I made a few comments on some factual inaccuracies in Brother Tim Holmes article Landmarkism and Today's Baptist Church. Apparently it is not admissable to disagree on the "Doctrines of Grace" blog -- or else the comments were too long -- and my comments were deleted. So I am posting them here. The italicized items are Bro. Holmes' words, and the unitalicized items are my response.
"The main reason for the creation of the Southern Baptist Convention was due to an attempted escape of Landmark ideas in the church...The greatest reason for the institution of the Southern Baptist Convention was to move away from Landmark views." I am at a loss to understand the above statement. How could the Southern Baptist Convention, which was organized in 1845, been organized to "escape Landmark ideas in the church"? This is neither consistent with Bro. Holmes' sources nor his own contention that "J. R. Graves, a preacher of that time, is responsible for setting this movement adrift during the 1850s and pressed hard to have the SBC support his views." How could the 1845 organization of the Convention been effected to avoid an ecclesiological viewpoint originating in the 1850s with J.. R. Graves, J. M. Pendleton, A. C. Dayton, et al.?
In another paragraph, Bro. Holmes builds a scenario of Baptist and Church of Christ churches across the road from one another, when "A dynamic Baptist preacher comes to town telling the people that unless they become Baptists, they will not see heaven." I have seen this raised as a common charge against Landmark Baptists, but I have never seen solid evidence presented that this could be anything more than a irregularity among them.
"The most distinct doctrine of Landmarkism was that 'the terms church and God's kingdom were used synonymously with each other. The Kingdom embraced the first church, and now it embraces all the churches.' For Landmarkers, this meant that the Kingdom of God is made up of the sum total of Baptist churches." On this item, I am just curious. This position is taken definitely and clearly by J. R. Graves in his writings. In my experience in Texas, this is not a common idea held by Landmark Baptists. Perhaps the strong emphasis on autonomy and 'local church only' leveled it out? Did it survive with any strength among Landmarkers? If so, when and where?
"The largest portion of Landmark influence can be found today in the church ordinances on baptism and communion…Restricted communion is still enforced to this day in the majority of SB churches because Landmarkers taught that only the true church could take part in the service." There is and has been quite a bit of debate on the history of "restricted baptism", alien immersion, etc. But I think there is no reason to connect the presence of restricted communion in Southern Baptist churches with Landmarkism. I believe it is relatively easy to historically demonstrate restricted communion to be the standard and major position of Baptists. Except for Free Will and General Baptists, Baptists until recent years have been almost universally in favor of it (Of course, the decline of restricted communion is much less recent in the UK as opposed to the US). If it is a "Landmark" issue, why is it prevalent in groups not associated with Southern Baptists long before the rise of Graves -- Primitive, United, Regular, Old Regular, etc.? (The same could be said concerning baptism). If Graves/Landmarkism made an unique contribution in the area of restricted communion, it would be his "local church only" restriction, which was not common in his day. Before (and still by many) it was restricted to baptized church members of like faith and order rather than only members of the participating church. The fact that many opponents of Landmarkism, such as R. B. C. Howell, were also restricted communionists, is somewhat telling.
"A very interesting find about Author and Pastor James Marion Frost wrote in 1888 The Consistency of Restricted Communion. This pamphlet supported Landmark views of communion, but he was the same person who helped start the SB Sunday School Board, of which Landmarkism opposed from it's beginnings (Biography). It appears that Frost could have been either ignorant of true Landmark views, or simply out to please who ever he was around in the denomination at that time." I believe this statement, besides possibly misrepresenting Frost, shows lack of information on both communion, as noted above, and Baptist history regarding Landmark ecclesiology. A number of Landmark Baptist leaders (e.g. Ben Bogard, J. N. Hall, J.. A. Scarboro, J. T. Moore), especially around the turn of the 20th century, opposed the Southern Baptist boards and methodologies -- believing these practices inconsistent with their ecclesiology. An evidently greater number of Landmark leaders (e.g. B. H. & J. M. Carroll, J. B. Moody, J. B. Gambrell) saw no inconsistency with their ecclesiology and their Convention methods. So I see no reason to single out Frost as "ignorant of true Landmark views".
In discussing the essence of the church, Bro. Holmes writes, "The definition of church loses its meaning and is no longer an 'assembly' of people of faith, but a building that we go to on Sundays." This seems to imply that is a natural result of Landmarkism. I find it hard to believe that anyone purporting an extensive knowledge of Landmarkism would make such a statement. I have never heard one Landmark-type Baptist equate "the church" with "the building", but have heard the frequently heard them decry such an idea.
Landmarkism is a frequent "whipping-boy" of other Baptists. If one disagrees with this ecclesiology, so be it. But the details of the disagreement need to be correct. I hope this post will further our knowledge of the subject.