Doctrine, Mission, & Purpose
Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Concerning the Scriptures
We believe that the Bible, consisting of a total of sixty-six books in the Old and New Testaments, is without error in the original manuscripts (1). The author of the Bible was God the Holy Spirit (2) who guided the human authors (3) so that the writings they produced were verbally and plenarily inspired (4). We believe that the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice (5).
Some places where taught: (1) Prov. 30:5-6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18-19. (2) II Pet. 1:19-21; Heb. 1:1-2; II Pet. 3:15-16. (3) II Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; I Cor. 2:13-14. (4) Matt. 5:18; John 10:35; Gal. 3:16; II Tim. 3:16. (5) Acts 17:11; I Cor. 10:6-12; Eph.6:17; II Tim. 3:15-16; I John 4:1.
Concerning the True God
We believe that there is only one living and true God (1), who is eternal, self-existing, perfect Spirit (2). He is a personal Being and the Creator and Upholder of the universe (3). Though one God, He exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (4). These Persons are equal in essence and in every divine perfection (5), but each has His own distinct work to perform (6).
Some places where taught: (1) Deut. 6:4-5; Jer. 10:10. (2) Hab. 1:12; John 4:24; James 1:17. (3) Gen. 1:1-25; Heb. 1:10; Col. 1:15-17. (4) Matt. 3:16; 28:19; II Cor. 13:14. (5) John 10:30; 14:10; 17:5; I Cor. 8:6; Phil. 2:5-6. (6) John 14:26; 15:26; Eph. 1:3-4, 6-7, 13-14.
We believe that the Genesis account of creation is to be accepted literally and not figuratively (1). We believe that the six days of creation mentioned in Genesis chapter one were solar hour days (2). We believe that all animal and vegetable life was made directly and that they follow God’s law in multiplying “after their kind” (3). We believe that the entire human race sprang from one man, Adam, and one woman, Eve, literal people who were created directly in God’s image and after His likeness and did not evolve from any lower form of life (4).
Some places where taught: (1) Gen. 1:1-2:25; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 33:6-9; John 1:3; Heb. 11:3; Col. 1:16-17. (2) Ex. 20:11; 31:17. (3) Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25. (4) Gen. 1:26.
Concerning the Fall of Man
We believe that man was originally created a sinless being (1). By voluntary transgression he fell from that sinless state (2), and, as a result, all mankind are now sinners by nature and by conduct (3) and are justly under divine condemnation (4).
Some places where taught: (1) Gen. 1:27, 31; 2:16-17; Eccles. 7:29. (2) Gen. 3:6-7; Rom. 5:12, 19. (3) Ps. 51:5; Is. 53:6; Rom. 3:9-18, 23; 5:15-19; James 2:10. (4) John 3:36; Rom. 1:20.
Concerning the Lord Jesus Christ
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is both truly God and truly man (1). His literal human body was miraculously conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and He was born of a human mother who was a virgin (2). He was the God-Man with two natures, divine and human (3). He lived a sinless life on earth, died on the cross as a substitute for sinners and bearing the judgment of their sins, and was raised bodily from the tomb as a testimony to the sufficiency of His sacrifice and as a guarantee of His people’s future resurrection (4). He now is in heaven as the great High Priest of His people (5). He will return for His people at the rapture of the Church, and later to the earth to reign following the tribulation period (6).
Some places where taught: (1) Phil. 2:5-8. (2) Is. 7:14; Lk. 1:26-38. (3) John 1:1-2, 14; John 8:58; Phil. 2:7-8. (4) Lk. 24:1-6; I Pet. 2:21-24; Lk. 24:1-6; I Cor. 15:1-7, 23-26. (5) Heb. 4:14. (6) Matt. 24:30-31; I Cor. 15:51-52.
Concerning the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, co-equal with God the Father and God the Son (1). He was active in creation (2). He convicts men of sin (3). He indwells each believer (4). He performs various ministries such as regenerating, sealing, guiding, teaching, sanctifying, and strengthening (5). Each believer has been sanctified positionally in Christ, is being sanctified by the continuing work of the Spirit, and ultimately at Christ’s coming will be completely sanctified (6). While the believer can have victory over sin through the power of the Spirit, his sin nature will not be eradicated in this life (7). The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts upon believers, these gifts being special abilities for service. Some gifts, such as tongues, prophecy, and healing, were temporary sign or revelatory gifts and have ceased (8). It is the believer’s privilege to be filled with the Spirit and thus to produce fruit unto God and to live a joyous and productive Christian life (9).
