Monday, October 24, 2016

An Analysis and Review of Kevin Bauder's "Landmarkism", pt. 2

Part One

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.


Anonymous said...

I am confused on some of your arguments here...

There is no supporting evidence for your first assertion.

There is also no supporting evidence for your second assertion. I assume the evidence is in the link, but the link is not working (yet). I assume that this will be fixed as soon as you are aware of it (I am basically making this point so that you know that there is a problem. You have proven yourself often to be very responsible for errors and swift to correct those pointed out).

On the third assertion, you provide three quotes, but only the last one proves your point. The first two quotes are not effective arguments for what you have stated.

I know from our previous discussions that we have a very different understanding of the word local so that what you call the (local only) church I call the universal church.
As you said yourself in this post, we agree that there has been a true church in existence since the time of Christ. This church has had many names throughout history, but has kept the same doctrine.

I am curious to hear your response to Farmer Brown's question in your previous post. He worded well something that I have been wondering.

Tyler Robbins said...

I think among Baptists there are degrees of difference; a spectrum, rather than sharp distinct lines. For example, I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote - the NT teaches local only, and therefore local churches have always taught this, somewhere, at all times.

I think Bauder may be addressing a degree which is five or six steps to your right - and seven or eight to mine!

Kent Brandenburg said...

I'm going to comment to Tyler first.


You are generous with Bauder. I'm fine with that. I think he and Moritz both have as a goal to show that local only is a recent innovation. They want to eliminate it from the earth and leave what I see as a Protestant position. Why is this a big deal to me? One, the church is to preserve true teaching. I want to do that. Two, the wrong ecclesiology will affect all other doctrine, since the church is what keeps the truth. I call it the container of truth.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I have had a habit of not allowing a lot of anonymous comments recently, so I'm giving this one to you. Just be respectful. You have been so far.

I fixed the link. Thanks. It's an article by Thomas Ross, who writes here on Friday.

I don't support my first assertion, but I will. It was obvious that I didn't prove that, but I will be dealing with Bauder's arguments against in his chapter. I might add a sentence there, stating that. Thanks for noticing.

I fixed the second assertion.

I believe the first two are pretty good, but I also give a link with many more quotes. You said nothing about the local only doctrinal statements -- three of them. There is no evidence of a universal church there. They are local only. I give one quote from Smyth, but if you read Smyth, you know he's local only. I'm not writing a research paper here. Bauder himself mentions Smyth in parenthesis in the chapter as a problem for the historic position he asserts. Obadiah Holmes defines the church of Christ as "this company gathered." What's not to like there. He doesn't show a universal church. A church is gathered. That can only be local.

I don't remember not answering Farmer Brown. Thanks for reminding me. I think Farmer Brown is very close to taking my ecclesiology. He might be more spiritual kinship than physical succession, but he's probably almost identical to me. I'll let him say.

Anonymous, local only teaching before Graves shows local only teaching was around before the "landmarkers." Graves was defending already existing teaching, so it isn't landmark teaching. It's just biblical and historical. The biblical part I've written about a lot here, but I'll talk about it more in answer to Bauder.

Thanks for the comment.

Tyler Robbins said...

Bro. Brandenburg:

If you're willing to link to it, here is the essay I wrote about J.R. Graves and his particular ideas:

I sent it to you and Bro. Ross for comment almost two years ago, you were gracious enough tot provide some thoughts, and I linked to two of Bro. Ross' articles towards the end of the paper.

I offer this paper up with this caveat - it is only a look at what J.R. Graves thought, not what modern Landmark Baptists necessarily believe.

Please ignore the link at the bottom to "Faith Baptist Church of Divernon, Illinois." I am no longer there!