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A Biblical Evaluation of Landmarkism by Nolan McFadden Α I. Definition of Landmarkism – As a theological movement, Landmarkism (or Old Landmarkism) originated in the 1850’s with the writings of Pastor James Madison Pendleton (1811-1891) and Mr. James Robinson Groves (1820-1893). Also, A. C. Dayton (1813-1865) helped in the early publications of this movement. In essence, Landmarkism is a view of the doctrine of the church (ecclesiology) advocating “Baptist Exclusivism.” It may also be regarded as “Baptist sectarianism.” In his article Landmarkism: Doctrinaire Ecclesiology Among Baptists Hugh Wamble explained, “Called Landmarkism, its major premise is: the sole validity of Baptist churches. On the basis of this premise, Landmarkers erected an ecclesiology replete with “principles,” “axioms,” “corollaries,” “facts,” “truths,” “proofs” and “consequences.” (1) II. Deviations of Landmarkism from New Testament Christianity – A.

At its core, Landmarkism is based on a false understanding of the doctrine of the church (ecclesiology) and church polity. Proponents of Landmarkism twist the Scriptures in order to teach this nineteenth century theology of men. In the book Handbook of Denominations in the United States author Frank Mead pointed out that Landmarkers believe, “The church is always vocal and visible. The expression “the church” is used only when speaking of the institution. All saved people make up “the family of God,” not “the church.” While members of Protestant churches may be saved, they are not members of true churches.” (2) Thus, Landmarkism denies the historical and fundamental truth taught in the early churches that “the Church,” when referring to “the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12-28, Ephesians 4:4-16; 5:23, Colossians 1:1824) in its entirety in the New Testament Scriptures, consists of all true born-again Christians (Matthew 16:18, 18:17, Acts 5:11; 20:28, I Corinthians 12:12-28, 15:9, Galatians 1:13, Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23-32, Colossians 1:18-24 ). B. Moreover, Landmarkism advances the doctrine of “Baptist succession.” Just as the Roman Catholic teachers erroneously claim the doctrine of “papal succession” extending back to the apostle Peter, Landmarkers erroneously claim “Baptist succession” extending back to John the Baptist. Many Landmarkers teach that the church began during the ministry of John the Baptist rather than during the ministry of Jesus Himself. Obviously, Landmarkers have great difficulty explaining the declaration of our LORD JESUS in Matthew 16:18. Jesus said, “And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” First, notice that the promise of CHRIST that “I will build” is in the future tense. Second, note that JESUS said He was going to build His “church” (singular) rather than “churches” in the plural. Third, we find in our text that “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In our Bible text the word “it” is in the singular rather than being in the plural - “them.” The word “it” (singular) refers to the “church” (singular) that


