By Dr. Ron Tottingham
While some call it the Landmark position, it’s actually the old historic Baptist position. “Landmarkism” is a distinct doctrinal position held by millions of Baptists concerning the commencement, constitution, commission, and continuity of the church. Four distinguishing tenets of Landmarkism are as follows:
1. The Lord Jesus Christ established the first New Testament church during His earthly ministry (Mat. 4:18, 16:18, 18:15-18; John 3:29), and churches of like precious faith and practice have existed ever since (Mat. 16:18; 28:20; Eph. 3:21).
Those religious organizations that markedly differ from the first (Baptist) church in faith and practice (different originator, doctrines, ordinances, officers, government, etc.) are not true New Testament churches, though the membership of such organizations may include some true Christians. At best, such bodies are man-made, parachurch organizations functioning without Biblical authority.
2. A church is a local, visible assembly. The Roman Catholic concoction of a visible, universal church and the Protestant conception of an invisible, universal church both go begging for Biblical support.
The term “family of God” (Eph. 3:15), describes the aggregate number of all believers. Only those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour are true children of God and actual brothers and sisters in God’s family (John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26,4:4-7; Eph. 1:5; I John 3:1-2).
All unregenerate individuals are children of the devil (John 8:40-44; Eph. 2:1-3; I John 3:8-10) and brothers and sisters in his diabolical family.
3. The Great Commission was given to a local church in a corporate capacity (Mat. 28:18-20).
Therefore, all matters encompassed by the Great Commission (mass evangelism, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Christian education efforts, etc.) must be administered under local church authority.
4. Although they have not always been known or recognized as such, Baptist churches have existed in principle in every century since the time of Christ.
All New Testament churches are Baptistic in form and function, if not in name. True New Testament (Baptist) churches can be identified by their consistent practice of Bible truth and by the trail of their own blood left through history by their cruel persecutors, though they themselves have never persecuted anyone.
“Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Prov.22:28)