Friday, March 30, 2007

Landmark ecclesiology

Landmarkism is a “logical system” of ecclesiology. It is a theology concerning the doctrine of the church in the same way Calvinism and Arminianism are logical systems of theology concerning salvation. I will give below what I believe to be the main points or basic substance of this ecclesiological system.

About six or seven years ago, I conducted a study to identify/count independent unaffiliated Baptist churches holding Landmark ecclesiology. To do so I had to develop criteria to identify such churches – what might be the essence of being “Landmark”. The three pillars of Landmarkism (A. C. Dayton, J. R. Graves and J. M. Pendleton) were not agreed in all points. For example, Graves held that New Testament use of the word “church/ekklesia” always meant a local congregation. Pendleton thought that in some cases it meant “the church in the aggregate.” I determined the best way to identify a “Landmarker” or church holding Landmark ecclesiology would be to identify the common characteristics of “self-identified” Landmark Baptists from their day to the present. From that I developed what I believed would be the minimum requirements (in combination) it would take to be a “Landmark Baptist church” or “Landmark Baptist”. All might not agree with my method or my conclusion, but I offer the results here for comment.


1. The church is a local autonomous body authorized by Jesus Christ to evangelize, baptise, and teach His disciples.

2. Jesus organized His church during His personal ministry, promised its continued existence, and that church (generically) still exists today.

3. Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water by the authority of a local New Testament church; believers who have been immersed by other denominations must submit to baptism by an authorized administrator.

4. The Lord’s supper is restricted to baptised believers who are walking in orderly church capacity.

This ecclesiology is most often associated with Missionary Baptists, since the name and the systemization of it were associated with Dayton, Graves, Pendleton and others in the Southern Baptist Convention in the mid-1800s. Some who hold the above ecclesiology prefer not to be called Landmarkers. Among some Missionary Baptists it has never attained common usage, though they gladly own all four points listed above. It is debatable whether it is proper to use this term in reference in to others. Nevertheless, other Baptists hold a similar ecclesiology.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Baptist history blog

I am adding a link to my side bar to the blog of Nathan A. Finn. Nathan currently teaches Baptist history and church history adjunctively at Southeastern College, in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Nathan has some very good posts on the subject of Baptist history which some of you will want to read.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Books you've read

I found the following survey on Wes Kenney's blog post "Books". Thought some of you might be interested in giving your opinions. The Bible might be your legitimate answer to a number of these. But I think the survey is really designed to get you talking about what man-written books you've read, like, dislike, etc. So try and keep that in mind as you answer.

One book that changed your life:
One book that you’ve read more than once:
One book I’d want on a desert island:
One book that made me laugh:
One book that made me cry:
One book that you wish you had written:
One book you wish had never been written:
One book that you are currently reading:
One book that you’ve been meaning to read:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Praisegod Barebones (aka Bart Barber) has some good thoughts about lawsuits, in my opinion.

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? -- I Cor. 6

Monday, March 26, 2007

What do you think?

"It has been said that though God cannot alter the past, historians can..."

From Erehwon Revisted (chapter 14), by Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Heard:* To believe in God adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away.

*I wrote this down, but now don't remember where I heard this or who said it -- probably on the radio or a taped sermon.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Prayers, plans, predestination

After quoting, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book," (Psalm 139:16) in context of something Rick Warren had written, a person posting on the Baptist Board questioned the compatability of prayer and God having a "plan" for everyone's life: "Now let's imagine that you say a prayer in this sort of universe. What difference does it make? God has his plan, and that plan is running down its track like a freight train...The idea of a 'plan' makes the idea of a 'prayer-answering relationship with God' ridiculous."

I thought Larry, a pastor in Michigan, gave a good answer: "The truth is that God has planned all the days of our lives. He declares it to be so and therefore it is. He also answers prayer. Think about it. If he has declared all the days of your life, he has therefore declared the prayers and the answers to them." [13 March 2007, the Baptist Board]

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Lord has His Way in the Whirlwind

Nahum 1:3 -- "The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet."

