Confessions Of A Landmark Successionist

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Mark Osgatharp, Dec 31, 2005.

  1. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Having been raised by and among the Landmark Baptists (my great-grandfather was a Baptist preacher who entertained Ben Bogard in his home and my grandmother was converted after Bogard preached a revival for their church) I grew up hearing the standard Landmark belief that the Baptists had an unbroken succession from the time of Christ to the present.

    As an adolescent I asked my mother what church we would attend if not the Baptist. She explained that it was a moot question because there never would be a day when Baptist churches did not exist.

    When I began my ministry I did a lot of reading in church history in an effort to find documentation proving the groups I had always been told were the ancestors of the Baptists (Waldenses, Albigensis, etc) did, in fact, believe the same doctrines we taught. As I am sure has been the experience of many thousands of inquisitive young Baptists, I found the exact opposite of what I expected to find.

    What I found is that, by all accounts, most of the groups claimed as predacessors of the Baptists weren't a 42nd cousin to a Baptist. The more I read the worse it got. I spent hours pouring over the books and often came away with a horrible headache and utter confusion over the matter of church succession.

    But then I would read the Bible. There I found the blessed doctrines I had been taught from a child laid out in unmistakable terms. There I found that my Savior had explicitly stated that His doctrines and His baptism and His churches would be perpetuated "even unto the end of the world."

    My confidence in the good old Landmark way was restored and my peace returned. But then I would go back to the history books and, once again, come away disturbed and distraught; only to return to the Holy Book where I would again find peace.

    One of the most troubling aspects of my historical quest was not, as some might expect, a failure to find a continual succession of Baptist type baptism (for that aspect of Baptist history is one of the easier ones to document); rather, it was the seeming absence of the doctrine of eternal security among the ancient baptistic groups.

    While discussing this matter with my uncle (also a Baptist pastor) I made the observation that, going strictly by the historical record, it would seem that no churches taught the doctrine of eternal security prior to the Protestant Reformation. His response was simply, "There were."

    Knowing that the doctrine of eternal security is the gospel of salvation as it is in Jesus and knowing that Jesus had promised His gospel would continue among His churches "even unto the end of the world", I was startled when I thought of the truth of what my uncle had just said.

    Here was a man with utmost confidence asserting that the gospel of eternal and irrevocable salvation in Jesus Christ had always been preached in the world. Not because he had sought this out in the annals of human history but because he found it written on the pages of God's holy book.

    I still read history, but it is no longer a burden to my mind. When I see a glimpse of God's churches recorded in the histories, I rejoice in it. When I see how heresy and the traditions of men have obscured the gospel of Jesus, I take a lesson from it and resolve to fight these things with all my might.

    But I no longer go to the books of human history to justify my doctrine. I believe what I believe because the Bible teaches it and because the Holy Spirit leads me in it.

    Though I found out that J.M. Carrol's "The Trail of Blood" is not very good history, I am more convinced than ever that the Lord has His own "trail of blood" written in heaven.

    I long for the day when He will throw open His history books and prove all those who scorn the continual succession of His holy baptism and His beloved churches to be liars. Even so come Lord Jesus.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  2. Major B

    Major B
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    1. It is out of place and a violation of the rules of this board to refer to those who do not agree with your successionism as "liars." A liar, for those who speak English, is someone who knowingly tells an untruth. You yourself admit that there is no historical evidence for successionism.

    2. There are many of us, including this writer, who believe that the closest one can come to Bible doctrine and practice is to be a local-church oriented, conservative, Bible-believing, Calvinistic, Baptist. However, we do not see any definitive historical evidence for a succession. I wish there were--it is not there--and you admit as much in your post.

    3. The most important task for any church or any believer is to glorify God in their personal life (1 Cor 6:19-20, 10:31), and to make disciples of all ethnic groups, training them to the point where they not only know, but obey all things Jesus taught, in the full Heb 1:1-3 sense of that idea.