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JESUS Himself established. If our Savior would have wanted His disciples to believe in Landmarkism, He certainly would have used other words such as “my churches” in His declaration of Matthew 16:18. C. As a result of the erroneous and distorted view of the church set forth in Landmarkism, Landmarkers do not recognize any baptisms outside of their churches as being valid baptisms. This is according to their doctrine of “alien baptism.” They even go so far as to reject baptisms by biblical immersion done outside of “Baptist” churches. This means that when a believer who has previously been baptized by immersion in accordance with Matthew 28:19 in another church (even in another Baptist church not in agreement with their views) joins a Landmarker church, he or she is required to be baptized again in the church advocating Landmarkism. Whereas, our LORD JESUS and His apostles never asked Christians to be baptized a second time after their first, biblical baptism following their conversions to CHRIST. We find no examples in the New Testament Scriptures of a believer in CHRIST JESUS being baptized a second time in a “Baptist” church. This practice of Landmarkers is just one more example found in their man-made false theology about the church which is in reality, “…teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:7-8) D. In addition, Landmarkers usually practice “closed communion” when keeping the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in their churches. Those who believe in “closed communion” prohibit Christians who are not members of their local church (singular) from partaking of the Lord’s Supper within their church. But, if our LORD JESUS would have wanted Christians to practice “closed communion,” why did God permit the apostles Paul, Barnabas and Silas to practice “open communion” during their missionary journeys? It is certain that these faithful servants of JESUS kept the Lord’s Supper while visiting churches other than “the church that was at Antioch” during their ministry trips (Acts 2:42; 13:2-3; 14:21-23; 15:35-41; 18:11). Likewise, we see no examples of a church practicing “closed communion” in the New Testament. There is one example of church discipline in the church at Corinth of a man who was living in sexual immorality (I Corinthians 5). While there is no doubt that this person was not allowed to partake of the Lord’s Supper until he had genuine repentance and restoration with the church family, this was not the same as the practice of “closed communion” to all believers outside of the “church membership” of a Landmark church. E. Another way in which the false theology of Landmarkism has a destructive impact in churches is that it fosters a sectarian mindset which disregards the needs of other Christians outside of the membership of the local Baptist church. Whereas, biblical Christianity affirms the need to love, pray for and serve “all” believers in CHRIST JESUS. No less than four times in the New Testament we find the apostle Paul commending believers for their “faith in the Lord Jesus” and “love unto all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15, Colossians 1:4, II Thessalonians 1:3, Philemon 1:5). “All” the saints would include other Christians outside of the walls of our own church. When believers begin to understand that “the body” of Christ is much larger than the membership of just one local church, fellowship, association or denomination, we begin to recognize our biblical responsibility to pray for, love and serve other genuine Christians both inside and outside of the walls of our own church building (John 13:35;


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15:12, Galatians 6:10, Philippians 2:4, I Thessalonians 5:25, II Thessalonians 3:1, James 5:16, I Peter 4:10). F. Moreover, many Landmarkers advocate what is known as the “Baptist bride” theory. Those embracing this view believe that the bride of Christ referred to in Revelation 19:7-8; 21:9; 22:17 consists only of Baptists. Yet, nowhere in the New Testament Scriptures do we find Jesus or His apostles teaching that the bride of Christ refers only to Baptists. In fact, nowhere in the New Testament do we find the word “Baptists.” We read about the disciples of John the Baptist (Luke 7:1828). Yet, later, John’s disciples became followers of Jesus known as “Christians.” See Acts 11:26; 19:1-7. III. What is the meaning and usage of the word “church” in the New Testament Scriptures? A. Word meaning: The biblical word “church” is translated from the Koinne Greek word εκκλησια. It refers to a called out assembly. In VINE’S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS W. E. Vine defines the word EKKLESIA (εκκλησια) as, “…It has two applications to companies of Christians, (a) to the whole company of the redeemed throughout the present era, the company of which Christ said, “I will build my Church,” Matt. 16:18, and which is further described as “the Church which is His Body,” Eph. 1:22; 5:23, (b) in the singular number (e.g., Matt. 18:17, R.V. marg., “congregation”), to a company consisting of professed believers, e.g., Acts 20:28; I Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:13; I Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; I Tim. 3:5, and in the plural, with reference to churches in a district.” (3) B. The word “church” is used in two primary ways in the New Testament with the exception of Acts 7:38; 19:39. 1) The Whole Body of Christ which includes all Christians (Matthew 16:18, I Corinthians 12:12-28, Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:16; 4:4; 4:12-13; 4:16; 5:23-24, Colossians 1:18-24). This “body” is not referring to the literal, physical body of our Savior. Rather, this “body” refers to those who are spiritually “in Christ” through personal faith in Him and His biblical message of salvation. For example, in the Scripture texts of I Corinthians 12:12-28 and Ephesians 1:22-23 → 4:12-13 the apostle Paul described “the body of Christ” as including “we all” and he called it “the church.” In both contexts we see the words “the whole body.” (I Corinthians 12:17, Ephesians 4:16) Consider I Corinthians 12:13. In this verse the apostle Paul declared, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (KJV) The baptism of the Holy Spirit of all believers into “one body” is a genuine, spiritual, biblical experience whereby the Holy Spirit baptizes “all” true believers in Jesus Christ “into one body” – “the body of Christ.” Notice that the apostle Paul used the words “we” and “all” in this text. By using the word “we” Paul was including himself in this “one body.” By adding the word “all” the apostle was referring to “all” true believers in Christ. But keep in mind that Paul, the human author of both epistles, was sent out from and a part of “the church which was at Antioch…” (Acts 13:1) Paul preached and taught at Corinth and at Ephesus (Acts 18:1-11; 19:1-41). But nowhere in the New Testament Scriptures do we find that Paul became a member of the church at


