Question for Landmarkers

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Southern, Jul 25, 2004.

  1. Southern

    Southern
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    The following is a question that I would like to see different perspectives on from Landmarkers:

    "Do you have to trace your church back to Apostolic times to have 'authority'"
    (This would be called the 'Chain Link' position)

    Any feedback would be appreciated
     
  2. Frogman

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    Dear Southern,
    There are landmarkers who are very strict and who claim a chain link succession. These claim historical writings of those who persecuted various groups not called baptist, but very closely resembling baptists in faith, order and practice.

    For the most part, and as loosely speaking as possible, I am of this persuasion, although I am not as strict as I was perhaps five or six years ago.

    There are landmarkers who are liberal enough to accept various baptisms, and there are some who believe the only scripturally constituted church is self-constituted. I have not seen historically, nor Biblically that those who in history with apparent self-constituted beginnings are the rule, but rather are the exception.

    The succession I believe depends strongly on the faith and practice, with equal emphasis on each and is found in the baptism. It is sometimes realistic to note that historic churches, though sound in their beginnings may since have fallen away from their beginnings, this would, imho, break the link many would strictly require.

    For the most part, the best balance is to recognize scriptural faith, scriptural practice, equals sciptural baptism, with the authority to administer that baptism falling to the ordained of a local church but extended to them from that local body of believers and not from their ordination.

    JMHO perhaps, but nonetheless what I believe scripture to teach.

    God Bless
    Bro. Dallas Eaton [​IMG]
     
  3. Eagle

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    The technical answer to your Question is, "Yes, there must be a succession -- else Christ's Church did not 'prevail.' If it 'prevailed' as he promised -- then we have no business joining to anything but a succeeding 'clone' of Christ's Church, performing His will, and Glorifying the Head in all that His Body does and how it does it." The pragmatic (or better) realistic and humble way to answer the question -- is precisely as Frogman has. When a candidate for Baptism comes forth -- we accept his testimony at face value -- unless or until we have reason to doubt. If a Church maintains Salient principles, practices and doctrines -- it would seem appropriate to accept it as such...until... The "tracability" or "linking of the chain" may well not be possible for us to find -- but as God would know -- could still be legitimate. [​IMG]
     
  4. Southern

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    Thanks guys for the input,
    Let me be more specific and maybe you can respond. The second post seemed to be saying that you did have to have this chain link. That just leaves me with the question, "How do you know you have it?" or "Is it even possible to know your paticular church has it?"
    Thanks for any additional input.
     
  5. Eagle

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    Dear Southern,
    I am sorry if I misled you. To make an attempt at clarity, I absolutely believe that you have to have it. However, I also believe that our ability to find or determine if a particular church has "it" may be more or less difficult -- depending on such things as, the area in which you live, and the inroads that Christ's Churches have made there. Here are some suggestions, humbly submitted:
    1) What does your particular church believe and practice? If it matches -- then you have reason to believe.
    2) How was your particular church started? What church founded it? What church founded that church? There is probably -- no matter how disorganized -- some form of History of your church that would be available to you. There may be merely an oral history from older members of your congregation. There should be a Charter that may have some of the pertinent facts on it. Etc.
    3) As Frogman pointed out, some churches may well have fallen away from thier sound beginnings. (Only God knows ultimately which churches still have thier 'candlestick.') Many prospective churches will probaly be somewhere in-between the 'ideal'and no 'candlestick.'What to do about this is entirely up to you. With God's leading, decisions have to be made to do the best you can -- and that your conscience will let you!
    God Bless! [​IMG]
     
  6. Frogman

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    Dear Eagle,
    Let me say Amen to all you have written.

    Dear Southern,
    Please forgive me for failing to respond sooner and for any confusion I may have caused.

    I too believe the succession is necessary in order that the church be scriptural.

    I believe there are two baptisms taught in scripture.

    We see water baptism, of whom I have never seen any other historically or Biblically except John to have been sent from heaven to administer. This administration did not carry authority over Christ, yet served to prepare a people for His gathering into the body which is the church. I do not believe Christ, nor the apostles altered this or introduced a 'christian' baptism, but that the baptism we perform today is by the authority of Christ, who made and baptised more disciples than John though he did not baptise any, please note the requirement for the one who was to replace Judas Iscariot was that he must have gone in and out among them beginning with the baptism of John, there are other passages of scripture which lead me to believe as I do.

