The Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M), as it was revised and overwhelmingly approved at the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000, came under fire from a few who claimed it represented a radical departure from the consensus of historic Baptist beliefs. At the center of much of the debate was the removal from the 1963 version of the statement The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ, from "Article I. The Scriptures," and its replacement with the statement All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
The accusation that this revision departed from traditional Baptist sentiment was leveled despite the fact that the "Criterion Clause," which was added in the 1963 version, was not part of the 1925 version of the BF&M, or of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833) which served as its original model. In fact, such a statement is not found recorded in any historic Baptist statement of faith.
The following portion from The London Baptist Confession of Faith clearly demonstrates that the inclusion of the "Criterion Clause" in 1963 was in itself a radical departure from historic Baptist belief, and that the 2000 revision is, in fact, a far more accurate reflection of our rich doctrinal heritage.
"The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them"
"The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture, it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly."
"The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved."
From The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689