Some places where taught: (1) II Cor. 13:14. (2) Gen. 1:1-2. (3) John 16:8-11. (4) I Cor. 6:19-20. (5) John 3:3; Rom. 8:14; Eph. 1:13, 17; 3:16. (6) I Cor. 1:2; 12:4-7, 11; II Cor. 3:18. (7) I John 1:8. (8) II Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4; I Cor. 13:8. (9) Eph. 5:18.
Concerning Personal Godliness
We believe that the result of being filled with the Spirit is a life of personal godliness (1). The believer is to repudiate the world and its patterns of life and thought (2), and to present himself as a living sacrifice to God (3). Christians must guard against the notion that holiness is produced by obedience to rules and regulations, as well as the concept that life under grace permits us to indulge in the sins of the flesh. Life under grace does not allow the believer to live as he wishes (4). He is under a divine mandate to be holy (5). The teaching of Scripture regarding the Christian life is not merely positive in nature, but is also negative, warning the believer against sin. A fruitful Christian life is produced through daily fellowship with the Lord and the control of the Holy Spirit (6).
We stand against immorality as is so often condemned in God’s Word. We believe that the marriage bond is holy and that there should be no sexual relationships between persons who are not married to one another (7). We believe that intercourse between persons of the same sex is contrary to nature and to the explicit teachings of Scripture and is to be condemned (8).
We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, transvestism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender (collectively, 9). We believe that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman (10).
Some places where taught: (1) Titus 1:1. (2) John 2:15-17. (3) Romans 12:1-2. (4) Titus 2:11-14. (5) I Peter 1:16. (6) Galatians 5:22-24. (7) Exodus 20:14; I Cor. 6:18; Prov. 5:1-21. (8) Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27. (9) Gen. 1:26-28; Gen. 2:24; Gen. 19:5, 13; Gen. 26:8-9; Lev. 18:1-30; Deut. 22:5; Rom. 1:26-29; I Cor. 5:1; 6:9; I Thes. 4:1-8; Heb 13:4. (10) Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Rom. 7:2; I Cor. 7:10; Eph. 5:22-23.
We believe in the existence of angels who are mighty spiritual beings that were created by God. They serve Him in various ways and are specially appointed to watch over and minister to God’s people (1). We believe that at some time in the past a large number of angels, under the leadership of him who is called Satan, rebelled against God and were removed from His presence (2). They now roam the universe and are especially active on earth, opposing God and His purposes and ruling over the spiritual darkness of this world (3). Satan, also called the Devil, is a real person who has tremendous power and is the enemy of God’s people. He is destined to be judged by Christ at His return and finally to be eternally incarcerated in the lake of fire (4).
Some places where taught: (1) Heb. 1:6, 14. (2) Matt. 25:41. (3) Eph. 6:12. (4) Rev. 20:1-3, 10.
Salvation is made free to all by the Gospel. It is initiated by God and is accomplished by grace apart from any human works (1). It is the duty of all persons to accept it by personal faith (2). Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner except his own voluntary refusal to accept Christ as Savior (3). All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are forgiven, regenerated, and justified (4). The perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to them (5). They are given spiritual life which is manifested in their growth in grace (6). True believers are saved forever and can never be lost (7).
Some places where taught: (1) Eph. 2:8-9. (2) John 3:16; Acts 16:31. (3) John 5:40; Rom. 2:5; I Tim. 2:4. (4) Rom. 5:1; Eph. 1:7; I Pet. 1:23. (5) II Cor. 5:21. (6) II Pet. 3:18. (7) John 10:27-30.
