Friday, February 24, 2006

Resurging Landmarkism and Its Deadening Effects on the Mission Field (Part II)

I am going to keep this post as simple as possible. For theological discussions of Landmarkism read Part 1 of this series and the excellent comments and posts by Gene Bridges and Bob Ross. This post will pertain only to the problems that arise through an adherence to Landmarkism on the mission field. I believe that the clear majority of our SBC missionaries on the field, trained under the Missionary Learning Center program and our President Dr. Jerry Rankin, are NOT Landmark in theology. However, there seems to be a growing resurgance of Landmarkism within the SBC, as evidenced through the partnership with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Texas and Jacksonville College, as well the voiced approval of Landmarkism by key trustees of the IMB and a few other key leaders within the SBC. Some attempt to deny an adherence to Landmarkism by simply saying, "We are desiring good ecclesiology," which simply means "We want Baptist churches on the mission field and nothing less."

I too want Baptistic churches established on the mission field. However, what determines whether or not a church is a Baptist church is NOT its institutional structure, as Landmarks would have you believe, but its adherance to Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Are our missionaries establishing "Baptistic" churches on the mission field? ABSOLUTELY! But if we teach that they must practice church the way Landmarks would have you believe "church," as an institution, should be practiced, then we are in BIG trouble within the IMB. Let me illustrate.

(1). Some assemblies on the mission field are composed solely of women.

Yes, that is right, just women. I realize that the Landmark would say, "That IS NOT A REAL CHURCH" because only "men" can hold the ordained offices of the church. I would remind my Landmark friends that the church is a living, breathing organism composed of PEOPLE CHRIST HAS SAVED, not an institution man has established. In one particular country where one of my church members is an IMB missionary, the people he and his wife have led to Christ are all women. They meet on a regular basis in a home. They worship, pray, break bread together and talk about how they can lead their husbands to Christ. They meet regularly, even when "the Americans" cannot participate. Now I ask this very simple question? Is that group of women a church or not? The Landmark would say, "NO! And to say it is a church is heresy." I say, however, that these women are the ekklesia, or called out ones of Jesus Christ.

The Bible teaches it is the privilege of every Christian, including THOSE WOMEN WHO ARE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, to function fully as an assembly of believers. This was C.H. Spurgeon's view as well (see Part 1) and is consistent with the Scripture. However, if a person is Landmark in ecclesiology, he will consider this ekklesia of women to be heretical in nature because there are now "women in ministry." My friends, this is not about a Western view of "women in ministry," but rather, as Lydia, Phoebe, Dorcas and others in the New Testament, this is about God using women to help bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to a pioneer, unreached area of the world. The mission field cannot look like First Baptist Church, Mainstream USA.

(2). Communion and baptism are the privilege of every Christian, not just "ministers."

The idea that only "ordained" ministers can participate in the administering of the Lord's Supper and Baptism is a view that cannot be supported by Scripture. It is the privilege of every Christian to remember the Lord through celebrating the bread and the wine with his fellow believers and it is the privilege of every Christian to baptize his converts. Again, this is the SCRIPTURAL way! To say that only "the ordained" have the authority to baptize means only "the ordained" have the authority to evangelize, because the command to evangelize and baptize are given at the same time to the followers of Christ in the Great Commission (Matthew 28). C. H. Spurgeon's believed that if you gave the authority to baptize only to "ordained ministers," you were but a step away from popery and the belief that the priests of the "official church" alone have access to God. However, the Bible teaches that every Christian is a priest unto God.

If someone objects by saying, "But the ordinances are "church" ordinances according to the BF&M" I simply respond by saying, "Of course they are." The question is, 'What constitutes a church?" I am simply saying a church in Uzbekistan, Pakestan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, and other far reaches of our world will not look like churches in the west.

In the west we have structured our church "institutions" around paid pastors (including this one), who act as "the authority" for the dispensing of the elements and the officiating of baptism. Though this is the way we do it in the west, and though it is not a breach of any commandment of Scripture to do it this way, it is NOT unscriptural or a breach of a commandment to do it another way, and in fact, on the mission field, it must by necessity be done other ways. In pioneer areas the only people in the community who name Christ as Lord may be the very people recently won to faith through the work of the missionary, and that missionary may be a male or a female. Some great work is being done by single females, as it was done years ago by Miss Bertha Smith.

In Level III security areas of our world (those areas where we have missionaries but we can't discuss their locations, work, or other matters due to security concerns for their lives), there are believers who huddle together in basements to conduct baptisms in washtubs and share the Lord's Supper under cover of darkness. Do you really believe that our plastic cups filled with grape juice, distributed by "ordained" men is the way they should "practice the Lord's Supper?" Of course not. Do you really believe that if a man or woman leads their son to faith in Jesus Christ that they should "wait" until someone with "authority" can come to the mountains to baptize their son? I hope not. The church is composed of people "called out" by the grace of Jesus Christ, and the celebration of Christ's work through baptism and the Lord's Supper is not dependent upon the passing down of this authority by a "mother" church through "ordained" men.

(3). Fellowship with a brothers and sisters in Christ on the mission field, regardless of their denominational background, is essential for the common good of the Kingdom and the advancing growth of Christianity.

The Landmark church is known for its isolationism and separatism. The idea is put forth is this: "Only the true church baptizes correctly. Only the true church administers the ordinances correctly. If you are not part of the true church (a Baptist church), then we can't fellowship with you."

Heaven forbid.