The Lord Has His Way In The Whirlwind
"The word of God tells us that God has His way in the whirlwind. One can only make of that that every building blown apart or submerged, every fallen tree, every ruined neighborhood and, yes, every lost life is the direct work of God Almighty.

"When will we ever quit attributing the work of our God to a ficticious Mother nature? How can we in one breath pray for God to deliver us and in the next deny that He had any part in the destruction in the first place?

"The wonder, to me, is not that God does these things, but that He hasn't been more severe in His judgments on us. These things are only a foretaste of the havoc He will wreak on this earth before the great and dreadful day of Christ's return."

-- An excerpt from an August 2005 post by Mark Osgatharp, Lakeview Missionary Baptist Church Wynne, Arkansas, which was in the context of the Hurricance Katrina that hit the Gulf Coast. It was interesting to find in the responses that many Baptists do not believe the Lord has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Christ the beloved

The following is an Isaac Watts poetic rendition of Song of Solomon 5:9-16. I had not seen it before, but some of you may be familiar with it.

HYMN 75 L. M.
The description of Christ the beloved. Song of Solomon 5:9-16.

The wond'ring world inquires to know

Why I should love my Jesus so:
What are his charms," say they, "above
The objects of a mortal love?"

Yes! my Beloved, to my sight
Shows a sweet mixture, red and white:
All human beauties, all divine,
In my Beloved meet and shine.

White is his soul, from blemish free;
Red with the blood he shed for me;
The fairest of ten thousand fairs;
A sun amongst ten thousand stars.

His head the finest gold excels;
There wisdom in perfection dwells,
And glory like a crown adorns
Those temples once beset with thorns.

Compassions in his heart are found,
Hard by the signals of his wound:
His sacred side no more shall bear
The cruel scourge, the piercing spear.

His hands are fairer to behold
Than diamonds set in rings of gold;
Those heav'nly hands, that on the tree
Were nailed, and torn, and bled for me!

Though once he bowed his feeble knees,
Loaded with sins and agonies,
Now on the throne of his command
His legs like marble pillars stand.

His eyes are majesty and love,
The eagle tempered with the dove;
No more shall trickling sorrows roll
Through those dear windows of his soul.

His mouth, that poured out long complaints,
Now smiles and cheers his fainting saints
His countenance more graceful is
Than Lebanon with all its trees.

All over glorious is my Lord
Must be beloved, and yet adored;
His worth if all the nations knew,
Sure the whole earth would love him too.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) - Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Foreknowledge not just information

“When the Bible speaks of God’s foreknowledge, it is never speaking of God’s gathering information about events over which He had no control. God is not passive, but active, in foreknowledge. ‘Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain’ (Acts 2:23). God did not just gather information ahead of time that Jesus would be crucified at the hands of wicked men. He determined it by His foreknowledge according to His own counsel. It did not just happen to turn out that way, and He had advance information about it. It turned out that way because He had before determined it should.” – Conrad Murrell, in Salvation...When?, page 27

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Socrates got it right

Socrates, who died around 399 BC, was a Greek philosopher and not a Christian. But he certainly got it right when he said: "Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim, 'Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish it all?'" -- Socrates, about 420 B.C., according to Plato.

Another "lesson from history" may be found at the link.

Monday, March 19, 2007

DST - reprise

"An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States" was enacted on March 19, 1918.

Anyone know the source/author of this below?

Not at the River Jordan
But in the flowing stream,
Stood John the Baptist dipping
When he baptized Him.
John was a Baptist preacher,
When he baptized the Lamb;
Then Jesus was a Baptist,
And thus the Baptists came.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hope by Mike McInnnis

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil. -- Hebrews 6:19

The scripture uses several adjectives to describe the hope which the LORD gives:

One hope. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph 4:4-5) This describes the very basis upon which the HOPE of the LORD’s children is based. There is only one sure ground upon which true hope can rest, HIS name is the LORD JESUS CHRIST.