Concerning the Church
We believe that the Church, the Body of Christ, is composed of all true believers who are placed into that Body by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit (1). The Church is distinct from Israel (2). We believe that a local, visible church is an organized congregation of immersed believers (3), associated together by a common faith and fellowship in the Gospel. Such a church is to be governed by the Word of God (4), and to observe the ordinances of baptism (the immersion of true believers only) and the Lord’s Table (5). Its Scriptural officers are male believers referred to in Scripture as bishops (pastors) and deacons. A church normally has one pastor under whose direction other pastors function (if there is more than one pastor). The qualifications and duties of a pastor are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus (6). A local church is autonomous, is not to be subject to the control of any outside persons or organizations, and has the power and right to confess its own faith and conduct its own affairs in accordance with the teachings of the New Testament. On all matters of membership, polity, government, discipline, and benevolence, the will of the local church is final (7). We believe that both Christian baptism and the Lord’s Supper are each a symbolic memorial and a prophecy (8). We believe that Christian baptism is the single immersion in water of a believer (9), performed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (10). It shows forth, in solemn and beautiful figure, our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and our death to sin and resurrection to a new life (11). Baptism is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and participation in the Lord’s Supper (12). At the Lord’s Supper the members of the Church, by the use of bread and the fruit of the vine, commemorate together the death of Christ (13). This commemoration should always be preceded by careful self-examination (14). The church and its members should have as primary goals the evangelization of their own area, the extension of the gospel to the ends of the earth through Biblical missionary methods, and the edification of believers (15).
Some places where taught: (1) Matt. 16:18; I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:22-23. (2) Eph. 3:3-6. (3) Acts 2:41-42. (4) II Tim. 3:16-17. (5) Matt. 28:19-20; I Cor. 11:23-24. (6) I Tim. 3:1-16; Titus 1:5-9. (7) Matt. 18:15-18; Acts 6:3-5; I Cor. 5:4-5, 13; I Tim. 3:15. (8) Rom. 6:3-4; I Cor. 11:26. (9) Acts 8:36-39. (10) Matt. 28:19. (11) Rom. 6:3-4. (12) Acts 2:41-42. (13) I Cor. 11:26; Matt. 26:29. (14) I Cor. 11:28. (15) Acts 8:4; 11:20-21.
Concerning the Lord’s Day
We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, and is a Christian institution that is to be kept sacred for spiritual purposes insofar as is possible on the part of the individual believer. It commemorates the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead (1). It is a time for public worship and for spiritual growth (2).
Some places where taught: (1) John 20:1, 19. (2) Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2.
Concerning Heresy, Apostasy, and Compromise
We believe that the Word of God predicts widespread apostasy from the revealed Christian faith as the time of Christ’s coming draws nearer (1), and that obedient believers and local churches are to practice complete separation from these who deny the faith. The Scripture teaches that we are not to seek to win them to the faith by fellowshipping with them, but rather we are to identify them, rebuke them, and withdraw ourselves from any spiritual communion with them (2). The principle of separation, as opposed to infiltration or collaboration, is clearly taught. We also believe that we are to refuse ecclesiastical fellowship and organizational cooperation to those who are truly born again but who espouse doctrines that are contrary to Scripture or are engaged in practices that are not consistent with the Word and with a separated walk (3).
Some places where taught: (1) II Pet. 2:1-3; I John 4:1. (2) Rom. 16:17; II Cor. 6:17; Tit. 1:13. (3) Gal. 2:11-21; II Thess. 3:6-12.
Concerning Civil Government and Religious Liberty
We believe that civil government is of divine appointment and is for the maintenance of good order in human society (1). Believers are to pray for, honor, and obey civil authorities (2) except where to do so would be to violate plain commands and principles of the Word of God (3). The Church and the State have separate spheres of authority and the State has no valid jurisdiction over the ministry of the Church (4). The State should not favor one ecclesiastical group over another, nor should the State impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free State is the Christian ideal.
Some places where taught: (1) Rom. 13:1-7. (2) Tit. 3:1; I Pet. 2:13-14; I Tim. 2:1-3. (3) Acts 4:18-20; 5:29. (4) Matt. 22:21.
Concerning Future Events
We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked. Those who are righteous will enter into eternal bliss with Christ and those who are wicked will be lost forever (1). We believe that the Scriptures teach that at death the spirit and soul of the believer pass into the presence of Christ and remain in conscious joy until the resurrection of the body when Christ comes for His own (2). The blessed hope of the believer is the imminent, personal, pretribulational, premillennial appearance of Christ to rapture the Church, His bride, prior to the seventieth week of Daniel (3). God’s righteous judgments will then be poured out upon an unbelieving world during the seven years of tribulation (4). The climax of this fearful era will be the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth in great glory to reestablish the Davidic kingdom (5). Israel will be saved and restored as a nation (6). Satan will be bound, and the curse essentially will be lifted from the physical creation (7). Following this thousand-year reign of Christ (the Millennium), the Great White Throne Judgment will occur, at which time the bodies and souls of the wicked shall be reunited and cast into the lake of fire, a divinely appointed place of eternal torment (8). The saved will enter the city which God has prepared for His own and will live with the Lord in resurrected and glorified bodies (9).