On the mission field it is a privilege to partake of the Lord's Supper with a Free Will Baptist, Assembly of God, Presbyterian and Non-denominational mission worker. Compare it to sitting in a prison cell with a Muslim guard who threatens you with death because of your faith in Jesus Christ?

I would propose that denominational walls, by necessity, come down on the misson field. I would further propose that if we ever wanted our silly controversies between denominations in the U.S. to end, all we would need to do is be overtaken by a radical Muslim nation. It is amazing how persecution gives perspective. If you are wondering every day whether you will live or die, then I promise you won't ask the person sharing communion with you if he believes in eternal security. You will enjoy his fellowship and friendship around the person of Jesus Christ.

(4). Our mission work within the IMB is the greatest ever because we are pushing the boundaries of evangelism and launching out in new directions to people groups never before reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is the vision and direction of Dr. Rankin and the IMB staff. I believe they should be supported in this task. Are there problems on the field? Of course, but when you look at what is happening, any problems are outweighed by the wonderful good of reaching a lost world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope people understand that my resistance to resurging Landmarkism is not a theological game for me; it comes from a deep rooted belief that a great good is being done on the field, and we must not let doctrinal disagreements which are not addressed within the BF&M get in the way of cooperation in fulfilling the mission of reaching our world with the good news of Jesus Christ.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. I remind everyone that this is a personal blog. The policies of the IMB must be followed by every trustee and missionary. I believe in policy. I abide by policy. I do believe, however, we should constantly evaluate our policies to see if they are a true reflection of the teaching of Scripture.


Anonymous said...

The IMB’s official definition of “church” follows:

“A local church is a group of baptized believers covenanted together into community by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of worship, fellowship, witness, nurture and ministry. Consider the following characteristics when completing the statistical report:
Meet regularly for worship, fellowship, mutual support and ministry.
Proclaim Christ to unbelievers and disciple believers.
Organize and administer their affairs, choosing their leadership (who may or may not be paid, trained, ordained, or one of the members of the group).
Administer the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper.”

The IMB’s official definition of “outreach group” follows:

“Outreach groups are regularly meeting groups established with the intent to win the lost and to develop these groups into churches. In some places, these groups that have not yet matured into churches may be called missions, preaching points, or congregations. This category includes only those groups that are intended to be developed into churches.”

On January 24-27, 2005, the IMB trustees affirmed the 2000 BF&M definition of church:

“In other action, the board affirmed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message definition of what constitutes a church, and clarified how that definition is interpreted in IMB work around the world.”

Article VI of the 2000 BF&M says that New Testament church’s “scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Shouldn’t the group of women mentioned in the blog be considered an outreach group rather than a New Testament church?

Den Mother said...

I was just getting ready to ask a question on Part I when I read this post. I was going to ask, at the risk of being labeled a liberal or heretic, who baptized the women in the early church in cultures where the sexes were strictly segregated? Perhaps Gene has some answers from his history books. I have been a country where there were regions we visited that I was not allowed to even touch my own husband in public. How do you deal with these cultural issues of modesty and propriety? We certainly cannot compromise the Message, but we must be flexible with our methods.

Tim Sweatman said...

I found it fascinating that in a recent discussion on my blog about the characteristics of a true church, there was no mention of organizational structure. The comments focused on commitment to Jesus, unity and community, and a shared purpose. These heart issues were seen as vitally important, while organizational issues were considered to be secondary. As far as I know, all of those who commented are Southern Baptists, and one is an IMB church planter in a closed country. While I'm sure there are exceptions, it seems that the majority of younger Southern Baptists have rejected the tenets of Landmarkism and recognize the true church to be the people of God rather than an institution defined by a specific organizational structure.

One would think that we would have realized by now that we cannot establish carbon copies of FBC, Anytown, USA, in the mountains of Afghanistan, the cities of China, the villages of Zimbabwe, the jungles of Brazil, or even in London or Sydney or Manhattan, and effectively reach the people in these places. The organization and practice of the church has to be done in ways that fit the culture of the people. I believe this is why the Bible has relatively little to say about how local bodies of believers should be organized, what methods should be used in carrying out the church's mission, and other matters related to form and structure. God knew that His church would extend across barriers of culture, language, geography, and time, and that a uniform organizational structure would be counterproductive to kingdom growth. So He gave us many principles about love, unity, righteousness, and other spiritual matters, but He told us relatively little about organizational matters.

John Stickley said...


I can't thank you enough for the stand you've taken on these matters, and for your decision to share what God lays on your heart to all of us here on this blog. God has certainly provided you with some wonderful gifts, and I'm so pleased to see you using them to help keep our convention moving forward for Christ.

I certainly appreciate what you've said today regarding denominational walls... when it comes down to it, they're just plain silly. Don't get me wrong... I love being a Southern Baptist (and I believe that we do a great job of following Biblical teachings), but so many of us get hung up on minor doctrinal differences... it's just saddening to see the brokenness of our fellowship with other believers that sometimes results. I pray that we'd all pay a little bit more attention to the prayer of Christ regarding our unity (John 17:20-26), and set those things aside to band together and make a difference... not just as and for Baptists... but as brothers and sisters in Christ for the Kingdom of God.

God bless you, brother! said...

Baptist Theologue,

By IMB policy they are an outreach group.

I call them the ekklesia because they have been called out by Christ.

I reiterate, this is only my personal blog, but I think it is healthy for all of us to discuss these issues because of what is at stake in reaching people in persecuted areas.

