Old Landmarkism and the Baptists

Discussion in 'Books / Publications Forum' started by 4string, Apr 30, 2001.

  1. 4string

    4string
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    Has anyone here ever read "Old Landmarkism and the Baptists" by Bob L. Ross? It is available from Pilgrim Publications in Pasadena, TX. It is a very eye-opening book about Baptist history and J.R. Graves.
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    Haven't heard of it. Could you give us a few paragraph summary and review of it? Thanks.
     
  3. rlvaughn

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    Here are comments from Ross on this book as found at http://users.aol.com/pilgrimpub/writings.htm

    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 Baptist church. It is 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 "conferences."

    Landmarkism 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, 28:19-20. 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 believe that 1) the true and scriptural organization of a church, 2) the valid administration of baptism, & 3) the proper ordination of a gospel minister, 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 church. This book 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: "The persons 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 Landmarkism). May this book assist all who read it to see Landmarkism in its proper perspective among the Baptists.

    I do not agree with all that Ross says here, but this is, nevertheless, what he says. Some of his comments are not fair representations of the Landmark position, though one could probably find some Landmark Baptists somewhere that agree with the positions as stated by Ross (who evidently at one time also believed the Landmark position on the church). rlv

    [ May 01, 2001: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  4. Bob L. Ross

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    A friend called my attention to the comments about my "Landmarkism" book on this forum. Thanks for making it a subject of consideration. Of course, I have a greater interest in publishing and recommending Spurgeon's works than my own. Our latest book is a collection of 35 original sermons by Spurgeon distinctively on The Gospel. We are providing free copies to the graduates of seminaries and Bible schools that request them. At least one "Landmark" school has asked for them.More information on this Offer at the following URL: http://members.aol.com/baptistsoftexas/freebook.htm
    --Bob
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    THANK YOU, Brother Ross, for joining our happy band of brothers and sharing your comments on the book. I have been to your site and will visit it with the names of some recent grads from our small reformed baptist training school.

    I'd be happy to hear Dr. Cassidy, the BB's resident Landmark apologist, wade in on this tome.
     
  6. DocCas

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    Actually, Dr. Bob, I agree with much of what Brother Ross has written regarding what now passes for Landmarkism in many churches flying that particular ensign. As I have stated previously, I agree with most (but not all) of the one sentence "Mark's" listed by J.R. Graves in his book "Old Landmarkism:"

    1. "The Church and Kingdom of Christ is a Divine Institution." Although I believe Brother Graves has confused the Church and the Kingdom of God, nobody can seriously deny that His church is a divine and not man made institution.

    2. "It is a visible institution." I agree. Although I believe the church of Jesus Christ is universal (found everywhere I have ever traveled) I do not believe in the "universal, invisible, mystical" church of Scofield, et el.

    3. "Its locality is upon the earth." Yep. So far there are no churches on the moon or Mars. [​IMG]

    4. "It is a local organization, a single congregation." I agree. No hierarchy above and lording it over Christ's church. Every congregation, local, independent, and autonomous (except from Christ, of course!).

    5. "The membership all professedly regenerate in heart before baptized into it." Salvation before baptism is the biblical standard I think we can all agree on.

    6. "Its baptism is the profession, on the part of the subject, of the faith of the Gospel by which he is saved." I think we can all agree that baptism does not save, but is the public profession of faith in the gospel of Christ.

    7. "The Lord's Supper was observed as a local church ordinance, commemorative only of the sacrificial chastisement of Christ for His people, never expressive of personal fellowship, or of courtesy for others, or used as a sacrament." This is probably the only area there would be any serious disagreement and that would only be in the application of the position in "closed" communion.

    However, I agree with Brother Ross's book in that the present doctrine and practices of many who are called "Landmarkers" goes well beyound these 7 simple historic Baptist "Landmarks" and have created such unproven and unprovable assertions as "chain link succession" etc., direct baptismal succession from John the Baptist, and the idea that church propagation must be under the direct authority of the man specifically ordained and sent for the purpose of planting that church. If that were true 90% of Baptist churches would be eliminated! Our chosen method of planting new churches is the venerable old "church split!" :D

    [ May 02, 2001: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     
  7. DocCas

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    Just to stir things up a bit, I came across this today in my reading:

    "We must never think of leaving God's work to societies. They have had their day, and have supplied a great lack created by the loss of the apostolic spirit, but it is now time that the aroused and revived church should assume her true position and do her own work.

    Fifty years or more, missionary societies have been trying to convert the world, and albeit that many souls have been saved, and therefore the effort has been far from useless; yet, compared with apostolic success, they have been a miserable failure. All these years we have spent ten times the money, with not a tenth of the success, of early evangelistic effort.

