Introduction and Preface to Old Landmarkism

I’m going to start something which is contrary to my contrary nature. I have striven throughout my ministry to make sure that my Sunday School Class studied the Bible. 90% of my lessons for the past 30+ years have been a direct examination of the Holy Scriptures. You could say that they expositional studies. The remaining 10% have been studies like our last two: topical studies of Biblical doctrine with heavy reference to the scriptures. This morning, however, we are going begin something new, and it should last for several weeks. We are going to examine a term which we use to describe our church. We call ourselves a “Landmark” Baptist church. This is a word which is probably unfamiliar to 98% of Christendom, and, unfortunately, to most Baptists. And that is just the reason for our brief study. Now, here is where these lessons chafe against my better judgment as a Baptist pastor. Our lessons will be based on this little book: “Old Landmarkism; What Is It,” by J. R. Graves. Much that I will be teaching over the next few weeks will come directly from this book. We won’t confine our thoughts to this entirely, but I have to warn you that this will be our “text.” If you have a copy of “Old Landmarkism” at home, you are welcome to read ahead and even to bring it to class – just so long as you also bring your Bibles. I won’t be asking lots of questions, but as time permits, I’ll let you ask a few. Unfortunately, Bro. Graves isn’t able to be with us, so...

The Cotton Grove Resolutions

This morning we return to the Introduction of J.R. Graves’ book:“Old Landmarkism.” With more research, I have been able to discover a few things that I missed last week. For example, I did locate five references to the Cotton Grove Resolutions on the internet. Unfortunately, they were not full examinations, but only references. Perhaps, as Brother Graves suggested in this Introduction they were “famous” in 1880, but they are just an historical footnote today. A second thing that I found was the meaning of J.R.’s initials: Bro. Graves full name was James Robinson Graves. Furthermore, the full name of his fellow soldier in these battles for Baptist doctrine: J. M. Pendleton was James as well: James Madison Pendleton. There was actually a third member of this Landmark team: A. C. Dayton. His full name was Amos Cooper Dayton. I also learned that the pedobaptist who immersed Graves’ mother and sister was a Congregationalist, which is not surprising since was born and raised in New England. J.R. was raised in a Congregational church. Furthermore, it was the First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee which ordained him to the ministry. This was the same church which said that the alien immersion of his mother was satisfactory. And this was the church which first began to publish what became “The Tennessee Baptist.” Graves was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Nashville. He became pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee. And when Bro. Howell, was no longer able to publish his Baptist paper, it was given to the bright young man from Vermont: J. R. Graves. J.M. Pendleton often...

Just the Facts

As I said in our first lesson, if you have a copy of J.R. Graves’ book, you are more than welcome to read it at home or to follow along in our classes. And even though we will be using it as our “text,” I make no promise that I’ll be quoting it directly. It will be nothing more than our guide over the next few weeks. In Graves’ first chapter he begins with four facts. In any situation, especially where there are close-knit arguments, there needs to be foundational principles which are agreed upon by those in the debate. If one man is arguing in French and the other in English, they aren’t going to have a very helpful discussion. And then furthermore, to fully understand anyone, we often need to know the foundation on which he stands. So before we can go on, we need to understand what Graves considers to be basic principles. This morning we’ll look at 4 foundational facts and next week we’ll consider 6 axioms related to those facts. The First fact: “That Christ while on earth did build a Church, unlike any institution that had ever been seen.” Questions: Does it appear that J.R. believed in a church which started at Pentecost? When did Christ begin to build His first church? What is the basic meaning of the Greek word which is translated “church”? (Called out assembly.) Was the Old Testament nation of Israel the church of the Lord Jesus Christ? Well then why did Stephen speak of Israel as a church in Acts 7:37-39? “This is that Moses, which said unto...

Things Equal to Each Other

Last week we looked at four foundational facts which underlie the ideas about church authority. First fact: “That Christ while on earth did build a Church, unlike any institution that had ever been seen.” That Jesus is still building His church doesn’t mean that He didn’t begin to build it before Pentecost and before His death on the cross. Second fact: “That Christ set up but one church, and built but one house, which he called “the house of God,” “the Church of the living God,” and which was to be “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Eventually there were many churches, even in the days of the Book of Acts, but they were all basically duplicates and replicas of the first church that Jesus’ started. The Lord Jesus built one KIND of church. Third fact: “That Christ did not found His church with different parts in deadly antagonism to each other, or in open rebellion to His own authority, laws and government – ie. an house divided against itself. Nor did Christ construct His house, which he designed for His own glory and praise, of different and discordant materials, so that, from their very nature they could never be “fitly framed together” and become a homogeneous compacted whole. Furthermore Christ’s kingdom is never to be brought to desolation, and his Church is to stand forever.” Fourth fact: “It will be granted by all that there are hundreds of distinct religious organizations in America, each radically dissimilar in form and faith, each asserting its right to be considered a scriptural church, and, in more respects than any other,...

