Landmarkists? Really?

April 30, 2010

J. R. Graves, who was such a major  influence for Landmarkism in W. TN and Western Kentucky,  was also a major player in the development of Union University in Jackson, TN.  Dr. James Pendleton was also a major influence for Landmarkism in Southern Baptist life, and he was a former President of Union University. These two men probably did more to influence the Mid South in the area of Landmarkism than anyone else.   Of course, there are many others in  SB history, who were real Landmarkists.  Men like B.H. Carroll and J. M. Carroll, and many other, influential leaders in SB life  held to this view of ecclesiology.  Landmarkism slowly died in SB life, and sadly, its departure also meant that SB seemed to slowly ignore ecclesiology; began to look upon it as seemingly unimportant; or started to give it just a passing glance.   That’s the way it almost appears, anyway.  So, a group of people out there began to talk about good, sound ecclesiology.  And, it seems in this day and age, that there are some people, who claim that Landmarkism is not dead in SB life; due to this group known as the BI(Baptist Identity) fellas stressing sound ecclesiology.  They say that Landmarkism is being promoted by a group of SBC purifiers, who want the SBC to be a Landmark fortress.  And, these decriers of Landmarkism claim that the so called “BI” fellas, or the “Bapstist Identity” crowd, are the ones, who are promoting this ecclesiological view. And, there have been all kinds of accusations and  misconceptions floating around about what the “BI” crowd is promoting; what they actually believe.  But, are the “BI” fellas really Landmarkists?  Could they really be classified as Landmarkists, or do they just believe in good ecclesiology?  I want us to take a look at how some of these fellas believe about doctrines that surrounds the basic beliefs of Landmarkism, and compare it to real Landmarkism. I’m going to ask a series of questions, and I’m going to ask each, so-called, “BI” fella to respond to the Landmark belief, or to the misconceptions of some people out there, with his view of these things.  Then, let’s compare that to true, real Landmarkism.  Answering these questions are: Robin Foster; Matt Brady; Wes Kenney; and David Worley(Me).

Question #1:    Do you believe that a Southern Baptist Church can trace it’s beginning to the Lord Jesus Christ?  that there’s been a trail of blood?  that a true, SB Church has been in existence from Jesus until now; as the Landmarkists believed?

Robin:  I don’t believe that JM Carroll’s trail of blood is correct in its theory.  I do believe there has been a “free church” tradition witness throughout history, whether or not one can call it a “Baptist” tradition as we see it today I question.  Baptist churches, as we know them today, I believe got their start from Smyth and Helwys, while we have a spiritual connection with the Anabaptist of the reformation.

Matt:   True churches have existed from the time of Christ and will exist until He returns.  I believe my Southern Baptist church to be one of those true churches.   I am not so concerned with the ability to list the particular name of every true church that has ever existed in historical and geographical order back to the church at Jerusalem as the Roman church tries to do with popes back to Peter.

Wes:  If by that do you mean that the baptism of everyone in my church can be traced back through churches authorized to baptize in an unbroken line all the way back to the Apostles, then no, I don’t believe that. I believe that there have always been, since the time of the Apostles, faithful New Testament churches in existence, and I base this belief on Jesus’ promise that He would build His church, and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Mt. 16:18).

David:  I agree with the others that the trail of blood idea of J.M. Carroll is not correct.  I do believe that there has always been NT churches in existence thru out history.  I don’t believe that they were Baptist churches, and I know that they weren’t Southern Baptist churches.  But, they were NT churches, which  preached the Gospel. 

Question #2:  Do you believe in closed communion?  that only the members of a local Church should take the LS together, as Landmarkists believe?

Robin:  No.  We practice “close” communion which to our understanding is inviting anyone to the table who has received Jesus as their Lord and Savior and has participated in believers baptism by immersion.   With this, I do believe that communion is a church ordinance and should only be practiced among the gathered local church.

Matt:  Our church follows close communion.  Just as a family gathers together around the meal table, it is the church family that should gather together around the Lord’s table.  If we have others of like faith and practice in attendance, we do not forbid them as I suspect that the believers at Troas did not forbid the Apostle Paul when he met with them on the day they celebrated the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7).  Occasionally we will have guests that will be invited to eat with us at the table.

