What is 'Baptist Bride' theology? What is Landmarkism?Landmarkism, also called heritage theology or Baptist Bride theology, is the belief by certain independent Baptist churches that only local, independent Baptist churches are true New Testament churches. They reject all other groups, including many other Baptist churches, because they believe other groups have strayed from the essentials of the faith.
Landmarkism started in 1851 when some Southern Baptist members met to oppose what they considered liberal beliefs entering their churches. Out of this gathering came a document called the Cotton Grove Resolutions, a list of the beliefs of Landmarkism.
The essentials usually noted by Landmark theology churches include church succession, the visible church, anti-pedobaptism (infant baptism by sprinkling), and anti-alien immersion (baptism outside of a Landmark Baptist church).
Landmark Baptists also believe that only faithful Landmark Baptist churches will be part of the Bride of Christ. Other non-Landmark Baptist Christians may serve as guests or servants at the marriage supper of the Lamb and are referred to as the family of God or kingdom of God.
Because of its separatist stance, church membership in a Landmark Baptist church is considered as being of great importance. Church membership is required to take part in Communion (Lord's Supper). No one can participate in Communion outside of his or her home church.
Is Landmarkism biblical? While this movement attempts to base its beliefs on the Bible, it includes several weaknesses. First, they misunderstand the Bible's teaching of the church. Biblically, the church consists of all believers worldwide. And the church is the Bride of Christ.
Second, Landmarkism wrongly labels other non-Baptist Christians as the family of God. The Bible, however, refers to every Christian as a child of God and as a member of God's family.
Third, Landmarkism misunderstands baptism. The Bible presents baptism as something all Christians participate in following salvation. It is not restricted to a single denomination but is a practice of all Christians worldwide.
Landmark Baptist churches may mean well in their efforts to honor God and serve as a pure church. However, certain exclusive aspects regarding their view of being the one true church, baptism, and other Christians are inconsistent with Scripture's teachings.
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