    Then, I believe the church was already gathered on the day of Pentecost, I believe the Lord's Supper was instituted in the church, that this body met to worship, they sang Psalms, and they possessed a treasurer. That 120 members of this body, already in existence were together in the upper room on the day of Pentecost and that this body and this body only received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this is an historic event and has no reason to occur again.

    Now, as Eagle points out, the links are sometimes clouded and very difficult to follow, even in time, some if not many will or have fallen away and lost their scriptural status; if such a body is found in the lineage, the question becomes whether the body was scriptural at the time of their extending an arm of fellowship to organize a sister church. This is accomplished I believe through a 'mother-daughter' relationship, that the authority to administer the baptism passes through one body of believers to another and not passed along through the ordained membership.

    We are organizing such a Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Cookeville Tenn. on August 28th.

    The church I am a member of has opted to withold their fellowship until after we have organized, the reason they have done this is because they are unsure of the previous baptism of the people there, yet the doctrine, faith and practice is exactly the same as ours fundamentally. My home church has determined to let the missionary involved with these people, now pastoring a MB church in Arkansas and his previous home church in Memphis to extend their fellowship to this body for organization, then, after organization, the body in Cookeville will be completely independent of any other body any where, they will be free to call and relieve whomever they desire as pastor and to ordain elders etc. They will possess the authority to extend to any ordained member to administer baptism as a representative of themselves.

    The question of whether a church in the past has now lost it's candlestick is not a real factor. It is not because the history prior to the loss is what is essential. It is further mho, that baptism ought to be considered an essential part of the doctrine of the church, not of soteriology, but of ecclessiology because there is no record of unbaptized church members in the NT, nor is there a record of church members possessing a baptism of self-origination or from a preacher of the gospel.


    Though some will try to make church succession as little importance, I find that I cannot help but be as particular as I am.

    May God Bless
    Bro. Dallas Eaton [​IMG]
     
  7. Bible Student

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    Frogman,

    Thanks for your stand on the issue of church authority. As you know there are alot of "Baptist" folks that do believe this or even believe this is important.

    Though I am not an expert, I have studied historic writings, the Bible, and talked to other Preachers and have concluded this is a must enven for today. But, our churches do not want anything that has authority over what they want to do. :(

    Richard
     
  8. Repent_and_Believe

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    God's churches prevail because Jesus said it would. Not because historians can prove that it did!
    Trying to trace a direct line of origin back to the Apostles for any given Baptist church is splitting hairs. It reminds me of the fight for the English throne during the War of the Roses.

    Its an established fact that God's church has prevailed. Attempting to sift through parchments in order to acsertain whether one's church/original pastor was ordained by someone that can trace their origins and place them in records in the church is a waste of time.

    It reminds me of the charge to avoid needless geneologies.

    The local, New Testament, church, as ordained by Christ, has prevailed.

    Dont waste time trying to trace your roots. Give someone else roots in Christ!

    I love to study history. Dont get me wrong. But alot of debate centers on some of the Eastern and Western churches. If you have the evidence then praise the Lord. If not then does that mean that you will try and find a pastor to ordain your pastor that can trace his for sure to the Apostles?

    We have no lineage posted in our church. Our pastor was ordained by a Southern Methodist preacher, Bob Jones. He wasnt a Baptist though he loved them. Does that mean that our church for over 40 years has not been a true church?
     
  9. R. Charles Blair

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    There has been a succession of New Testament doctrine and practice, which includes the message of salvation by grace received in a repentant experience of faith, a proper baptism, and local congregational self-government under Christ. There is much evidence of such congregations in history. However, I do not need a genealogy to prove I am descended from Adam; I only need his characteristics. Mules, ears of corn, or robots are clearly not descended from Adam. There are lots of "Frankenstein Monsters" out there that move around, talk, etc. (compare Rev. 13:15), but they lack the genetic traits of a descendent of the second Adam. Not all the independent local congregations of the "Dark Ages" were our family, but our folks were among those persecuted and despised outcasts. And many still are today! It is difficult for large popular movements to stay true even if they are properly begun. This is not to encourage irregular groups; a child is always better off with a regular family that begins with marriage (of one man and one woman for one life!), but a child born without such a home is still a human being - just one deprived of much joy and strength. Best - "just an old landmarker" - Charles Blair - Ro. 8:28
     
  10. mioque

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    "There is much evidence of such congregations in history."
    ''
    That is strange, in the +/- 24 years I've been studying churchhistory I've never seen any.
    I've seen plenty of congregations named as examples of a succession of New Testament doctrine and practice. But I've never seen anything to suggest they actually were like that.
     