Anonymous said...


I can tell your've been with JESUS...Keep on keeping on!!!!
Isn't GOD so wonderful that in times of discussion HE continues to teach us.
Praise HIS HOLY name


Anonymous said...

On one level, does it matter what you call them, other than Christians?
It’s not just a Landmark idea, but taken to the logical conclusion, any view that considers women (or anyone) lesser creatures.
According to this doctrine Paul couldn’t start a church in Philippi until after the jailer was converted. He usually went to synagogues in new places but there was no synagogue there because there apparently were only women meeting for prayer, and the Jewish requirement for a synagogue was 10 males. By the thinking expressed here, there couldn’t be a church there either unless there were males. It sheds new light on this passage: Maybe Paul arranged to be beaten and jailed to get a male convert so he could start a church there!
There’s a story about Lottie Moon: She went to a place where she was the first Christian missionary to go. She had been teaching women, but the men there also wanted to hear the Gospel message. She had a dilemma: She’d been told women weren’t supposed to teach men, but she knew the Gospel should be proclaimed and there wasn’t a man there to do it. She solved it by providing for the women to be seated in front of her while she taught them, but arranged it so that the men could gather behind her so they also could hear the message. Problem solved: they were just listening in - she wasn’t really teaching them. Maybe if this story gets out, they’ll rename the mission offering after a man.
Why is something ok in a place where there are no men who can lead but not in places where there are males available? Does that say that the people there are considered not as good as people here who can fully obey the rules? It’s like the idea that if women should not teach men, why are women allowed to teach male children? (Although I really doubt that most men who support this view would want to work with 2-year-olds in Sunday School.) Do the “right thing “ as long as it doesn’t inconvenience the men who make the rules - then you can let women (or whoever) do what those men don’t want to do, but make excuses for it.
It’s the kind of thing that would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
Note to Den Mother: There is a theory that the women deacons in the early church baptized the women converts.

Hastey Words said...


As one who grew up with the IMB on the mission field, I greatly appreciate your comments in this post. In my last years there as an MK, we had some disheartening instructions directing female missionaries, uniquely qualified to cross language barriers with the gospel, to stop leading Bible studies as that put them in positions of authority over men. I am wrestling with the complimentarian vs. egalitarian issue, but either way decisions like the above strike me as unwise.

Anyway, thank you for your insight and candid discussions of issues that ought to be discussed more often.

Anonymous said...

Just when I start wondering if I can continue to work for the IMB, someone like you writes something like this and reassures me that I can, with all integrity, stay on this ship!


Anonymous said...

I work in a "level III" country & have followed this conversation very closely. Until today I did not feel compelled to comment at all. But today I feel like taking time out to personally thank you for the stand you are taking. You are not just defending good theology or the spirit of cooperation or the missionaries -- but you are taking a stand that very-well may be instrumental in getting the most beautiful Story in the history to those who have never heard. If things go the way of Landmarkism it will stifle our work enormously. Again, thank you Wade.

Grace to you,

PS -- It's not just me, all of those I work with are 100% opposed to these policy changes for the exact reasons you brought forth in this post.

Anonymous said...

"Shouldn’t the group of women mentioned in the blog be considered an outreach group rather than a New Testament church?"

Baptist Theologue,
Call them whatever you want to for "reporting" purposes. In God's eyes they are His people meeting to worship Him & be transformed into the fullness of what God created them to be.

Grace to you,

Anonymous said...

Bro. Burleson,

I must say I am amazed at your post. Let me try and address your concerns.

1. This is not a Landmark concern. Almost all Baptists, Landmark and otherwise have agreed that a church is a body of baptized believers. Obviously a healthy church is one with pastors and deacons. But I know of Landmark Southern Baptist churches that do not have deacons (for different reasons). Pastors and deacons are not essential to being a N.T. church. Yet if those women have covenanted together as a church, they need to find a man as soon as possible to serve as pastor.

2. Again this is not a Landmark concern, at least not a Southern Baptist Landmark concern. Southern Baptist Landmarkers believe the ordinances are in the hands of the church, but the ordained. Having said that we do believe baptism is connected to the church and don't believe people should baptize themselves. I'm sure you are familiar with with the story of John Oncken.

3. This is a Landmark concern. Your reasoning, reminds me of what a few Baptists were saying about the frontier in American centuries ago. When Baptists were crossing the mountains and rivers, some said he had to work together with other denominations - there were too few churches in any towns, not many Christians, and too many needs. However most of the Baptists stuck it out, refused to have communion services with non-Baptists and planted distinctly Baptist churches. Of course we know the rest of the story.

Savage Baptist said... seems that the majority of younger Southern Baptists have rejected the tenets of Landmarkism...

You could say that. I think the reality is rather more disappointing. It's not so much that they've rejected it as it is that they wouldn't recognize it, not if it bled to death on their front lawn!

The same problem exists vis-a-vis the Doctrines of Grace. For a long time now, we've done such a poor job of teaching that most of our people don't know enough about these things to have an informed opinion.

Anonymous said...

As an IMB missionary all I can say is "preach on, brother!" It is so refreshing to read not only your daily blogs (especially the past couple of days), but those making comments as well. So many of us on the field truly appreciate the stand you, fellow bloggers, and respective commentators are taking on these issues. Your voice on this blog has in many ways become the missionary voice, expressing the very things we would like to say ourselves.