    In my inmost soul, I believe that the Lord is not with most of our foreign missions. And why? Because God never called the missionary societies to the work. He never bade the missionary society become the spouse of Christ, and bring forth sons unto Him. His offspring, his seed, which shall reward him for his soul's travail, must spring from his own well-beloved bride.

    Much as I value all good societies, I cannot hesitate to declare that the church is the ordained agent, and that all besides is human, and derives authority only from man. Hense I say of a society for the conversion of the heathen, it is a man-constituted body, and not of God.

    The Lord will work, not by committees, but by his churches. The church must do her own work, and when all our churches are thoroughly aroused by this fact, and every congregation shall send out its own men, pray for their own men, and support their own men, we shall see greater things than we have ever dreamed.

    (Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 8)

    [ May 02, 2001: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     
  8. rlvaughn

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    Many variations of "Landmark" Baptists have evolved from an original emphasis. Some are so radical they could not even fellowship with A. C. Dayton, J. R. Graves, or J. M. Pendleton. [Dayton, Graves, and Pendleton are often called the Great Triumvirate of Landmarkism. While I agree that the name originated with them, I do not agree that the doctrines originated with them] Each variation seems to believe that their variation is "true" Landmarkism. But I believe it is a fair representation that all Landmarkers would agree that the church is local only, and that baptism, communion, and pulpits are closed.

    I have not yet read this particular book by Ross, but it is my understanding that he not only disagrees with radical versions of Landmarkism, but with Landmarkism of any kind.
     
  9. Sam Hughey

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    Bob,

    How would your book, "Old Landmarkism and the Baptists" differ from Graves' "Old Landmarkism What Is It"?

    Sam Hughey
    The Reformed Reader
     
  10. Bob L. Ross

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    The book differs with Graves' concept of what constitutes validating "authority" for the various aspects of Christian ministry and function. I hold that such authority is in Christ, but Christ is not confined to a corporate religious institution as the medium of communicating His authority. I see Graves' view as being the same in essence as that of Rome -- i. e., the corporate church authoritatively validates, or is viewed as being the mediating means of dispensing Christ's authority. -- Bob Ross
     
  11. rlvaughn

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    Brother Ross, it is good to have you with us on the Baptist Board. I have a couple of questions for you.

    First, didn't you once hold the Landmark position on the church? I recall reading one of your books on Campbellism nearly twenty years ago, and seem to remember that you took that position on the church at that time in that book.

    Second, how would you apply the following position you take - "I hold that such authority is in Christ, but Christ is not confined to a corporate religious institution as the medium of communicating His authority."? Give us some concrete example. Perhaps concerning baptism - are men directly authourized to baptize someone who professes Christ? How would your statement apply? Perhaps you can give another example of your own as well.
     
  12. Bob L. Ross

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    Yes, from about 1954 to 1964, I was associated with independent Landmark Baptists.

    As for authority (or the validity)of any act of obedience, I see no reason to believe this requires a "mediator" on the part of an earthly person or group. I believe the authority of Christ is inherent in any act of obedience to Christ. Prayer is a good example. No one needs to have the approval (authority) of another in order to validly pray in the name (authority) of Christ. To witness the Gospel to a lost person, one does not need to have someone or some group vote him the authority. And if one can validly witness and lead another to Christ without the necessity of an earthly authority, he can certainly validly administer the symbol of that salvation, which is baptism.
    -- Bob Ross
     
  13. rlvaughn

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    Thanks, Bro. Ross, for your explanation of authority. I did not think I agreed with you, but I wanted to be sure I understood you correctly. I do think if consistently applied to acts such as baptism, the Lord's supper, and preaching, your position on authority would not only be unacceptable to Landmark Baptists, but to a large number of Baptists in general, who would hold to some kind of authority for what might be called official church acts. I guess what I'm saying is that in itself is not strictly a Landmark issue. Or if so, other Baptists have imbibed of enough Landmarkism to desire authority in some areas of church life.
     
  14. DocCas

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    rlvaughn, I agree that baptism and the Lord's Supper are church ordinances, and as I see the church as local and visible as opposed to either universal and visible (Catholic position) or universal and invisible (Protestant position) it seems to me that the ordinances are practiced by the church. [​IMG]
     
  15. Bob L. Ross

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    Even if baptism and the Lord's Supper are viewed as church ordinances, it does not necessarily follow that their validity depends upon what is called "church authority." Take the matter of teaching the truth, for another example: Even though the church has as its purpose the propagation and defense of the truth, its doing this does not validate the truth. The truth is the truth, no matter who teaches it. I think the alternative to this is Romanism -- that the church alone understands and propounds the truth. -- Bob Ross
     
  16. Dr. Bob

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    I am not a Landmarker or the son of a Landmarker. But the area of authority and the local visible church is troublesome:

    If an independent local autonomous baptist church does not have authority, then how do we interpret: <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>But if I tary long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behaue thy selfe in the House of God. which is the Church of the liuing God, the pillar and ground of the trueth.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>(II Timothy 3:15 AV1611) It is not the Bible that is the pillar and ground, but the assembly.
     
