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Landmarkism Under Fire 

A Study of Landmark Baptist Polity on Church Constitution

by Elder J.C. Settlemoir 


Chapter 8 - Baptist Testimony on Church Constitution

Now it is my proposition that EMDA is a false doctrine. It has no Scripture basis and is a tradition of men and I believe it is a very late tradition. I do not believe there is one written statement by a Baptist author who expressly states it is essential to have a mother church in order to constitute a church before 1900![239] This date is somewhat arbitrary but I give it as a working reference. While I am of the opinion that EMDA got started in the thirties of the last century, I have been unable to verify this. Let me also point out that it is not my responsibility to do so anymore than it is my responsibility to determine the source of a bad check written against my account. I need only deny that it is my check. So with false doctrine. I do not have to know when, where, how, or by whom it got started to know it is false. EMDA is not a Landmark doctrine, it is not a Baptist doctrine, and most importantly, it is not a Bible doctrine! This means it is false doctrine!

No Specific Statement of EMDA

As evidence for my proposition let it be remembered the advocates of EMDA, in their books, articles, and messages, have never produced an explicit statement of this doctrine in Scripture! They admit it is not ‘spelled out in Scripture.’[240] Their position on EMDA in Scripture is about that of Thomas Chalmers on infant baptism. He said: “If the Scriptures gives us no other testimony in favor of infant baptism, they give us at least the testimony of their silence.”[241]

Nor have they found any specific statement of EMDA by any writer before 1900! They refer to many different men and documents but without a single explicit statement of their position! Of the multitudes of men quoted to prove this theory not one of them before modern times ever specifically states EMDA. In order to prop up this idea that Baptists in History believed EMDA they have had to leave off fair reporting proper quotes, giving valid evidence and resort to suggestions, editing, adapting, hints, inferences, allusions and secret meanings!

They claim the old Landmarkers taught EMDA. Yet, in spite of this claim, not one explicit statement of EMDA by any old Landmarker has ever been given! If such exists, why have they not produced it?[242]

Nor have they ever produced any specific statement of this doctrine which was held by any Baptist before modern times! They can’t find it in any Baptist writer–Arminian, Calvinist, Landmarker, Independent or otherwise and they have ransacked all history in their search. They can’t find it in pre-Reformation or post-Reformation documents. The only place they are able to find it is in writers who lived after the 19th century![243] But many explicit statements by both Landmarkers and non-Landmarkers from the Reformation until the present have been published confirming Baptists have always believed in self constitution as opposed to EMDA!

They do give us inferences. But a thousand inferences does not prove a point. It is like a man giving quotes from John Gill which seem to indicate he was Arminian but ignoring the mass of his writings where he explicitly stated he believed in the doctrines of grace.[244] The EMDA advocates have done just this with those they have quoted! They have quoted men saying things which might possibly mean EMDA, when in fact, the men under discussion clearly believed and taught self constitution![245] In this book, I have given quotes which make it clear what these men were writing about. We cannot be satisfied with inferences or illusory statements but want explicit statements to verify what they believed on this subject.

Let us now look at these statements!

In the Great Carrollton Debate, held in 1875 at Carrollton, Mo., Jacob Ditzler, the Methodist, debating with J.R. Graves, contended that Christian people, baptized or not, could constitute a church.[246] J.R. Graves gave the Landmark Baptist position. Remember many well-known Landmark Baptists preachers were present at this debate. Listen to Graves’ answer:

Now I wish Elder Ditzler to know that there is a world-wide difference between originating an organization different from anything that can be found in the Bible, different from anything the world had ever before seen or heard of, and calling it a Church, and organizing a Christian Church. It is true that two or three baptized individuals can organize a Church, provided they adopt the apostolic model of government, and covenant to be governed by the sole authority of Jesus Christ.[247]

There is no way any man can misunderstand Graves’ meaning! This is Landmark Baptist church constitution but it cannot be reconciled with EMDA! Hence, it takes no great acumen to recognize that EMDA is not Landmark doctrine and Landmark doctrine is not EMDA! In SCO[248] the author gives a quote from this debate[249] which, on the surface, might seem to support EMDA. But had the author read only four more pages he would have found this quote where Graves explicitly states how a church is constituted![250] Bro Cockrell may not have known about this quote in 1998 when he first published SCO but I know he knew about it before he completed his second edition[251] because he published a copy of my letter to Bro Curtis Pugh[252] which contained this quote. I found no correction as to Graves’ position in the new edition of SCO. One can only wonder why.[253]

C.D. Cole

Baptist churches come into being today somewhat after this manner. A group of believers in a community wish to become a church. The members in conference will make this wish known to other churches, and these churches send messengers to counsel them in accomplishing their desire. For the sake of order and recognition these messengers will inquire into their belief, and if is thought wise, the visitors endorse their articles of faith and recommend their constitution as an independent church. These visiting brethren do not organize the church. Since the church is to be self governing, it must of necessity and logically be self constituted. And so those wishing to become a church enter into a covenant to that effect; and another church is born. The help from the outside is for the sake of order and fellowship and is not absolutely essential.[254]

Of course Cole’s words are so strong that EMDA advocates dare not claim him. They only take shots at him in retreat.[255] But let it be remembered that Bro Cole was a well known Landmark Baptist and a scholar thoroughly acquainted with Baptist polity. Not only this but he was also associated with H.B. Taylor, A.W. Pink, J.B. Moody[256] and many other leading Baptists in the early 1900s and up to his death. This objection to Bro Cole’s position on Church constitution may be an indicator that EMDA was a relatively new development at the time of Bro Cole’s death. There are no publication dates given in any of Bro Cole’s books which I have except volume I.[257] How could Bro Cole function in EMDA territory such as Kentucky and Florida without believing this doctrine if it was then being taught? Is it not evident that a change has occurred? Who changed?

