Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gene Bridges' Primer on Landmarkism in the SBC

After a lengthy period of research and writing, Gene Bridges has begun posting his primer on Landmarkism in the SBC. As of today he has posted the first four parts of this primer (I don't know how many parts there will be in all). I strongly encourage you to go to his site and read the primer. As expected, Gene is thorough in his research, but his writing style far exceeds in clarity that of most of his comments on other blogs. Despite the detailed treatment he gives the subject, it has been a pretty quick read. This primer will give you some of the historical background that is underlying the current disagreement over the IMB policy regarding baptism.

20 comments:

Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Tim,

I have noticed that both your blog and the founders blog have promoted Gene Bridges' Primer on Landmarkism in the SBC. As a student of Landmarkism, I haven't been impressed at Bridges' research at all. For example in part one, had footnotes: "J. R. Graves, The Trail of Blood (Lexington: Ashland Avenue Baptist Church), 1956."

Any student of Landmarkism can tell you that it was J.M. Carroll, not Graves who wrote "The Trail of Blood". This is just one historical mistake I have found. I don't have the time to do a full critic. Much of Bridges' information is simply a rehash of McBeth and Baker.

Hashman said...

Our church is a landmark church, we were put of the national historic registry. Doesn't that make us landmark?

Anonymous said...

Ben Stratton is correct. For example, the BMA of America does not have three Junior Colleges. There is one JC in Texas, one 4-year college in Arkansas, and one 4-year college in Mississippi. And technically because of the governmental make-up of the BMAA, the national organization has zero because each college belongs solely to the state to which it resides. Just a little correction worth noting.

Anonymous said...

Let me correct myself. The college in Mississippi is a two-year college. I went and checked my information which is obviously something that all of us can do from to time to time. And by the way, have we ever stopped to wonder what B.H. must have thought about Landmarkism considering his brother wrote "The Trail of Blood."

Tim Sweatman said...

All,

Thanks for the info. As someone who has written a 170-page M.A. thesis, I'm all too aware of the ease with which errors can creep into a research project. As you read on, please bring any other errors to light. Or if you disagree with any of his conclusions, feel free to mention that as well.

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous from above and I as well have written a thesis or two in my life. There are mistakes in my thesis as well. My problem with the whole premise of his article (besides some easy errors that could have been caught with a little research) is that I have to wonder if he really understands the mindset of Landmark Baptists. Has he interviewed any Landmarkist leaders? Has he investigated some of the modern writings or only basing his assumptions on what was written over 100 years ago? Has he ever heard of E. Harold Henderson?
The reason for my probable defensive is that I have been one in the past and in my heart often still feel as if I am. And so you should know before assumptions are made is that I lean strongly towards Calvinism and am extremely wary of what is going on at the IMB (except I have some agreement with the baptism issue). All this to say is that this dangerous practice of lumping all Landmarkism into some prejorative "dirty Baptist word" is unfair and unscholarly.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Tim,

Did you use "Gene Bridges" and "pretty quick read" in the same sentence? :)

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Tim Sweatman said...

Jeff,

I know, it's hard to believe. Of course, "pretty quick read" is a relative term.


Anonymous,

In his introduction, Gene indicates that he is focusing on the history of Landmarkism in the SBC during the 19th century. I have no idea how he's going to tie this to the present. I do think it's clear that he does not subscribe to Landmarkism, so the reader should read his treatise in light of this.

GeneMBridges said...

As a student of Landmarkism, I haven't been impressed at Bridges' research at all.

No, you are not a student of Landmarkism. You should say that as an open Landmarkist who tries to spread his views, you haven't been impressed at all, but then I haven't been impressed with your attempts to justify your ecclesiology either. But then I didn't write this to appease you or any other Landmarkist. Ironically, some Landmark Baptists have contacted me and informed me that I got their history and views correct.

Perhaps Ben Stratton should read the Primer closely. That was a typo that my editor missed, and has been corrected.

For example, the BMA of America does not have three Junior Colleges. There is one JC in Texas, one 4-year college in Arkansas, and one 4-year college in Mississippi.

