Church Succession, Campbellism and Landmarkism

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Mark Osgatharp, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    It has been repeatedly asserted that the doctrine of a perpetual succession of churches from Christ till the present, was an outgrowth of the conflict between Baptists and Campbellites and that J.R. Graves and the Landmarkers were the one responsible for formulating this belief.

    While it is certainly true that the Landmarkers defended and promoted this doctrine, it is not true that the doctrine originated with them or grew out of the Campbellite controversy.

    In the year 1811 Jesse Mercer, the namesake of Mercy University in Georgia, wrote a circular which was adopted and published by the Georgia state association of Baptists, in which he argued that immersions administered by the Pedobaptists are invalid because the Pedobaptists do not have a succession of churches from the apostles. The circular says:

    "Our reasons for rejecting baptism by immersion when administered by Pedobaptist minister are:

    I. That they are connected with churches clearly out of the apostolic succession, and therefore clearly out of the apostolic commission.

    II. That they have derived their authority, by ordination, from the Bishops of Rome, or from individuals who have taken it on themselves to give it.

    III. That they hold a higher rank in the churches than the apostles did, are not accountable to it, and consequently not triable by the church; but are amenable to or among themselves."

    Again, Mr. Mercer wrote these words and they were endorsed by the Georgia state association of Baptists in the year 1811. In that year:

    1. Alexander Campbell was still a Presbyterian.

    2. J.R. Graves was not yet born.

    3. A.C. Dayton was not yet born.

    4. J.M. Pendleton was in his mother's womb.

    As for myself, I cannot conceive how any man who reads the Bible with the slightest bit of understanding and faith could conclude that the Lord did not intend to have a continual succession of churches from His first advent to His second. Furthermore, I cannot conceive how any bona fide Baptist would deny that the Lord's churches were Baptist in doctrinal character.

    If I didn't think the Lord's churches were Baptist, then I think I'd at least be looking for the denomination that did represent them.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  2. Kiffen

    Kiffen
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    I think you are partially right Mark. There were some Baptist successionist before Graves. I am not sure I would call them Landmarkers in that Landmarkism involves much more than just believing in Baptist Successionism.

    I do think that Graves is the one who systemized the system of Landmarkism that is common in the ABA, BMA, and even some SBC churches and Independants.

    I don't know of anyone who denies continual succession of churches from His first advent to His second. Christ always has had a Christian witness on earth from people who call on His name BUT there is no reliable evidence of a Baptist or baptistic succession of churches.
     
  3. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    There were "some" Baptist successionists before Graves? Uh, the Baptist state association of Georgia endorsed a Baptist successionist statement and named their premier institution of higher education after a Baptist successionist. That sure sounds like a lot more than "some" to me.

    True, but all of the doctrines he taught were standard among Baptists, with the exception of local church only communion.

    From the perspective of documented history, you are partially right. There is certainly not iron clad documentation for a baptistic succession of churches, but there is certainly some evidence for it.

    But from the perspective of New Testament ecclesiology, it is a given. Jesus most certainly promised a perpetual succession of churches and those churches were most certainly to be baptistic in doctrinal character.

    At the very least, the man who denies that the Lord's churches were baptistic ought to quit being a Baptist and then find and join in with the churches he thinks are in line with the character of the Lord's churches.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  4. gb93433

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    Baptists are not the only people who have a handle on scripture.

    Christian churches existed long before Baptist churches. Baptist churches vary from obedient to borderline pagan.
     
  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    In his introduction to the articles in the January, 1975 issue of Baptist History and Heritage, Dr. Robert A. Baker (certainly no Landmarker) stated that all the doctrines of Graves (or Landmarkism) could be found among the Baptists of Graves' day. Though I think his point was that no one had systematized them as Graves, his point kind of took some of the edge off the presentation in the rest of the articles that Landmarkism originated with Graves. Is it perhaps a little deceptive to define Landmarkism as Graves' system and date its origin to Graves, and then write in such a way that appears to be saying that all these doctrines are some new thing among Baptists?

    I'm sure they would say this is not what they mean. Yet I believe it is the message that comes across to the average reader.
     
  6. rlvaughn

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    Another tell-tale tale that the anti-landmarkers fail to mention is that other groups of Regular Baptist lineage, which were no longer fellowshipping with the Southern Baptists by Graves' day, hold views that are similar to Landmark ecclesiology. Sure, they may not have the fine-tuned systematic ecclesiology that is associated with Graves, but Primitive Baptists, Regular Baptists, Old Regular Baptists, Duck River Baptists and other groups reject alien immersion, practice restricted communion, refuse to practice pulpit affiliation, and believe in a "Baptist" church succession. All four of the present groups named above, plus others, hold tenets that are basically "Landmarkism". Yet they were never affiliated with the Southern Baptists or J. R. Graves.

    I have no problem with limiting the name "Landmark Baptist", "Landmarkism", etc. to Graves and his followers, since that is with whom it is historically associated. But we should not fail to see the similarities where they exist, which points to an origin prior to the existence of J. R. Graves, as Bro. Mark Osgatharp has pointed out.
     