Edward Hiscox

The ‘Constituting act’ would properly and appropriately be the unanimously voting–perhaps by rising–a resolution like this: ‘Resolved, That, guided as we believe by the Holy Spirit, and relying on the blessing of God, we do, here and now, by this act, constitute ourselves a Church of Jesus Christ to perform His service, and be governed by His will, as revealed in the New Testament......Such an act makes such a company of disciples, ipso facto, a Church of Christ with all the rights, powers and privileges of any New Testament Church’,[258]

It is true that some have tried to make it out that Hiscox believed EMDA because he put this statement in his book: “Before the organization actually takes place, however, such persons as propose to constitute the body, should procure letters from the churches of which they are members, given for the purpose of forming a new Church.”[259] But in spite of this claim there is nothing in this statement nor in any of Hiscox’s books to lead one to suppose he was referring to EMDA. This is, I believe, a concrete example of being “head-bent on misrepresenting the views of the old Baptists.”[260] Hiscox expressly says on the subject of constitution:

Resolved, That, guided as we believe by the Holy Spirit, and relying on the blessing of God, we do, here and now, by this act, constitute ourselves a Church of Jesus Christ.... [and that] ....Such an act makes such a company of disciples, ipso facto, a Church of Christ.... [261]

Letters from other churches do not convey this authority. Presbyteries do not convey this authority. Elders present do not convey this authority–for this simple reason: they do not have that authority! All church letters do is to inform others as to the standing of the bearer in the church which sends the letter. Letters convey no authority even if the church sending the letter thinks it does. A letter cannot ordain an elder, exclude a member, call a pastor, or dissolve a church–and it cannot constitute one!

Hiscox On Authority

But Hiscox discusses this issue fully. Concerning the authority to constitute a church, does he teach it comes from a mother church as Bro Cockrell suggests?[262] Hiscox says:

3. The Authority of Churches.–The authority of a church is limited to its own members, and applies to all matters of Christian character, and whatever involves the welfare of religion. It is designed to secure in all its members a conduct and conversation ‘becoming godliness.’

This authority is derived directly from God; not from states, nor princes, nor people; not from its own officers, nor its members, nor from any other source of ecclesiastical or civil power or right . But Christ ‘is head over all things to the church,’ and also as of right, ‘the church is subject to Christ.’[263]

What is the source of the authority of a new church? “This authority is derived directly from God.” Is this EMDA? Is this the position of Bro Cockrell? If these statements are found in Hiscox’s book then why is he quoted as if he believed in EMDA? Hiscox has been summoned as a witness for EMDA but he gives unmistakable testimony for self-constitution and EMDA advocates are sorry they called him in!

He further says: “Its [the church’s] chief authority is given by Christ alone.”[264]


All rightful authority, therefore, is conferred by Christ, the king in Zion. He builds them: ‘On this rock will I build my Church.’ He commissions them: ‘Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ He is personally ever with them, superintending, and giving them success: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’–Mt 16:18; 28:19, 20. What He does not give is not possessed.[265]

If this were not sufficient to establish that Hiscox believed in self constitution as opposed to EMDA he also expressly denies organic church succession and if there is no organic church succession there can be no EMDA! He says:

Perpetuity. This has reference, not to a continuance of official administration, as in the previous note, but to visible and corporate Church life. And, strange to say, some Baptists have been courageous enough, and indiscreet enough to assert that an unbroken succession of visible, organized congregations of believers similar to their own, and therefore substantially like the primitive churches, can be proved to have existed from the Apostles, until now. Such claims may well be left to papal audacity. For those who learn from that storehouse of sacred truthBthe New TestamentBwhat are the spirit, doctrine, ordinances, and polity of a Church of Christ, and practice the same, it matters nothing whether the chain of organic perpetuity may never have been broken, or broken a thousand times. They are the true disciples of Christ who have His spirit; the true successors of the Apostles who follow their teachings, and imitate their lives.[266]

Does it not seem strange anyone would quote Hiscox as one who taught EMDA when he expressly denies organic church succession and plainly comes down for authority directly from Christ?[267] We have read what Bro Cockrell claimed Hiscox believed and we have seen what Hiscox himself says he believed. Hiscox emphatically states his position and it is absolutely contrary to EMDA. The two positions cannot be reconciled. In SCO we have Hiscox quoted as a believer in EMDA but we have discovered he clearly stated self constitution as opposed to EMDA in the very book quoted! How is it then that Hiscox is said to embrace what he opposed, and to oppose what he embraced?