I also rejoice that there are many other voices out there in Baptist life who have joined you in "taking up the cause" of identifying the roots of these issues (like Landmarkism) and the forces propelling us in the directions we are headed. I find comfort in reading many of the cross-linked blogs and am encouraged by the dialogue taking place. The issues being discussed are significant with far reaching implications for world missions. I just hope the open dialogue will continue and that a spirit of grace and truth will prevail from all sides.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have followed your blog from the very beginning. Thank you for taking the stand you have taken. God is using you in a mighty way.
My husband is presently in a foreign country on a mission trip. It's amazing the things he has studied in the past year that you are also bringing to light, the most recent is Landmarkism. You are correct that most of our "Baptist Churches" are that. So sad. We have forgotten our mission of bringing the lost to Christ Jesus. The traditions of men have made God's word of no effect.
I also think "the church" is ALL baptized believers. We use the term "Let's go to church" so loosely. Maybe we should say "Let's go to the congregation". By Webster's definition, that word means a "group of baptized believers".
I can't wait for my husband to get home and read your recent blogs. It will be uplifting to him because he is considered to be a heretic in our area. The "ordained" won't even engage in conversation with him about these things. And, yes, I believe we (Christians) are ALL "ordained" of God.
Keep standing for the truth of God's Word! Our denomination needs more like you who will speak out that truth. God Bless you and your family.

art rogers said...

I echo Tim in saying that among most of Young SBC the definition of church is not much thought of in terms of Landmarkish succession or organization. There are notable exceptions, however.

Still, these arguments find their base in church tradition and have no firm foundation in Scripture. In this sense, and as you eluded to in part 1, Wade, they harken to the Catholic church by elevating tradition as authoritative, elevating the ordained as a priesthood and elevating the authority of the church over its members.

art rogers said...


It is certainly true that many of the coming generation do not quickly recognize the tenets of landmarkism, it is because we have gone so far away from it for many years. I was never confronted with a single Landmark idea until we studied them in baptist history at Seminary. Since then, I moved to Pendleton's stomping grounds and deal with these ideas from time to time, coming from some of the more rural churches of our community.

Still, on the whole, I would encourage you not to dismiss us altogether as incapable of dealing with Landmarkism. As I said, I have a modest understanding through Seminary, but I am rapidly coming up to speed as the issue has taken such a profound place in our attention.

I think you will find this to be true of many among my peers.

Kevin Bussey said...

This philosophy sounds like the Church of Christ.

JUSTAMOE said...

1. Isn't it interesting that God was limited to describing the forever-family He was producing by grace and faith to the language of the New Testament and that He had to choose a noun in the feminine gender to say what He means (ekklesia)? (TIC here--obviously, not; and, cf. Gal. 3:27-29 and related passages);

2. Isn't, by far, God's main point of NT passages describing baptisms the confession of the new converts, not the credentials of the baptizers? (cf. Paul in 1 Cor. 1:14--more an authority on the matter than any of the rest of us);

3. Doesn't the NT teach that, while Eve was deceived when she disobeyed and sinned against God in the garden, a well-informed Adam essentially stared God in the eyes anyway and sinfully took a bite of the forbidden fruit? Then, can't the man's responsibility for leading his home be considered punishment for his greater sin (if there is one--but which of two disobedient children would you give it to in your home), rather than a greater privilege or due to his priority in creation? (1 Tim. 2; not trying to be a heretic here--but an interesting thought);

4. Hasn't a larger vein of Landmarkism been tapped by Wade's last two posting than might have been realized otherwise? And, haven't we continued to teach Landmarkism to the new members of our congregations, even unknowingly, over all these years by seldom ever permitting non-Baptist evangelical believers to preach on our platforms, etc.? And, in June at Greensboro, won't whoever addresses the issue which was the original cause for Wade's beginning his blogsite be facing thousands of well-meaning messengers who think that their congregations' ways--Landmarkish ways--is the only way to do church as he tries to explain why further steps in the current direction shouldn't be taken?

Just random related thoughts on a wintry Saturday afternoon!

Savage Baptist said...

Art, I certainly didn't mean to dismiss younger Southern Baptists as incapable of dealing with Landmarkism, just to point out that a big part of the problem is our institutional failure to teach the people in the pews anything beyond the absolute basics.

I rather get the impression that you identify yourself as a younger Southern Baptist--and distressingly, me as an "older" Southern Baptist. I'm a mere lad of forty-three--probably not all that much older than you are.

I was never confronted with a single Landmark idea until we studied them in baptist history at Seminary.

This is the kind of thing I mean. Why not? Why shouldn't we educate the people in our Sunday School classes and our pews about these things? They are certainly not incapable of understanding them.

Jeremiah Burroughs said...