  7. Erasmus

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    So who were some of the individuals or groups that were Baptists that modernists have wrongly called something else?
     
  8. Debby in Philly

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    Gee, before I started posting on this Board, I thought the only thing that really mattered was whether or not someone had repented of their sin and received Christ as Savior and Lord. Even if they did it in a Baptist Church. Or not.
    Silly me.
     
  9. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    I must agree that it's rather silly for anyone to read the Bible and conclude that the only thing that really mattered was receiving Christ as Savior. That is certainly the starting place, but there is a whole lot more to the word of God than that, including baptism.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  10. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    No, argueing over whether or not my pastor had hands laid on him by someone who had hands laid on him by someone who had hands laid on him (insert generations) by one of the 12 apostles.
    That's what's silly.

    Getting saved, living for the Lord, and preaching the gospel of salvation, now that's serious business.
     
  11. Gold Dragon

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    I disagree with this but understand why some Christians believe this because of certain interpretations of the relevant passage in Matthew. Of present groups, I belive Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox have the most robust of the successionist theologies. That doesn't mean I believe they are right about it, but I believe they are less wrong than Baptist successionists.

    I believe Jesus promises no such thing in scripture.
     
  12. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    I believe Jesus promises no such thing in scripture.</font>[/QUOTE]Then why are you a Baptist? Why don't you find the sort of churches Jesus did promise to perpetuate and join one of them?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  13. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Oh, so when the word of God talks about laying on hands and baptism, you think that is silly? I see. And I guess you also think it is silly that the Lord commited to His churches the keys of the kingdom of God.

    I wonder where you received this talent to decide which parts of God's word are to be taken seriously and which one's are just, well, silly.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  14. Rhetorician

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    MO,

    I have been reading with great interest(s) most of your polemical and apologetical postings concerning church successionism.

    I too believe that our Lord has always had a Gospel witness. I too believe that witness to be closest to what a Baptist church is.

    I greatly admire your passion for your personal understanding(s) of ecclesiology. It is most admirable. "May your tribe increase" as it were along those lines.

    I must, however, ask a question that I do not think anyone has posed to you. It is an honest question. I seek understandings for gentlemanly Christian dialogue. I mean no harm to you personally or the doctrines you hold dear. Even though some of us hold them more dear than do others of us. Please grant me leave to express an analogy!

    The other great denomination that practices successionism is the Roman Catholic Church--is it not?

    When the RCC ordain a minister he is being ordained by the local bishop who has received his ordination from the Pope. This ordination goes in succession all the way back to Peter--does it not (in their theological understandings)?

    In this ordination or "laying on of hands" there passes a mystical "Apostolic" touch if you will that could be labeled as an "ontological mysticism."

    It is by this touch that the priest is able to change the hosts (wine & bread) into the literal "body and blood" of Christ. Thereby, they "crucify Him afresh." They are able to eat the literal body and blood of our Lord. By this mystical action of the passing of the "succession" on to other priests, he is able to "bless" the holy water and do many other ritualistic things that we Baptist ministers cannot do.

    I see this as a close example or resemblance of what some "Landmarkers" do (are doing). When they say that a church that has not been organized by a "duly organized church" is not a "real church," are they not doing the same type thing? Or, is it not the same type thing when the "Landmarkers" doubt another Baptist church's ordination when the preacher has been ordained by one of these churches that was not "duly organized?" Or, is it not the same type of thing when the "Landmarkers" doubt another Baptist church's baptism or right to baptize b/c it was not done by a "duly organized church?"

    I have cited three examples to help frame the context for our discussion. The question is:

    If, we hold to this church succession, albeit in its extreme; then, how is that different ontologically than what the Roman Catholics are doing? Are we not saying that there is something mystical being past down through our Baptistic expression of the "real NT church" by our ordination and church organon?

    MO, please help me here to understand?????!!!!! How are we different than the RCC in our beliefs on the points expressed above?

    In essence are we not saying that "our" ordination is the only true ordination; that "our" baptism is the only true baptism; and that "our" church is the only true church!!! Have I misunderstood the issues involved?

    Yours for the Kingdom's increase!

    sdg!

    rd
     
  15. Gold Dragon

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    I believe Jesus promises no such thing in scripture.</font>[/QUOTE]Then why are you a Baptist? Why don't you find the sort of churches Jesus did promise to perpetuate and join one of them?</font>[/QUOTE]If you read my first answer, I do not believe Jesus promised this because I have a different interpretation of the relevant Matthew passages. I do believe there have been Christian churches since Jesus's time, but I don't believe that is what Jesus promised. I believe successionists theologies are all incorrect, whether RCC, Baptist, Anglican, Campbellite, etc and I believe those theologies are prideful eisegesis meant to say "We are right, they are wrong".

    [ January 11, 2006, 09:20 AM: Message edited by: Gold Dragon ]
     
  16. rlvaughn

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    Rhet, I'm not Mark Osgatharp, but I'm going to take a stab at your question(s). I think it will help the discussion if you will define how you're using the term "ontological mysticism". I think I understand how you're trying to make the comparison, but am not sure.