This information comes from The 2005 edition of the Handbook on Denominations, which is the standard reference for denominational profiles. It lists them as junior colleges. I can only go by the information in the standard reference sources. I did research this further in light of your objection, however.

The ones in TX and MS (which you noted) are clearly junior. The only Bachelor's degrees offered in Arkansas are in pastoral studies, church music, and youth ministries. This is not enough, apparently, for the editors of the handbook to consider them a true undergraduate institution. Having attended a Baptist college that transitioned in status twice in its history, I know a thing or two about transitions from junior to undergraduate college to university status. One is still considered an undergraduate institution even if one offers limited graduate degrees and must have a wider offering of graduate programs to change to university status. The same holds true for junior colleges transitioning to undergraduate college status.
Thus, the information in the booklet is correct, pending the next edition of the Handbook.

And technically because of the governmental make-up of the BMAA, the national organization has zero because each college belongs solely to the state to which it resides.

True, but this is an unnecessary detail. This is not about the BMAA, rather this section is simply a quick outline for the uninitiated. Landmarkism is a regional phenomenon today; y'all seem to make this same mistake all the time--you think that everybody knows who you are and believes as you do.

Much of Bridges' information is simply a rehash of McBeth and Baker.

Nope. I didn't use Baker. Try again. The lion's share goes to Dagg and the primary sources. McBeth is a standard reference in Baptist history and provides a portion of the narrative framework. I only used him for key events and his information is corroborated in Dockery, George and Nettles where they touch on Landmarkism, Carroll, et.al. He too draws from the primary sources. I went and checked his footnotes, just as I have checked a great many footnotes in Guthrie's NT Introduction. Information on Mell was given to me by an author who is at UGA, Dagg is 100 percent primary source material. Information on hyper-Calvinism is in large part from an upcoming journal article I have written on the NC Separate Baptists as well as Nettles Vol.2 of The Baptists. Information on the ABS controversy comes from LaHogue. There is also information from the SBC's own historical archives in this material. Information on Hayden comes by way of McBeth and another source that emailed me personally about Hayden. This source is a Landmark Baptist in E. TX. If you'll note, like Early, I focus primarily on his interactions over missions, and do not locate the split in Landmark theology as McBeth has in his recent discussions. However, like McBeth I do name Landmarkism as lying at the root of this split, since it was Hayden's ecclesiology that led to the dispute over policies.

Has he interviewed any Landmarkist leaders? Has he investigated some of the modern writings or only basing his assumptions on what was written over 100 years ago? Has he ever heard of E. Harold Henderson?

Part of my thesis is derived from information surveying a number of Landmark pastors and educators about their current believes that was conducted by a R.L. Vaughn. An Landmarkists regularly appeal to information written in that time frame to justify themselves. Ben Stratton above is a fine example of that, so the information selected is, in point of fact, pegged to their own appeals when discussing the issues which this primer is designed to address.

Why would I mention E. Harold Henderson in the BMAA who died in 1996, when this is a primer on Landmarkism and its intersection with the Southern Baptist Convention in the 19th century and then again in the present when similar issues have been raised at the IMB, which have roots in that century? Yes, he did advocate an idea of the universal church in their literature, but how would this affect the SBC in the 20th century? That is an internal issue. This is not an in depth treatise on Landmarkism and all of its in's and outs, this is a primer, as the text states, for persons who may not know what it is and what it's history with the SBC is in light of the current controversy at the SBC.

GeneMBridges said...

All this to say is that this dangerous practice of lumping all Landmarkism into some prejorative "dirty Baptist word" is unfair and unscholarly.

Since this is something I do not do in the article, and since there are those on the IMB Board who have told us the origin of their support of the baptism policy, I would say it is unfair and unscholarly to construct this straw man of my position. There is a historical link between a number of items in my article and the present, including hyper-Calvinism, principled dissent,blogging as pamphleteering, and Landmarkism proper.

The general thesis of this booklet is that the Conservative Resurgence has provided an opportunity for Southern Baptists in the “Reformation tradition” to discuss ecclesiology once again. In effect, the 20th century appears to have been an interlude, a slight pause, a “First Act” with respect to this discussion within our ranks. In order to understand the dialogue taking place now in this “Second Act,” Southern Baptists need to be reminded of the previous “Act” since we have been out of the theater for over a century.

