Article 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 whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, 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 and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Unifying Principles from Article III
The BF & M again presents a unifying statement of doctrine. Southern Baptists can easily affirm that man is a special creation of God who has sinned against God and now stands in need of salvation.
There is, however, the potential for disagreement in one area of the BF & M’s wording of the doctrine of man in the phrase that man “fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. . . . as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. (italics added). There are some Southern Baptists that would rather this section read more affirmatively of total depravity. Total depravity is the doctrine that represents the understanding that man is born with original sin, that is an inherited sin-nature from Adam. Total depravity does not mean that man is as sinful as he could be, but that sin has corrupted every aspect of man: including the body, mind, and will. Proponents of this understanding would likely prefer that the BF & M read something like, “his [man’s] posterity inherit a nature and environment corrupted by sin.”
Even so, Baptists of all theological stripes agree that man has a depraved nature in need of regeneration, confirmed with the BF & M’s statement, “Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God.” While some may disagree over some of the nuisances of this doctrine, Southern Baptists actually agree on more than they do not, and this is where an autonomous congregation’s use of their own doctrinal statement can be helpful as they hammer out differences in interpretations.
No matter our varying theological stripes, the gospel message will be proclaimed the same by Baptists that agree that man has a serious problem with sin and is in need of God’s redeeming grace and love.
For His Glory,