Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In the 19th century the idea of Landmarkism arose within the Southern Baptist Convention and from its inception was met with controversy. Understanding Landmark views on the local church, successionism, baptism and the Lord's Supper, it's no surprise that missions was an area that Landmarkers sought diligently to reform. Several of the fathers of the movement fought against the then, Foreign Mission Board and actually carried out a failed attempt to have it abolished at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1859. This is due in part to the fact that Landmarkism rejected not only alien immersion and communion, but also alien preaching. Since the Baptist church was considered to be the only legitimate local church, then preaching which did not disseminate from that source was not considered valid. That led Landmarkers to reject, not missions itself, but much of the work of the Foreign Mission Board.

Although Landmark thought did see decline, it has unfortunately never died. Over 100 years separates us from the original controversies, yet it seems that not much has changed. Today we are faced with the possible removal of missionaries due to their partnership with a non-Baptist, although baptistic group. An almost successful church plant among an unreached people group, which followed all of the guidelines given to the missionaries, has now been put on hold due to a resurgence of Landmark ideology. Taken to its fullest logical conclusion, Landmarksim would eradicate not only the work of these missionaries, but also our entire system of mission work.

The dangers of these views are obvious and although it might not have previously seemed like a controlling factor, Landmarkism is profoundly affecting the ecclesiology and polity within our Convention. The recent policy changes of the International Mission Board concerning baptism are a bold statement affirming that fact. With our Convention in such an awkward state, more than ever we need to pray for our leaders, defend our missionaries and get involved ourselves if we are concerned for the future of Southern Baptist life. While Landmarkism may have found a foothold, it doesn't have to gain a stranglehold.

(Source used, The Southern Baptist Convention by Jesse C. Fletcher)
posted by Christie