Some places where taught: (1) Mal. 3:18; John 3:16-18. (2) I Cor. 15:51-57; II Cor. 5:8. (3) I Thess. 4:13-18; Titus 2:13. (4) Rev. 6:17. (5) Rev. 19:11-20:6. (6) Rom. 11:26-27. (7) Is. 35:1-7. (8) Rev. 20:7-15. (9) Phil. 3:20-21; Rev. 21:1-3.
Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
There is great uncertainty in our culture concerning the proper roles of men and women and the relationship between the two sexes. This ambivalence has influenced the church, and within evangelicalism there is a growing promotion of feminist egalitarianism and a neglect or distortion of the Biblical teaching on the subject. This has resulted in the reinterpretation of particular Scripture passages in order to make them conform to the spirit of the culture of our day. This leads the seminary to express its affirmation of the Biblical teaching on this subject and to express its commitment to Scripture as the final authority for all doctrine and practice. While respecting those who may disagree with the seminary’s position, our hermeneutic drives us to the position that today is called the complementarian view of men and women and their relationship to each other in the home and church. One of the best statements of this position is the Danvers Statement, and for this reason we have included its affirmations so that our viewpoint on the subject is made clear.
Based on our understanding of Biblical teachings, we affirm the following:
- Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood.
- Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.
- Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin.
- The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women.
- In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.
- In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.
- The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women. Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community.
- Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.
- In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership.
- In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men.
- In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission—domestic, religious, or civil—ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin.
- In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries. Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.
- With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world.
- We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.
The Danvers Statement was prepared by several evangelical leaders at a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood meeting in Danvers, Massachusetts, in December, 1987. It was first published in final form by the CBMW in Wheaton, Illinois, in November, 1988. Used by permission.
The mission of Central Baptist Theological Seminary [CBTS] is to assist New Testament churches in equipping spiritual leaders for Christ-exalting biblical ministry.
Assisting New Testament churches
Since God has established the local church as the body of Christ in which and through which he accomplishes his work in this age, and since the equipping of saints for ministry is the task of pastors and churches, CBTS purposes to function as a service agency for New Testament churches both at home and abroad.
New Testament churches
CBTS purposes to accept as students those men and women who are recommended by New Testament churches as certifiable, spiritually and mentally qualified candidates for advanced biblical training and who are serving in their churches under the leadership and mentorship of pastors with whom the seminary will partner throughout the training process.
Equipping spiritual leaders
As an educational institution in graduate and postgraduate studies, CBTS purposes to train the mind of each student, and to do so with excellence through the agency of each program, department, and course, and through the instruction and mentorship of each member of the faculty.
CBTS equally purposes to train the heart of each student, molding each student’s affections by precept and example to love God and to love his Word in heart, soul, and mind, translating biblical faith into a model of Christian works, grace, maturity, humility, and spiritual disciplines, in order both to please God and to attract others to follow in faith and good works.
CBTS purposes to produce men and women who are able to serve in various and appropriate biblical roles of leadership as a ministry to their churches individually and to other churches collectively; various roles include leadership as a church member, as a missionary church planter, as a pastor, as an educator, or as a service agency administrator.
Christ-exalting biblical ministry
CBTS purposes to produce genuine Christian servants who are driven by deepest affection for Christ, who are growing in Christ’s likeness, who serve in and through Christ’s church in the power of his Spirit for his glory, and who long to see people from all tribes and nations find their only hope and greatest joy in Christ.
CBTS purposes to perpetuate in the students the true and singular faith that was once for all delivered to the saints through the Holy Scriptures and to promote among the students the practice of that faith through the separatist Baptist witness of New Testament churches which are the pillar and ground of the truth.
CBTS purposes to generate highly competent and deeply spiritual graduates who involve themselves in lifelong and worldwide local church ministry, effectively communicating biblical truth in love across spiritual and cultural barriers, leading souls to Christ and edifying the saints through the skillful investigation and faithful proclamation of the whole counsel of God.