Dear Bro. Wade-

I met you a few years ago when I visited Emmanuel with my wife, the former Becky Partrick. I began following this blog after her family shared with us your struggle as an IMB trustee. I'm not SBC so I don't know all of the inner-workings of Convention life, but I do believe you're right on target with this stand.
I know you to be a man of grace, humility, & truth. I still listen to your sermons on occasion because you feed me like no other preacher I've heard. Your handle on the doctrines of grace and your ability to practically apply the Word means a lot to me.
However, I've felt like the last two posts have not been as gracious as the others. I don't disagree with what has been said about associational Baptists. I grew up one, amid Landmarkism, & am still one; though I am not a Landmarker. I grew up the son of an ABA pastor, & am now a BMA pastor. I am in the BMA because God has put me in it. It is the only "group" He has opened up to us (as of now). I can't count the number of times Becky and I have talked about getting out of it and going SBC. I realize though that our problems are also your problems, just not as widespread maybe. We've lost a lot of young men & will lose more I fear. But, there is a change in the wind for us. I am reformed, universal church, not dispensational, and nothing like the "elders" of the BMA. And I am not the only one. Among my generation, there are many just like me. We stay in contact, & we stay in the BMA; not because we can't leave, but because we must stay. For the kingdom, we must stay and change this thing. Interestingly, I have not found Landmarkism to be as prevalent in the BMA as it was in the ABA. In fact, our association is making positive changes toward centralizing our departments (closer to a cooperative program). We have a long way to go. I guess what I really want to do is caution you from over-generalizing associational Baptists. Our roots may be Landmark, but in some cases, the apple has fallen far, far, away from the tree. Hopefully, to branch out into new and exciting ways to reach the world for Christ. So pray for us. I've prayed for you. And be careful to not cut us off from being able to accomplish things for the kingdom either.
God Bless You & Strengthen You,
Jeremy Franklin

Micah Fries said...

Wade, When my wife and I served on the field with the IMB we served among on Unreached People Group that had no previous gospel witness until our supervisor, a single female, started working among them. After her work saw success she asked for additional help and three other units were sent (one being another single female). That people group has undergone a transition from no believers, and no churches, to the present where there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of believers and churches that number over 50.

It is hard to argue against the success that God gave this single female, it's even more difficult to say to those that were dying without Christ in that people group that they couldn't experience authentic Christianity, and authentic body life, until a qualified male was able to serve among them. God forbid our arrogance if we come to that point. said...


Thanks for the caution. I've sure looked this post and the last over to see how it is not as gracious as my others, and I'm coming up short, but I will keep your words in mind.


Great email to me. Have decided not to post it at this time so as not to let people try to sidetrack the discussion by talking about your comment. I do agree with everything your husband wrote.

JUSTAMOE said...

Coming from BMA or ABA to SBC isn't possible--maybe until now.

Jeremiah Burroughs said...

Bro. Wade-

It's very possible that it "felt" ungracious because it touched a nerve with me. More so the first post with the letter because it over-generalized all of us into being Landmarkers. I just don't fall into that category & really don't want to be thought of as one. There are a lot of us who are not Landmarkers, & we fight the very same battle you fight, only more entrenched. Sometimes we must fight on a weekly basis.
Please keep up what you are doing. I know that if someone doesn't fight against extremism, whether legalism or liberalism, the loudest proponents naturally force a gravitational pull in one direction. I know the SBC is doing a grand work for the kingdom and I rejoice in it. Just please reciprocate that joy for us, along with prayer, that we might be able to do a good work too.

Thanks for the reply,

Jeremiah Burroughs said...

If you meant what I think you meant; that hurts man, that really hurts. I'd like a little clarification about what you meant.

Anonymous said...

That's quite all right, Wade. Thank you for reading it and commenting about it.

Florence said...


Thanks for your spirit.

I really appreciate it.


Tim Batchelor said...


If one of the teenagers in your church won a friend to Jesus then baptized him in his swimming pool would your church accept his baptism if he applied for church membership?



art rogers said...


Maybe I came off as too strong when making my remarks. I didn't mean that you had offended me, because you didn't. I just want to point out the Young SBC is rising rapidly to this situation.

As to your age, I am less than forty, but not for long. Technically, I am at the top end of the Busters, but I feel an affinity with the Younger generation as it relates to the leadership of the SBC - disengaged by cronyism and the need to conform everyone to one particular belief set. I didn't mean to say that you weren't among that group - though you are my senior. ;)

As to not being educated concerning Landmarkism - you have a point, no doubt. My thought is, and I think this series points to it, this has not been an issue for us, so we have ignored it, but there is a resurgence of this thought going on. I dare say, it has made its way to the highest levels of the SBC, now and must be dealt with.

JUSTAMOE said...


Ease up, brother--I think that I'm on your side on this one.

I've been SBC all my life (and, let's just say, I'm not one of the youngest bloggers here). You seemed to indicate that you serve as a non-SBC minister.

From a vocational ministry perspective: every minister like me--life-long SBC'ers--posting comments at this site knows that your resume probably wouldn't make it past the search committee's first cut if you were to apply for a ministry position in the typical SBC church but coming from a church affiliated with another Baptist group (at least, in my neck of the woods; and, certainly not if coming from a non-Baptist group)--and simply for that reason, unfortunately.

I didn't say that I'm in favor of this--I'm only stating reality. In all my years and service, I've known one formerly non-SBC music/youth minister hired by an SBC church (I've served 7, been a member of 12). It's been a different story for laymen joining SBC congregations from other Baptist groups--usually, they're welcomed after a lengthy conversation about what each group believes (my earlier post was a reference to the ministry perspective I've mentioned here).

However, the current drift of the SBC may eliminate the divide. Would that be a bad thing? Not judging from your comments here--you seem like the kind of someone we'd all like to get to know.

I'm a lover, not a fighter! I think that I understood your comments, and I wasn't slamming you in any way (personally or professionally). Sorry if this still doesn't clear things up--please let me know if it doesn't, OK?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Greatest danger to the mission field is Calvinism--- Not Landmarkism.I think you are hunting
the wrong enemy.

Den Mother said...