According to the Pattern

Let’s begin this morning with some quotes from someone none of you probably have ever heard of. “Unless the professed followers of Christ organize upon the apostolic model they are not a church of Christ, although there may be . . . Christians among them . . . “Ministers and members, professing the religion of Christ, may congregate together for the purpose of worship, and may organize, yet they will not be a church of Christ unless they organize upon the apostolic model . . . “We do not suppose that any unprejudiced mind would call any body of men and women the true church . . . unless it comes up fairly & fully in every minute particular to a description proceeding from that wisdom that could not err in the description in any remote or conceivable degree.” What do you think about those statement? Some people seem to think it is impossible to learn anything from someone who is not sound in the faith. There are people who seem to think that we shouldn’t read men with whom we are not in 87% agreement. If these things were true, then we would really be limiting our opportunities to learn things. Sometimes the outsider helps us to see familiar truths with a new perspective. And sometimes it really augments what we know to be true, when we realize that it is so obvious that even outsiders are forced to admit to that truth. These quotes were first published as an editorial in the Methodist Quarterly about 150 years ago (literally). Their author was D.S. Doggett, a bishop of...

The Pillar and Ground of the Truth

  We are looking at some of the distinctive marks of the churches of the Lord. If I put some black paint on my white Dodge and attached some red and blue lights; would that make my car a State Patrol Car? If I went to a costume store and rented a police uniform and borrowed one of your hand guns, would that make me a police officer? If I called myself the Prime Minister of Canada would that give me diplomatic immunity? If I jumped over the fence at Safeco Field and announced that I was the starting pitcher for the upcoming baseball game, would they give me the ball? Okay, what if I called myself the vicar of Christ on earth, would that give me the authority of God? Can someone simply assume authority to do what he chooses to do? If the Lord started His kind of church, and man has taken one of those churches and changed it, or . . . If someone started his own church and called it a “Church of the Lord Jesus Christ,” does that make it so? If there were five churches all claiming to be churches of Christ, but only one of them was patterned after the churches that we find in the Bible, how many of them have the authority to do the work of Christ? How many of those churches have the authority to baptize people? How many of those five professing churches have the authority of God to teach what they believe? I believe that Christ commissioned only His churches to preach His gospel and...

The Ordinances

  We have been looking at some of the distinctive marks of the churches of the Lord. But why should we be taught to look for those distinctive marks? The Lord started one kind of church, and churches today should still bear those distinguishing marks. One reason that this is important relates to the glory of the Lord. Who can explain that reason? Ephesians 3:21 – “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Another reason to look for the characteristics of Lord’s church relates to truth in general. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. What does that mean? The Lord’s church has been given the responsibility and authority to maintain and administer the Truth of God. Would you say that it is important to look for the Lord’s church? Does the majority of Christendom agree? It is the right and duty of a Christian church to administer the ordinances of Baptism and the Supper. The question is: to whom did the Lord give those ordinances? Who was the first Baptist? The Lord Jesus was being accosted by the Jews about the subject of authority. Matthew 21 – “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” Jesus replied to their question with another question; what was it that He asked? “And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which...

Baptism – Romans 6:3

 We have been looking at some of the distinctive marks of the churches of the Lord. We need to do this in order to know how to avoid those which are NOT the Lord’s churches. We need to make this study so that unto God may be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” The Bible teaches that only saved or regenerated people should be baptized and received into the church.Generally speaking, Catholics and Protestants baptize everyone who comes to them, including newborns. But who did John the Baptist baptize? (Those who demonstrated the fruit of repentance.) Where did John get his authority to baptize? Should we assume that his insistence on conversion was from the same source as his authority? Did John ever say anything about baptism and the idea of relationships to saintly ancestors? Both he & Christ told the Jews that their relationship to Moses and Abraham, didn’t make them saints. According to John 4:1 what kind of people did the Lord Jesus baptize? (Disciples.) When one thing is specifically commanded or authorized, does this permit us to become more general? If I said I want this room painted red, does that mean I want red with blue stripes? What did the Lord say about baptism when He spoke about “he that believeth and is baptized”? In the Great Commission when the Lord used the word “teach” all nations, what does that word mean? It means “disciple” or “make disciples.” And what does that commission say? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of...

