Martinism: A Mississippi Controversy

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by rlvaughn, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    Mentioned "Martinism" in another thread and thought some of you might find this interesting.

    "A controversy which arose about 1893 within the bounds of the Mississippi Baptist Association over the doctrinal views of Matthew Thomas Martin...Briefly, his views were: (1) Men are dead in trespasses and sins and 'made alive' by the Holy Spirit, which process is generation. (2) Under proper conditions a sinner is enabled by the Spirit to repent and believe (simultaneously) and then is 'regenerated' by the 'engrafted Word of God,' which process is regeneration. (3) Thus being completely saved by grace...the believer is to submit to believer's baptism. (4) The Christian has within himself the witness of full assurance, which depends...on God to keep His word. (5) The true Christian never doubts his assurance of full and eternal salvation. (6) If a professed Christian has doubts that his experience of grace was real, he is still is the bonds of sin. (7) If under favorable conditions the professed Christian has a blessed experience, accompanied by the joys of salvation, this is to be regarded as a genuine experience of grace (...regeneration), and the individual should submit to believer's baptism." - From the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Vol. II, p. 825.

    This controversy was centered in Mississippi, but affected other areas of the deep south, where Martin had been influential as a preacher.
     
  2. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Robert

    Thanks for the information. I hadn't heard of Martinism before. It does, however, seem similar to some ideas advanced during the First "Great Awakening." In that it would seem that those who had not experienced a dramatic conversion experience were not really saved. Both of the ideas have permeated beyond their original geographical scope. I have heard the tenents of "Martinism" preached in Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina, though I am sure they wouldn't have recognized the term. It makes me curious though, about how they came to that position. Any thoughts?

    Jeff
     
  3. rlvaughn

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    Part of Martin's influence outside of Mississippi was due to his living in Texas and Georgia for about twelve years, and being the business manager of the Mississippi Baptist Record, paper of the Mississippi State Convention. According to writers from the Mississippi Baptist Association, both during and after the controversy, Martin was "a man of fine mental attainments...He has a wonderfully logical turn of mind, and when once his premises are admitted, one is led on step by step almost irresistibly to his conclusions...a man of...courageous convictions." - Abstract History of the Mississippi Baptist Association for One Hundred Years (1806-1906) by T. C. Schilling. The Mississippi Baptist Association was a local association, and should not be confused with the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

    1893 Mississippi Baptist Association minutes: "Immediately after the sermon (by M. T. Martin, rlv) forty persons came forward and said that they then had peace with God and full assurance for the first time." Martin had just preached from the text Romans 1:16, and had preached a day or two before from II Thess. 2:13 and discussed "Election, work of the Spirit in preparing the heart, faith or belief of the truth, and good works as the fruits of faith." Perhaps the chief conflict came not from the doctrine itself, but from the proliferation of rebaptisms of these Baptists in their own churches. Martin preached before the Association again in 1894, but in 1895, the association would pass this resolution: "Whereas, it has come to the knowledge of this Association that rebaptism is practiced by the Galilee Baptist church (Martin's church, rlv) to an unlimited extent, unwarranted by the Scriptures, and, Whereas, there is no diminishing of this heresy - on the contrary, a growing increase; therefore, be it Resolved, That this Association enters her solemn protest against any further practice of this heresy within her bounds, and we do solemnly declare our nonfellowship for it." It should be understood that the Mississippi Baptist Association was landmarkist and did practice "rebaptism," so the resolution was directed particularly at the "rebaptisms" caused by Martinism. In 1896, the doctrinal views of Martin were discussed quite extensively, numerous resolutions were offered from varying angles, but most were tabled. Two were passed. First, to ask the editor of The Baptist Record to allow M. T. Martin and a representative brother from the other side to discuss all the points of the doctrines in question. R. A. Venable, of Meridian, MS, was selected to rebut Martin, but the discussion never materialized. The second resolution that passed stated: "Resolved, That, on the question of rebaptism of one who was formerly baptized in unbelief, it is the right of each church to act in her sovereign capacity." Evidently all were not satisfied, because in 1897, the association resolved that Martin's teachings were out of line with regular Baptist teaching and withdrew fellowship from him and his church. They also warned that any church that might call him as pastor would forfeit membership in the association.
     
  4. rlvaughn

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    Interesting question, Bro. Jeff. Martin spent some time in Georgia, but I don't know where or how close to North Carolina. I guess it might not be that hard, though, for Baptists to independently arrive at such a position. I've heard assurance preached up in a similar extreme (that if you didn't have full assurance you weren't "really" saved) by some modified-Arminian-2point-Calvinists that I know. But Martin arrived at his position through a strong Calvinism evidently. I am also wondering if the doctrinal elements of "Martinism" have survived with any strength in Mississippi. I remember reading of this controversy here in Texas, and such leaders as Gambrell (a Mississippian originally, I think) standing against Martin and his doctrines. I'll try to see if I can locate where I have that info.
     
