In 1899, he [Bogard] became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Searcy, AR (should be Garrett Memorial). It was while there that he began to emerge as a dynamic young leader of preachers and became a spokesman for the Landmark Movement, which was starting to withdraw, both pastors and churches, from the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Landmark Movement strongly stressed the local New Testament Baptist church, held to the perpetuity of Baptist (or baptistic) churches and teachings, beginning with Jesus Christ, the Founder of the church. Landmarkers believe that there have always been true New Testament churches and the real succession from Christ and the Apostles is not through the Catholic Church or the Reformation churches, but through “Anabaptist” congregations scattered abroad in Europe and Asia throughout the 20 centuries of the Christian era. . . . By 1905, especially in Arkansas and Texas, the “Missionary Baptists,” as they often chose to be called, began to form what became the American Baptist Association, apart from the SBC.
Wherever Bogard pastored, he conducted revivals in other churches. Shorter successful pastorates between which he was a full-time evangelist characterized his ministry until 1920.Then he was called to pastor Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock and was there for 27 years.
In 1933 he completed 45 years of ministry. He then recorded this record. He had pastored 18 churches, held 279 revivals, conducted 193 debates (with Methodists, Church of Christ and other denominational leaders, even the famous Aimee Simple McPherson, founder of the Foursquare Church in Los Angeles). He had preached or lectured 14,741 times, seen 2,146 people saved under his ministry and baptized 693. Nearly 4,000 people had joined his churches over that span of years.
Bogard the Educator
While he participated in helping many colleges and conducted “Bible Schools” in various churches, his crowning endeavor was what is now the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock (begun in 1934). Its first president was J. Louis Guthrie, Ph.D., who knew seven languages and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible. Bogard later became president in the 1940s.
Bogard the Baptist Leader
In 1905 the Landmark element in the Southern Baptist Convention, with which nearly all the Baptist churches in South were affiliated in the latter part of the 19th century, began a progressive withdrawal from the SBC. The new name became American Baptist Association. At one time over 3,000 churches and a million people were in that fellowship.
No one was a more significant leader and champion of premillennialism, dispensationalism, plus the Landmark tradition of Baptist continuity from Jesus Christ through present times than the dynamic Ben Marcus Bogard. In his earlier years he had come into contact with great 19th century leaders like A.T. Robertson (also in the 20th century), James Boyce and J. Frank Norris, the premier pulpiteer of the first half of this century. Before the great James R. Graves went to be with the Lord in 1893, Bogard went to Memphis to visit with him and to hear him give his “chair talks” in church. The distinguished editor and theologian was unable to walk in his closing years.
Bogard’s ministry spanned 63 years. Though not as famous as the sensational J. Frank Norris, he was in many ways as great a success, leaving a powerful example and a great heritage as a memorial to Christ and His church.1In another tribute to Dr. Bogard, James O. Combs, who was editor of the Baptist Bible Tribune from 1983 until 1995 wrote: During the first half of the 20th Century, the mantle of the great 19th century premillennialists, dispensationalists and patriarch of the “Landmark Baptist” movement, James R. Graves, fell upon the shoulders of Ben M. Bogard of Arkansas. This great Baptist leader, debater, statesman, evangelist, pastor, scholar, author-editor and educator “casts a giant shadow” across the independent fundamental Baptist movement even today. 2L.D. Foreman and Alta Payne reported,In September 1888, he went to Boardly to hear him [Graves] deliver his series of lectures on salvation and one on church communion. This gave him an opportunity to become acquainted with him and ask him some simple questions. That great man patiently answered them. Bogard wrote of this incident: “It was a wonderful thing to me. I shall never forget that wonderful preacher and the impression he made on me largely shaped my future. I became a student of Graves and have read all of his books and how I do wish I could prevail on all young preachers to read Graves’ books.” 3
Notes1 Neal Weaver and James O. Combs, Our Biblical Heritage, pp. 151.
2 James O. Combs, “Ben Marcus Bogard : Premier Leader of the Landmark Baptists,” Baptist Bible Tribune, February15, 1999, pp. 12-13.
3 L.D. Foreman and Alta Payne, The Life and Works of Benjamin Marcus Bogard, Volume I, 1965, p. 311.
[From Robert Ashcraft, Contending for the Faith, An Updated History of the Baptists, 2006, pp. 688-690. The numbers of the 'Notes' have been changed. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]