  17. Bob L. Ross

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    &gt;&gt;(II Timothy 3:15 AV1611) It is not the Bible that is the pillar and ground, but the assembly.&lt;&lt;

    I do not see that this verse means that only the corporte church as such can validly teach and preach the truth or authorize it. I would regard such a view as being Romanist. The assembly as such -- and each person associated with it -- is to uphold the truth, privately, individually, and collectively. The authority behind the truth is the Lord; as believers we are to uphold it. -- Bob Ross
     
  18. Frogman

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    Hello Brothers,

    I am Independent Missionary Landmark Baptist.

    I believe the local church provides the authority for baptism, the Lord's Supper.

    I do not believe the local church is able to deliver any child of God. Through the church is the preaching of the gospel, through hearing is the believing of the gospel. Here is the work of God. I have a family member who has a testimony of salvation, I have heard it. Despite this, he does not think that it is necessary to join the church (any denomination I would add), because of the many differences.

    His refusal to be baptized will not nullify the assurance spoken into his heart by the Spirit of God, but it does prevent his partaking of the Lord's Supper, and enjoying the fellowship of other children of God in worship. As I said before, this does not destroy his own knowledge of salvation, but does not make him a member of any church, without submitting to the baptism of a local church, willingly making professing publicly of the regenration of the Spirit.

    Landmarkism does not promote the idea the church distributes salvation, but it is through the preaching of the gospel that salvation is poured out upon as many as God would call.

    My brother's testimony is the result of attending a 'First Church of God' meeting, where the gospel was preached, the knowledge of his position before God being revealed through the Spirit and subsequent knowledge of forgiveness also revealed through the Spirit later at home. Yet he must also be led by the Spirit to join the local church by baptism, I feel this is something he will do at the pleasure of God.
     
  19. CorpseNoMore

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by 4string:
    Has anyone here ever read "Old Landmarkism and the Baptists" by Bob L. Ross? It is available from Pilgrim Publications in Pasadena, TX. It is a very eye-opening book about Baptist history and J.R. Graves.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I have purchased that book, but have yet to get around to reading it. I need to of course, but my reading-list is quite extensive, and I just haven't made it, yet.

    As far as books on this subject, there are two which, in my view lay waste to the much of what is loosely described as Landmarkism.

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Book number one (in order of appearance) is a theological/exegetical refutation of several of the major premises of Landmarkism, and a substantial positive case for a Baptist view of the universal invisible Church, also known as the Body-of-Christ.
    [/list]

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Book number two is a historical refutation of pretty much all degrees of Baptist sucessionism, officially "Landmark," or not.
    [/list]

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>#1

    [​IMG]

    ORDER at LINK:

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>The Doctrine of Church: a Baptist View [/list]

    From the author: This book seeks to show by a careful study of the New Testament that the church which is the body of Christ consists of all believers of all ages. Also proof is given that this is the true historical viewpoint of the mainstream of Baptist scholarship. A critique of the Landmark movement is included.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
    #2

    [​IMG]

    ORDER at LINK:

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History[/list]

    Short Review by: James M. Renihan of Heritage Baptist Church, Worcester, MA.

    This is another must buy book. There is a popular notion that true Baptist churches have existed in succession from the New Testament era until today. This view is often associated with Landmark Baptists, but it also occurs in others as well. Dr. McGoldrick, a Baptist professor at Cedarville College, and one who once held this view, demonstrates that it is utterly untenable. Most of the groups commonly called into the Baptist family bear little or no resemblance to what we believe Baptists to be. Some were outright heretics, while others were Godly persecuted Christians, but hardly Baptists. Dr. McGoldrick does not argue against the perpetuity of the church, he simply shows that the notion of Baptist Successionism has no historical support. I wish that every Reformed Baptist pastor would get this book and read it carefully. I have met several people in different churches who have been exposed to the successionist doctrine in one of its forms, and have wondered about its validity. This book will help to prepare you to give a wise and reasoned pastoral answer to a subject that is very delicate with some.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    [ June 29, 2001: Message edited by: CorpseNoMore ]
     

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