Contrary to Kevin Bauder, local only ecclesiology did not originate with "landmarkism" and J. R. Graves in the mid 19th century. First, the church is local only in the New Testament. Second, first century Clement of Rome provides patristic testimony to local-only ecclesiology. Third, very early orthodox, printed doctrinal statements support a local only position. Read The Schleitheim Confession of 1527, the Discipline of the Church, 1527, and Ridemann's Rechenschaft, 1540, and you will see no universal ecclesiology, only local. Fourth, other notable Baptists teach local only. John Smyth in 1608 writes:
That the church of Christ is a company of the faithful; baptized after confession of sin and of faith, endowed with the power of Christ.The statement by Baptist forefather Obadiah Holmes in 1675 is local only:
I believe the church of Christ, or this company gathered, are bound to wait on the Lord for the Spirit to help them, and have liberty, and are under duty, that they may prophesy one by one.Isaac Backus in his A Discourse Concerning the Materials, the Manner of Building and Power of Organizing of the Church of Christ in 1773 wrote:
Is any other visible church-state instituted in the gospel, but a particular one? The church spoken of by our Lord in Mat. 18.15,—18, is such an one as a brother can tell his grievance to; and whoever thought that could be to any other than a particular community? The seven churches of Asia are spoken to by their great Head, not as one national or provincial church, but as so many distinct churches, who are commended, or reproved by him, according as their works were, in each particular community.I'm not going to try to do better than what Thomas Williamson does here on exposing what Bauder writes as being wrong, not only on the history of local only ecclesiology, but also on the history of the doctrine of the proper administrator of baptism.
Through the years, I have had many discussions with men about the succession of the church, what a Baptist doesn't mind calling, Baptist successionism. A person says, like Bauder, "I don't believe in the Trail of Blood." I ask, "Do you believe there have always been true New Testament churches since Christ?" The same person answers, "Yes." I reply, "Then you believe just like I do on the subject." There have always been true churches known by different names, but they ultimately became known as Baptist. There were always true churches separate from Roman Catholicism. Baptists trace their lineage or their heritage through these churches.
Many larger histories of Baptist churches have been written other than J. M. Carroll's Trail of Blood. The Trail of Blood presents a point of view without proving the historicity of Baptist successionism. The point of view is a biblical one. For me, like for many others, there is enough of a verifiable history to satisfy someone who believes it occurred. Men will be able to poke some holes in the history. It doesn't mean that it didn't happen.
Just because someone can't find "justification by faith" for several centuries in historical evidence, does that mean that "justification by faith" didn't exist during that period? Of course not. "Justification by faith" is not a doctrine that originated during the Reformation.
Bauder spends some time talking about "the gates of Hell" and its relation to succession and the proper administrator of baptism. I'll write more about that later.