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Corinth or at Ephesus. Yet, Paul used the words “we” and “all” when referring to the “one body” (singular) – “the body of Christ.” Had Paul wanted us to understand this passage as referring only to a local assembly he would have used other words such as “you” instead of “we” and “all of you” or “each of you” in place of the word “all.” But he did not. Why? Because Paul was teaching the believers at Corinth that there is only one, true “body of Christ” (singular - I Corinthians 12:27) – “the church” (singular - I Corinthians 12:28) of which they were a part. Paul did not speak of the “bodies of Christ,” (plural) but rather, he spoke about “the body of Christ” (singular). Moreover, we know that it is certain that Paul, Barnabas and Silas participated in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper when ministering in other places during their missionary journeys. This would dispel the false theory that the early churches practiced “closed communion.” It is also important to observe that in these Scriptures the “one body” refers to “the body of Christ,…the church,…” in I Corinthians 12:27-28 and “the church, Which is his body,” in Ephesians 1:22-23. Likewise, we find the words “The body, the church:...” and “for his body’s sake, which is the church:…” in Colossians 1:18-24. Also, note that when the apostle Paul addressed the epistle of Ephesians, he did not limit the scope of the epistle only to “the church at Ephesus.” But, rather, Paul addressed this epistle “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus…” It is apparent that Paul wrote this epistle and the epistle of Colossians for the purpose of benefiting “all the saints.” (Ephesians 1:15-16, Colossians 1:4) This is demonstrated by the fact that in Colossians 4:16 Paul instructed, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” In addition, notice that the ministries of the “apostles…prophets…evangelists …pastors and teachers;” were given to edify “all” “the body of Christ” and “the whole body” not just one local church (Ephesians 4:7-16). Moreover, the apostle Paul presented these teachings in the context of God’s forming “one body” “in Christ Jesus” which includes believers among both Jews and Gentiles. Thus, in Ephesians chapter four Paul sets forth the glorious truth that now, during the church age, “all” Gentiles and Jews who believe in Christ Jesus are made part of the “one body” “in Christ Jesus” which is “the church.” C. A NOTE OF CAUTION: We must not confuse the concept of the “universal church” advocated in Roman Catholicism with the biblical, historical, orthodox belief that “the church,” when referring to “the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12-28, Ephesians 4:4-16; 5:23, Colossians 1:18-24) in its entirety, consists of all true bornagain Christians. The true “body of Christ” does not refer to all who claim to be Christians or are merely categorized as such (by means of infant baptism, etc.) among all denominations. There are many people found in churches today who have not yet been born again of the Holy Spirit to new life in Christ Jesus (John 1:12-13; 3:1-7, II Corinthians 5:17). In many of these churches a biblical message of salvation is not taught. In addition, currently there are many false teachers and false teachings found within many churches. A group that claims to be “Christian” but does not teach a biblical message of salvation or practice New Testament Christianity is a false church. False, apostate churches are filled with unsaved members. In time, the false


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D.

E.

F.