  5. Jeff Weaver

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    Thanks for the information.

    I have personally known of this rebaptism of those who might not have been fully persuaded as well. In the same church, referenced earlier. How wide spread the practice is, I know not. At any rate, I have relatives there, and have been to their services on occasion.
     
  6. rlvaughn

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    Some thoughts and links on Martinism:
     
  7. Jim1999

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    And I thought my question on TT Martin was an innocent one.....Wow! That is quite an history lesson, Brother Bob......Thank you. I love to read about our history. It opens so many windows.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  8. rlvaughn

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    Jim, I'm kind of curious as to how T. T. Martin stood on his father's doctrine. I'm not familiar with any evidence to tie him to it.
     
  9. Jim1999

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    Brother Bob,
    I didn't notice anything out of place in the book I have, but will reread it in the next few days and see if I can see anything. I haven't read the book for many years..it has been collected dust on my shelves.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. Jeff Weaver

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    Calling Blackbird or any other member of the Board from Mississippi.

    Does anyone know what the result of this "heresy" was. Is it still being advocated. Was it a linguistic difficulty. If it is still being advocated and still considered a "heresy", how was it resolved? Curious minds want to know.

    Jeff.
     
  11. J.R. Graves

    J.R. Graves
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    Brother Vaughn,

    I enjoyed reading the information about MT Martin. A couple of interesting tabits. First, in Ben Bogard's little booklet on Baptist History, he says, "at one time Baptists of the south were called Gravesites and Martinites." By this it seems to be endorsing Martin's position.

    Also I know that B.H. Carroll fought Martin's influnce in his own church and his association.
     
  12. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Thanks for the post. Can you elaborate on Gravesites? Just Curious.

    Jeff.
     
  13. rsr

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    http://www.sbhla.org/bio_graves.htm
     
  14. rlvaughn

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    Ben, I can't say if Bogard endorsed Martin's position. I do know that even among the Landmark Baptists, some of Bogard's positions on the work of the Holy Spirit were thought to be suspect. He at times seemed to endorse a view similar to Campbellites that all the work was through the preaching of the Word, but at other times he seemed to agree more with the older Baptist position. He became especially vulnerable to some of these charges when the events that led that the division of the ABA started.

    rsr, thanks for the link to the J. R. Graves bio.

    Are any of you fellows familiar with Martin's teachings, or something similar, in your areas?
     
  15. BeeBee

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    (
    I am from Mississippi and I hope this is helpfull, but I just talked to somebody today who told about an evengelist who had stirred up lots of problems in the SB churches. He would probably not agree with this, but from what I've heard people say there is a circle of evangelists who go around preaching that if there is "Any" sin in a believers life, and then they'll list certain sins, that you are NOT saved, and you just need to get saved. I have heard one of these people preach and although I agree that there is a big part of the church not saved, they take it to a whole different extreme, instead of telling the individual to "make" sure there saved (2 Peter 1:2-11). They flat out tell people they are not saved if you have done this, this, or that, or ever doubted your salvation for one second.

    Hope this helps,
    In Christ,
    Bobby C.
     
  16. Jeff Weaver

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    Bobby

    Thanks for the input. From my observations, it is a problem for SBC churches beyond Mississippi. (See comments above).

    Any clue as to the extent of this type preaching? I know of this type theology being espoused in some Southern Baptist churches, and in Separate Baptists circles, but not sure about other places. Nor how extensive it is in Southern Baptist thought. From what I see on this board, I suspect some IFBers are close to this as well.

    I think if someone came into one of the churches I frequent and started this they would be shown the door.

    Jeff.
     
  17. BeeBee

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    Right out of the horses's mouth (as they say) I was told by one of these evangelist that "anybody who can sin, and he give many examples such as (stake off his clothes and sleep with another woman,etc.) with the Holy Spirit living inside them "They just need to get saved". While there may be agreement here somewhat from other people you have to understand there whole theology. These few Im talking about always seem to have this "hate" deep down in them. They always say "Im just telling you cause I love you", but love is the last thing anybody sees in them. I understand "Rebuking" but they take it to a ridiculous extreme. Hope this helps,

    In CHrist,
    Bobby C.

    [ January 12, 2003, 05:25 PM: Message edited by: BeeBee ]
     
  18. PastoralMusings

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    I recently ran across the term "Martinism" in a small book given to me by a brother who was curator of the archives for South Eastern Baptist College in Laurel, MS.
    I'd never heard of it.
    The writer stated that Martinism was harmful to the MS Baptists' mission impulse, if I remember correctly.
     

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