The Lord’s Supper – I Corinthians 11:2

 We have been looking at some of the distinctive marks of the churches of the Lord. We need to do this in order to know how to avoid those which are NOT the Lord’s churches. And we need to make this study so that “unto God may be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Today we come to the seventh mark of one of the Lord’s churches. In the Bible, the Lord’s Supper was observed only as a church ordinance.Do we ever read of the Lord’s Supper being observed by Jerusalem Rotary Club or the Elks Lodge? You may think of that as a very stupid question, and I suppose that it is, because those sort of things didn’t exist in the days of the New Testament. But then again, did the Methodist denomination of churches, or the Roman Catholics exist in Jesus’ day? Why is it foolish to ask about the Freemason’s authority to observe the ordinances of the Lord, and not to ask about the authority of the Presbyterians or the so-called Church or Christ? Is the Lord’s Supper described or discussed in many or few scriptures? In the Scriptures, do we ever read of the Lord’s Supper being observed by any group of Christians that was not organized into a church? When was its first observance? (Christ and the eleven before His death.) Isn’t this proof that it was observed outside of a church, because there were no churches until Pentecost? The Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of the death of Christ for His people. Does the Bible...

The Testimony of History – Acts 20:29-30

 How many different kinds of churches did the Lord start? Did the Lord say anything about the perpetuity, or continuation, of His church? What do he say? Should we assume that the church, or the KIND of church, that the Lord started is still in existence? From where did all the various different kinds of churches come, if they didn’t come from the Lord? Should it be considered sinful if churches which the Lord started don’t acknowledge those other societies as “churches of Christ?” Most Protestants and many Baptists believe that we SHOULD fellowship with all those which profess themselves to be “churches of Christ” whether the facts say that they are or not. And many of those “Affiliationists” insist that our policy of not recognizing human and unscriptural societies as churches of Christ, and not recognizing their preachers as ministers of the gospel, and our non-acceptance of their ordinances as valid, is not sustained by church or Baptist history, and is, therefore, not an OLD but a NEW landmark, and that we are heretics and schismatics. This is a serious charge, and if it can be sustained by the Word of God and the facts of history, then we need to diligently search the scriptures and our own hearts, bringing our behaviour into alignment with the Truth. And we should stop calling ourselves “Landmark Baptists.” Over the last few weeks we have looked at several things from the scriptures. Now, what about church history?Were the churches whose histories are recorded in the Bible models of perfection? Does a church with sinful and heretical members, and innovative practices, cease...

Secondary Separation – Galatians 5:1-12

 What does the Bible say about separating ourselves from error? If it is Biblical to separate from error, is it unbiblical to separate from those who refuse to separate from error? What would you guess does the term “Secondary Separation” mean? (Separation from those Baptists who refuse to separate from Protestantism and the cults.) As far as I am concerned this “Secondary Separation” is one of our Biblical Landmarks. But what does the Christian world think about this Landmark Baptist position? We have looked at scriptures which are the foundation for what we believe and practice as Baptists, and we have seen that Baptistic people have believed these things since before the fourth century. Now, I’d like us to notice what the Bible says about separation from those who disagree with us. The teachings of the Scriptures?God’s principles of separation from sin and heresy are found throughout the Scriptures. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Turn to Exodus 19:4-6: – “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” What did the Lord imply about Israel’s relationship to other nations when...

Early American Landmarkism – Jeremiah 18:15

 Last Sunday, when Bro. Nimmo showed me his picture of George Washington being baptized by John Gano, he also handed me a taped interview of a pastor who has just written a 600 page book on Baptist history in America. I confess to having some skepticism as I began to listen to that tape. First, because the author was a man of whom I had never heard (as if I should know all the Landmark Baptists in the United States). And then secondly it was because the interview was being conducted by the Southwest Radio Church. What do those middle-of-the-roaders know or care about Baptist history? But as we listened to about an hour and a half of interviews I was very impressed. Despite saying things that I had never heard before, there was nothing that he said to which I disagreed. For example, although showing great respect for Roger Williams, he said that he was not a Baptist and the first Baptist Church in this country was planted by John Clark. He made the statement that Williams was the first real American, but the first real American Baptist was Clark. He also said that George Washington was baptized by a Baptist preacher, and he logically explained why. I was so impressed with the interview that when I got home I ordered the book. That interview also encouraged me to go back more Baptist church history for our lesson today. So this morning we focus on American Baptist history, as it relates to Landmarkism. From the planting of the first church in Newport, Rhode Island, A.D. 1638, until 1776,...

