Sent: Thursday, February 23,
2006 6:42 PM
Subject: SBC AND OLD
IS "OLD LANDMARKISM" RAISING ITS HOARY
IN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION AGAIN? [02/23--2005]
week I was rather surprised to read an article in the Southern Baptist of Texas
Convention's TEXAN Magazine by Pastor Jim Richards, Executive Director of
the SBTC, which appears to me to smack of elements of "Old Landmarkism."
The Southern Baptist Convention had a split by "Landmarkers" in the
early 1900s who formed the Amercian Baptist Association, now headquartered in
Texarkana, Texas. Elements of Landmarkism, however, still remained in the SBC,
and now there seems to be a surfacing of some of these elements.
benefit of any readers who do not know recent Southern Baptist history in the
state of Texas, the SBTC is a new convention formed in 1998 by Baptist churches
in Texas which are loyal to the "conservative resurgence" in the Southern
Baptist Convention. It was started here in Houston when a number of churches
split from the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
The SBCT stands for
the inerrancy of Holy Spirit-inspired Scripture in contrast to the
leadership of the BGCT which repudiates "inerrancy" as being a "political"
weapon allegedly used by "fundamentalists" against "mainstream Baptists." The
TEXAN is the magazine for the SBTC while the BAPTIST STANDARD
represents the BGCT.
From my personal perspective, I was happy to see
Southern Baptists across the nation gradually bring the Convention back to the
historic confessional Baptist faith over the past 40-plus years and turn back
the tide of Neo-orthodoxy which had permeated the seminaries' faculties over a
half century ago. I rejoiced to see scores of Texas churches take a stand for
inspired Scripture and support the "conservative resurgence" rather than
continue supporting the BGCT under the leadership and influence of
anti-inerrantists such as John Baugh, Herbert Reynolds, Charles Wade, Russell
Dilday and others of the "Texas Baptist Committed" variety.
But -- after
having freed themselves of the shackles of their former denominational leaders
-- are some Southern Baptists now trying to impose the ecclesiastical shackles
of "Old Landmarkism" upon the Baptist pastors and churches of Texas and the
Southern Baptist Convention? If the article by Pastor Jim Richards is indicative
of the thinking of many in leadership of the SBC, it appears that this may be
It seems that the SBC mission board has recently adopted some
"guidelines" which smell of the rags of "Old Landmarkism" -- not only on the
matter of the "proper administrator" of baptism, but on the idea that a church's
belief of the doctrine of eternal security is somehow related to the
authenticity of baptism.
Evidently, one of the victims of this move
toward Landmarkism is Pastor Wade Burleson of Emmanuel Baptist Church,
Enid, Oklahoma. As I understand it, Pastor Burleson (whom I have never met) is
going to be relieved of his position as a Trustee of the Southern Baptist
Convention's International Mission Board, and elements of "Landmarkism"
apparently are involved.
The following is an email I sent to Pastor
Burleson earlier today:
Dear Brother Burleson:
read some of your comments on Landmarkism, and I surely hate to see it
apparently rising again to some significance among Southern Baptists.
spent the first several years of my Christian life in Landmarkism, after having
been baptized at Parkview Baptist, Jackson, Tennessee in 1953 by a godly and
beloved Pastor (now deceased) who introduced me to the writings of J. R. Graves.
I left the SBC over Neo-orthodoxy in the schools (particularly at Union
University) in 1954, and spent the next eleven years of my life advocating
Landmarkism among independent Baptists. In the Providence of God, I was enabled
by His grace to study my way out of it and abandoned it in 1964.
knew Landmarkism very well from the "inside" of independent Baptists and
saw its divisive and sectarian character, I wrote a book, OLD LANDMARKISM AND
THE BAPTISTS, briefly discussing the history and teachings of Graves and
other Landmark Baptists, including myself. If you have not seen the book, I will
be happy to send you a free copy. It is a 188-page paperback, fully
Over the past 41 years, I have received many
testimonies from readers -- especially preachers -- who have been helped by my
various writings on the erroneous theories and practices of Landmarkism.
Here in Texas, as recently as this week I read the SBTC Texan
magazine article by Jim Richards which advocated some of the principles involved
in Landmarkism (Feb. 6, 2006, page 5). I hate to see the SBTC leadership get on
this dead-end trail which leads to the type of Landmark sectarianism which I
have witnessed among independent Baptists, the American Baptist Association
(Texarkana headquarters), and the Baptist Missionary Association (Little Rock
I have tried my best to maintain fellowship with
Christian brethren who hold to Landmarkism, but they usually have held me at
arm's length and regard me as a heretic!
Bob L. Ross
"Old Landmarkism" and the
An examination of the erroneous theories of
"CHURCH AUTHORITY" and "CHURCH SUCCESSION" of the
so-called "LANDMARK BAPTIST" movement.
