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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


What It Is and Is Not to Be an

Old Landmark Baptist

J. R. Graves

From Old Landmarkism: What Is It?, 1880

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Romans 16: 17, 18


"Neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." I Tim. 5: 22


If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."  2 John 10-11


“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3


Landmark Baptists are continually charged by all who oppose their characteristic principles and policy—Baptists who know better, not excepted—with many and grievous offenses, in order to make us obnoxious to our own brethren, and detested by all others. It seems proper, therefore, at this point, to refute all these, by stating, first, what Old Landmarkism is not, before making a summary of what it is. Then:


1. Old Landmarkism is not the denial of spiritual regeneration to those with whom we associate ministerially or ecclesiastically.


Though we by no means feel warranted in saying that we believe that the members of those societies, which hold and teach that baptism is a sacrament or seal of salvation, or essential to the remission of sins—as all Pedobaptists and Campbellites societies do hold and teach—are Christians, or even presumptively regenerate, since they do not require a credible evidence of regeneration as a condition of membership.


They may believe that baptism, "duly administered," confers the grace of regeneration upon adults and infants as well, but Baptists do not. Therefore, we cannot believe that because they are members that it is therefore probable that they are regenerate, as we are justified in believing with respect to Baptist churches that require a credible profession of regeneration in every instance. It must be true that the vast mass of Pedobaptists, and the overwhelming mass of the membership of Campbellite societies are unregenerate, and we are not justified in applying to them the title of brethren in Christ; for we will thereby misteach them, and brethren, ecclesiastically, we know they are not.


But Landmarkism does not pretend to sit in judgment upon the state of any man's heart, but upon his ecclesiastical relations only. Refusing to affiliate with them, ministerially and ecclesiastically, is not declaring by our act that we believe their ministers and members are unregenerate, but that they are not members of scriptural churches. Refusing to invite their ministers to preach for our churches, and to accept their immersions, is no more denying their Christian character than refusing to invite them to our communion table—Baptists know this, and all Pedobaptists ought to know it.


We mean by our refusal, to emphasize our protest against their organizations as scriptural churches, and consequently against their ministers as authorized to preach and to administer the church ordinances. We do not recognize unbaptized and unordained men, who are Baptists in sentiment, as scriptural ministers, and qualified to administer church ordinances; and why should we be expected to recognize those we regard as disqualified, and who violently oppose our faith and practice? It is manifestly inconsistent of Baptists to do so, and Pedobaptists know and freely admit it. By no act that can possibly be so construed, must we recognize other societies as Christian churches, or other ministers as scriptural ministers.


2. Landmarkism is not the denial of the honesty and conscientiousness of Pedobaptists and Campbellites.

 

We concede to all the honesty of purpose we claim for ourselves, and we accord to them equal conscientiousness; but we, nevertheless, believe them honestly deceived, and conscientious in the belief of unscriptural and pernicious errors; and that it is our bounden duty to undeceive them by all possible scriptural means; but by no word or deed of ours to confirm them in their error. It is the highest proof of love to endeavor, even at the hazard of losing their friendship, to correct the mistakes and errors of our friends; while to leave them unwarned of a danger of which we are aware, is the part of an enemy.


3. Landmarkism is not a proof of our uncharitableness.


We are charged with manifesting a spirit uncharitable and unchristlike. This charge is without foundation. Christ called himself the "truth". He hated and opposed all error; he failed not upon all occasions to rebuke and denounce it; he recognized only those as his friends who were like him in this respect.


Charity not only rejoices in the truth, but is opposed to that which is not truth, and "hateth every false way." Christ, nor charity, then, requires of us to surrender Christian principle, and to be unfaithful to the teachings and requirements of duty. We cannot hope to please Christ, by recognizing the institutions and traditions of men, as equal to his own churches and commandments. That is not Christian charity, but a false liberality and treason to Christ, to surrender or compromise that which He has committed to us to firmly hold and faithfully teach.