Micah: Regarding the work of the single female, I am reminded of a news story I read about some NGO's in Afghanistan wanting to pay widows to go door-to-door assessing the needs of women and children. The Taliban forbade them from doing that because they taught it was wrong for women to work. So, in their twisted logic and doctrine, it was better for women and children to starve rather than to break their "rules." God forbid that we would deny men, women and children the Bread of Life solely because someone does not have the proper "authority" to spiritually feed them.

Anonymous said...

We just returned from a cruise that was over two Sundays. An SBC minister (church of 15,000)was on board to hold interdenominational services. On the second Sunday he had the Lord's Supper. He said, "I wish we had deacons here to serve you, but we don't, so you will all have to come to the table and take Communion." That was fine with me. However, it is beyond me why I had to have a deacon there to pass the elements. I am a senior adult member of a large Tulsa Baptist church....we do not have only deacons serve the Lord's Supper. Just an observation.

Kevin said...

I think the greater concern is that even if what the BoT is doing only borders on Landmarkism is where will it stop? Will we start telling people if they don’t read the KJV bible they not really saved? I have been on the other end of this discussion with a non-denominational friend who questioned my salvation because I didn’t speak in tongues. Is this the direction we are going? (Maybe not on this issue but maybe on Baptism?) It seems foolish to think that but all it takes is one step at a time. The next question is when do you say enough? After all is this not already being done to our Missionaries? Just a few thoughts I am having about all of this I hope that though this all of us (Believers in Jesus Christ)can gain from this and understand each other better. We will be spending lots of time together when “We all get to Heaven”
IN HIM <><

Anonymous said...


Excellent post! One of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my nine years on the field is working together with brothers and sisters in Christ from other denominations. The IMB has very good and clear guidelines about levels of cooperation with other evangelical groups. For example, if we are involved in a disaster relief effort, we will gladly work along side of other believers to show the love of Christ, share the gospel and meet physical needs. However, if we are planting a church, we limit levels of cooperation because we are planting "Baptistic" churches. Though, I am concerned that new policies are pushing towards Landmark Baptistic churches.
In a neighboring country, God has been moving in mighty ways in the women's prison system. Hundreds, if not thousands, have come to Christ. They are baptized believers who practice Communion. Of course, they will never have a male leader nor is it likely they will have an ordained minister. I believe they are a church body. I believe we should be able to count them as a church - not for statistical purposes but so that Southern Baptist can know that they are there and praise God for what He is doing in the women's prisons. Unfortunately, the direction of the trustees (no offense) seems to be telling these ladies they cannot be a local church. I would sincerely like for anyone who does not think these ladies can form a church to go into their prison cell, worship with them, pray with them. Would anyone dare look these ladies in the eyes and tell them "I'm sorry, you don't have an ordained male so you're not really a church." I agree, it's time we move beyond our American world view.

Anonymous said...

Acts speaks clearly about three ordinations. The first is to the position of the Twelve (apostolic witness). The second is to the deaconate. The third is to the missionary role. While there was ordination for priests and prophets in the OT, we do not really find that in the NT.

It has been curious to me that we make such a fuss over not ordaining women as pastors, when we have no NT model for pastoral ordination at all. We do have a NT model for ordaining missionaries, and here we ordain women without much qualm, although we call it a commission, instead.

Is our blubbering against ordaining females for ministry not the case of "argument weak here, raise voice for added emphasis"? The BF&M 2000 ignores Scripture to maintain that church officers are pastors and deacons. The NT speaks of apostles, prophets, bishops (overseers), evangelists, elders, and missionaries as well (None of these are really considered officers, however, deacons included! They are roles of service.) Paul commends Pheobe, as well as encouraging Prisca in active ministry and accepting the prophetic word of Agabus' daughters. Methinks [he] doth protest too much who would ignore so much Scriptural witness to defend the claims of a human tradition. said...


You ask a question without giving much information. But let's suppose that the young man who led his friend to Christ had been witnessing to him for a long time. Let's suppose that they were with their respective families on an outing when the young man gave his heart to Christ. Let us also suppose that the parents of the young men both agreed to the baptism, and let's also suppose that testimony of faith in Jesus Christ was given to all who were there to observe the baptism, and then the young man was baptized.

We would examine the faith of the young person, we would talk with the young person about his baptism to make sure his faith was in Christ and not the act of baptism, and then we would ask about the unusual circumstances of his baptism. Since their is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism of the Spirit, with the baptism of the water the opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ, if the young man gave good evidence of genuine faith in Christ, and a solemn, joyous testimony of his baptism, then our church would receive it.

Your short question though can't be answered with a yes or no. A diligent, thorough examination of the young man's faith and baptism would have to occur before we could determine if we could receive him into fellowship.

Savage Baptist said...

Perhaps the Greatest danger to the mission field is Calvinism--- Not Landmarkism.

Oh, now you've done it. :)
Seriously, though, take that one up with William Carey when you meet him.

Micah Fries said...

anonymous, I can't help but comment that your fear about Calvinism is difficult to swallow when you consider that some of the most missionary minded, evangelistic figures throughout history, and today, are reformed in their soteriology. Men like C.H. Spurgeon, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, not to mention William Carey and Adoniram Judson.

Calvinism, like many other evangelical viewpoints, becomes impotent when misused or misunderstood, however in its purest form it is one of the most evangelistic viewpoints one could take. Particuarly in light of the high view of scripture and the wonderfully high view of God.

Wes Kenney said...