  11. Daniel Dunivan

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    I have always been intrigued with the landmarker position and the logical jump that is required for such a position. How does one get from the church will prevail to it must prevail along these particular lines (obviously defined from a contemporary position rather than from the data of history)? No biblical text exists that says that the church must have X, Y, and Z characteristics. I think the ones Landmarkers choose are completely arbitrary and say more about their tradition than about the Bible, the true nature of the church, or the actual history of the Church.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Grace and Peace, Danny [​IMG]
     
  12. Eagle

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  13. Eagle

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    Dear Daniel,

    (Sorry about the previous post -- I am still a "newbie" to this site -- and got "timed out" on my previous attempt at this!)

    I can only speak from my own experience on this, of course. I was saved when 20 years old, while living in Michigan. No direct spiritual heritage of any kind. No "leanings" of any kind. No preconcieved notions to defend. I grew up around a lot of Catholics. I attended a non-denominational church, through which I was ministered to and led to Christ by precious members of. Later this church became a "Jack Hyles Style," fundamental, Baptist church. I voraciously studied God's Word, as a typical "newbie" in Christ! I briefly attended Bob Jones University.

    I intensified my study of doctrine and history. I came to the conclusion that Christ's church could only be "the pillar and ground" of ONE TRUTH. It was (is) my responsibility to understand that one truth as best I can -- and thereby -- the repositor of that truth, with the grave responsibility of harboring and propagating that truth. Essentially, Christ's Body, doing Christ's work. There are recognizable, non-arbitrary, characteristics found in Scripture, and in History to Christ's "ekklesia" -- else how would we know it when we found it? Recognizing and understanding these "landmarks," if you will, is a responsibility of Pastors and Teachers, by the way -- and part of the reason why God gives them to us! This "faith once delivered to the saints" is essentially embodied in what is the LANDMARK position -- and I believe could not have been accomplished in any other way. I say this not to limit God in any way, but rather that I see this as the clear way in which He chose to accomplish the perpetuation of His truth and His ekklesia. I have no business furthering any other "institution."

    I am sorry, if I have been too verbose -- just trying to be clear and succinct in this limited format. God bless your continued studies! [​IMG]
     
  14. Southern

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    Eagle,
    You stated the following:
    (Only God knows ultimately which churches still have thier 'candlestick.')

    If this is true, can you assure anybody that they are recieving "valid" baptism or joining a "true" church linked all the way back to the apostles if you do not "really" know.

    Thanks for any input
     
  15. Pluvivs

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    I was startled reading "The Churches of the Valley of Piemont," often referenced as a faithful second-hand source on church successionism, that the very ancient statements of faith of such churches included a Universal Church ecclesiology (and if my memory serves me, many were possibly pedobaptists). As the Landmark position and its variants specifically deny such a position as bad ecclesiology, it would be hard to think that those ancient churches would hold to such a position if they practiced anything like today's Landmarkism.

    In short, if was required that a chain-link be proven, then no one could be certain their church was "in", since no such heritage or church geneology exists. Thomas Armitage says it best in this quote I have ripped off of another website:

    “When Roger Williams left his followers they were in great trepidation lest they had not received baptism in regular succession from the Apostles, as if any body else had. They heard, however, that the Queen of Hungary had a list of regularly baptized descendants from the Apostles, and were half persuaded to send their brother, Thomas Olney, to obtain it at her hands. Still, on the second sober thought, they could not swallow this dose of the essence of popery, and concluded not to make themselves ridiculous. Whereupon Backus solemnly says, that at length they ‘concluded such a course was not expedient, but believing that now they were got into the right way, determined to persevere therein.’ Thus, once more, wisdom was justified in her children, UNDER THE APPLICATION OF THE RADICAL ANTI-ROMISH PRINCIPLE THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT IS THE ONLY TOUCH-STONE OF CHRISTIAN HISTORY” (Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists, Vol. 1, 1890, preface, pp. iii,iv). &lt;taken from http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/areyou.htm&gt;

    -Pluvivs
     
  16. rufus

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    I'm Landmark in the sense I believe churches of like faith and order have existed since Jesus established His church. "The gates of hell shall not prevail against her."