Wes:  While I am sympathetic to this view based on Paul’s warning against partaking without “discerning the body” (1 Cor. 11:29), I am also in harmony with the Baptist Faith and Message on this point, and have no problem serving in churches which admit anyone who has been scripturally baptized to fellowship around the Lord’s table.

David:  I believe in a modified close communion view.  I do believe that the LS is a Church ordinance.  I do believe that it should be observed by the Church, with others  of like faith being welcomed to participate.  I do believe that baptised Believers should participate in it.  I do not believe in being so rigid that we’d have the LS police making sure that only baptised Believers of like faith are taking the LS with us.  I would not make a big deal out of who should, and who should not be taking it.  But, when I preached on it, and when we begin the LS; I would gently remind everyone about these things.

Question #3: Do you believe that SB Churches are the only true Churches out there in our world today, as Landmarkists believe that Baptist churches are the only true churches?

Robin:  No.

Matt:  By definition a Southern Baptist church is one that gives money to missions through the Southern Baptist Convention.   Giving through the SBC cannot possibly be the measure of a true church as true churches existed long before 1845. 

Wes:  No

David:  No

Question #4: Do you think that only SB’s are going to Heaven?  that they’re the only ones that are really saved? (This is a misconception that I continue to hear from people concerning the BI fellas)

Robin:  That is just simply ridiculous.  Salvation is by grace through faith and is lived out among the saints in a local New Testament Church.  

Matt:   Had the Conservative Resurgence not taken place, I probably would not be a Southern Baptist today, but I would still be a Christian.  Salvation is determined by grace through faith and not by any organization of man.

Wes:  No

David:  I have to agree with Robin that it’s absolutely ridiculous that we’d even have to respond to this kind of a question, yet I keep hearing it from people.   My answer is “NO.”

Question #5: What baptisms would you accept?  In other words, what would be the bare, basic things that would have to be true before you would consider it a true baptism?  that you would accept without asking the person to be baptised? (Landmarkists would accept only Baptist baptisms; baptisms done by another Baptist church)

Robin:  Baptism by a local church, by immersion, as a symbolic representation of union to Christ, death to sin, and resurrection to eternal life, “never to die again.” Romans 6:3-11

Matt:   A member of our church must be baptized by immersion after conversion by a church whose baptism is an ordinance of symbolism and obedience to our Lord’s command and not a means of grace. 

Wes:  I agree with the Baptist Faith and Message, which defines scriptural baptism as “the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the beliefer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.” The BF&M also identifies baptism as a church ordinance. So as long as someone’s baptismal experience fits this definition, and took place under the authority of a local church, then I believe it to be biblical and would encourage my church to accept it as such.

David:  I agree with the Baptist Faith and Message, as well. 

So, hopefully this will clear things up just a little bit about who these “BI” guys are, and what they really believe.  Maybe?  I hope so.

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David Rogers


You say: “I do believe that there has always been NT churches in existence thru out history. I don’t believe that they were Baptist churches.”

I understand you to say here there is a difference between a NT church and a Baptist church. What, according to you, is the difference?

Josh C

Thanks for clarifying some of these questions, guys. Hopefully, that will help future discussions to be more fruitful for all parties.

I also notice that you didn’t address the ritual possum sacrifice rumor that’s been going around about you guys. I’ll take your silence as confirmation.

Benji Ramsaur

I think I understand what you guys are saying. However, I wanted to express a more basic concern I have in relation to what I think you guys believe and what Landmarkists believe as well.

I think the basic belief that you advocate strongly for is what you believe to be a “New Testament Church”.

However, when I read my Bible, it seems to me that what you call a New Testament church has a strong Old Testament Israelite feel to it.

This is what I mean. If someone did a word search on the word “unauthorized” in the HCSB translation, then you not only will find things like “fire” that is unauthorized, but people who are unauthorized as well. There was a strong “clergy/laity” distinction type feel, if you will.