Micah said: [Calvinism] in its purest form it is one of the most evangelistic viewpoints one could take. Particuarly in light of the high view of scripture and the wonderfully high view of God.

I always appreciate it when the argument can be framed in such a way that, right from the start, those with a different view have a low view of scripture and a wonderfully low view of God.

Makes for such a healthy dialogue. said...


I think you will find that Micah did not mean to infer you have a low view of Scripture. I think he was simply saying he had a high view of Scripture, as do you.

I am sympathetic with what you have said, however, since I received an email yesterday from someone in the SBC calling me a "liberal." In forty-four years of living, twenty-five years of preaching, and several years of denominational service, that is the first time I have ever been called a liberal. This man further went on to tell me he was going to request from the floor of the convention that I be removed as an IMB trustee.

I tend to agree with your desire for healthy dialogue, but often find it difficult.

JUSTAMOE said...


Been there, done that; can now design the t-shirt with the same label.

I think that a person voting his conscience always should be commended--there a too many gutless-wonders out there who won't, and "God don't make no gutless-wonders". If the person's vote happens to be based on inaccurate information or beliefs, the humbly mature (but ONLY the HUMBLY mature; Gal. 6) have a love-motivated responsibility to further disciple their brother. 'Way to many among us are trying to win their cases instead of their brothers!

I'm looking for Jesus in ALL OF THIS, and having a little trouble seeing Him!! Can you tell I'm disturbed by that?!

Tim Batchelor said...


Would you consider yourself a "liberal" based on Webster's definition: "one who is openminded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional or established forms or ways."

(I know you are not a liberal in the sense of the label placed on folks with leftward leaning doctrine but you just might fit webster's definition. Just a light thought for a busy Sunday afternoon.)


Ken said...

Dear Annoynomous you said :

"Perhaps the Greatest danger to the mission field is Calvinism--- Not Landmarkism.I think you are hunting the wrong enemy."

I think the whole point of what Wade and others are saying is that we are not hunting anybody and no true believer is our enemy. There is a lot of room in the SBC for differing views that are scriptural and conservative. Hunting other conservative Christians is what we are trying to stop. I think that is Wade's point?

As a missions pastor I have the privilege of working with some incredible people on the field. Our of our most effective M's working in a very difficult place in Northern Africa among Muslims, is reformed. In addition to that he was not baptized in a baptist church.

They began with one known believer in a UPG of 1.5 million muslim people. They now have over 150 baptized believers in a muslim UPG who are standing for their faith amidst persecution.

Additonally this group of 150 believers are beginning to go out and spread the gospel cross culturally to other Muslim UPG's in places that the white man cannot go. All this came about from reformed missionaries seeking God's glory for the nations.

Please do not tell me that reformed theology is the one we should hunt. I think it does not hold water nor help our convention. My friends' reformed theology is what drives him to go to the edge of lostness. What you said bothers me especially when my reformed missionary brother puts his life and family on the line everyday for the sake of the gospel. He shares that gospel freely at every turn with the Muslim people he works with. God uses calvinists, arminians and whoever to bring glory to His name.

I hope that instead of hunting you will heal. Let's work together and praise God for His soverign work among all people groups and praise Him for letting us get in on what HE is doing. I for one do not wish to hunt anybody. I hope you do not either.

art rogers said...

Wade, I am a believer in the inerrancy, infallability and inspiration of the Word - so I am conservative through the core. Still, I had a great many friends that were called "liberal" during the resurgence. Their crime? They did not conform exactly to the theology of the person calling them that particular name. This was stuff like believing in a post tribulation rapture - not being a dispensationalist, that kind of stuff.

I know a lot of inerrantists who left the SBC during the resurgency because of stuff like this. Unfortunately, the "liberal" tag is a weapon of many conservatives that people who don't pay any attention believe - thus making the weapon effective.

If anyone wants to know why the young in our convnetion have been disengaged - this is it. Throwing incindiary words around and wounding Christians to get what you want politically in the convention is going to destroy it. We have got to be more level headed.

If this person does make that motion, frankly, it would be the opportunity for us to show the support for you the Executive Committee is trying to take off the table.

Micah Fries said...

wes kenney- I sincerely apologize for the perception that I apparently gave. As Wade stated, I did not intend to belittle, or discourage anyone's view. I value the arminiam viewpoint. The vast majority of my friends, and colleagues, hold to a position that is more arminian friendly than reformed. The point that I intended to make was simply that the high view of God that reformed theology holds to (which is also prevalent in many other theological systems) lends itself to a great level of obedience. Please accept my apologies if I offended you, or anyone else for that matter.

Wes Kenney said...


I understand; no apology necessary.

Bob said...

Pastor Burleson,

I have read your blog with interest for a couple months now.

I have a comment concerning an item in point # 2.

About the privilege of someone to baptize "his" converts:

We as humans, have no converts. One plants, another waters, but GOD gives the increase. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that people are born again. If I witness to my neighbor, and he prays to receive Christ, he is not "my" convert, he is GOD's convert. It reminds me of the story of DL Moody. He and a friend were walking down a street in Chicago one day when a drunken man approached Mr. Moody saying, "Mr. Moody! I'm one of your converts!" Mr. Moody reportedly replied, "He must be one of my converts, because it seems he is not one of GOD's converts."