    If the study ad infinitum, ad nauseum (pardon if my Latin spelling is off) of non-biblical quasi-pseudo-history has any positive effect on the great commission, I would love to see the scripture proof of that. I would also like to see scripture proof for re-baptizing those who are not Baptist, but who have been baptized by immersion in a church with orthodox doctrine and a name other than Baptist—i.e., the right candidate for baptism, done in the right way, for the right reason.

    I would also like to see scriptural proof for the "Baptist Bride" theory. I don't care what Jessup Goodbody in 1639 said, I want to see Bible proof for those doctrines.
     
  3. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Websters Collegiate Dictionary definition of "liar": "one that tells lies." Definition of "lie": "an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker."

    As in when Paul said, "Let God be true and every man a liar."

    Certainly Paul was not so dull as to think that everyone who disbelieved his gospel did so knowingly.

    Actually, what I admit is that succession cannot be proven by the historical record. There is most certainly some historical evidence to support it; but not sufficient to prove it strictly from a historical standpoint.

    If the Lord said succession exists - and He did - then it exsists, whether or not you can prove it by historical documentation.

    When you combine all the history books together they represent only a fraction of what actually took place in history. So the best any man can honestly say is that he doesn't know if there was a historical succession from Christ.

    But the absence of a documented history does not negate what actually took place and, based on Christ's promises, we know that there has been an historical succession of His churches from the time of Christ till now.

    I agree with you 100%. There have been multitudes of Christians who have lived and died who knew little or nothing of ecclesiastical history. Furthermore, much of what has been preached up as Baptist history - from all sides - is nothing more than a clanging bell and and tingling cymbal.

    Notwithstanding, a Christian can - and must - believe in church succession based solely on the promises of Christ without one itoa of historic knowledge (other than what is contained in the Scriptures of course).

    I don't know anyone in the world who contends for such a thing. Landmark Baptists have always contended that the essence of a church is in it's doctrinal orthodoxy, not it's name. My goodness, we have claimed all sorts groups not known as "Baptists" as our forefathers!

    But the non-Landmark Baptist churches don't contend only for receiving immersions from orthodox churche without the Baptist name; they contend for receiving immersions from unorthodox churches. Some even receive immersions from the Mormons; but I guess if you are going to receive alien immersions then it doesn't really matter from what planet the alien arrived. ;0)

    If you would like I will start a thread in one of the doctrinal categories addressing this subject.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  4. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Okay, Mark. We know what you believe and that you believe it by faith (since you admit it cannot be proven).

    Let's move on. I don't believe it and am not a "liar". MAtter of fact, I teach against it and think it is error.

    That's MY opinion and you know what I believe!

    BTW, head up to "theology" and open up some info on "baptist bridism". I preach against THAT too! [​IMG]

    Bottom line. Let's be careful here not to insinuate that someone believing differently is somehow "evil".
     
  5. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    Me-thinks the brother "protesteth too much!"

    sdg!

    rd
     
  6. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Me thinks I don't care what you thinks. My Savior established His churches in the world, committed His gospel and His ordinances to them, and promised to be with them even unto the end of the world.

    I believe that and will die believing it. I am ready to face judgement with it. Any man who says it isn't so is telling a lie - whether knowingly or unknowingly - and is therefore, at least in that one point, evil.

    Dr. Bob,

    You said,

    Let's get straight what I actually admit. I admit successionism can't be proven by historic docmentation. It can be proven by the word of God which is a far greater proof than man's incomplete, biased, and fallible history books.

    There is no shame whatsoever in accepting something by faith. In fact, that is the way we accept everything about Christianity. As Paul said,

    "We walk by faith, not by sight."

    But you said,

    Lord willing I will do that. But before I do that I will start a thread proving that church succession is a New Testament doctrine.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  7. pinoybaptist

    pinoybaptist
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    Mark Osgatharp said:

    I will be among those waiting with bated breath for this thread, Mark.
     

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