Now, I am not criticizing the Old Testament tenor here. It was the way God designed it to be for the Israelite community. However, I see a major difference in the tenor of the Old Testament verses the tenor of the “New Testament church”. I simply do not see “unauthorized” persons in the church. I see all having an “anointing” instead.

Numbers 3:3, 38 are good verses that reveals the tenor of the Old Testament Israelite community. There were “some” ordained/anointed folks who did “service” for the Israelite community.

And it seems to me that what you guys have done is bring this Old Testament like feel over into the New Testament church.

When you guys talk about “some” people being “authorized” to administer baptism on behalf of the church, then that comes across as Old Testament rather than New Testament IMO.



You wrote,
“When you guys talk about “some” people being “authorized” to administer baptism on behalf of the church, then that comes across as Old Testament rather than New Testament IMO.”

I don’t think that there are specific directions in the New Testament as to WHO may do the baptizing, as long as it is done in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So you may right in wondering if they are relying on something in the OT to clarify ‘who’ is permitted to baptize another person. I had wondered about that, myself.

And maybe you can help with this: is the term ‘New Testament Church’ the same in meaning as the term ‘apostolic Church’ ? Thanks, if you can help.

Benji Ramsaur

Hey Christiane. I think if what someone means by the term “Apostolic church” is a church that is based on the teaching of the Apostles, then I think that would [or should] be the same in meaning as the term “New Testament church”.

Robin Foster

“I also notice that you didn’t address the ritual possum sacrifice rumor that’s been going around about you guys. I’ll take your silence as confirmation.”

Shhhhhhh! We are trying to keep that under the radar for now!




Regarding possums:

I have it on good authority that it is actual done in North Carolina.
I know this because thirty years ago, while living in Virginia, I saw what I thought was a GIANT rat in a culvert by our property.
Of course, terrified (I had two small children), I called the city and reported ‘the rat’.
Out to the property comes a very nice old gentlemen from ‘pest control’ and I proceeded to show him the culvert where I had seen the monster.
The gentleman said, ‘Lady, describe this rat’.
I said, ‘It is enormous and very fat, covered with fur, and has a strange long pointed tail which is straight.’
He started laughing and said, ‘Lady, that’s no rat, it’s a ‘possum’.
Down in Carolina, we eats ’em.’

Gosh, until now, I only thought those Carolina Baptists ate possums, and I did not know that they sacrificed possums, too. Goodness, I learn something new about Baptists every day. Must be an Old Testament thing.

David Worley

David Rogers,

I simply meant that they werent Baptist churches. lol.

I do believe that they were evangelical churches in existence thru out history. God has always had a witness in this world. Many of these Churches were in error in some ways in their doctrine. So, they werent Baptist churches. But, at least, they were evangelical, Gospel preaching churches.


David Worley


I have a nice, fat possum out back…one that’s ready. Call me.


David Worley


Who said anything about only certain people being authorized to baptise people? Anyone in the Church can baptise long as it’s a Church baptism.

But, yes, there are ordained people in the Church…just like in the NT churches. Pastors/Elders/Bishops were set apart, as were Deacons.


David Worley

One of my former church members used to tell me that possum sandwiches were the best sandwiches you could eat.



Benji Ramsaur


I thought the idea that you guys advocated was that a member of the local church must be “duly authorized” by the local church to perform baptism on behalf of the church. That’s what I am talking about.

Also, I am not as convinced about New Testament ordination as you are.

Tim G

Your comment “I thought the idea that you guys advocated…” was actually what one guy WANTED everyone to believe. Problem was, this one person NEVER researched nor took the time to ask. As is true in other areas, one’s poor research is either motivated by direct maligning or …!

Don’t believe what you read or hear unless it is from the horses, or Possums mouth! :)

Benji Ramsaur

Tim G,

So what do you guys believe that is different from what I talked about in comment #12?

I’m pretty sure I have seen one of the contributors to this blog advocate something along those lines.


This is an interesting post. Thanks.