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Christians and false churches will unite with “the great whore” church, the one world false church of Revelation chapter seventeen (the religious Babylon). But we who are called to stay faithful and true to JESUS and His Word – the Holy Bible must remember that a unity or union with falsehood (via the Antichrist and his false prophet) is always a false unity. WE WILL NOT TAKE THE GLOBAL MARK OF THE BEAST UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – REVELATION 13:12-18; 14:9-12; 19:20; 20:4. PRAISE JESUS! 2) Most frequently the term “church” is used in reference to a local church in the New Testament. Each time the word “church” is used in the plural as “churches” or in reference to a specific church in a specific location, the term is referring to a local church. In the plural, the word “churches” is used thirty-seven times in the New Testament. For example, the Scriptures mention “the churches” of Judea, Galilee and Samaria in Acts 9:31, “the churches of Galatia” in Galatians 1:2 and “the churches of Asia” in I Corinthians 16:19. See also Acts 2:38-43; 8:1; 9:31; 11:26; 13:1; 14:23-27; 15:41; 16:5; 19:37; 20:17, Romans 16:1-5, 16, I Corinthians 1:2; 4:17; 7:17; 11:16-18; 14:23-34; 16:1, 19, II Corinthians 1:1; 8:1; 8:18-24; 12:13, Galatians 1:2,22, Philippians 4:15, Colossians 4:15-16, I Thessalonians 1:1; 2:14, II Thessalonians 1:1-4, I Timothy 3:15, Philemon 2 and Revelation 1:4-20; 2:7-29; 3:6-22; 22:16. A true definition of the local church must be based on the New Testament model of a church (Acts 2:38-43; 13:1-3; 15:1-35; 20:17-38). A New Testament local church is a called out assembly of born again, baptized followers of Jesus Christ who assemble regularly for the purpose of worship, prayer, Bible study, fellowship, good works and obedience to the Great Commission with two ordinances and two offices. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the _____________ of God, which is the _____________ of the living God, the ________________ and ______________ of the truth.” I Timothy 3:15 What is the pillar and ground of the truth according to I Timothy 3:15? _______________________________________________________________________

IV. How is the word “church” defined in the writings of pastors and teachers who lived and taught during the earliest centuries of church history? A. Tragically, Landmarkers are usually unfamiliar with the teachings about the biblical doctrine of “the church” (ecclesiology) discovered in the writings of the early church fathers (from the pre-Nicene period) who lived and taught during the earliest centuries of church history. What did the pastors and teachers who lived in the earliest centuries of church history teach about “the Church?” We see no examples of a local church practicing “closed communion” in the early centuries of the Church. B. Consider what Clement of Rome (A.D. 30-100) taught about the Church in his writings. Keep in mind that Clement was a pastor at Rome who lived during the days when the apostles were still alive and preaching God’s Word. Clement was with the apostle Paul in Philippi in A.D. 57. Moreover, the apostle Paul honored Clement in Philippians 4:3. Therefore, the understanding that Clement held concerning the doctrine of “the Church” is very significant. Notice how Clement interprets “the body” of Christ teachings of the apostle Paul found in Ephesians chapter four. He was a pastor from a different local church (in Rome) who wrote to correct a problem at the church at Corinth. He referred to


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“our own body” (singular) and wrote that “we are members one of another.” Clement wrote, “our own body” in place of “your own body,’ and “we are members one of another” instead of “you are members one of another.” This clearly indicates that Clement understood that he and the believers at Corinth were all members of the one and same “body” of Christ. In “THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS” Clement wrote, “CHAP. 1….THE Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:…” (4) “…CHAP. XLVI. – LET US CLEAVE TO THE RIGHTEOUS: YOUR STRIFE IS PERNICIOUS…Let us cleave, therefore, to the innocent and righteous, since these are the elect of God. Why are these strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ? Why do we divide and tear to pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that “we are members one of another?...” (5) “…CHAP. XLIX. – THE PRAISE OF LOVE. Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ…” (6) “…CHAP. LIV. – HE WHO IS FULL OF LOVE WILL INCUR EVERY LOSS, THAT PEACE MAY BE RESTORED TO THE CHURCH…Only let the flock of Christ live on terms of peace with the presbyters set over it…” (7) C. Moreover, let’s look at what Irenaeus (A.D. 120-202) the second century bishop of Lyons wrote about the church in AGAINST HERESIES. Note how Irenaeus understood “the Church” (singular) as being “dispersed throughout the whole world” and later referred to “the Churches” (plural) in specific locations throughout the world. This demonstrates that Irenaeus taught that “the Church” was to be understood in both aspects: 1) “the body” of Christ as a whole – all Christians “the Church” and 2) the local “Churches” (a part of “the body” of Christ as a whole) in specific locations. Irenaeus taught, “CHAP. X. – UNITY OF THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD. I. The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations 6 of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” 7 and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” 8 to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickedness” 9 and…apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept his commandments, and persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory…” (8)