Now the reason why Baptists established churches without EMDA is not hard to find. They did so because they believed the authority for constitution came directly from Christ Jesus the Lord, and not from a mother church, from a bishop, or from a presbytery.

Consider these examples:

...For hath not one regular Church as great Authority from Christ as another.[268] [Benjamin Keach]

In a 1749 essay on the power and duty of an association, Griffith began with a declaration ‘that each particular church hath complete power and authority from Jesus Christ….. [269] [LeRoy Bejamin Hogue]

Mr. Canne published “Syon’s Prerogative Royal, to prove that every particular congregation hath from Christ absolute and entire power to exercise in and of herself every ordinance of God, and is an independent body, not standing under any other ecclesiastical authority out of itself.”[270] [John Canne]

“While some Baptist churches spring from others, it is not a necessity. A Baptist church may exist far from another and be independent of either another or of ministerial offices. At first churches had an origin in Apostolic ministry. In later days, from the people who have the Scriptures only. The head of the church is Himself, the sole donor of power to be and to do. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20).”[271] [Thomas S. Griffith]

“And it [a church] can do all that, in the Scripture, is predicated of any Church of Christ. But while it is independent of all other Churches or federations in its organization, and in the exercise of its functions, it so absolutely dependent on Christ its Lord and King, that it can make no laws, but only execute the law which Christ has made; and it can exercise no authority, but such as was specially delegated to it by Christ.” [272] [A.C. Dayton]

“Every Baptist church being, in organization, a church complete in itself, and, in no way organically connected with any other church, such a thing as one church succeeding another, as the second link of a chain is added to and succeeds the first, or, as one Romish or Episcopal church succeeds another, is utterly foreign to and incompatible with Baptist church policy....”[273] [W.A. Jarrel]

A.C. Dayton

A.C. Dayton, a leading Landmark Baptist, was associated with J.R. Graves and became associate editor of Graves’ paper, The Tennessee Baptist.[274] Dayton too has been claimed as one holding the doctrine of EMDA.[275] Dayton will speak in his own defense. He says of the church at Jerusalem:

It was ‘the Church which was at Jerusalem,’ and nothing more or less. It never became the Church of Judea. But it was surrounded by ‘the Churches which were in Judea,’ each of them as independent, each of them as much a Church, as it was itself. It stood isolated and independent, acknowledging subjection to none but Christ, as he had spoken in his word, or might speak through his Spirit. When other Churches were formed at Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, and Colosse, each of them was as independent and complete within itself as this one was. This was the model after which they all were fashioned. What, then, do we find the Church of Christ to actually have been? Simply a local assembly of baptized believers, meeting by his authority to administer his ordinances, and transact the business of his kingdom in his name.[276]

Note especially that Dayton says: “meeting by his authority”! This is Christ’s authority, not that of a mother church! In the light of this quote by Dayton one can appreciate why Bro Cockrell said: “I would not be so bold as to say that I agree with all that Elder Dayton wrote or said on the church and kingdom.”[277] Dayton spells out self constitution time after time in Theodosia Earnest, volume II but this is never mentioned by the author of SCO but he does suggest that we who oppose EMDA “twist and turn the words of our old Baptist brethren....”![278] He specifically mentions Dayton,[279] but he cites no reference.

Dayton’s definition of a church precludes EMDA. These other churches did not derive authority from Jerusalem but it was the “model after which they all were fashioned.” The source of the authority is from Christ, according to Dayton! It is not from another church![280] “Meeting by his authority” leaves no place for EMDA! Dayton also concludes the ten days search for the church with a list of nine marks of a true church. The fourth is pertinent to this discussion. “It has Christ alone for its King and Lawgiver, and recognizes no authority but his above its own.” No writer that I have seen dares to insinuate Dayton believed in EMDA.[281] Dayton will not say what they want him to say, hence he is relegated to the closet.[282]

W.A. Jarrel

In this quote from Jarrel, the words are not his but those of J.R. Graves, but he quotes them because they state his own position and because it was the recognized practice among Landmark Baptists of that day.

The late and lamented scholar, J.R. Graves, LL. D., wrote: ‘Wherever there are three or more baptized members of a regular Baptist church or churches covenanted together to hold and teach, and are governed by the New Testament,’ etc., ‘there is a Church of Christ, even though there was not a presbytery of ministers in a thousand miles of them to organize them into a church. There is not the slightest need of a council of presbyters to organize a Baptist church.’[283]

Even Bro Cockrell had to back away from Jarrel as being too much of a Landmark Baptist for the purposes of EMDA![284] He says Jarrel has three ways to start a church but this is incorrect. Jarrel knew only one way to constitute a churchBby self constitution and this is not acceptable to EMDA!

