Boyce Answers The Bloggers Of His Day – 3 Tests For Doctrinal Unity

This morning, Morris Chapman called for Southern Baptist unity around our confession of Faith (the Baptist Faith and Message 2000). Many writers (Baptist Press, Art Rogers Wade Burleson and more) are looking to his message as the watershed moment for San Antonio SBC Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is the transcript from “LEADING BY EXAMPLE!” by Morris H. Chapman. This is the message from the Annual Convention that has everyone talking – on all sides of every issue. Chapman’s speech was fatherly and pastoral. He called Southern Baptists to pursue peace based on our shared confessional identity. Chapman briefly quoted Dr. James P. Boyce, a co-founder of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I want to fill in the context around Chapman’s short reference. In 1874, a Baptist state paper had published an anonymous letter criticizing Southern Seminary’s Abstract of Principles. Even Jame P. Boyce dealt with ‘blogger like’ criticism. Boyce wrote:

For newspaper controversy I have no taste, and in it I never wish to engage. And therefore I have written these articles, not in controversy, but because these and other brethren have wished the facts upon these points to be made known.

Boyce’s response was published in Kentucky’s Baptist newspaper The Western Recorder. In it he defends the Abstract and explains the principles behind its creation. Here is the rest of the story:

3 Tests For Doctrinal Unity – James P. Boyce Quote

The Convention then spent the greater portion of its time in revising and perfecting what the committee had suggested. Both in the Committee and in the Convention there were three principles which underlay all of this work. The abstract of principles must be:

  1. A complete exhibition of the fundamental doctrines of grace, so that in no essential particular should they speak dubiously;
  2. They should speak out clearly and distinctly as to the practices universally present among us;
  3. Upon no point, upon which the denomination is divided, should the Convention, and through it the Seminary, take any position.

The doctrines of grace are therefore distinctly brought out in the abstract of principles. . . While, however, it was deemed essential to avow distinctly and unreservedly the sentiments universally prevalent among us, both as to doctrine and practice, it was equally important that upon those questions upon which there was still a difference of opinion among Southern Baptists, the Seminary articles should not bind the institution. . . . It will be seen, therefore, that the wise course of the Convention was to carry out this third principle, by which they refrained from binding the Seminary upon any point upon which the denomination is not agreed. It is to be hoped that the time will come when all Baptists shall see eye to eye upon all points.

You can read more of Boyce’s Letter on this PDF:

Posted By Tony Kummer

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9 Responses to Boyce Answers The Bloggers Of His Day – 3 Tests For Doctrinal Unity

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  2. Adam Winters says:

    Through some personal reading of old Baptist state papers from the 1800s, I can testify that some of the gossip and editorial opinions got pretty heated over what we might view as minor controversies today. Landmarkist views of Baptist history were defended with gusto and any hint of open communion would draw the ire of the wrath of an editor like J. R. Graves.

  3. Tony Kummer says:

    We are wrong to think Blogs invented slander and controversy. The technology has only made the communication of such easier, wider and quicker.

  4. Since we are on the subject of Baptist state papers and old archives, I should mention that current achivists are already thinking and diligently working on how to preserve the blog content from leading SBC blogs. Just last week, I was discussing this at school, and if I am not mistaken, it was been talked about since Greensboro last year when bloggers received so much attention.

    Here’s a quote from our very own librarian archivist on one of his recent blogposts:

    “Here’s the rub; for many Baptists, blogs have replaced denominational newspapers as the default source for theological and denominational information and engagement. Those 19th century Baptist papers, however, seem to be much easier to preserve because of their fixed formats. Will 22nd century Baptists be able to read the ‘newspapers’ of 21st century Baptists? Perhaps, but are we willing to chance it?”

    I was really glad to see Mr. Fowler addressing this the way he has. To read his entire post, go here.

  5. Kurt says:

    I love fat theologians, was Boyce fat? I need to know

  6. Adam Winters says:

    “I love fat theologians, was Boyce fat? I need to know”

    Yes, and skinny Christians everywhere are offended.

  7. Tony Kummer says:

    Great quote, we need to dig out some of the old papers and blog them here. Said at Southern …. 100 years ago!

  8. Adam Winters says:

    As was pointed out to me recently, I think I was a bit careless in my little joke on June 14th. I didn’t mean to imply any slander of the legacy of Dr. Boyce. Instead of “fat” (which is associated with things like gluttony and a generally disrespectful term), I should have said something like “big-boned.” Boyce was of a large build, but seeing as how he is a part of the “great cloud of witnesses,” my hasty remark can appear disrepectful to this great man.

  9. Tony Kummer says:

    Thanks for being sensitive to this. I didn’t take your comment that way – but I appreciate your humility.

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