Matt Brady


I wouldn’t speak for any of the authors of this blog, but if a person views the New Testament teaching on the church in a predominantly local church concept as opposed to the universal concept, then the ordinance is an ordinance of the local church. It is not an ordinance of anyone acting on their own.

Benji Ramsaur

Hey Matt. If we stick to the language of Jesus, then Jesus authoritatively “taught” the disciples to “practice” some things–make/baptize/teach disciples.

So, I think it is when folks begin to talk “theologically” about this that things can start to become confusing.

Instead of simply talking about baptism as something that disciples are to practice, now there is talk of baptism “belonging” to the “local church”–ordinance of the local church.

So, I think we need to recognize that this kind of langauge is not Matthew 28:18-20 language. That does not necessarily make it wrong, but I do think we need to be careful to not allow our language to get in the way of what a passage of Scripture naturally teaches.

Josh C

out back? everyone knows the best possums are out front where the road is.


‘everyone knows the best possums are out front where the road is.’

Now you’re talkin road kill.
Possum Smears on the road: now that’s real landmark stuff

David Worley


We are sticking to the language of the Bible. We think that you’re not sticking to the language of the Bible. The disciples were a part of the Church. The Apostles were the leaders of the CHURCH. Jesus founded HIS CHURCH. Jesus didnt just send out a bunch of Lone Ranger Christians to get out there and work apart and separate from HIS CHURCH. All thru the NT, the teachings of the Apostles are about what should happen in the Church…what the Church should believe… how the Church should practice their faith…how the Church should be set up…who should be the leaders of the Church…how the Church should fellowship with one another, etc, etc, etc. It’s all about the local, visible Church…the assembly of Believers in a local area.

Also, Benji, again, Matt. 28:18-20 was given to the Church…the Apostels and the disciples, who were the Church.

So, Benji, we’re basing our beliefs on Scripture…on what the Bible teaches. Many, many, many SB’s agree with us. Thus, the BFM2K states that the 2 ordinances of the Church are baptism and the LS.

Also, Benji, everyone in the Church can baptise…as long as it’s a Church observance…an event that the entire Church can celebrate.


Benji Ramsaur

I’m not advocating that Christians should be working apart from the local church. I think Christians [who are all anointed and priests] should be working together as members of the local church. They are living stones that “fit” together. They are members of the “unified and functioning” body of Christ.

My view is that the church was born after Matthew 28 and is stated in comment #104 here:

How am I not sticking to the language of the Bible when I said “Jesus authoritatively ‘taught’ the disciples to ‘practice’ some things–make/baptize/teach disciples.”?

You said “Also, Benji, everyone in the Church can baptise…as long as it’s a Church observance…an event that the entire Church can celebrate.”

Do you believe that a member of a local church must be “authorized” by the local church to administer baptism or not?

Benji Ramsaur


I also want to mention that I am not against leaders being in the church. That is New Testament[ish]. However, if those leaders are seen and are functioning as priests, then this goes back to what I said in comment #3.

David Worley


I do believe that all Christians have gifts for service, and all Christians can be annointed for use the gifts that God has given them. Of course, all Christians are priests. I never said otherwise. But, there are definitely to be leaders in the Church…Pastors/Elders/Bishops; and there are definitely supposed to be some men set aside to help make sure that the entire Church is ministered to, and to solve problems….they are Deacons.

Benji, I answered your question earlier. I told you that any member of the church can baptise. BUT, IT MUST BE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH CONTEXT. It must be a local church celebration of the new Believer following the Lord’s command to be baptised. Thus, I most definitely would not be for Lone Ranger Christian baptism out in a swimming pool, apart from the local Church. And, if a local Church baptises in a swimming pool, or in a pond, or in a river; then, that’s fine. I’m also not saying that baptism has to be done inside of a building. But, the Church…saved, baptised Believers, who belong to a local assembly…should be doing the baptising.


Benji Ramsaur


OK, so if I am hearing you right, you are saying that none of the members of a local church have to be authorized by the local church to baptize as long as the baptism performed is in the context of the local church.

