“The Priesthood Of All Believers And Pastoral Authority In Baptist Thought” -- By: Walter B. Shurden

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 07:1 (Fall 1989)
Article: “The Priesthood Of All Believers And Pastoral Authority In Baptist Thought”
Author: Walter B. Shurden


“The Priesthood Of All Believers And Pastoral Authority
In Baptist Thought”

Walter B. Shurden

Callaway Professor of Christianity
Mercer University
Macon, Georgia

Introduction

This article, as many Southern Baptists would recognize, is an effort to address the historical issues raised by “Resolution 5” adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, Texas, in 1988. Surrounded by fiery debate, the resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, None of the five major writing systematic theologians in Southern Baptist history have given more than passing reference to the doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer in their systematic theologies; and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message preamble refers to the Priesthood of the Believer, but provides no definition or content to the terms; and

WHEREAS, The high profile emphasis on the doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer is a term which is subject to both misunderstanding and abuse; and

WHEREAS, The doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer has been used to justify wrongly the attitude that a Christian may believe whatever he so chooses and still be considered a loyal Southern Baptist; and

WHEREAS, The doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer can be used to justify the undermining of pastoral authority in the local church.

Be it therefore, RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 14-16, 1988, affirm its belief in the biblical doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer (1 Peter 2:9 and Revelation 1:6); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm that this doctrine in no way gives license to misinterpret, explain away, demythologize, or extrapolate out elements of the supernatural from the Bible; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That the doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer in no way contradicts the biblical understanding of the role, responsibility, and authority of the pastor which is seen in the command to the local church in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give you an account;” and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm the truth that elders or pastors are called of God to lead the local church (Acts 20:28).1

The central historical issue posed by the resolution is the relationship of...

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