Abstract Of Principles
Theological Seminary - 1858
When the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which
constitutes as a part of the "fundamental laws."
professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist
Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall
be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance
with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid
down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds
for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."
I. The Scriptures.
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by
inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, certain and
authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.
There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things,
having in and of himself, all perfections, and being infinite in them
all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and
III. The Trinity.
God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit each with
distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence
God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass,
and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all
events; yet so as not to destroy the free will and responsibility of
Election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting
life–not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in
Christ–in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and
VI. The Fall of Man.
God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin;
but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of
God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his
posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His
law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral
action, become actual transgressors.
VII. The Mediator.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely
appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human
nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the Law, suffered and
died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and
rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose hand He
ever liveth to make intercession for His people. He is the only
Mediator, the Prophet, Priest and King of the Church, and Sovereign of
Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who
quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds
spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing
their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a
work of God’s free and special grace alone.
Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the
Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth
himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and
self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as
to please Him in all things.
Saving faith is the belief, on God’s authority, of whatsoever is
revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him
alone for justification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by
the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and
leads to a life of holiness.
Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who
believe in Christ, from all sin, through the satisfaction that Christ
has made; not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on
account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receiving and
resting on Him and His righteousness by faith.
Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified, by God’s word
and Spirit dwelling in them. This sanctification is progressive through
the supply of Divine strength, which all saints seek to obtain,
pressing after a heavenly life in cordial obedience to all Christ’s
XIII. Perseverance of the Saints.
Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His
Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of
grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may
fall, through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the
Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church,
and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again
unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto
XIV. The Church.
The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all
his true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for its
government. According to his commandment, Christians are to associate
themselves into particular societies or churches; and to each of these
churches he hath given needful authority for administering that order,
discipline and worship which he hath appointed. The regular officers of
a Church are Bishops, or Elders, and Deacons.
Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every
believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship
with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of
his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It
is prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in the
XVI. The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be
administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be observed by
his churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice,
but is designed to commemorate his death, to confirm the faith and
other graces of Christians, and to be a bond, pledge and renewal of
their communion with him, and of their church fellowship.
XVII. The Lord’s Day.
The Lord’s Day is a Christian institution for regular observance,
and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion,
both public and private, resting from worldly employments and
amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.
XVIII. Liberty of Conscience.
God alone is Lord of the conscience; and He hath left it free from
the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary
to His word, or not contained in it. Civil magistrates being ordained
of God, subjection in all lawful thing commanded by them ought to be
yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but also for conscience
XIX. The Resurrection.
The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits
return immediately to God–the righteous to rest with Him; the wicked to
be reserved under darkness to the judgment. At the last day, the bodies
of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised.
XX. The Judgment.
God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world by Jesus
Christ, when every one shall receive according to his deeds; the wicked
shall go into everlasting punishment; the righteous, into everlasting