Landmark Southern Baptist Weblog
A Response to Errors on Landmarkism
By Ben Stratton, January, 20, 2009
Recently Alan Lefever, the director of the Texas Baptist Historical Collection, was quoted in The Baptist Standard newspaper about Landmarkism. Lefever gave a couple of criticisms of Landmarkism that are often heard today. The LSB would like to respond to these criticisms.
"First," Lefever said, "Neither J. M. Carroll, author of "The Trail of Blood"defense of Landmarkism, nor his more-famous brother, B. H., was a Landmark Baptist in the truest sense . . . If you label them Landmarkers, then you have to call them 'denominational Landmarkers,' and that's an oxymoron."
Unfortunately Lefever does not seem to understand the origins of the Associational Landmark denominations. What prompted Samuel Hayden and Ben Bogard to leave the Southern Baptist Convention and start what would become known as the Baptist Missionary Association and the American Baptist Association was Mission Methods. It was not alien immersion, open communion, pulpit affiliation, or even William Whitsitt's new theory of Baptist origins. Hayden and Bogard and their followers believed in gospel missions as opposed to mission boards. The reason men like J. M. and B. H. Carroll stayed in the Southern Baptist Convention is because they believed in supporting missions through the foreign mission board. Yet J. M. and B. H. Carroll were strongly landmark in their rejection of alien immersion, open communion, pulpit affliation, and Whitsittism. They are like a host of other men such as D. B. Ray, T. T. Eaton, H. Boyce Taylor, J. B. Moody, W. P. Throgmorton, Roy Mason, Clarence Walker, Wendell Rone and even J. R. Graves, in that they were Southern Baptists, but strongly landmark in their beliefs. To say that there is no such thing as a Southern Baptist landmarker is to misunderstand landmarkism.
"Secondly," Lefever says, "Landmarkism was a reaction to the Campbellite movement . . . If Alexander Campbell had never come along, we'd never have had Landmarkism. There never would have been a need."
Once again Lefever could not be more wrong. When J. R. Graves issued the Cotton Grove Resolutions in 1851, he was not combating the Campbellites as much as he was the Methodists. Graves lived in Nashville which was the headquarters of Methodists in the South. Much of Graves's first writings and debates were against the pedobaptist Methodists, not the Campbellities. But this is a moot point. Landmarkism existed long before the Campbellite movement or even J. R. Graves. LeRoy B. Hogue proves this in his great work, "The Antecedents of Landmarkism." All J. R. Graves did was popularize and spread landmarkism through his writings. He did not invent it.
It is my hope that historians will do their homework better before attacking Old Landmarkism. And prayerfully you will know how to answer some of these common criticisms about the doctrines we believe.
The article is in the Baptist Standard paper. "Historians debate reasons for rise of Landmarkism in 19th century," by Ken Camp, Managing Editor. Published January 09, 2009
Ben Stratton's email: firstname.lastname@example.org