Paul commands Timothy the pastor, and the Spirit commands pastors and believers, “Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching” (1 Tim 4:16 ESV). The words ‘the teaching’ refers to a definitive ‘body of doctrine’ that is to be believed and taught and passed on. And Paul and the Holy Spirit believe that “the teaching” is something that is crucial (1 Tim 1:3; 4:16), definite (1 Tim 1:4, 10; 3:14-15), known (1 Tim 1:3, 4:3), God honouring (1Tim 3:15; 4:7) and that which is to be followed (1 Tim 1:18; 4:6), and taught (1 Tim 4:11).
Thus, the churches of the BNA at the AGM on Monday night 17 September 2018, agreed that the Statement of Belief drafted by the Executive of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa should be tabled for adoption as our own and that the Constitution of the BNA should be duly amended. They did so by a 77 percent majority. And so, at the 2019 AGM, the change to Constitution of the BNA will be finally voted on.
Why do we believe that we need a new statement of belief at this time?
1. Downhill is easy – entropy exists in creation and in our thinking about God because we are human.
2. Clarity is needed – to be clearer, more words are needed and the 2017 is almost three and half times longer.
3. Our world has changed – this year the 1924 statement is 94 years old. A lot has changed in 94 years.
4. Terminology is not helpful – the big theological words are removed in the new statement in order that the basic doctrines are addressed in easy to understand words.
5. Accountability is needed – the slip of belief in the head and heart is to be expected and a standard to which we can hold each other accountable is necessary.
6. Diversity has been attained, now unity is needed – as Baptists we celebrate our diversity in culture, language and race but we cannot and must not celebrate diversity on principal matters of belief.
7. Churches are confused – brevity regarding crucial doctrines has caused confusion and a sense that primary matters of belief are to be arbitrarily decided.
You can read the draft statement here.