The term LANDMARKISM is a nickname which refers to ecclesiastical views arranged
as a logical system or ecclesiastical order and popularized by the late James
Robinson Graves (1820-1893). According to Landmarkers, there is no
authority in either the Word or from the Spirit for doing the work
of the Great Commission; this authority comes solely from the local
held in theory by an undetermined number of Baptists in various
conventions, associations, fellowships and independent churches. The system,
sometimes called "church truth," is not exclusive to the Association
Baptists, but according to Dr. I. K. Cross, the term "Landmarkism" has
been widely used in "derision" for those Baptists in the fellowship of
the American Baptist Association of Churches with which Dr. Cross is affiliated.
There are quite a number of independent churches that are Landmark, but they do
not affiliate with a convention or association. Usually, these churches do not
believe there is scriptural authority for anything larger than the local church,
although many of them do affiliate in "fellowships" and special
involves the authenticity of a church as an organization, the
administration and administrator of baptism, and the
ordination of ministers. It is asserted that a church is
unscriptural, baptism is invalid, and ministers are not duly ordained unless
there is proper Church Authority for them. This is
Landmarkism's "chief cornerstone."
Some writers of the past
referred to this position as "high churchism." Consequently, the
Landmark view is that
Baptist Churches ALONE have the authority of Christ to evangelize,
baptize and carry out all aspects of the commission. The system further
involves the perpetuity, succession, or continuity of Baptist
churches through which authority has descended through the ages and will
continue. This position, though not uniformly defined among Landmarkers, is
believed to have been taught by Christ in such verses as Matthew 16:18,
While Landmarkers in general profess either an inability to demonstrate
the succession or no necessity of doing so, their efforts to advocate their
system of "church truth" are almost invariably characterized by several
quotations from secondary sources and their own respected authors,
supposedly establishing the historical claim. Generally therefore, they
true and scriptural organization of a church,
2) the valid
administration of baptism, and
3) the proper
ordination of a gospel minister,
all MUST all be enacted upon
the authority of a sound and true, scriptural church — namely, a church
that was born through the authority of a "mother" church —
continuing in like manner back to the original apostolic church of Matthew 28
where "church authority" first "began".
In refuting these
errors, Baptists and other Christians today can believe in the continuity of
Christianity since Christ and may devote themselves to regulating their faith
and practice by the Scriptures (in an orderly manner) without adhering to
the Landmark teachings of church authority and succession. The
authority which validates baptism, or any other scriptural action of our time,
does not reside in the church institution any more than does the
authority which validates salvation itself; authority resides in Jesus
Christ and is expressed in His Word. The church itself is dependent upon
this authority, but this authority is not dependent upon the
advocates no new or novel views in opposition to Landmarkism. The first
Confession of Faith set forth by English Particular Baptists is the
well-known Confession of 1644, and in Article 41 it states:
designed by Christ, to dispense this ordinance (baptism), the Scriptures hold
forth to be a preaching disciple, it being no where tied to a
particular church, officer, or person extraordinarily sent,
the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them under no other
consideration, but as considered disciples."
Landmarkism, as a
system, is of relatively recent origin among the Baptists, although
various items in the system have been obvious at certain times in our history.
But at least not until J. R. Graves popularized all of the related concepts in
systematic form did a significant segment of Baptists finally become a
fragmentation from other Baptists (in the Preface of his book, Old Landmarkism — What
Is It?, Graves
takes credit for "inaugurating the reform" which became known as
May this book
assist all who read it to see Landmarkism in its proper perspective among the
Baptists. -- Bob L. Ross
C. H. SPURGEON (The Sword and Trowel,
1974, page 267, 268):
From "Fragments of Popery Among
It is very natural that our friends should
desire their minister to baptize them, and yet there is no reason why he
should do so on account of his office. It does not appear from the Scriptures
to have been an act peculiar to preachers; in fact, at least one of them,
and he by no means the least, was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
A vigorous Christian member of the church is far more in his place in the
baptismal waters than his ailing, consumptive, or rheumatic pastor. Any
objection urged against this assertion is another unconscious leaning to
tradition, if not a relic of superstition.
The usefulness of the
ordinance does not depend upon the baptizer, but upon the gracious
meditation and earnest prayer of the person baptized: the good which he will
receive will depend upon how far his whole soul is receptive of the divine
influence, and in no sense, manner, or degree upon the agent of the
We do not know what Paedobaptists think upon their
ceremony, but we fear that the most of them must have the minister to do it, and
would hardly like their infants to be left to the operation of an unordained
man. If it be so, we do not so very much wonder at their belief, for as it is
clear that no good arises to an infant from its own prayers or meditations
during the ceremony, there is a natural tendency to look for some official
importance in the performer of the rite; but yet we do not and cannot
believe that our Paedobaptist friends have fallen so low as that; we make no
charge, and hope we shall never have cause to do so.
to attach the smallest importance to the ordinance of baptism being
administered either by a minister or a private member would be to the last
degree inconsistent, and yet we are not sure that the inconsistency is not to be
found in many quarters. It behooves ministers to break down in time every
tendency to make us into necessary adjuncts of the ordinances, for
this is one step towards making us priests.
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