A good hope. “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work.” (2 Thess 2:16- 17) That hope which HE gives is like a breath of fresh air or a cool drink from a deep well which springs up into everlasting life, filling the soul with gladness and peace.

A blessed hope. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) The anticipation of our LORD’s return is indeed a blessed hope for those who love HIS appearing. There are some who have erred from the faith saying that the resurrection is past and that CHRIST has already come. (see 2 Tim.2:18)

A better hope. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (Heb 7:19) The ground and basis of our hope is not built on anything which must be accomplished by sinful men. JESUS CHRIST has fulfilled the law in its jot and tittle and has offered one sacrifice for sins forever. HE is now seated at the right hand of the FATHER making intercession for HIS own. The law could never make us righteous nor can it now bring us into condemnation. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)

A lively hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Pet 1:3) Our hope is “lively” (i.e.; living) because HE is alive and has placed within us, the hope that we too shall be raised from the sleep of death and shall put on immortality in an incorruptible body like unto HIS. This hope is at the very heart of our desire. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor 15:19- 20)

-- Excerpt from the
Grace Gazette Vol. V, Issue 10

Systematized theology

"Jesus, as has been intimated, did not teach a Dogmatic Theology; but only imparted, in a fragmentary form, the eternal truths of the religion of Heaven. The Apostles, particularly Paul and John, formed indeed a system of doctrines; but not a sharply-defined and logical system like that of the Schoolmen of the middle ages, and those Schools of Theology of our day. It was long, however, before believers at large began to build up the doctrines of Christianity in a connected and systematic manner. At first they were satisfied with the simple confession that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, that he is the Messiah promised by the prophets, and that he is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world." -- History of the Early Baptists: from the 'Beginning of the Gospel' to the rise of affusion as baptism, and of infant baptism 28 A.D.--250 A.D., William Cecil Duncan, New Orleans, LA: Alex Duncan & Co., 1857pp. 162, 163

Friday, March 16, 2007

How do teachers make their students feel?

Seen posted in a school: In years to come, your students may forget what you taught them. But they will always remember how you made them feel.

What does this mean? Is it correct? If so, what does it suggest to teachers?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Landmarkism under Fire

I just ran across this book online -- Landmarkism Under Fire: a Study of Landmark Baptist Polity on Church Constitution by J. C. Settlemoir.

The book deals with what is termed (at least in this book) "Essential Mother-Daughter Authority" for the purpose of constituting a church. According to Settlemoir, "EMDA is a doctrine concerning church constitution" that "maintains authority must be given by a mother church in order to constitute a group into a new church. It teaches the authority of Christ was transferred to the church and consequently only a church can pass this authority on to another group." Or, as stated by a proponent of the idea, "Therefore I believe that all true churches were founded or established on the consent of a mother church." [7 Questions and Answers as to Church Authority, by Robert Ashcraft]

I believe this will prove fascinating reading to those interested in the polity of church constitution, whether or not one is a "Landmarker".

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March 14th in History

March 14, 1794: The cotton gin was patented by Eli Whitney.
March 14, 1804: Johann Strauss, Austrian composer, was born.
March 14, 1879: Albert Einstein, Austrian scientist, was born.
March 14, 1883: Karl Marx, German philosopher and communist revolutionary, dies.

March 14, 1961: Revised version of the New Testament published.
March 14, 1964: Jack Ruby found guilty of killing Lee Harvey Oswald, and sentenced to death.
March 14, 1980: Members of the US Olympic boxing team are among the 87 killed in a plane crash in Warsaw.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Daylight saving time

Who decided we need more Daylight saving time?

According to
Wikipedia, the idea of Daylight saving time began in 1905 with Englishman William Willett, and he published a proposal for it in 1907 (evidently Benjamin Franklin raised the idea as early as 1784).

"Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used." -- William Willett "The Waste of Daylight" 1907

"DST was first enacted by a national government by Germany during World War I...On March 19, 1918, the U.S. Congress established DST from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October." This was unpopular and was repealed in 1919. (Wikipedia)

Of course, we all understand (don't we?) that no daylight is actually saved, the amount of daylight being governed by the God-created sun rather than our watches. So the running back & forth of clocks and watches doesn't really save "daylight". Does it actually save energy? I don't know. I am simple enough to know that the "time change" associated with DST will increase the use of electricity in the morning and reduce its use in the evening. If the reduction of energy use in the evening reduction in greater than the increase of energy use in the morning, then a savings could occur. According to United States DOT, such a savings does occur -- about 1% each day.

"I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves." -- Robertson Davies, "The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks" 1947

To me, Daylight saving time seems to be a government-imposed lifestyle change for all its citizens.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Have any of you read Salvation.....When? by Conrad Murrell [G.A.T.E. Publications, Bentley, LA, 1993] Murrell is a preacher, writer, and conference speaker. He pastors Grace Church of Bentley, is about 77 years old, and has been preaching for over 50 years.

According to Grace and Truth Enterpises, Salvation....When is a "mind-jarring, searching recovery of the biblical doctrine of Salvation" that " Shockingly reveals the problems spawned by defining and limiting salvation in an experience."

He has a Calvinistic belief system. Just wondering what you all think, if you've read Murrell? Here's a few quotes:

"The basic error is in viewing salvation as an experience - that is, an in-time experience to which past, future, and eternity are all subjective...Soon, one who had been delighted in his experience is convinced he was deceived and needs another experience...Salvation includes the complete deliverance of the saint...There would be no difference of brethren over the doctrine of eternal security if Bible salvation were understood. The division exists solely because of the idea of salvation being in an experience...Salvation is not an experience: it is an act of God that has its origin and consummation in eternity, and includes all the experience in grace of the object of salvation in his entire lifetime." - from pages 17-22

I found his explanation of the harmonization of certain verses on perseverance and some that seem to teach apostasy unique and interesting.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Tailor-King

In my post on The argument of theological differences, I mentioned that was reading The Tailor-King by Anthony Arthur. I finished it last night.

Arthur's book is a "popular" telling of the
Münster Rebellion in Germany. It is well written and seems to keep to historical accuracy. It is not written with the "serious" historian in mind, and would be a good introduction to the story for those not familiar with it. Some Anabaptists set up a kingdom in Münster in the 1530s, and were beseiged and eventually overthrown by Franz von Waldeck, the "prince-bishop" of the area.

Arthur is not particularly sympathetic to the Münster Anabaptists, but also does not find evil in everything they did (as was the standard line for many years). In his last chapter he makes some comparison to recent "millennial movements", such as that of
David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, Jim Jones & Jonestown, etc..

Overall, I would recommend it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Hymn written by
Joachim Neander in 1680 (translated by Catherine Winkworth).
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty in the Cyber Hymnal for all the verses. Thanks to Julian Smithe for sending this via e-mail.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Today in 1836

Early in the morning of March 6, 1836, Santa Anna ordered his troops to storm Misión San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Smith Memorial Singing

Saturday (only) before Second Sunday — March 10, 2007 (d.v.)

28th Annual Smith Memorial Sacred Harp Singing

New Harmony Community Center, on FM 724 in the NewHarmony Community, between State Hwys 64 & 110,northwest of Tyler, Texas.

More info: Myrl Jones, (903) 593-0955.
Books: 1991 Revision/Cooper Revision

For map, follow this link:Smith Memorial Singing

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The argument of theological differences

Something I'm reading and something I re-read this week intersected in a way to cause me to write down these thoughts. I'm reading The Tailor-King, which is a re-telling of "the rise and fall of the Anabaptist kingdom of Munster" by Anthony Arthur. The Anabaptist kingdom of Munster is a story of radical Anabaptists run amuck, but Anabaptists nonetheless. This unfortunate series of events was used for centuries to "tar and feather" all Anabaptists. I have no intention of doing so. But to deny any connection between the peace-loving non-resistant Anabaptists and the radicals at Munster who defied a feudal war-lord (aka Bishop von Waldeck) and proposed to violently set up the Kingdom of God on earth is an historical mistake. In fact, a disciple of Jan Matthias (the instigator of Munster) baptized Obbe Philips, who ordained and probably baptized Menno Simons.