Much of the article is constructed around Landmarkism as a narrative framework for discussing these other issues. This was made quite clear in the introduction where I note that the 20th century gave pause to the old divisions and activities and now they seem to be erupting again. They intersect through Landmarkism. Note, I wrote:

All Baptists believe in believer’s baptism, but the indexing of eternal security to baptism and the further indexing of baptism to service on the mission field in this particular manner invites scrutiny, as not all Southern Baptists, even in the 19th century, have agreed in matters of ecclesiology.

Nowhere do I name Landmarkism as root cause behind any one of the current issues, except the baptism policy and, by inference, the view in the Convention that they are the sine qua non of evangelical Christianity if not Baptistry in general.

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous who touched a nerve. I have to admit a certain amount of personal pleasure in doing this because I believe that too often I read blogs who throw Landmarkism as a dirty word without understanding the Landmarkism of today. For example, I would encourage you to compare and contrast the per capita giving and output of the BMA and the SBC in missions productivity. You might be surprised what the BMA is doing for God with the limited resources they have available.

And by the way, scholarship (and I admit this is somewhat of a slam) requires more than Frank Mead. Go to primary sources before you state categorical facts which are flawed. And your rationale for defending your statement that Arkansas' college is not a 4-year institution is an ad hominem argument. Would you say the same thing about Criswell College? Doubt it.

And by the way, I admit that I need to ask God to forgive me for my tone. I have just grown tired of the ad hominem arguments used regarding the SBC problems of today. The problem for the SBC has little to do with Landmarkism and more to do with the egos and pride of those in charge. The basic problem is the lack of humility of those in control to let go ... and this has nothing to do with Landmarkism.

The argument used against Calvinists in the SBC is ad hominem as is the argument against Landmarkism.

GeneMBridges said...

The problem for the SBC has little to do with Landmarkism and more to do with the egos and pride of those in charge. The basic problem is the lack of humility of those in control to let go ... and this has nothing to do with Landmarkism.The argument used against Calvinists in the SBC is ad hominem as is the argument against Landmarkism.

I assume by this you mean ad homineum attack and not ad homineum in absurdum. The former is fallacious, the latter is not.

That would be true if not for the stated Landmark values of trustees in the IMB and the nature of the policies themselves. They were proposed by individuals who have let their Landmarkism be known. This is not even in dispute. It is a well known fact. They exceeded the BFM 2000, they assume an ecclesiology that is Landmarkist.

Anonymous said...

Gene,

I am choosing to remain anonymous not because of any particular reason except self-protection. Cowardly, perhaps, but given my situation the wisest course of action.

All I can say is that through reading your responses to me on this blog as well as the defensiveness displayed in your comments on Ben Cole's blog (which excuse me came out of left field in relation to his overall theme), I think you need to recognize that to stay an opinion is to invite disagreement. If you can't handle it, stay out of the kitchen of academic pursuit. I don't mean that last sentence as a slam even though it might be received as such. If this is how it is received, I apologize but I do want to encourage you to realize that differences of opinion are valid and worthy of consideration and perhaps reflection.

My basic problem with your "brief" primer along with all the mortar lobs wrapped in the vestiges of protecting the SBC from Landmarkism is that while you might somewhat have the history correct, you do not have the present. Disagree fine, defensiveness is unnecessary.

GeneMBridges said...

And by the way, I admit that I need to ask God to forgive me for my tone. Yet you continued to write it anyway. This is false repentance then. If you realized this, why did you keep writing it?

For example, I would encourage you to compare and contrast the per capita giving and output of the BMA and the SBC in missions productivity. You might be surprised what the BMA is doing for God with the limited resources they have available.

Good for them, but how does this affect Landmarkism and its history with the SBC? It also smacks of pragmatism. Look at their per capita giving and their output and what they are doing for God. I have no idea why their people give. By this standard, we could look to Rome as well, as they give tremendously too. Look to the PCA, their growing faster than the SBC too, and their missions output is tremendous. Look at the SBC's baptism numbers then for their success. Pragmatism does not self-select for a positive argument.