Benji Ramsaur


I think the idea that a baptism must be performed in a local church context goes beyond what Scripture mandates. It is my personal “preference” for it to be done this way. I think it is a “blessing” for it to be done this way so that the church may celebrate in what is taking place.

However, I think I need to distinguish between wht is my preference and what Scripture mandates. I don’t see any clear New Testament command that teaches this nor do I see that every example in the New Testament of baptism practiced this.

David Worley


Then, we’ll just have to disagree on this, because I do see this as what the Scripture teaches. It’s not just a preference for me. I see it as what the Bible teaches…for the Lord works thru His Church.


Benji Ramsaur


Could you explain what you mean by “for the Lord works thru His church”? I believe the Lord works through His church as well. However, you use it as a basis for your belief that the Bible teaches that baptism must be performed in a local church context whereas I do not.

David Worley


The Lord works and moves thru His Church. As you read thru the NT, you see the Church doing God’s work on this Earth. Paul was all about starting Churches, and strengthening existing Churches. The NT letters, books, were written to the Churches in Corinth, Ephesus, etc. In the book of Acts, the Lord added to the Church daily such as were being saved….etc, etc, etc.

The Church is God’s vehicle for working in this world today.


Benji Ramsaur


I don’t think I disagree with anything you said in comment #28. Somehow, however, I think we disagree concerning what may or may not be implied by this.

Tom Kelley

Just as some people are full Calvinists (“5 pointers”) and others are “Calvinistic” (affirming the basic underlying tenets while not necessarily holding to all 5 points), it appears that some are Landmarkers, while others are Landmarkistic. (Don’t know if anyone has used that term before, but if not I just coined it. Feel free to use it, everyone.) :)

From this article, I see the technical distinctions between true Landmarkism and contemporary BI views, but I also see that BI views are “Landmarkistic”. The underlying view of the local church as the proper context for the ordinances is the same. But certainly this is simply historic Baptist ecclesiology. So perhaps it is better to see Landmarkism as “Baptistic” rather than seeing BI views as Landmarkistic. Either way, there is a shared emphasis on the local church and its role in the practice of the ordinances.

Thus, “BI folks” can rightly claim to be in the historic mainstream of Baptist thought, even if not necessarily the predominant view in Baptist life today (when considering all Baptist denominations worldwide). If I understand the BI movement correctly, the desire is simply to reclaim and re-emphasize historic Baptist ecclesiology.

But then, Baptist views of the relationship between the church and the ordinances aren’t all that different from the the views of most other denominations. Presbyterians, Anglicans, Catholics, and others generally teach that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are church ordinances, and that they are only rightly practiced in the context of the church. Many of them have even more strict views than Baptists about who can be properly “authorized” by a local church to perform baptisms on its behalf. And the historic view of most denominations is that baptism is a pre-requisite of church membership and church membership is a pre-requisite of taking the Lord’s Supper. Most denominations’ official doctrine is that that the Lord’s Supper should only be offered to a person who is a baptized member of a church. Baptists take the very same view; the primary difference is the Baptist concept of what constitutes a valid NT church and a valid NT baptism.

In the traditional Baptist view, a church isn’t a NT church if it doesn’t teach NT doctrine and doesn’t follow NT practices, and a person cannot be a member of a NT church without having first been immersed, and one who is not immersed and a NT church member is not a proper recipient of the Lord’s Supper.

I think I have that right, but if not I welcome correction.

My personal view is more like what I think Benji has been saying. In my view, admittedly not common among Baptist, or most other denominations, both baptism and communion are commands and privileges given to all disciples, rather than “church ordinances”. Although the normal practice for both in the NT would naturally have been as part of a local church, the commands that Jesus gave to baptize, make disciples, and to teach them to obey His commands were given to all believers, not just to the apostles, or to their successors or to “official” church leaders, or even of necessity in association with any formal gathering of believers. Nowhere does the NT directly and unequivocally teach that baptism is a requirement for church membership (indeed, church “membership” in the institutional sense is not a NT concept), nor does it teach that church membership is required for communion.