Landmarkism, then, is not opposed to the spirit of true Christian charity, but to an unscriptural and pernicious "liberalism" which is being palmed off upon the world for Christian charity—a spirit which is truly opposed to Christ, and is the "bane and the curse of a pure Christianity," and daily demonstrate itself as the very spirit of persecution itself.


4. Landmarkism is not the denial to others the civil right, or the most perfect liberty to exist as professed churches, or to their ministers to preach their views, as is falsely asserted.


We accord to all denominations and to all "religions" - Jews and Gentiles, Mohammedan and Pagan, the same right to exist; and to their priests and teachers the same civil right to teach and propagate their doctrines, as we claim for ourselves. It is one of the peculiar characteristics of Baptists, which they have maintained in every age; viz., the absolute liberty of conscience and belief, and the freest expression of them. We would fight as soon to vindicate religious liberty in this country, to an idolatrous Chinese or a Jew, as to a Baptist.


We would not, had we the absolute power to do so, forbid Pedobaptists, or Campbellites, or Mormons from preaching, and the fullest enjoyment of their religious rights; but we do most positively deny that they have any scriptural right to exist as churches; we do deny their claims to be called or treated as churches of Christ; we do deny the scripturalness of either their doctrines, or their ordinances, and their authority to ordain ministers of the gospel, precisely as we would the right of Masonic Lodges, or Young Men's Christian Associations, should they assume to do so.


We do deny that their ministers have any more authority to preach the gospel and administer church ordinances; than the officers of Masonic Lodges have, by virtue of their office; but, in saying this, we make no allusion to their personal Christian characters whatever. All the members and officers of a Masonic Lodge might be true Christians, but that would not constitute the Lodge a Christian church, or its officers Christian ministers.


The only force we would bring to bear against Pedobaptists, and Campbellites, and Mormons, to put an end to their existence as churches, or to their ministers to arrest their preaching, is the Sword of Truth, wielded in the dauntless spirit of Paul and the love of Christ. We would convert them from the error of their ways, and bring them all by the force of moral suasion into sweet subjection to the law of Christ. We would exterminate isms by converting the ists.


We may as well notice here Luke 9:50, “And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us” which our would-be undenominational brethren constantly quote as proof positive that we should not oppose in any way, but rather encourage all religious teachers, of even manifest errors, to propagate their false doctrine so long as they claim to be religious teachers and the friends and followers of Christ. The apostles forbade a person to cast out devils in the name of Christ, because he did not follow them.


The Protestant commentators have generally made all possible use of this passage to support their cause as against the pretensions of the Romish church, and Baptists have been influenced to use it against the advocates of apostolic succession, who claim that no one is authorized to preach unless ordained in the succession; and now "liberal Baptists" who would recognize all sects as equally "Christian churches," and all the ministers of those sects as "evangelical ministers" and bid them Godspeed—quote it against Landmarkers.


But the passage yields them no encouragement to disrespect and violate the order which Christ established, and the positive injunctions of Paul. This man, whom John and his fellow apostles saw casting out devils, in the name of Christ, was certainly not an enemy of Christ, and could not have been doing anything contrary to his will or authority, or he could not have cast out devils. He was undoubtedly either one of John's disciples, or one of the seventy who had been authorized by Christ himself to do this very miracle when he sent them forth; and this man may have continued to proclaim the mission of Jesus, and to cast out devils. He was, most unquestionably, a disciple of Christ, though not one of the apostles; and, therefore, had been baptized.