And by the way, scholarship (and I admit this is somewhat of a slam) requires more than Frank Mead. Go to primary sources before you state categorical facts which are flawed. And your rationale for defending your statement that Arkansas' college is not a 4-year institution is an ad hominem argument. Would you say the same thing about Criswell College? Doubt it.

Here is the definition of an ad homineum argument:

In an ad hominem argument, the disputant argues from his opponent’s own assumptions and methods. You try to show that his operating premise is false, or his conclusion is invalid. Your assume your opponent’s burden of proof.

An ad hominem argument is a perfectly legitimate form of reasoning. It doesn’t prove the disputant’s position to be true, but it proves the opponent’s position to be false. And that is a necessary step in apologetics.

As distinguished from an ad hominem argument, an ad hominem attack is not about the merits of the case, but about the merits of the man.

An ad hominem attack is a special case of the genetic fallacy. The disputant attacks the character and credentials of his opponent to impeach his credibility. If he can’t find anything wrong with him, he will shift to guilt-by-association.

Since I did not argue from your own assumptions and methods ad absurdum or attack your character, I have done none of these. By way of contrast, I offered an argument based on the standard accrediation measures and references. How is this "ad homineum?" One wonders if you know what an ad homineum argument actually is.

By way of response:

A. Mead is a standard reference publication. By the way, since we're discussing accuracy, it's Mead, Hill, Atwood. You'd think that you believe that I should write separate papers about all the in's and out's of all the Landmark associations, their major personalities, and how they work. I'm sorry, anonymous (what is your name anyway...it's rather difficult to take anybody that posts as anonymous seriously these days), but that is beyond the scope of the purpose for which this material was written. This was written by the request of persons in the SBC for the stated purpose for laypersons, not academia. I am not bound to address every tiny factoid about each Landmark association for the past 150 odd years to please you.

B. I classify Criswell as a 4-year college because (a) it clearly classifies itself that way (b) I can find cogent nonconflicting information about it when I compare their literature and that of their accredation agencies, and (c)it offers Bachelor's degrees and Master's degrees in addition to associate degrees and dipolmas--but these are all, without exception to level of degree, restricted to a particular class of programs: biblical studies. It is a true Bible College. The Associate degrees offered are offered in 3 concentrations, two are specific to ministry, one is general studies. The curriculum here is centered on the bachelor's programs and has been long established as such. It meets the qualifications and accreditation necessary for that classification at level 3 SACS.

By way of contrast, CBC only offers bachelor's degrees in limited programs, no graduate programs, and has been offering bachelor's degrees, by its own admission, for a short period of time. In addition, their own information about themselves varies over multiple sources.

It offers numerous associate degrees. It acts as a senior college with respect to particular programs, all of which are ministry related except one (2 if you count music), and its own website notes this. It also says very clearly "From its inception, Central has been a junior college." Then it goes on to state that it does offer Bachelor's degrees in religious studies, where there are emphases on music, pastoral studies and youth ministry, these three emphases are all recent additions. Note, here, anonymous, that this from their own material. I have said nothing here that they have not said themselves.

C. It is a fact that there is a difference in classification between a junior college, a college, and a university. It seems you don't understand how this works. A junior college is generally a college that offers primarily associate degree programs. It receives level 1 and maybe even a level 2 from SACS or others and it is granted a change of status relative to the state in which it resides if the state board of education and legislature agree, which they do. It may offer limited bachelor degree programs for a short period of time or even longer. The defintion that it includes only associate degree programs is, therefore, not completely accurate.

How do I know this? Because Wingate College in North Carolina was still classified as a junior college while it was offering Bachelor's programs in education at SACS 2. When it expanded the range of bachelor programs available then they reclassified as a senior college in their literature. Likewise, they offered Master's programs in Education at SACS 3, but they were not classed as university until they expanded their degree programs to include a wider variety of graduate programs and made application to SACS and the legislature in 1991-92, where it took 3 years after the application to be approved, and then they were granted university status, and granted SACS 4. Now, they are at SACS 5. There are a number of factors that change the status: part of it is size, the other is number of programs, the other is accreditation, the other is the types of degrees offered and the number of students graduated from those programs. I know this, because when Wingate made it's second transition, I was there, and I was on the student council that had to ask and answer all of these questions and I was part of the first group of students that was told about the full process.