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Irenaeus continued, “…2. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions 1 of the world. But as the sun, that creature [creation] of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master) ; nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any additions to it, nor does one, who can say but little, diminish it…’ (9) D. Likewise, in THE STROMATA, OR MISCELLANIES, BOOK VII, CHAP. V. we read, “And if sacred (το ιερον) has a twofold application, designating both God himself and the structure raised to His honour,5 how shall we not with propriety call the Church holy, through knowledge, made for the honour of God, sacred (ιερον) to God, of great value, and not constructed by mechanical art, nor embellished by the hand of an imposter, but by the will of God fashioned into a temple? For it is not now the place, but the assemblage of the elect,6 that I call the Church…” (10) E. In addition, we find in the writings of APOLOGY, CHAP. XXXIX by Tertullian (A.D. 145220), the founder of the Latin Church, this explanation of “God’s Church.” Tertullian wrote, “I shall at once go on, then, to exhibit the peculiarities of the Christian society, that, as I have refuted the evil charged against it, I may point out its positive good.1 We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as a united force, we may wrestle with Him in our supplications. This violence God delights in. We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation.2 We assemble to read our sacred writings [the Scriptures], if any peculiarity of the times makes either forewarning or reminiscence needful.3 however it be in that respect, with the sacred words [the Scriptures] we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more stedfast; and no less by inculcations of God’s precepts we confirm good habits…The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honour not by purchase, but by established character. There is no buying and selling of any sort in the things of God. Though we have treasurechest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day,4 if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able; for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary. These gifts are, as it were, piety’s deposit fund. For they are not taken thence and spent on feasts, and drinking-


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bouts, and eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happens to be any in the mines, or banished to the islands, or shut up in the prisons, for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God’s Church; they become the nurslings of their confession. But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See, they say, how they love one5 another, for themselves are animated by mutual hatred; how they are ready even to die for one another, for they themselves will sooner put to death. And they are wroth with us, too, because we call each other brethren, for no other reason, as I think, than because among themselves names of consanguinity are assumed in mere pretence of affection…At the same time, how much more fittingly they are called and counted brothers who have been led to the knowledge of God as their common Father, who have drunk in one spirit of holiness, who from the same womb of a common ignorance have agonized into the same light of truth! But on this very account, perhaps, we are regarded as having less claim to be held true brothers, that no tragedy makes a noise about our brotherhood, or that the family possessions, which generally destroy brotherhood among you, create fraternal bonds among us. One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives…” (11) F. In addition, we find in OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE PERSECUTORS DIED. ADDRESSED TO DONATUS, CHAP. I. by Lactantius (A.D. 260-330), “THE Lord has heard those supplications which you, my best beloved Donatus, pour forth in His presence all the day long, and the supplications of the rest of our brethren, who by a glorious confession have obtained an everlasting crown, the reward of their faith. Behold, all the adversaries are destroyed, and tranquility having been re-established throughout the Roman empire, the late oppressed Church arises again, and the temple of God, overthrown by the hands of the wicked, is built with more glory than before. For God has raised up princes to rescind the impious and sanguinary edicts of the tyrants [Nero, Domitian, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, Diocletian] and provide for the welfare of mankind; so that now the cloud of past times is dispelled, and peace and serenity gladden all hearts…Of the end of those men I have thought good to publish a narrative, that all who are afar off, and all who shall arise hereafter, may learn how the Almighty manifested His power and sovereign greatness in rooting out and utterly destroying the enemies of His name. and this will become evident, when I relate who were the persecutors of the Church from the time of its first constitution, and what were the punishments by which the divine judge, in His severity, took vengeance on them…” (12) Notice how this pastor referred to 1) “the late oppressed Church” (singular) 2) “the Church” (singular) and 3) “its first constitution” (singular) in his understanding of “the Church.” In like manner, within this same writing we observe, “CHAP. III…Thus, the commands of the tyrant having been rescinded, the Church was not only restored to her former state, but she shone forth with additional splendour, and became more and more flourishing. And in the times that followed, while many well-deserving princes guided the helm of the Roman empire, the Church suffered no violent assaults from her enemies, and she extended her hands unto the east and unto the west, insomuch that now there was not any the most remote corner of the earth to which the divine religion had not