Jarrel expressly denies EMDA when he says:

Every Baptist church being, in organization, a church complete in itself, and, in no way organically connected with any other church, such a thing as one church succeeding another, as the second link of a chain is added to and succeeds the first, or, as one Romish or Episcopal church succeeds another, is utterly foreign to and incompatible with Baptist church policy.... [285]

But EMDA teaches churches are organically connected essentially,[286] even as are sheep, rams, dogs, apples and so on. But this is not the teaching of Landmarkism and Jarrel makes this so clear that EMDA advocates put Baptist Perpetuity on their list of banned books! These quotes are as welcome to the advocates of EMDA as a rock in a bite of beans.

Ben M. Bogard

Ben Bogard was a Landmark Baptist very active in the formation of the General Baptist Association organized in 1905, and later was instrumental in forming this association into the American Baptist Association in 1924. He speaks expressly on church constitution:

The first step necessary in the organization of a new congregation or church is for as many as three baptized disciples to agree to meet statedly for worship, for mutual edification and united effort for the evangelization of the world. The object of a church is two-fold, viz., that the membership may be mutually helpful to one another and to work for God’s glory in the evangelization of the world.

The agreement to meet regularly for worship and work is commonly called a ‘Church Covenant.’ The word ‘covenant’ means agreement. This covenant should be in writing, lest some misunderstand the terms. When this covenant has been entered into the church is fully organized. This covenant is the organization.[287]

There is no question where Bogard stood. His statements are concise, pointed, emphatic. He opts for self constitution. ABA writers who contend for EMDA as well as others have simply overlooked what Bogard says![288] Bro Cockrell quotes Bogard but only obliquely, suggesting that because Bogard believed in church authority for baptism he believed you must have EMDA to constitute a new church. But this is a mistake as this quote proves.[289]

J. Newton Brown

There seems to be little question that J. Newton Brown was the author of the New Hampshire Confession.[290] In his Baptist Church Manual he gives the form of a letter for members to constitute a new church. It is as follows:

V. Letter of Dismission to Form a New Church

the______Baptist Church, during a regular church meeting on____,19___, received a request from the following brothers and sisters (the names are listed here), all of whom are now in regular standing with us, to be dismissed from us for the purpose of uniting in the formation of a new church at______. It was voted that we cordially grant them letters of dismission for that purpose, and when they are regularly constituted as a church, we shall cease to regard them as under our watchcare.[291]

We cannot help but seeing here there is no authority intended, none granted! The church granting this letter does not suggest, indicate or say, these members do receive authority from this mother church to constitute! They simply dismiss these members to organize another church. Furthermore, when they are regularly constituted as a church, the church granting them letters says: “we shall cease to regard them as under our watchcare”! This is exactly what is done when a church grants a letter to a member to unite with another church. No authority given, none intended. EMDA is taken en passant!

The Records of the Broadmead Church 1640–1687

Mr. Canne .....APastor of the ancient English church in Amsterdam,” in 1634, printed a book by the title of A Necessitie of Separation from the Church of England. Between that date and 1640 he must have become a baptist, as stated in the text. He returned shortly after his visit to Bristol to Amsterdam, where he published Syon’s Prerogative Royal, to prove that every particular congregation hath from Christ absolute and entire power to exercise in and of herself every ordinance of God, and is an independent body, not standing under any other ecclesiastical authority out of itself.”[292]

This “absolute and entire power” is what the church receives from Christ! This is how these early disciples in the 17th century formed churches. This is exactly what we teach but Canne’s position will not bow down at the sound of EMDA music!

J.B. Moody

J.B. Moody was an able defender of the Faith. He says in reference to churches:

20. It Multiplied Like Baptist Churches. Acts 8;1-18; 9:31; 11:19-26. Whatever the circumstances or cause of their scatteration, if they chose, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, they congregated and organized on the voluntary principle, and elected their own officers. Any Baptist church can divide; or any part of it for a good reason can pull out and organize when and where it pleases, because individual liberty is not destroyed or impaired by church membership. The churches of Judea, Samaria, Galilee, etc., thus organized, were recognized by the mother church and by the apostles and Christ. This is a golden mark.[293]

27. A Baptist church is composed of volunteers associated in congregational effort, each member in equal authority, and each church complete in itself and independent of all other churches and of all outside authorities. Thus it was in the beginning.[294]

A Baptist church is not a branch of that trunk, nor any other trunk. It is the thing itself, all to itself. Its members live in Christ, the vine. He is life to the members, but head to the church. The member gets life from the vine, while the church gets authority from its head.[295]

In the sense of popes and kings succeeding each other, the word (perpetuity) is not to be used of church history, because one church does not take the place of another. Sometimes one church dies as an organization, and some of the members may constitute in the same or in another place, and thus one may succeed the other. But this is hardly involved in this discussion, except where churches may have been driven from place to place, or from one country to another. The church at Jerusalem was multiplied into the churches of Judea, Samaria, etc., but they did not succeed the Church at Jerusalem, because that church had not died, as when kings and popes succeed each other by death. That particular idea of supplanting, or taking the place of another, must be eliminated.[296]

Bro Moody’s teaching here quoted, especially item 27, spells out self-constitution, establishes direct authority and spoils EMDA. Note that the mother church “recognized” these other churches! Jerusalem did not “authorize” them as EMDA teaches. Where does the church get authority? EMDA demands: “From the mother church!” Moody, says: “from its head”! Why is it that men cannot find these facts when they read these old writers?