Virginia Baptists – Isaiah 9:8-16

 As far as I know, all of the original colonies in the Americas had state-authorized and state-supported churches, except for Rhode Island. What was the only accepted denomination among the French and Spanish? In the beginning what were the only approved religions in the English colonies? (Anglican or Episcopal and Congregational). In New England the Puritan or Congregational churches held sway, and towards the South – Episcopal. And by the way, there was very little love shared between the southern and northern colonies. Virginia, for example, remained true to the King of England until the last moments of the 1770s. She was initially a very strong Anglican colony and considered the Congregationalists as spiritual rebels. (And for this Massachusetts discouraged any contact and trade with Virginia.) When Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act and taxation without representation and first proposed the doctrine of revolution, the leaders of Virginia called it treason. The Baptist historian, Thomas Armitage, says that one of the greatest paradoxes in American history is not just that Virginia joined the revolution, but that she became the leader of the revolution. Part of the reason for that change of opinion was due to the labors of the Quaker, Presbyterian, and particularly, the Baptists of Virginia. It is a fact that the colony from which some of the strongest American patriots came was Virginia. And yet initially Virginia was the most pro-British colony and supported the Anglican church. Here is an Episcopalian statement published in 1771 in Virginia: “The constitution of the Church of England is approved, confirmed and adopted by our laws and interwoven with them. No...

The Philadelphia Association – Proverbs 22:28

 I am not a friend of Baptist denominations, associations or fellowships. I have learned from personal experience that it is hard for a group of independent Baptist preachers to call themselves a “fellowship” before they start behaving like an entity unto themselves. It does not have to be that way, but it’s a fact of life that once a fellowship begins to organize, then it begins to take some of the authority of the churches and claim it for itself – de facto, if not de jure. Fellowships and associations are not necessary in order to have schools, support missions or combat the government. I have personally experienced the destructive power of an independent Baptist Fellowship. But it is a fact that Baptists have often formed fellowships and associations. And as I say, they don’t have to be hurtful to the cause of Christ; they don’t necessarily rob the churches of their God-given authority. Two weeks ago, I referred to the Warren Association of Baptist churches in New England. And today we focus on the Philadelphia Association of Baptist Churches.The Philadelphia Association was organized, A.D. 1707, and is, therefore, the oldest such group on the American continent. It could originally be found in all the Middle States along with some churches in Virginia. The purpose of this first Baptist association was to assist in communication between the churches. They wanted to present, as much as possible, a unified front to their pedobaptist neighbors. Those associations had no intention of controlling or manipulating the churches. They constantly declared that each church was independent, and the thought of an hierarchy among...

Inconsistencies and Evils – Psalm 146:5-6

 Tell me if the following is true or false: “A straight line cannot cross itself, even if it is extended indefinitely.” How about: “Truth never contracts itself”? What about: “Truth cannot abet error”? For fourteen weeks now, we have been looking at the subject of God’s authority to establish and direct the doctrines of His church. How many different kinds of churches have we learned that the Lord Jesus has established? (One.) How much liberty has the Lord given to men to bend, break, relax or otherwise manipulate the principles of His church? (None.) How long did the Lord declare that His church would exist? (Until the end of the age or world.) What does it mean when one person says that immersion is the only true form of baptism, and another says that sprinkling or pouring is acceptable for baptism? What does it mean when principles or lines of Biblical church doctrine intersect the doctrines of other churches? (It means that those other doctrines are not Biblical.) The common practice of affiliating with the various human religious societies of this age … The common practice of some Baptists to accept non-Baptist churches as evangelical churches of Christ, Such as Southern Baptist Billy Graham has done for decades – with the applause of the S.B.C… When Baptist churches receive as members, professing Christians who have not been baptized in one of the churches which came from the church Jesus started … When Baptists receive as members, professing Christians who have been immersed churches which deny the essential doctrines of the Word of God … We are witnessing the intersection...