D. Just to please you, I went digging and found that their last comprehensive evaluation was in 2005. Their next is scheduled for 2008. They have 4 associate degrees and 10 bachelor's programs at CBC according to their accreditation agency, but this number varies greatly from the actual information at CBC's own website. In fact, this also information varies from their catalog to the inforrmation at their accreditiation agency to their website. Their website says there are 4 Bachelor's programs but there are, in the catalog, 7 AA's (9 if you include the 3 different emphases as one) and there are 9 bachelor's programs. It would seem that correct information is diffcult to come by for this institution by way of even the primary sources, since their own accrediation agency has them as accredited for 4 A.A.'s and 10 bachelor's programs, whereas the college itself gives more A.A's and 1 to 3 to 4 less or up to 7 to nine A.A.'s and 9 Bachelor's degrees, depending where you look.

I'll be blunt, anonymous, until they can get their own act together in their material and simply say they are a 4 year college and not "From its inception CBC has been a junior college," while offering some bachelor programs, I am not going to run down a factoid about whether or not they are a "junior college" or not for a brief sketch that mentions the educational institutions in the BMA in passing, when (A) the standard reference on denominational identity agrees, (B) a perusal of their information at their own website and their own accreditation agency yields conflicting results, and (C) they say that from their inception they have been a junior college in their material on both their website and in their catalog, both of which I have before me at the moment. They do not say that they changed status to a senior college; they say that the are accredited to act as a senior college for specific programs, which they name. Therefore, they shall remain classed at Level 1 in reference works until they clarify themselves for all interested parties. It strikes me that we wouldn't be having this conversation if not for their own lack of clarity, and for you to produce this as exculpatory evidence about my academic skills or the accuracy of the material, let us be clear here that there is a difference here of 1 number--but there would be no question about it if their own literature was not so muddled.

GeneMBridges said...

And your rationale for defending your statement that Arkansas' college is not a 4-year institution is an ad hominem argument.

"From it's inception CBC has been a junior college." Forgive me for explaining how they can say this and offer selected bachelor degrees and not collecting a massive amount of information on the BMA colleges and universities' accreditation levels, degree programs and titles in order to clarify their lack of clarity before determining MHA's accuracy.

I think you need to recognize that to stay an opinion is to invite disagreement. If you can't handle it, stay out of the kitchen of academic pursuit.

I can handle it quite well. I happen to admin at a blog known for being able to handle it, Triablogue.

I do want to encourage you to realize that differences of opinion are valid and worthy of consideration and perhaps reflection.

Of course, this neglects the fact that in my first response to you I wrote:

I did research this further in light of your objection, however.

So I did consider it and reflect upon it and act accordingly.

Part of academic pursuit also involves defending one's work once one has written it. The substance of your complaint is that I have not discussed Landmarkism in the present, but how does mentioning E. Harold Henderson affect the thesis of the booklet? It doesn't. How does saying that there are 2 BMA junior olleges or 3 BMA junior colleges affect the history in the present day when their own information at the one is question says very clearly, "From its inception CBC has been a junior college" and the standard source for denominational demographics has this listing? It doesn't. You are not accusing me of a difference of opinion on that matter, rather a difference of fact, albeit a minor one, and then producing this as an objection about the history of Landmarkism itself in the present-which is itself beyond the scope of the work. How does this factoid if incorrect amount to exculpatory evidence against the accuracy of a sketch of the Landmark denominations in the present day?

The American Baptist Association (ABA) was first organized in 1924 as the Baptist General Association. They declared those organized in conventions to be unfaithful to Scripture. They opposed Baptists who trace their history to the Reformation and ally with other Protestant churches, believing their faith antedates Protestantism (the Reformation) and that there is a continuous succession from Christ to the Apostles to the present day. They are strictly fundamental, congregational in form, and they cooperate for missions under local church control. They have five seminaries, three colleges, and twenty-seven Bible Institutes.