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penetrated, or any nation of manners so barbarous that did not, by being converted to the worship of God, become mild and gentle.3 CHAP. IV. This long peace,4 however, was afterwards interrupted. Decius appeared in the world an accursed wild beast, to afflict the Church, -- and who but a bad man would persecute religion?...” (13) G. Cyprian (200-258 A.D.) was a third century bishop at Carthage in North Africa who served a plurality of local churches and elders in his area. Cyprian wrote concerning “the Church,” “5. The Lord cries aloud, saying, “Hearken not unto the words of the false prophets, for the visions of their own hearts deceive them. They speak, but not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say to them that despise the word of the Lord, Ye shall have peace.” 1 They are now offering peace who have not peace themselves. They are promising to bring back and recall the lapsed into the Church, who themselves have departed from the Church. There is one God, and Christ is one, and there is one Church,…” (14) In like manner, Cyprian wrote, “1. Cyprian to Maximus the presbyter [elder], also to Urbanus, and Sidonius, and Macharius, his brethren, greeting. When I read your letters, dearest brethren, that you wrote to me about your return, and about the peace of the Church, and the brotherly restoration, I confess that I was as greatly overjoyed as I had before been overjoyed when I learnt the glory of your confession, and thankfully received tidings of the heavenly and spiritual renown of your warfare. For this, moreover, is another confession of your faith and praise; to confess that the Church is one, and not to become a sharer in other men’s error, or rather wickedness; to seek anew the same camp whence you went forth,…” (15) H. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was a bishop at Hippo in the fourth century. Like Cyprian, Augustine taught that the Church is one body. He wrote, “CHAP. 16. 15. For the Church is His body, as the apostle’s teaching shows us; 2 and it is even called His spouse.3 His body, then, which has many members, and all performing different functions, He holds together in the bond of unity and love, which is its true health. Moreover, He exercises it in the present time, and purges it with many wholesome afflictions, that when He has transplanted it from this world to the eternal world, He may take it to Himself as His bride, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing…” (16) Augustine added, “CHAP. 18 – THE KEYS GIVEN TO THE CHURCH. 17. He has given, therefore, the keys to His Church, that whatsoever it should bind on earth might be bound in heaven, and whatsoever it should loose on earth might be loosed in heaven; 1 that is to say, that whosoever in the Church should not believe that his sins are remitted, they should not be remitted to him; but that whosoever should believe, and should repent, and turn from his sins, should be saved by the same faith and repentance on the ground of which he is received into the bosom of the Church…” (17) V. The apostle John warns us to “try the spirits whether they are of God:…” When we test the spirit of Landmarkism we find the works of pride, divisiveness and sectarianism (I John 4:1-6). A. It is noteworthy that one of the definitions for the word “exclusive” found in WEBSTER’S Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary is “…b : snobbishly aloof…” (18) Unfortunately, these words describe what is all too often the attitude of many who have been deceived by the false ecclesiology of Landmarkism. B. Whereas, our LORD JESUS taught, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” (Mark 10:44) The apostle Paul proclaimed, “Endeavouring to keep the