The only irregularity complained of by John was, that he followed not Christ continually, as the apostles were required to do, to qualify them for their work after the ascension of Christ; but it was not required of him, nor of any other disciple of Christ, save the twelve, to follow Christ constantly. That this man was a friend and disciple of Christ, is established by the great faith he had in him as Messiah or the Son of God—greater than the apostles themselves were at times able to exercise. (See Matt. 17:16-22)


Will a Baptist, therefore, in the exercise of impartial candor, claim that this passage warrants him in maintaining that any one, irrespective of baptism or church relations, or faith in the doctrine of Christ, is authorized to go forth and preach his erroneous views in the name of Christ, and to administer church ordinances, and that we must bid him God-speed, and thus indorse his doctrinal errors which are subversive of true Christianity, and his irregularities totally subversive of the church and kingdom of Christ. Let all who desire to believe this know of a certainty that Christ never set up a kingdom and divided it against itself, nor can it be that "the house of God, which is the church of the living God" (I Tim. 3:15) is divided against itself.


The following are indisputable facts:


1. That without scriptural baptism there can be no Christian church, and consequently no scriptural ministers, and no scriptural ordinances.

 

2.  That sprinkling and pouring of water upon persons, adults, and infants, as a sacrament of salvation, is not scriptural baptism, but is a gross  perversion of it, as it is to administer it in order to procure the remission of sins.



It is a stern and solemn fact-


3.  That we, as Baptists, cannot by our words or acts declare that Pedobaptist or Campbellite societies are scriptural churches, or their teachers scriptural ministers, or their ordinances scriptural, without testifying to that we know to be untrue, and without lending all our influence to support and bid "Godspeed" to their false and pernicious teachings, and thus becoming partakers of their wrong-doing--as guilty in the sight of God as they themselves are. (See II John 10:11)


What is the mission of Landmark Baptists?


1. As Baptists, we are to stand for the supreme authority of the New Testament as our only and sufficient rule of faith and practice. The New Testament, and that alone, as opposed to all human tradition in matters, both of faith and practice, we must claim as containing the distinguishing doctrine of our denomination—a doctrine for which we are called earnestly to contend.


2. As Baptists, we are to stand for the ordinances of Christ as he enjoined them upon his followers, the same in number, in mode, in order, and in symbolic meaning, unchanged and unchangeable till he come.


3. As Baptists, we are to stand for a spiritual and regenerated church, and that none shall be received into Christ's church, or be welcomed to its ordinances, without confessing a personal faith in Christ, and giving credible evidence of piety.


The motto on our banner is:  CHRIST BEFORE THE CHURCH, BLOOD BEFORE WATER.


4.  To protest, and to use all our influence against the recognition, on the part of Baptists, of human societies as scriptural churches, by affiliation, ministerial or ecclesiastical, or any alliance or co-operation that is susceptible of being apparently or logically construed by our members, or theirs, or the world, into a recognition of their ecclesiastical or ministerial equality with Baptist churches.


5. To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of the divine origin and sanctity of the churches of Christ, and the unbroken continuity of Christ's kingdom, "from the days of John the Baptist until now," according to the express words of Christ.


6. To preserve and perpetuate the divine, inalienable, and sole prerogatives of a Christian church to, 1, preach the gospel of the Son of God; 2, To select and ordain her own officers; and 3, To control absolutely her own ordinances.


7. To preserve and perpetuate the scriptural design of baptism, and its validity and recognition only when scripturally administered by a gospel church.


8. To preserve and perpetuate the true design and symbolism of the Lord's Supper, as a local church ordinance, and for but one purpose—the commemoration of the sacrificial death of Christ—and not as a denominational ordinance, nor as an act expressive of our Christian or personal fellowship, and much less of courtesy towards others.


9. To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of a divinely called and scripturally qualified and ordained ministry, to proclaim the gospel, and to administer the ordinances, not upon their own responsibility, but for, and under the direction of, local churches alone.


10. To preserve and perpetuate that primitive fealty and faithfulness to the truth, that shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, and to teach men to observe all things whatsoever Christ commanded to be believed and obeyed.


Not the belief and advocacy of one or two of these principles are the marks of the divinely patterned church, but the cordial reception and advocacy of all of them, constitutes a full "Old Landmark Baptist."