    Rufus
     
  17. Eagle

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    Dear Southern (and Pluvivs),

    First, I hope that I am wrong here, but I am starting to sense that you, Southern, are playing a "baiting game" or in some way trying to trip up a "Landmarker." Again, I hope that we are actually engaged in sincere Christian (and Baptist) dialogue -- since this is a "Baptist Only" thread.

    Second, I believe that I have sound reason to trust the eternal consequences of my soul to what the Bible says -- inasmuch as I believe it to be the actual Word of my God and Creator. There are ancient fragments of the Bible (in various languages), and there are histories and stories of how God's Word may have been preserved...but can you tell me for sure that I have a "chain-linked" succession of copies or "clones" of God's Word -- in order that I ought rightly to put my trust in it? Also, if there are variants in different versions of what is purported to be God's Word -- does it really matter which one I trust in? The New Testament is the New Testament -- even if they are different?
     
  18. Pluvivs

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    Eagle,

    I do not understand what you are asking. Am I trying to "trip up" someone? No. (Were you just asking this of Southern?) However, that does not mean that I agree with the Landmark position. After all, this forum is typically a place of debate and argument, with dissenting and contrary sides being taken by different parties.

    All of my adult years, I have been under the teaching of Landmark Baptists, yet never have I been fully persuaded by the position. Lately, after reading more on the position and hearing proponents (and as I quoted earlier, opponents), I am more and more convinced that 1) proving a chain-link is impossible in our current state and most importantly 2) the necessity of a chain link is not Biblically based.

    All that said, I am open to that possibility that I am misled, and so I try to ask questions on this subject (and its cousin, the Baptist Bride position) in a manner that stirs up thought and controversy, not in malice or spite but for my own (and anyone elses who is listening and reading) good.

    -Pluvivs
     
  19. Eagle

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    Dear Pluvivs,

    Yes, I was specifically addressing Southern with that question -- and to clarify, I do understand the "debating" format of this forum and wholeheartedly support and participate in it. I just really do not want to spend time chasing down "red herrings" -- if there is not a legitimate interest in embracing truth -- should it be found.

    No problems here with anything that is going on -- just wanted to express a voice of concern.

    As to what I was asking (or rather the point that I was making) in my previous post, it is simply this:

    The same reasonable, logical, thoughts that go into why I believe that I have the preserved Word of God, also apply to why I believe that God preserved His Church, and in exactly the form He wanted it to be preserved. God promised to preserve His Word. God promised to preserve His Church.

    I may well not be able to "find" the exact chain of copy to copy to copy of God's Word -- but the evidence for it is there. If there is not a "chain" of exact copies from which a translation in my language has arisen -- then I do not have the Word of God.

    Likewise, even though I may not be able to precisely "link" a given Church back to the first, nonetheless, a link must exist (in order to pass on Christ's authority, and His Truths) -- else Christ's "ekklesia" does not exist.

    Not all churches are the same. They have different "truths," and cannot all be right. Once these things are understood and accepted -- it merely becomes a matter of determining which one is actually "the pillar and ground of the truth."

    We (men) can no more start a church and call it Christ's ekklesia, than we can write a book and call it God's Word -- even if we came really, really, really, close to the original. [​IMG]
     
  20. Pluvivs

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    Eagle, here is the thought that I find the hardest to base scripturally in the Landmark position: " a link must exist (in order to pass on Christ's authority, and His Truths) -- else Christ's "ekklesia" does not exist. "

    My first problem with this is that His Truths come not from the Church, but from his Word. If the church was given authority over these Truths, then the need for the Bible is diminished, since tradition will provided the necessary teachings. This is definitely a problem in Catholicism, where they insist that church authority even usurps the written Word of God for truth and authority.

    I believe that the Word has been preserved through the ages. But even if all the Bibles in the world were destroyed, God's Word would still exist, it would not fail, and we would still be responsible for our obedience to Him and His commands. Think of it this way: prior to Moses's writing of the Pentateuch, NONE of the Bible existed (as far as we know), yet God's will was made known unto man. Is it then correct to say that, if the written Word were removed, then such a will would not be known among men? Or that God had "failed" to communicate?

    I also believe that the church has never gone out of existence entirely, and that some succession _might_ be found when we reach heaven, but I in no way believe that Christ's church is dependent on such succession.

    Now, we have been promised that "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it," but that does not support the Landmark position. The church and its members are judged on their fruit and works, not their heritage.

    -Pluvivs
     

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