observance was closed to those who were not members of the local church.

    The delegates of the Southern Baptist Convention at it's founding meeting in Augusta, Georgia in 1845 all participated in the Lord's Supper at the FBC of Augusta in conjunction with that historic meeting.

    I see nothing in the Abstract of Principles that contradicts historical Southern Baptist practice.

    Now the Landmark Southern Baptists did practice "Closed Communion" but it was by no means universal among Southern Baptists.
     
  18. Mark Osgatharp

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    Why is it so difficult to answer a very clear question based on the very clear meaning of the abstract?

    The abstract teaches that immersion on a profession of faith is the only scriptural baptism and that such baptism is pre-requisite to participation in the Lord's supper.

    The abstract also demands that any faculty member who departs from any part of the doctrine set forth in the abstract will be dismissed.

    Open communion is the practice of inviting all professed believers - without regard to whether they have been immersed as a believer - to participate in the Lord's supper. Open communion is, therefore, in flat contradiction of the abstract of principles of Southern Seminary.

    Ditto for the doctrine of unconditional election.

    My question remains: Does Southern Seminary enforce the abstract on the points of unconditional election and close communion? Does Southern Seminary dismiss teachers who advocate open communion or who deny unconditional election?

    Mark Osgatharp

    P.S. I, personally, believe in closed communion and do not believe in unconditional election. What I believe, however, is not germain to my question.
     
  19. Humblesmith

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    I cannot speak to the everyday practices of Southern Seminary, as I do not attend nor work there.

    However, every seminary that I know of requires an annual signature by the faculty to the beliefs of the school.

    Also, almost all churches hold to communion only by believers. In baptist churches, this commonly means people baptized with believer's baptism. But I know of no church who asks each person individually in the congregation for proof of baptism.

    I joined a baptist church upon statement that I had been baptised as a believer. They took my word for it, and I did not have to provide a photo, videotape, or three notarized witnesses that I had been baptized. So, even if the communion were closed, how do they REALLY know that I was immersed as an adult? If we're going to take my word for it when I join the church, why can't we take my word for it the day before I join?

    As for election, I insist that you are reading "unconditional" into the text. It is simply not there, nor does it anywhere connect election with baptism. I doubt Southern holds faculty to unconditional election, since it is nowhere in the abstract or the Baptist Faith & Message.
     
  20. JGrayhound

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    I would say that open communion is rejected by almost all baptists, and I would take a guess that Southern profs reject open communion.

    I KNOW they take the Abstract very seriously, and I know they hold profs to teach "in accordance with, and not contrary to" it and the BF&M2000.

    Why do you have such a problem with this? Is it because of the election statement?

    If you have real questions about how the seminary handles this, why do you talk about it here and not e-mail the seminary?
     

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