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Rufus Burleson...was a landmarker
By R. L. Vaughn

      In 2009 Wade Burleson wrote a nice piece on his Texas ancestor Rufus Columbus Burleson, "The Baptism of General Sam Houston" by Rufus C. Burleson.

      A few years before that he tried to answer the question of whether Rufus Burleson...was a landmarker, thusly:

Nope. If my forefather Rufus Burleson was a Landmarker he sure made enemies of his buddies :). He integrated education (men and women) at Baylor – a drastic step for his time – and refused to back down when confronted, was considered a liberal by Landmark Texas Baptists, particularly because he served as BGCT President for two terms, and was eventually slandered in both character (accused of a relationship with a young coed at Baylor) and ministry by his enemies.
      Ancestor or not, Wade got it wrong. Integrated education of men and women has nothing to do with Landmarkism. Burleson was president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1892 and 1893, before the split of the convention – and was most likely elected with the support of the Landmark element which eventually split from the convention. Landmarkers, as far as I know, did not slander his character. The chief accuser and antagonist of Burleson was Waco newspaperman William Cowper Brann, neither a Landmarker nor a Baptist, and probably not even a Christian. Baptists defended Burleson and Baylor against Bann, but some leading Baptists in the Baptist General Convention of Texas used this controversy in a power play to remove him from the presidency of Baylor University.[1] My great-grandfather was among his supporters when he was forced out of the presidency, and our church instructed its delegates to the Baptist General Convention in 1897 to vote for the “restoration of Bro. R. C. Burleson to the presidency of Baylor university.” Rufus C. Burleson was a self-identified Landmarker who held the principles that make one so. Probably part of Wade’s mistake is following the line created by Texas (and other) Southern Baptists who fear their own landmarker heritage, or misunderstand what it is. Rufus Burleson disagreed with some of the extremes to which Landmarkism carried some of his fellow Baptists, and apparently supported the Southern Baptist Convention until the end of his life. On the other hand, there is some evidence that he sympathized with the new Baptist Missionary Association of Texas over the old Baptist General Convention of Texas when they split in 1900. And Burleson strongly supported S. A. Hayden, whose controversies were the main source of antagonism that brought about the split.

      From the historical record, notice Burleson held the following tenets of Landmarkism:

      The church is a local autonomous body authorized by Jesus Christ to evangelize, baptize, and teach His disciples. “let us stand firmly on the old landmarks established by Christ and His apostles...” p. 278

      “He demonstrated that the church was the highest and only authority in all matters of church government.” p. 640

      He believed “All legislation, canon, creed or decree, springing from tradition, ecclesiastical authority, or usage of antiquity, not enjoined in the Scriptures, is to be resisted and rejected, from whatever source it may come, either inside the local church, or outside, as intolerable in the faith and practice of the churches. That a Christian church must be made up of persons who are morally regenerated; and that it is not a simple voluntary association, but a body of people called out of the world around them, by Christ’s special authority, to be a people peculiar to himself.” p. 92

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

      From a sermon preached at Second Baptist, Waco in 1897 we find, “Immediately after his baptism and establishment of his church, Jesus retired to the wilderness and spent forty days in prayer and fasting...” pp. 641-642

      In the bio of Z. N. Morrell, he writes, “For 1,500 years Baptists had resisted unto death the innovation of sprinkling, infant baptism, episcopacy, popery and every other innovation.” pp. 682

      “Another man objected seriously to Baptist ‘close communion,’ for, said he, the bread and wine are to show forth the Lord’s death, and I don’t believe we ought to close the doors at communion. And I actually met people that thought Roger Williams founded the Baptist Church and others that Baptists originated with the Anabaptists of Germany. They had never learned that Christ founded the Baptist Church when He said, ‘Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, neither shall it be destroyed nor given to another people’—Matt. 16:18, Dan. 2:44—and that Heaven and earth could pass away sooner than that promise could fail, and that church history demonstrates, as Sir Isaac Newton and others have shown, has never failed.” p. 726

      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.

      In the bio of Tyrell J. Jackson, Burleson mentions Independence Church being “in the midst of the fearful struggles of the little handful of Baptists with Campbellites as led by the unfortunate leader, T. W. Cox. The little church at Independence was nearly equally divided; thirteen in favor of Cox and twelve Baptists firmly set on the Old Land Marks.” He goes on to identify “the grand old landmark, that ‘three things are essential to a valid baptism: 1. A converted believer. 2. A regularly ordained Baptist preacher in good standing. 3. Immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” pp. 718-719

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

      He believed “the Supper should only be celebrated when the local church is met in one place as a body.” p. 92

      “Another man objected seriously to Baptist ‘close communion,’ for, said he, the bread and wine are to show forth the Lord’s death, and I don’t believe we ought to close the doors at communion. And I actually met people that thought Roger Williams founded the Baptist Church and others that Baptists originated with the Anabaptists of Germany.” p. 726

      “And more; we, as a denomination, have the truth—we are the only denomination that has the whole truth, so far as the ordinances of church organization are concerned; hence, we have the religious world against us.” p. 279 – From “A Report of Committee of Education” which included Rufus C. Burleson, 1855

      All quotes are from The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson.

      From “The Old Guard Biographies” “Brother Huckins, like most men brought up under the shadow of Plymouth Rock, was not an old Landmark Baptist—did not ‘contend earnestly for the faith,’ and had never explained Baptist faith and Bible doctrine. I was astonished at the utter ignorance of people of rare intelligence about Baptist practice and history.” p. 725

      Bio of Hosea Garrett: “All the Old Guard, except three, were genuine Old Landmarkers from the beginning. When they were converted, baptized and ordained they were ‘set’ firmly on the Old Landmarks, and never needed ‘resetting.’ Bro. J. R. Graves and the great Dr. J. M. Pendleton had received members into Baptist churches on Pedo-baptist or alien immersion, and engaged in union meetings and needed ‘resetting’ the worst kind, but alas! in resetting their Old Landmarks, and not being very familiar with the old lines, they took in ‘Pulpit Communion’ or affiliation and other points that were not included in the old landmarks set by our fathers, that God commands us not to remove.” p. 702

      When Southern Baptists deny the Landmarkism of certain forefathers of their faith, it does not prove these forefathers were not Landmarkers – but that the deniers do not understand or appreciate Landmarkism and only associate it with those who left the Convention. Alan Lefever, director of the Texas Baptist Historical Collection, said of B. H. Carroll, “If he was a Landmarker, he was a denominational Landmarker—and that doesn’t make sense.” But what Lefever says is what doesn’t make sense, and certainly won’t make any sense at all to denominational Landmarkers who still participate in the Southern Baptist Convention!

      Carroll – B. H. – was a “Landmarker”

      [1] He agreed to become President Emeritus, but that was not his preference. In accepting it, he said, “My dear brethren, I wish, in all kindness and love, to say this is a sad innovation on all the laws and usages of Baylor University for 46 years, and by which she has achieved her usefulness and glory. And I solemnly fear that great evil will result from such innovation. But to decline and dissolve my connection with Baylor University, for which I have sacrified 46 years of ceaseless toil and $18,000 inherited from my father and father-in-law, would bring irreparable damage on my life purpose in founding a great Baptist University. I will, therefore, accept the position assigned me, and give it a fair trial, and do all in my power to advance the glory of Baylor University.” – From The Complete Conspiracy Trial Book, by S. A. Hayden, page 321.


[From R. L. Vaughn, Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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