Landmark Baptists

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A term representing a number of convictions maintained by some Baptists, mostly in the southern United States, concerning the nature of the church. With other Baptists, the adherents of Landmarkism are firmly congregational, believing that ecclesiastical authority is limited to the local assembly. More distinctively, they hold that the NT model for the church is only the local and visible congregation and that it violates NT principles to speak of a universal, spiritual church.

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Landmark Baptists also believe that Communion should be restricted to members of the local assembly and that baptism is valid only when administered in a properly constituted local Baptist congregation. They further believe that a historic "Baptist succession" may be traced from John the Baptist to modern Baptist churches in which believer's baptism and Landmark principles have prevailed. With this belief they also feel that the Roman Catholic Church and the denominations arising from the Reformation are not true churches according to NT standards.

The Landmark emphasis was propounded by James R Graves (1820 - 93), influential editor of the Tennessee Baptist, and takes its name from a pamphlet by James M Pendleton, An Old Landmark Re - Set (1856), based on Prov. 22:28: "Remove not the old landmark." It is the position of the million member American Baptist Association, of the much smaller United Baptists, and of some independent Baptist churches.

Mark A Noll
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

J R Graves, Old Landmarkism, What Is It?; A C Piepkorn, Profiles in Belief, II.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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