    Landmarkism can vary quite a bit in the understanding of succession, which might be through ordinations (but usually not), a chain-link succession of churches, or church perpetuity (not necessarily this church started this church started this church...). But I am going out on a limb here and saying that almost all Landmarkers will view this succession in a legal sense. IOW, the new churches have some type of "legal" authority passed on to them. It is established by and founded upon the "law" (command) of Jesus Christ to His church (Mt 28:18-20). This may be a bad comparison, so don't take it too far (and I just thought of it; I'm not too good "thinking on my feet", so it may have a lot of bugs). But just to illustrate, think of how a franchise may legally be authorized to do business in the name of another. Only those authorized may use the name, trademark, etc.

    Anyway, you may view this as a model within the bounds of what you're introducing. I would look at it as two different things, but then again, I may not understand your point.
     
  17. Debby in Philly

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    Oh, so when the word of God talks about laying on hands and baptism, you think that is silly? I see. And I guess you also think it is silly that the Lord commited to His churches the keys of the kingdom of God.

    I wonder where you received this talent to decide which parts of God's word are to be taken seriously and which one's are just, well, silly.

    Mark Osgatharp
    </font>[/QUOTE]No, argueing about it is what is silly. We have no way of knowing who laid hands on whom after 2000 years, so why not expend that energy on getting the gospel to the lost? Isn't every believer indwelt with the Holy Spirit?

    On judgement day when God is rewarding the saved, and you're asked how many souls did you assist into the Kingdom, your reply will be "Uh, none, I was debating apostolic succession." How will that feel?

    All of these side issues Christians debate are just the devil's tool for keeping us from our real job - preaching to the lost.
     
  18. Rhetorician

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    rlvaughn,

    Hello sir and thanks for the comeback.

    The "ontological mysticism" of the Roman church is the idea that something "mystical" or "supernatural" happens at the RC priest's ordination. They may call it the "holy unction." I am unclear about it completely.

    It is believed that it (the supernatural endowment) is passed by (through) "the laying on of hands" at a priest's ordination. That it goes back to the bishop, to the archbishop, to the cardinal, to the pope, to the former pope, etc. all the way back to Peter. This is called "Apostolic Succession." It is by this unction that the priest can perform all of the seven sacarments of the RCC.

    With this, they can change the "host" or the bread and wine into the literal "Body of Christ." This is the idea of "ontology" or change of being. The change from one type of entity into that of another. I may be wrong on some of the particulars but have the overall fairly accurate I believe.

    What I am trying to say and obviously did not say very well above is this: it is our Baptist "church successionism" that validates our baptisms, our ordinations, our Lord's Supper, etc. Some of the "'markers" mean some of the same things theologically that the RC Church does and just say it with a different Baptistic twist. Some will not accept someone else's Baptism if they were baptized by Church X. Some will not receive your ordination or let you preach if you were ordained by Church X.

    I have heard some of the "old timers" say:

    "We are the original church and that the RCC left us!"

    and;

    "Those other denominational ministers are not Gospel ministers b/c the organizations that ordained them are not real 'churches' but are only 'religious societies'!"

    My contention and argument is that we are no better than the ones we hate and bemoan--the RCC! BUT, we have our own Baptist doctrines and practices that cause us to behave like "Baptist (Roman) Catholics!"

    And you just know I am going to "get those cards and letters" on this one! What I say is: KEEP 'EM COMING!

    I hope this helps!

    sdg!

    rd
     
  19. Bro. James

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    If I may kibbitz, let me make an observation which has sort of been made already.

    The crux of this issue is about: who has the divine keys/authority given by Jesus, the Christ, in Mt. 16:18-19 and 28:18-20?

    The answer cannot be: all of the above.

    The holy see is correct about the necessity for vested authority, they are incorrect about in whom it is vested. If they are correct, and they have divine authority, everything else called Christian is apostate, excommunicated,and defrocked. All so-called Protestant Denominations are without authority--they were founded by defrocked Romish priests. Rome gave them no authority to leave.

    This brings us to those Christian groups which were never of Rome nor were they ever of the Protestant Reformation. From whence cometh their authority to function? While these groups may be in a dwindling minority, they trace their FAITH AND PRACTICE back to the shores of Galilee, when Jesus called out the first assembly. This assembly was given the authority referenced above. The authority was divested to the second, third and fourth, etc, all of which were totally sovereign, having authority equal to the first. No assembly was over another. All believers were priests--offering spiritual sacrifices. There were no popes, cardinals, archbishops, Right Reverend Doctors or any such thing.

    These weird groups have been earnestly contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints in every generation, even today. Many have died for this faith and practice. There has been succession because Jesus said there would be: Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.

    One such believer has just testified. Are there any Amens out there?

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  20. Gold Dragon

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    I've been waiting for one of the succesionists to actually bring up the Matthew passages.

    A few questions to consider:
    1) There is a promise in this passage. Where in this passage is the promise and what is actually being promised?
    2) Does this promise say anything about ecclesiology, right doctrine or a succession?

    One context to keep in mind is that this is the last verse in Matthew and Christ probably ascended soon afterwards.
     

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