In my humble opinion, almost all denominations have doctrine and practices regarding both baptism and communion that arise from focusing on a traditional and institutional view of the church rather than the NT emphasis of the church as being an organic and spiritual collection of “body parts” (members) of the body of Christ. I consider the traditional, institutional view of the church to be a holdover in Protestantism from Catholic doctrine and practice, much the same way that Catholic practices have influenced assumptions in most Protestant denominations regarding things like paid professional clergy, church buildings, pews, and even what should go on during a typical worship service. And the Catholic practices and doctrines were likely influenced, as Benji suggested, by traditional Jewish views.

Those influences and views are completely understandable when looking at church history, but what I see in the teachings of Jesus and of the apostles is a simpler, less ritualistic and authority-based and institutional concept of following Christ and of coming together as His people as the church. And I know that isn’t very Baptist of me, but I’m ok with that.

Darby Livingston

“Also, Benji, everyone in the Church can baptise…as long as it’s a Church observance…an event that the entire Church can celebrate.”

Yeah, Benji, like the Ethiopian eunuch.

David Worley


Maybe you’ve missed us talk about the fact that missionaries can baptise people…as representatives of the Church…in order to start Churches. Certainly there were no Churches around out in that wilderness….was there? And, Phillip was certainly a Deacon in the Church of Jerusalem…was he not? And, he went out as an evangelist, or a missionary…as God led him. The Ethiopian Eunuch was on his way back to Ethiopia.

As I’ve said before, if a missionary went out of my Church, and he led someone to Christ in an area where there were no true, Churches; then he would certainly have the authority to baptise and start churches.

Thus, Darby, the Ethiopian Eunuch presents no problem to us “BI” fellas. Also, you really dont need to base your theology solely on the book of Acts. This was a transitional period in the Bible.



Philip was led to this eunuch by the Spirit of the Lord, for that very purpose, to lead him to Christ and baptize him. It is said that the Spirit of God descends to the humble, and surely this Ethiopian was a most humble man. I imagine that the Ethiopian felt that his baptism connected him to the most holy Lord Christ, because Philip had explained to him the Good News of the One of whom the prophet foretold in the Scriptures. The leading of the Holy Spirit brought about this baptism.

“My soul, seek the Only One . . . My soul, you have no part with
the earth; for you are from heaven. You are the image of God: seek
your First Image. For like strives after like. Each object finds
its rest in its center and element — fish in water, fire in its
upward movement everything strives to its center. My soul, you are
an immaterial spirit, immortal. . . In Him alone you will find
your rest. ”

St. Tikhon of Voronezh

David Campbell

I would like to enter this conversation with a few thoughts of my own (actually recycled scholarship appropriated over the 5 years since converting from atheism, praise God). I have no formal theological training; just a college student and baptist church member. Everyone here is more learned than myself, but personal study has led me to adopt historic baptist distinctives because they are biblical. As an esteemed theologian of the SBC has stated, “Baptists are biblicists, nor more, no less”. Though not a Southern Baptist, I consider all like-minded baptists my faithful brothers in Christ and enjoy dialogue; iron sharpening iron if you will. I’m speaking from a humble, personal perspective and have no affiliation with the “BI” movement or whatever its called.

Benji and Tom – In the past, trying to convince individuals of your persuasion that there is no authority outside the local church is a bit like trying to convince a Calvinist that my soteriology is monergistic though both sides of the equation are active. Nevertheless….

Benji stated: “When you guys talk about “some” people being “authorized” to administer baptism on behalf of the church, then that comes across as Old Testament rather than New Testament IMO.

It appears you see those holding to a biblical view of Christ’s only authorized establishment, the church, as precipitating some sort of new construct. As Tom rightly points out, a great many baptists have held this view over the last 400 years or so. We are not Judaizers, but biblicists most certainly innocent of contaminating God’s grace with God’s law. Biblicists don’t allegorize the plain meaning of “ecclesia” away for something more palatable to the post-modern, all-inclusive appetite. We simply give the laws of language their rightful authority, I hope that doesn’t seem too O.T. Allow me to elaborate on what I believe you are bringing to the N.T. It “feels” as though you have pollinated the second generation spawn of Catholicism (Wycliffe’s invisible variation of Rome’s visible church) with the super-elevated individualism of Mullins Priesthood, creating a carrion whose stench is repulsive to our Lord and His establishment.
I concur with what David Rogers (don’t know him) said on this site, “We need to get our theology out of the Bible, and not as a creative reaction to other people’s false theological systems.”

