William Andrew Dillard
LANDMARKS OF BAPTIST FAITH
Baptist Churches lay claim to continued existence since the days of the apostles. They are the only community of churches with such origin. They have not been called by the same name, but were known variously as Paterines; Novations; Paulicians; Albigenses; Waldensians; Petro-brusians; Donatists; Anabaptists, etc.
These names, and others, were put upon them usually by the population of their location throughout the centuries. However there is a common thread running through them all by which they are identified as one and the same people. That thread is a core of common beliefs. Recognizing that fact, scholars of various Protestant faiths including Methodists, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Catholic, too, have verified their continued existence since the apostles, and the only community of churches which have never symbolized with Rome.
These churches were often nomadic of necessity because of persecution from the religious wife of Rome which was most zealous to unite all religion in the empire or else put it out of business via taxation, confiscation of property, burning of houses of worship, imprisonment and execution of the people espousing Biblical views and practices.
There were things about them in different countries and in different times that were uncommon, but the common thread was there exemplified as in a statement of Faith dated 1120 A.D. in THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCHES OF THE VALLEYS OF PIEDMONT written in 1654 by Samuel Moreland.
The Landmarks which have always identified the people presently known as Baptists who are the legitimate successors of those earlier named, but all of whom were generally known as Anabaptists are 1) The depravity of the total man, that is, all of mankind are sinners by nature, and practice. 2) Spiritual salvation is effected by grace through faith plus nothing else. 3) There is eternal security of the believer in Christ, since all who believe in Jesus as personal Savior are granted everlasting life. 4) Baptism is effected by total immersion in water of a professed believer by the authority of a bona fide New Testament Church.
Of course, there are quite a number of other doctrines which make up historic and modern confessions of faith. All of them are important, but those four core doctrines are consistently identified as present and foundational among the Lord’s churches wherever, and whenever they are found. They truly are landmarks of the first church and its successors.
Solomon said it well in Proverbs 22:18, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” Today, a shallow people is giving way to marginalization by the world’s humanistic religions. Let the wisdom of Solomon be heard for when the landmarks are gone the ship of church is perished.