I’ve tried to lay out the Biblical principles, the Baptist practices and the Christian history which can be characterized by the word “Landmarkism.” Baptistic people from before the close of the New Testament have been practicing Landmark principles. When Paul baptized the Alexandrian Christians who were visiting Ephesus in Acts 19, it was because they had not been immersed under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. In a nut-shell, that is what we believe about this subject. Since that day Baptists have been immersing mis-baptized and un-baptized people all over the globe.
But, many people claiming to be Baptists today, decry what we believe and claim that we are distorting the Bible. They say that we are uncharitable and are therefore unchristian, because we say that churches which have been started by men, and churches with unbiblical doctrines, and churches which have persecuted Baptists in the past, and churches which would still be persecuting them if they had the political power, are not true churches of Christ. They twist what we believe into some sort of Baptist or Landmark salvation. These doctrines are not about salvation from sin, but about God’s authority to minister in Jesus’ Name.
Let’s conclude with a few more questions that all Christians, especially “Baptists” need to answer.
How many churches and kinds of churches did the Lord Jesus originate? Should it be considered something new to say that Christ started only one church? How many kinds of baptism did the Lord practice or authorize? How many different kinds of baptism should be found in the world today? How many different kinds of baptism are found in GOD’S churches today? (Only one.) Should a call to return to the “one church” idea be designated a “new idea” or an “old idea”? Does a church which teaches that baptism is a necessary part of a sinner’s salvation, have God’s authority to observe the Lord’s Supper? How are these two ordinances related? (Incorrect baptism proves that church doesn’t have God’s authority to serve Him or to practice any Christian ordinance or service.)
What would society call a man who moves survey stakes and property markers? Does the Bible ever command people not to remove survey stakes and property markers? How often? (At least four times.) Deuteronomy 19:14 – “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it. Deuteronomy 27:17 – “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.” Proverbs 22:28 – “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” Proverbs 23:10 – “Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless.” What is wrong with calling our doctrine about Authority “Old Landmarkism” or simply “Landmarkism”? What might we call those “Baptists” which move or rearrange the doctrines of the Bible?
Are those churches which approve and fellowship with man-made churches which are filled with unscriptural doctrines, traveling in the paths that our fathers have trod? Is this a practical question or are we just splitting hairs in asking? If this is a practical question, does it have a logical or illogical answer? If Christ started one kind of church is it logical to say that the vast variety of churches were created by Christ? If Christ authorized or practiced nothing but the immersion of believers only, is it logical to say that He authorized the sprinkling of infants who are incapable of putting faith in Christ?
Did our Baptist forefathers consider the Roman Catholic church to be started by Christ in the third century? Did the Roman Catholic church consider the Baptistic (those holding to the ancient doctrinal landmarks) churches to be true churches? Did our Baptist forefathers consider the Congregational Puritan churches of New England to be churches of Christ? Did our Baptist forefathers consider the persecuting Episcopal churches of Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas to be true churches? What did the Baptists of 1750 and 1800 think about the practice of sprinkling babies? What did those Baptists think about the Congregational and Episcopal practice of the Lord’s Supper? Did those Baptists consider the Protestant and Pedobaptist ministers to have been scripturally ordained? What has changed so that it is logical for Baptists to consider those churches as churches of Christ today?
How important is it to properly answer these questions? If we say that Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Campbellite, Millerite and Mormon churches are only slightly confused churches of Christ, why don’t we close our doors and created a single Protestant congregation? If we cannot prove the correctness of our very different doctrines, do we have any legitimate right to exist?
If the Lord sent Obadiah Holmes, who was beaten nearly to death because he was a vocal Baptist, or if the Lord brought James Ireland, who had his family poisoned and who lost a child because of his Landmark faith, if the Lord brought any of those hundreds of people who shed blood on American soil 200, 250 and 300 hundred years ago, back to visit with us this morning, should we tell them that they were wrong to take such a sectarian stand against the good churches of the Protestants? Should we say that our Baptist forefathers were misdirected misfits when they opposed infant baptism, unregenerated church memberships and unsaved ministers?
Who will have the greater reward at the Bema: John Clarke or Increase Mather? Who will have the greater eternal honor: Jonathan Edwards or Obadiah Holmes? Who will have the greater reward: James Ireland or George Whitefield? Which of the following would you be surprised to see in Heaven: Jonathan Edwards, Obadiah Holmes, James Ireland or George Whitefield?
Do we have more or less responsibility to defend ecclesiastical truth today than 350 years ago? What does Ephesians 3:21 say? (“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”) Has Ephesians 3:21 any less significance today than it had when Paul wrote it?
Why do you suppose that Baptists don’t suffer much persecution today? How pleased is the Lord with the desire to build the biggest church or the biggest Baptist church in town, if Baptist doctrine or God’s Word and standards are compromised in order to accomplish this? Who was it Who said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!” (Luke 6:26). Who was it Who said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word I said unto you, The servant is not greater than the lord. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:20). Was what Paul said in I Timothy 3:12 only to be applied to the Apostolic age? “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If verses like these only apply to the people of Paul’s day, how boldly can we be in saying that the promises given to the people of Paul’s day should be applied to us? “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets who were be fore you.”
Suppose we live on friendly terms with the enemies of the doctrines of Christ. . . . Suppose that those who oppose His teachings become our friends, and speak well of us, can we hope to reign with Christ? What are the wonderful words of Matthew 25:21? (“Well done, good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”) What is it to be faithful?
Which kind of Christianity is more counterfeit: Roman Catholicism or Protestantism? Which persecution was more wicked: that of the Congregationalists of New England or the Catholics of the French and Swiss Alps? Fill in the blank; in talking about the Lord Jesus, His enemies said, “he hath a _________.” What did Paul say that he was called? “We are made as the _____________ of the world, and are the ___________ of all things unto this day” (I Corinthians 4:13).
What were some of the things that the Protestants of the American Colonies called the Baptists? A 1644 law in Massachusetts against the Anabaptists called them:“incendiaries, infectors of persons and troublers of churches.” The Governor of Virginia William Tyron, called them “enemies to society and a scandal to common sense.” The Protestants of Massachusetts call the Colony of Rhode Island “The sewer of New England.” A young lady was converted at meetings held at the Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi. When she presented herself to a Baptist church for baptism , she was visited by the Episcopalian rector. He told her that if she degraded herself as to join the Baptists, who were of the lower class, she would be no longer invited into polite society, but would sink to their level. Perhaps he should have said that she would rise to their level.
Who wrote the hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” (Isaac Watts.) Was Watts a Baptist? (He pastored a nonconformist church.) How many verses to “Am I a Soldier of the Cross” in our song books? What does the second verse say? “Must I be carried to the skies – On flowery beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize – And sailed through bloody seas?” What do verses 5 and 6 say? “Thy saints in all this glorious war – Shall conquer, though they die; They see the triumph from afar – By faith”s discerning eye. When that illustrious day shall rise – And all Thy armies shine. In robes of victory through skies – The glory shall be Thine.”