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unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit,…” (Ephesians 4:3-4) VI. In Titus 2:1 the apostle Paul instructs believers to “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine;…” A. Since Landmarkism is not according to “sound doctrine,” we choose to reject it. VII. The apostle Paul advises us to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21) A. Using the Bible as the primary basis of our evaluation, we have found Landmarkism to be a false, nineteenth century, man-made theology. B. Why do we reject Landmarkism? 1) Landmarkism is clearly contrary to the doctrine of ecclesiology taught by CHRIST JESUS and His apostles found in the New Testament Scriptures. 2) Landmarkism is not in agreement with the biblical interpretations about “the church” discovered in the writings of faithful pastors and teachers who lived and taught during the earliest centuries of church history. In conclusion, we must keep in mind that there are many genuine born-again Christians found in churches that teach Landmarkism. Subsequently, let us not regard these believers as unbelievers. Rather, let us regard them in Christian love as brothers and sisters in Christ who have been mislead into an erroneous, manmade ecclesiology. Nevertheless, on the basis of the evidences set forth in the New Testament Scriptures and the interpretations of these Scriptures regarding “the church” found in the writings of faithful pastors and teachers from the preNicene period of church history, we choose to wholeheartedly reject the false, man-made, nineteenth century doctrine known as “Landmarkism.” Furthermore, as authentic, Bible-believing Christians, we are exhorted to be established in “the faith” (Acts 16:5, Colossians 2:7); to continue in “the faith” (Acts 14:22, Colossians 2:7); to be sound in “the faith” (Titus 1:13); and to earnestly contend for “the faith” (Jude 3). But nowhere in the New Testament are we instructed by our LORD to add new theologies to “the faith” once delivered to the saints. This includes the nineteenth century, man-made, new theology about the church known as Landmarkism. “The faith” is not an evolving theology to which we add new theologies, such as Landmarkism, when so desired. “The faith,” referring to the body of teachings of Jesus and His apostles, was given by God as special revelation only once in the first century, and has been faithfully recorded and preserved in the New Testament Scriptures. “The faith” must be faithfully taught and preserved from generation to generation (I Thessalonians 2:15). Consequently, concerning the doctrine of “the church,” we choose to wholeheartedly stand in agreement with “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” in the first century and faithfully preserved in the body of teachings of JESUS and His apostles as revealed in the New Testament Scriptures (Jude 3). Ω © 2015 Nolan McFadden


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Endnotes: 1. Hugh Wamble, Landmarkism: Doctrinaire Ecclesiology Among Baptists, (American Society of Church History, Volume 33, Issue 4, December 1964, pp. 429-447 http://www.journals.cambridge.org/chh. 2. Frank Mead, Handbook of Denominations in the United States, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1985) 3. W. E. Vine, VINE’S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS, (RIVERSIDE BOOK AND BIBLE HOUSE, IOWA FALLS, IOWA). pp. 85-86 4. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOLUME I., (WM. B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING COMPANY, Grand Rapids, MI, 1981), 5. Ibid., VOLUME I, CHAP. XLVI., p. 17 6. Ibid., VOLUME I, CHAP. XLIX., p. 18 7. Ibid., VOLUME I, CHAP. LIV., p. 19 8. Ibid., VOLUME I, CHAP. X., p. 330 9. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOLUME II., (WM. B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING COMPANY, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983), CHAP. X., p. 331 10. Ibid., VOLUME II, CHAP. V., p. 530 11. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOLUME III., (WM. B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING COMPANY, Grand Rapids, MI, reprinted 1997), CHAP. XXXIX., p. 46 12. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOLUME VII., (WM. B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING COMPANY, Grand Rapids, MI, 1979), CHAP. I., p. 301 13. Ibid., VOLUME VII., CHAP. III. and CHAP. IV., p. 302 14. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOLUME V., (WM. B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING COMPANY, Grand Rapids, MI, 1978), EPISTLE XXXIX., 5., p. 318 15. Ibid,. VOLUME V., EPISTLE L., 1.. p. 324 16. Philip Schaff, NICENE AND POST_NICENE FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, VOLUME II, (WM. B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING COMPANY, Grand Rapids, MI, 1979), ON CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, CHAP. 16., p. 526 17. Ibid., VOLUME II, ON CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, CHAP. 18., p. 527 18. WEBSTER’S Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (MERRIAM-WEBSTER INC., Springfield, MA, 1989), p. 433

A biblical evaluation of landmarkism  
A biblical evaluation of landmarkism  
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