This mission and these goals are founded upon and are in agreement with the seminary’s original “Points of Purpose” which were established at its founding in 1956 and which are intended to remain in perpetuity as characteristic of this institution:
Education. We are committed in Christian education to the direct method of presentation of divine truth from the Bible, an authoritative and exclusive revelation, rather than to the indirect method so common in secular education today, where relative truth and standards prevail.
The Local Church. We are geared to local church ideology and individual cooperation in spiritual unity rather than geared to eccumenical cooperation in organizational study.
Scholarship. We emphasize scholarship of the highest order as a means to an end of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” and we disdain the type of scholarship that indulges in mind worshipping.
Curriculum. In curriculum, we emphasize biblical rather than philosophic content.
Denominational. We are Baptistic and evangelistic in approach rather than merely conservative and evangelical.
Polity. We are separatistic rather than inclusivistic, rejecting efforts to infiltrate unsound organizations and fellowships rather than separating from them.
Theology. In theology we are dispensational rather than reformed and covenant.
Eschatology. In eschatology we hold the view of premillennialism which makes the pretribulation rapture the blessed hope for the church.
Hermeneutics. We are committed to the grammatico-historical method of interpretation, the fundamental principle of which is to gather from the Scriptures themselves the precise meaning which the writers intended to convey. This applies to the sacred books the same principles, the same grammatical processes and exercises of common sense and reason, which apply to other books. The born-again exegete, furnished with suitable qualifications, intellectual, educational and moral, and using the grammatico-historical method of interpretation, will accept the claims of the Bible.
Apologetics. In our systematic argumentative defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity, we follow the Biblical pattern of being both positive and negative.
Why Does Central Exist?
A large part of Christian leadership consists in exposition and application of the Scriptures. For that reason, Christian leaders must become skilled at handling and communicating the Word of God. Christian leadership includes teaching.
Christian leadership also includes more. In addition to teaching and preaching, a Christian leader must model a transformed life. Therefore, everyone who graduates from Central Seminary should be a changed person. Our job is to transform students so that they will become effective spiritual leaders for Christ-exalting, biblical ministry. If we succeed, our graduates will exhibit transformation in at least three ways.
First, we want them to love rightly. “Loving rightly” means loving the right things. It means loving those things with a love that reflects God’s own valuation of those things. It means loving those things with the right kind of love. Most of all, loving rightly means loving God with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. To fail to love God, or to love something else more than God, or to entertain a rival for the love that God alone deserves, or to love God with unworthy loves, is the essence of idolatry. This is no incidental matter. Indeed, it is the first and greatest commandment. Second, we desire that our graduates judge wisely. Judgment is necessary whenever a choice must be made, and life is full of choices. Obviously, we want our graduates to be able to judge between good and bad, but we also want them to be able to judge between good and better, and even between better and best.
On one occasion, the apostle Paul told the Philippians how he was praying for them. His request, he said, was that “your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all judgment; that ye may approve the things that are excellent.” For Paul, it was not enough that the Philippians were avoiding things that were obviously bad. He wanted them to be able to choose the things that really mattered, the things that would make a difference. Only thus would they be “sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” We desire the same for the graduates of Central Seminary.
Third, we hope to produce an entire generation of shepherds who will lead gently. We overtly reject the authoritarian and abusive models of leadership that have too often characterized Christian churches. The transformed life of a genuinely Christian leader will exhibit gentleness.
Lack of gentleness has been a problem in every era of church history. The apostle Paul had to remind his readers that “the servant of the Lord must not strive.” Peter had to forbid elders to rule as “lords over God’s heritage.” The model for spiritual leadership was established by Paul when he recalled, “we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear to us.”
Could anyone offer a more tender image than a nursing child at its mother’s breast? This is exactly the picture that Paul employs when describing his own leadership. The New Testament prizes gentleness among Christian leaders. If we mean to prepare leaders according to the New Testament pattern, then we must prize it, too.
Any decent seminary is going to teach Greek and Hebrew. Any decent seminary will give instruction in hermeneutics and exegesis. Any decent seminary will ground its students in the biblical system of doctrine. Any decent seminary will train its students to put a sermon together competently. Many seminaries do these things and do them well.
Not many seminaries, however, focus on transforming the character of their students. Of those that do, not all are aiming for the right transformations. At Central Seminary we believe that these three transformations need to take place before someone becomes a competent spiritual leader. We phrase them deliberately as exhortations to every professor, every student, and every alumnus.