A popular trend in Baptist studies is what might be called the "argument of theological (or doctrinal) differences." This "argument of theological differences" is used to support the idea that there was no connection between the early English Baptists and the Continental Anabaptists -- their doctrines are different, therefore there is no connection. Winthrop Hudson provides a good example of this line of thinking. Hudson stresses the Baptists' rejection of certain features of Anabaptist life and thought -- opposition to civil magistracy, the holding of public office, military service, oaths, and going to court -- as evidence that "Baptists Were Not Anabaptists" (The Chronicle, Vol. XVI, No. 4, Oct. 1953, p. 172.).

Mark Osgatharp puts this in perspective in "Twisted Historical Logic" (Baptist Board, 3 Aug 2003): By applying the modernist revisionist historical "logic" to more modern circumstances, we can see just how absurd their conclusions are.

1. Campbellites and Baptists are at theological odds - therefore Campbellites didn't originate among the Baptists. But Campbellites did originate among the Baptists. There are many Campbellite churches existing today which were originally Baptist churches.

2. Charismatics and Baptists are at doctrinal odds - therefore Charismatics didn't originate among the Baptists. But the reality is that there are many charismatic churches that were at one time Baptist churches. As a matter of fact, when the Assemblies of God denomination was first organized there was a whole local association of Missionary Baptist churches in north Arkansas that went over in mass into it's organization.

3. The "General Baptist" denomination in America is an Arminian body - therefore they did not originate among the Calvinistic Baptists. But they did originate among the Calvinistic Baptists. The founder of this group [Benoni Stinson] was sent as a missionary out of a Calvinist Baptist church in Indiana. After establishing a new church he openly declared his opposition to Calvinism. Later, the churches that grew out of this movement abandoned the doctrine of eternal security as their founder had abandoned Calvinism.

4. Modernist Baptists and Bible Believing Baptists are at diametrical odds, therefore they have no historical kinship. But, as we all know, they do have historical kinship. Baptist churches that were once doctrinally sound are now theologically bankrupt. There are even churches where the membership is split between Christians and modernists.Ironically, the Baptists who are the most theologically destitute are the very ones who would disown some group in the past because they don't pass Baptist doctrinal muster! -- [Excerpt from the thread "Twisted Historical Logic", Mark Osgatharp, on]

I find it amusing that often the most narrow Baptists in faith and practice -- who will not fellowship those who do not dot their "i's" and cross their "t's" in the same manner -- are often the quickest to embrace any old heretical group as an ancestor if they practiced adult immersion; while, on the other hand, the most theologically diverse and ecumenical Baptists reject some quite similar ancient baptistic folks as not meeting their criteria to be "real" Baptists.

Hudson's "argument of theological differences" may rest partially in a bias and certainly fails to entertain the complexity of the Anabaptist movement on the European continent. Bro. Osgatharp illustrates the failure of this argument to the meet the muster. It is a prop that needs to be pulled out of the English Separatist descent theory. If one cannot prove a tie between the English Baptists and Continental Anabaptists -- or can prove there is not one -- then discuss the historical evidence. But the historically untested use of the "argument of theological differences" might just as well prove that some Baptist church of the same name in the same place is not the one that was begun there 200 years before.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pejorative terms

"It would seem more appropriate in academic debate, and indeed a simple matter of common courtesy, to refer to positions by the terms that the representatives of those positions choose for themselves rather than by pejorative terms that they reject." -- from Should We Move Beyond the New Testament to a Better Ethic? by Wayne Grudem