Buel H. Kazee

Bro Buel H. Kazee was a well-known Landmark Baptist and his testimony on this subject cannot be overlooked.

In this day among Baptists there seems to be a prevailing custom of establishing churches through the ‘sponsorship’ or authority of a ‘mother church,’ a very commendable practice, we think, although not spelled out in the Scriptures; but whether or not this has always been done is certainly another matter. It is very likely that back through history there have been many instances where Bible-believing churches thought that the ordination to preach carried with it the authority to judge confessions and baptize, yea, even to organize churches of these newly baptized converts. It is also likely that through these channels the baptism of many of us has come. For this reason we will need to be reserved in our declarations.[297]

Note that Bro Kazee does not bow to the EMDA image! He says this method of starting churches is “a very commendable practice” but calls it a customBnot an essential! Nor can a custom be an essential! He says it is not spelled out in the Scriptures! This is enough to get one excluded from an EMDA church! He says “...whether or not this has always been done is certainly another matter.” He then goes on to suggest other ways churches may have been constituted without EMDA! If this were not sufficient to show he is not bound to EMDA, he then suggests these non-EMDA churches are the sources of our baptisms! “It is also likely that through these channels the baptism of many of us has come.” Consequently, “For this reason we will need to be reserved in our declarations.” Our EMDA brethren, according to Bro Kazee, had better be careful lest they cut themselves off from Baptist church perpetuity by claiming an EMDA succession! I believe this is precisely what they have done!

No Reference to EMDA before 1900

Another issue which I must mention is in SCO the author gave many quotes in support of EMDA by several men and from several documents before 1900. He quoted some thirty or forty different men. But strange as it may seem–not one single quote expressly states EMDA! Many of these men who are quoted in support of EMDA actually believed in self constitution and have stated this in their books![298] This brings every quote in this book into question! Men are quoted as if they believed in EMDA when it is well known they did not believe it but believed in self constitution!

This search for an express statement of EMDA before modern times continues but without success! SCO was written in 1998 and re-issued in 2003. Thus there were four or five years, with several preachers helping in the search,[299] before the issue of the second edition, yet not one quote was found which explicitly stated their proposition, and they have had to fall back on allusions, conjectures, suppositions and speculations! Had there been an explicit quote found, you can be sure it would have made the front page of BBB and it would have been included in the 2nd edition of SCO. It would have been touted as the holy grail of EMDA! The appendices added in the new edition do not address this issue. This means, then, it is reasonably certain there is no such quote and no such doctrine in Baptist History–at least the staunchest advocates of EMDA could not, with all their searching, produce just one! Why could they not find EMDA before 1900?

We will notice a few quotes from writers in SCO who are quoted in support of EMDA but who actually taught self constitution!

First I will mention Dargan. He is quoted as one who believed EMDA on p. 20 of SCO. What was the subject? Church constitution. What did Dargan say? Self constitution![300] He does mention mother church but not in the sense of essential authority. There is not even a hint of EMDA in Dargan’s book. Dargan said:

Now, where a number of persons go out from one church for the purpose of organizing a new one, their names may all be included in a joint letter–that is, the mother church grants to the brethren and sisters named in this letter with a view of their uniting with each other, and with others of like mind, for the purpose of constituting a new church; or something to this effect.[301]

It is easy to see that Dargan does not have EMDA in view because these folk are given letters for the purpose of organizing not authority! They are not all required to unite with the mother church as EMDA demands.[302] They are not granted authority. There may be, Dargan indicates, others who will join in this constitution from sources unknown, and that does not suit EMDA. If Dargan had said, “The mother church must grant authority to a new church before it can be a scriptural church,” then that would be good evidence for EMDA. But so far, all we have is the assertion that this is what Dargan meant! I hardly think this is the way to prove a point. But to remove all doubt Dargan tells us what is essential to constitution:

The constitutive elements of organization are essential. They belong to the very beginning of the church’s life. There is no organization without them. These necessary things are two–viz., covenant and creed.[303]

Is this not clear? What more could Dargan have said to make this clear? How many things are essential? “Two,” according to Dargan!

Then lest someone should come along and make one of these to be EMDA, he tells us what they are: Covenant and creed! Not covenant and EMDA! Not Creed and EMDA! Not covenant, creed and EMDA, or else Dargan couldn’t count! What was Dargan saying here? He was saying Churches are self constituted just as did the other Baptists of his time.