Having said all this, your principled stands on these issues are much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,
I have read your blog with much interest and concern since the publicity began from the BoT. I would encourage you to read the history of another Christian group that had a conservative resurgence in the early part of the 20th century. The split between the Church of Christ (COC) and the Disciples of Christ (DOC) ... and subsequent splits became official in 1906. History records the split as a difference between instrumental music and missionary societies. However, these were surface issues. The real issues was biblical authority.
Now you and I would disagree with some of the theology surrounding the Stone/Campbell movement that brought these groups into existance. However, take a look at what happened after their battle over the Bible.
First, one group tightened the circle and became more exclusive, almost Landmark in their belief. As the circle tightened one had to jump through even more hoops to become a part of and/or cooperate with their group. This led and continues to lead to more and more schisms. (In my small town of 15k people there are 6 groups claiming to be "The Church of Christ.")
The other group from that original split became known as the Disciples of Christ (DOC). Their circle became larger and larger to the point that many DOC believe in heresy ... that there are more pathways to God than through Jesus Christ. Perhaps, from my view point, they switched their focus from an evangelistic ministry of sharing the Gospel and planting churches to a social ministry of meeting societal needs. And instead of both/and they opted for an either/or.
And then of course, there are independent Christian churches coming from that movement that hold a high view of biblical authority, that have come to practice believers' baptism, that are incredibly strong in their evangelism, and like CoC and DoC celebrate Communion every Sunday.
Watch history repeat itself. The circle becomes tighter and tigher. First, innerancy (as your definition of Biblical authority) or bust. Second, adoption of BFM 2000 or you can't participate. Now, you must have a record of baptism in a cooperating baptist church and you have to pray in a certain manner (or, not pray in a certain manner) in order to serve as one of our missionaries. What's next?
Please continue your centrist stand -- yes, there are some issues which we must agree to -- but some issues that are apparently beginning to separate us now will cause hundreds if not thousands from hearing the Gospel!

Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord Brother that we have someone who is thinking. But keep up the work! I am a missionary, and I'm a Southern Baptist, but I'm not a Southern Baptist "IMB" Missionary because "I am too fat" yes you read that right. God called me to missions, the Bible says that God knows the number of hairs on my head, but when he was counting the hairs on my head,
God somehow missed the fact that I am fat.
That's what we get when men and women of conviction don't stand up and say that some of our regulations are completely crazy.

But here's another statistic that may be of some importance, I don't think the 10,000 plus people who have come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior over the past 10 years have been concerned with the fact that I am fat. The IMB said I couldn't be a missionary, but God said, I'll use you anyway. When will people stop trying to tell God what he can't do instead of simply marveling at what He has done.

Brother, I commend you for standing up and hopefully making a difference that will one day be counted by the number of souls who are saved because you didn't keep God's called men and women from the mission field.

Anonymous said...

Biblical Essentials of a Church
From an exercise developed by Paul Heibert

Each item below is derived from specific Scripture passages related to the gathering of believers. For most, you will be able to think of additional relevant verses. For each item below, decide whether, according to Scripture, you think it is:

• Essential for church's in every cullure (E)

• Permissible for churches in some cultures (P)
• Fobbiden to all churches in every culture (F)

Place the corresponding letter to the left of the item.

1. Greet other believers with a holy kiss. I Pet 5:14

2. Go to worldly court to settle issues between Christians. I Cor 6:1-6

3. Women at church should wear head coverings when praying or speaking. I Cor 11:16 4. 4. Wash one another's feet at the Lord's Supper. John 13:1-15

5. Lay on hands for ordination of leaders. Acts 6:6
6. Sing with musical accompaniment. Psalm 150
7. Dance before the Lord in worship. Psalm 150
8. Eat meat offered to idols. Acts 15:20

9. Eat meat of strangled animals. Acts 15:20
10. Be sexually immoral. Acts 15:20

11. Consume (ingest) blood. Acts 15:20

12. Share the Lord's Supper (Eucharist) together. I Cor 11:22-26

13. Use wine and unleavened bread for the Lord's Supper. Luke 22:14-23
14. Anoint with oil for healing. James 5:14

15. Women can teach men. I Tim 2:12

16. Women can braid their hair, and wear jewelry. I Tim 2:9
17. Drink wine. Eph5:18

18. Have slaves, as long as you treat them well. Eph 6:5-9
19. Lift your hands when you pray. I Tim 2:8

20. Appoint elders in every congregation. Titus 15

21. Appoint deacons in every congregation. Acts 6:1-7
22. Confess your sins to other believers. James 5:16
23. Baptize believing adults. Acts 10:48

24. Baptize infants of believing families. Acts 16:33
25. Baptize by immersion. Acts 8:38

26. Confess Christ publicly by means of baptism. Acts 2:38
27. Have at least one paid, full-time pastor. I Tim 5:17-18
28. Meet as a congregation on Sundays. Luke 24:1

29. Have a private devotional time each day. Luke 6:12

30. Believers should live in community and share all things in common. Acts 2:44

Add up the number of Essential, Permissible, and Forbidden.

Essential ____
Permissible ____
Forbidden ____

Try to articulate your rationale for deciding Essential, Permissible, and Forbidden. Below, write down the principles that influenced your decisions

I make disciples in one of the most anti-Christian nations of the world. I help them learn to memorize the Bible, book-by-book, and to obey it with a clear conscience, depending on the Holy Spirit to give discernment how they are to bring others to Christ and to lead them also to become disciplemakers. It is them and God and the Bible. That is all they have, and all they will have. Until they, too, may be martyred, joining the saints who have gone on before them. What else is needed for them to become baptistic? God, Bible, death to self should be enough, yes?