--This is the paragraph in question. That's all.

Why should I examine their per capita giving, their Sunday School literature, etc. when all I am doing here is listing demographic information not a historical narrative about the development of their theology? Are you objecting to the statement of Landmark ecclesiological beliefs in the present day? This is from BMAT's own confessional documentation, nothing more, nothing less. How could it be flawed?

GeneMBridges said...

After some more research, I have indeed found that 10 states currently allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees under certain circumstances: Florida, Utah, Nevada, Arkansas,
Minnesota, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Hawaii. That numbers expected to grow this year with legislation pending in New Mexico, Arizona and California. Additionally, North Central Association is in the process of accrediting baccalaureate programs at community colleges in Indiana. Canada has allowed its community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees since 1995.

The reasons that state legislatures grant community colleges the power to offer baccalaureate degrees vary. Florida lawmakers, for instance, wanted to address a severe teacher shortage and to increase the number of baccalaureate degrees in education issued in the state. In Texas, community college baccalaureate programs are driven by the specific needs of local industries. In Arizona,
lawmakers want to increase workforce and economic development and offer
additional educational access opportunities in rural areas.

In short, this is the trend now. It is altogether quite reasonable for CBC to say "From its inception CBC has been a junior college," while noting also that it is now offering Bachelor level programs as they identify needs. This fits the stated pattern for two-year colleges to be granted the ability to offer 4 year programs. It is up to CBC to remove the language, "From its inception CBC has been a junior college" from its literature. No doubt this is the source of confusion.

Anonymous said...

You know what ... I am going to allow you to have the last word. Not because you are right ... because you are not. But because I refuse to engage my time or energy in discussing a point with someone who chooses to not see the forest for the trees. Go ahead and "claim victory" if you choose, I simply do not care.

My last comment is that I wish to encourage you to allow for the point of view that is contrary to your own opinion, especially from someone who intimately knows the other perspective both historically and currently. Your response to disagreement concerns me because it is something which will need to be tempered over time. This is meant as truly constructive criticism and there is no agenda or malciousness intended. If you choose to read it any other way, that is again your choice to do so.

May God bless you in your studies. Be faithful to your convictions but consider more thoughtfully the validity of other opinions.

Chris said...

current degrees offered by cbc



Associate of Arts:
Business

Education

-Early Childhood

-Language

-Math-Science

General Education

General Education (PACE)

Science

Social Science


Bachelor of Arts:
Bible

General Studies

Music

- Guitar/Instrumental

- Piano

- Voice



- Indicates emphasis area









Bachelor of Science:
Bible

Church Music

General Studies

Leadership and Ministry (PACE)

Management Information Systems (PACE)

Organizational Management (PACE)

Social Services



Bachelor of Business Administration:
Business Administration

Management

Marketing



Available minors:
Business
Christian Counseling
Religious Education
English
History
Missions
Music
Pastoral Studies
Recreational Leadership
Religious Education
Sports Management
Youth Ministry

R. L. Vaughn said...

I realize this is an old post, but I just want to clarify something about the organization of the American Baptist Association, referenced in the comments. It has been known by that name since 1924. Rather than rewrite, I'm copying from Wikipedia: "Some of these organized the General Association of Baptists in the United States of America in 1905. The General Association never garnered full support of Landmark Baptists....A move for unification of the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas and the General Association came to fruition at Texarkana, Texas in 1924. The BMA of Texas continued as a state organization. The General Association adjourned 'sine die,' and was replaced by the newly formed American Baptist Association (ABA)."

R. L. Vaughn said...

Out of curiosity, I looked in the BMAA "Directory and Handbook" to see how they list their schools.

Though only the seminary is technically affiliated with/owned by the national body, the handbook lists all schools as 'schools that support the BMAA'. According to their counting, they have 2 senior colleges, 1 junior college, 1 seminary and 1 Bible school.

I am told that we have only two private junior colleges in the state of Texas. Both of them are located in Jacksonville, TX -- one Baptist and one Methodist.
Online version of Directory and Handbook info