Baptists on The Priesthood of All Believers

1994 Report of the Presidential Theological Study Committee

The Priesthood of All Believers
Every Christian has direct access to God through Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, the sole mediator between God and human beings. However, the priesthood of all believers is exercised within a committed community of fellow believers - priests who share a like precious faith. The priesthood of all believers should not be reduced to modern individualism, not used as a cover for theological relativism. It is a spiritual standing which leads to ministry, service, and a coherent witness in the world for which Christ died.

1988 Resolution On the Priesthood of the Believer
Adopted at the Southern Baptist Convention
Held in San Antonio, Texas, June 14-16, 1988 as Resolution No. 5 

Whereas, None of the five major writing systematic theologians in Southern Baptist history have given more than a 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 term; and

Whereas, The high profile emphasis on the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer in Southern Baptist life is a recent historical development; 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 been 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 of 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 an account;" and

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

From the Report of the
Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee
to the Southern Baptist Convention

June 14, 2000

Baptists cherish and defend religious liberty, and deny the right of any secular or religious authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches. We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.

Baptist churches, associations, and general bodies have adopted confessions of faith as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability. We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.

As a committee, we have been charged to address the "certain needs" of our own generation. In an age increasingly hostile to Christian truth, our challenge is to express the truth as revealed in Scripture, and to bear witness to Jesus Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

The 1963 committee rightly sought to identify and affirm "certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified." Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. "Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us."

It is the purpose of this statement of faith and message to set forth certain teachings which we believe.