Flipping the Record

Several times in SCO the record was flipped in the middle of the tune. After referring to Armitage on page 54 the author then writes:

If you want to know what the liberals think about those who hold to Landmarkism and church succession back to Christ, then listen to liberal Southern Baptist professor W. Morgan Patterson: ‘During the period in which the successionist theory emerged, the Baptist community was composed primarily of people form the lower social strata. Economically, educationally, and culturally, Baptists were very modest.’ This liberal by such words has said all the early Baptist historians were poor, ignorant people who did not know straight up from straight down. According to Patterson, men like Rosco Brong, J.E. Cobb, Roy Mason, T.P. Simmons, D.N. Jackson, Ben M Bogard, J.R. Graves, J.M. Pendleton, Jesse Mercer, J.B. Moody, etc., were poor old dummies. Apostate Landmarkers have about the same opinion of those of us who hold to Baptist church succession today. They feel sorry for us poor dummies who have never studied Baptist history like they have.[304]

Here two concepts are lumped together as if they were the same thing, i.e., EMDA and church succession! While all of the writers listed in this paragraph except Patterson believed in Baptist Succession, very few of them believed in EMDA![305] Furthermore the author then refers to Armitage and Patterson again and says:

There you have it from two leading stars of anti-successionist Baptists that the early Baptists historians sought to trace links of certain order of churches which they called Baptists.[306]

The amazing thing about this statement is that Bro Cockrell quoted two authors (Armitage and Patterson) to prove these other men believed EMDA when these two authors do not even mention EMDA here! He makes Armitage and Patterson sponsors for these men, who are not permitted to speak for themselves! These men are, by this strategy, denominated believers in EMDABnot because the sponsors said they believed EMDA, nor because the men themselves said they believed itBbut because Bro Cockrell assumed succession and EMDA were the same thing! One must keep his eye on the subject! He has confused things that differ.

These menBnamely Orchard, Jones, Christian, Graves, and Ray[307]–later referencedBdid not believe in EMDA! Just because they believed in Baptist Succession did not necessarily mean they believed in EMDA. That is a separate proposition and requires separate proof! They are not the same thing! It is wrong to mix different things and assign them equal qualities.[308] Attempting to go from church succession, which these men believed, to organic church connection,[309] which these men did not believe, is a fallacy. In proof of this there is an example at hand. Graves championed Baptist church succession for nearly fifty years in his paper[310] along with self constitution which he included as an editorial principle in every issue of his paper for many years. But he never once taught EMDA![311]

There is also the case of Jesse Mercer. Bro Cockrell says: “I take my stand with men like Jesse Mercer (1769-1827) who wrote in a circular letter of the Georgia Baptist Association in 1811 about why they rejected Pedobaptist churches and their baptisms.”[312] A little further on he quotes Mercer:

The APOSTOLIC CHURCH continued through all ages to the end of the world, is the only TRUE GOSPEL CHURCH ...Of this church, CHRIST is the only HEAD, and ministers, who originated since the apostles, and not successively to them, are not in gospel order; and therefore cannot be acknowledged as such. That all, who have been ordained to the work of the ministry without the knowledge and call of the church, by popes, councils, & c. are the creatures of those who constitute them, and are not the servants of Christ, or his church, and therefore have no right to administer for them.

Then he gives four reasons for rejecting Pedobaptist churches and the baptism of their ministers: ‘I. That they are connected with churches clearly out of the apostolic succession and therefore clearly out of the apostolic commission. II. That they have derived their authority, by ordination, from the bishops of Rome, or from individuals, who have taken it on themselves to give it....’ [313]

Whatever apparent momentum was gained by quoting Jesse Mercer is quickly lost when we learn that Mercer believed in self constitution and, thankfully, left his testimony in no uncertain terms. That he is claimed as an exponent of EMDA, even though he was nothing of the sort, indicates a tendency to quote our Baptist forefathers on mere illusions without a careful investigation of what they believed concerning this subject. Hogue quotes this old Landmarker thus:

“There is not even any direct scriptural authority for such an organization as an association. The church, on the other hand, receives its power and authority directly from Christ.”[314]

This is not EMDA nor even a kissing cousin of it! Authority directly from Christ is self constitution and so distinctly so, that it cannot be brought under the EMDA umbrella! But to go somewhat further let Mercer tell us more:

What constitutes, in our judgment, any number of believers in Christ a church, is their coming together into one body, according to the rules and faith of the gospel. And wheresoever any body of professed christians is found so walking together, they should be acknowledged and received as a true church.[315]

Of course this idea is damnable heresy to EMDA advocates! Mercer was a Landmarker according to Bro Cockrell. But this Landmarker believed the authority of constitution came directly from Christ! But if we did not have these other quotes from Mercer this claim of him believing EMDA would have been held up as evidence contrary to the facts of the case! EMDA supporters will not recognize Mercer as a Landmark Baptist any longer. They must continually exclude these old Landmarkers from their fellowship as they learn what they really believed!

But this is not all. Most of the men quoted in SCO did not say they believed EMDA but Bro Cockrell assumed they believed it just as he supposed Mercer believed it! Supposition is not proof.[316] Out of the many men quoted in this book only one is admitted to believe in self constitution, namely Cole![317] Even Jarrel whose statements cannot be aligned with EMDA is not identified directly as being opposed to EMDA! Cole is held up as being the only exception because his statement on self constitution was explicit. Yet not only did Cole believe in self constitution, but the overwhelming majority of men quoted in this book believed in self constitution! Outside of those who were associated with Bro Gilpin in the 1950s or after, I don’t believe there is a single author quoted in SCO who believed in EMDA! Certainly none of them ever explicitly said so in print! So why are they quoted? They are quoted because they believed in succession or because they were Landmarkers! But neither succession nor Landmarkism is the same thing as EMDA! There is no essential connection between these ideas and that Graves did not believe in EMDA makes my contention ring like a silver bell. Thus the testimony of these men was irrelevant to the purpose for which it was given. They were quoted because they believed one thing to prove they believed another! They were quoted to prove something they did not believe. This is reprehensible! Not one of these men quoted said he believed in the doctrine of EMDA!

But look at some of these quotes I have given. They are quoted as believing in Divine constitution or self-constitution as opposed to EMDA.

Graves is quoted. What was the subject? Church constitution. What did Graves say? He expressly states self constitution.

Dayton is quoted. What was the subject? Church Constitution. What did Dayton say? Self constitution!

Take Hiscox[318] What was the subject? Church constitution. What did Hiscox say? Self constitution!

Take Ben Bogard. What was the subject? Church constitution. What did Bogard say? Self constitution!

Take W.A. Jarrel. What was the Subject? Church constitution. What did Jarrel say? Self constitution!

Take Cole. What was the subject? Church constitution. What did Cole say? Self constitution!

Take Dargan. What was the subject? Church constitution. What did Dargan say? Self constitution!

Take Jesse Mercer. What was the subject. Church constitution. What did Mercer say? Self constitution!

Let this testimony be carefully weighed!

We will now consider the testimony of Baptist Church Manuals.


[239] Cf. Armitage. History of the Baptists, vol. I, p. 3. Also cf. Appendix IV.

[240] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 50 ; Joe Wilson. Taped message:AMy Reply to J.C. Settlemoir”, Gladwin Conference, 2001.

[241] Tract: “Learned Witnesses to Christ’s Ordinances.” Author unknown. No publisher data.

[242] Cf. Curtis Pugh. BBB. Feb. 5, 2001, p. 1. “How the First & Second Baptists Churches of New York City Were Organized.” Bro Pugh says: “We demand precept and pattern not the novel conjectures of men based on the silence of the Scriptures as to particular details in some Biblical instances.” Note. The author tries to lead us away from a “thus saith the Lord.” We give much more than “precept and pattern!” We give Mt 18:20 which is what the Lord himself says!

[243] Cf. Milburn Cockrell. SCO throughout ; & Robert Ashcraft. Landmarkism Revisited .

[244] A country man went with a friend to hear John Gill. After the service he was asked what he thought of Gill’s message. He replied: “Please do not be offended,’ the man said, ‘but if you had not told me that he was the great Dr. Gill, I would have thought he was an Arminian.’” George M. Ella. John Gill and the Cause of God and Truth, p. 105.

[245] Milburn Cockrell. SCO; See references to Jesse Mercer, J.R. Graves, J.M. Pendleton, A.C. Dayton, Benjamin Keach, John Gill and Ben Bogard. Not one of these men believed in EMDA. Nor is there any quote from them which indicates they did!

[246] Jacob Ditzler. Great Carrollton Debate, p.944.

[247] J.R. Graves. Great Carrollton Debate, p. 975.

[248] Milburn Cockrell. SCO p. 29-30.

[249] J.R. Graves. Great Carrollton Debate, p. 971.

[250] Op. cit. p. 975.

[251] Second edition of Scriptural Church Organization was published 2003.

[252] Berea Baptist Banner. Aug. 5, 2001, p. 157.

[253]Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 71. Is this not a terrible misrepresentation?

[254] C.D. Cole. Definitions of Doctrine: The NT Church, p. 7,8. No Date .

[255] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 16 . Cf. Bro. Gormley’s disclaimer concerning the above quote by Cole, Definitions of Doctrine. Vol. III, p. ii. “Also, I had written him concerning one or two things in this volume...we will publish them with a reservation as to one or two points... In particular concerning the organization of a church; I believe, and the Bryan Station Baptist Church practices, that a new church being organized must have church authority.”

[256] C.D. Cole, Bible Doctrine of Election. p. 21. Bro Cole said: “Dr. J.B. Moody (one of my fathers in the faith) used to say, that if one waited to accept the doctrines until he could harmonize them, he would never accept them; the way to harmonize them is to receive them without question, and they will harmonize on the inside of the soul.”

[257] C.D. Cole. Definitions of Doctrine, Dec. 19, 1944, p. viii.

[258] Edward Hiscox. The New Directory for Baptist Churches, p. 54.

[259] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 9.

[260] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, 2nd edition, p. 88.

[261] Edward Hiscox. The New Directory for Baptist Churches, p. 54.

[262] Milburn Cockrell, SCO, pp. 18-19.

[263] Edward Hiscox. The New Directory for Baptist Churches, p. 16.

[264] Op. cit., p. 48.

[265] Op. cit., p. 49.

[266] Op. cit., p. 34.

[267] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p.18-19. Bro Cockrell says “There is no doubt in my mind that most Baptist churches in America from the 1800s until now have been organized in the manner described by Pendleton and Hiscox.” Yet, there is no EMDA in either of these two authors!

[268] Benjamin. Keach. Glory of a True Church, Quoted in Polity, Dever, p. 81.

[269] Hogue. Antecedents of Landmarkism, p. 157.

[270] Canne. Syon’s Prerogative Royal. Amsterdam, 1641, 12mo. pp. 64. See also Baillie’s Dissuasive, pp. 15, 107.

[271] Griffith. History of the Baptists of New Jeresy, P. 369.

[272] A.C. Dayton. Theodosia Earnest, II, p. 158.

[273] W.A. Jarrel. Church Perpetuity, p. 3, [emphasis added].

[274] William Cathcart. The Baptist Encyclopedia. Art. Dayton, p. 319.

[275] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, 2nd. Edition, p. 89-91.

[276] A.C. Dayton. Theodosia Earnest, II, p. 93.

[277] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, 2nd. Edition, p. 89.

[278] Op. cit., p. 91.

[279] Ibid.

[280] Mt. 18:20.

[281] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, gives not a line from Dayton. SCO 2nd ed. only mentions him on an irrelevant matter, p. 89-91.

[282]Cf. Robert Ashcraft. Landmarkism Revisited, where Dayton is referenced, but only in passing, p. 164.

[283] W.A. Jarrel. Baptist Church Perpetuity, p.1.

[284]Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 16-17.

[285] W.A. Jarrel, Church Perpetuity, p. 3. Emphasis added.

[286] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 43: “While we have held to organic secessionism....” “A church should be able to go back to another true church.” P. 53: “Strict Landmark Baptists hold to a visible organic succession of true churches from the time of Christ until the present time.” Cf. P. 62.

[287] Ben M. Bogard. The Baptist Way- Book, p. 69.

[288] Robert Ashcraft. Revisiting Landmarkism. Bro Ashcraft refers to “Landmarkism as expressed by Dr. J.R. Graves or Dr. Ben M. Bogard...” But his book overlooks both Bogard and Graves as to their teaching on church constitution. p. 270.

[289] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 74.

[290] Cf. Hiscox’s New Directory, p. 538-542.

[291] J. Newton Brown. A Baptist Church Manual, p. 46.

[292] A Necessitie of Separation from the Church of England. Amsterdam, 1641, 12 mo. pp. 64. See also Baillie’s Dissuasive, pp. 15, 107. Published by the Hansard Knollys Society.

[293] J.B. Moody, My Church, p. 58.

[294] J.B. Moody, My Church, p. 63.

[295] J.B. Moody. My Church, p. 62.

[296] J.B. Moody. My Church, p. 132.

[297] Buel H. Kazee. Church & Ordinances, p. 105.

[298] Milburn Cockrell. SCO. I have counted thirty six men who are quoted in this book who do not believe EMDA and I left out a few because I do not have their books and do not know for sure their position. Of course the author of SCO does not say that everyone of these men quoted believed EMDA but with the exception of a very few, whom he admitted did not believe EMDA, one would think all the rest did . But this is far from the case. Those admitted exceptions are: Bob Ross, p. 14; Henry Clay Vedder, p. 14; C.D. Cole, p. 15; W.A. Jarrel, p. 16.

[299] Op. cit. p. ii under “Acknowledgments”.

[300] Op. cit. p. 20.

[301] E.C. Dargan. Ecclesiology, p. 195, Quoted in SCO, p. 20.

[302] EMDA requires all the members who wish to compose a new church to unite with the mother church. I have never known of a single instance in which members from more than one church entered into an organization under an EMDA umbrella, but Baptist history is replete with cases where there were members from several different churches represented in a constitution. Hence there is a great difference between Baptist practice and EMDA.

[303]Milburn Cockrell, SCO p. 20-21.

[304] Op. cit. p. 54.

[305] I cannot say for sure but I believe only Bro Mason, possibly Bro Brong, ascribed to EMDA.

[306] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 57.

[307] Op. cit., pp.57-66.

[308] Op. cit. pp. 57-61.

[309] Op. cit. p. 62. “Liberals and apostate Landmarkers do not like the term ‘church succession.....”

[310] J.R. Graves began editing The Tennessee Baptist in 1846. He died in 1893, and was still one of the editors of the paper which by then (1889) had been combined with the Baptist and Reflector. Cf. Wardin, Tennessee Baptists, p. 246.

[311] Cf. The Tennessee Baptist, April 27, 1867 , p.1.

[312]Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p 46.

[313] Op. cit. p. 48.

[314] L.B. Hogue. Antecedents of Landmarkism, p. 231.

[315] Charles D. Mallary, Memoirs of Elder Jesse Mercer, pp 456.

[316] Milburn Cockrell. SCO, p. 54, 84. “According to them, no church ever dismissed members to form a new church until J.R. Graves and J.M. Pendleton come on the scene and invented the teaching of Landmarkism in the mid 1800s.”

[317] I do not here include men such as Patterson, Armitage and McBeth.

[318]Hiscox was not a Landmark Baptist but I include him because he is quoted by Bro Cockrell as expressing the correct way to start a church.