Instead of constructing our N.T. ecclesiology through the polluted lens of false theological systems, biblicists give Christ’s “ecclesia” the Greek “feel” koine demands…certainly not that of the O.T. The church is a democratic, organized assembly of immersed, regenerated believers gathered together to fulfill the Great Commission….also consisting of delegated hierarchical authority (Heb. 13:7,17) I reviewed your comment from the other thread linked above. You state that Peter (as a rep.of apostles) is the rock in Matt 16:18. I believe Paul and Peter state otherwise…A.T. Robertson’s “Word Pictures in the New Testament” does a fine job of demonstrating that Christ Himself is the rock and not by proxy of “representatives”. You further state the church Jesus built started after his ascension, the day of Pentecost when the spirit fell. Your points are fine indeed, but Jesus is the rock and those passages aren’t the fulfillment of Matt.16:18. Its extremely sound to make the natural assumption that Jesus delivered the precept of church discipline to his already functioning earthly establishment in Matt 18:17. These disciples knew they were His church then…and its this organized, baptized congregation with hierarchical authority He addressed when delivering the Great Commission. John’s baptism was acceptable the day Jesus and the disciples were baptized…for they had no other and certainly weren’t living in unrepentant sin. The mind of a N.T. man could not even conceive what is regularly taught about the church today. A functioning assembly that can’t assemble would be Greek to them (pun obviously intended). I assume you use the quite literal metaphors associated with the church, such and body and bride, as rationale to violate the laws of language governing the use of “ecclesia”. The Lord calls an assembly of believers, whether the prospective church in glory or an earthly assembly, his body. I make this assumption based on your linked post which states the church was “born” when the spirit fell. What verse of scripture says such a thing? The already functioning congregation of baptized believers gathered together to carry out the Great Commission was ADDED to that day. I’ll bet you are hanging your hat, just like David Miller, on one verse that says no such thing. The following is a post I entered on his blog challenging the scriptural basis of the Pentecost theory and its ONE misused verse.

You pointed out…
1) At Pentecost, God established the universal Body of Christ.

Where does it say this in the Acts account? (Miller Quotes) –>”I know that silence is weak evidence, but it is evidence nonetheless.” :)
This fictitious universal body of Christ, I believe, is the byproduct of the unfortunate KJV rendering of I Cor. 12:13. The correct rendering would be as follows…”In one spirit (a spirit of unity) were we all baptized (in water) into one body (the local church). If you find it hard to swallow that the local church is the body of Christ just read I Cor. 12 where Paul moves from His abstract illustration and particularly applies the concept he has established to the church at Corinth, “the” or “a” body of Christ. I Cor. 12:27 “Now you (church at Corinth)are the body of Christ and members individually”. “By one Spirit” …should have been translated “in one spirit” as it was in Phil. 1:27. But for the sake of argument lets assume this indeed refers to the baptism in the Holy Spirit by Jesus (Matt. 3:11). It is my amateur, babe in Christ opinion, that the Bible mentions nothing of a baptism “by” the Spirit. The R.V. renders I Cor. 12:13 “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body”. I don’t believe this is referring to the Holy Spirit but lets just say it is. Paul is clear in Ephesians 4:5 that there is only one baptism that unites all believers in the faith. When there is nothing to describe baptism, it is referring to water baptism…as is the case in Gal. 3:27 and Eph. 4:5. The baptism in the Holy Spirit occurred once, or maybe a few times after Pentecost..but by the time Paul writes his letter to the Ephesians, it is no more because there is only one baptism…immersion in obedience to Christ. Sir, we weren’t baptized by the Holy Spirit into the invisible, mystical Body of Christ presently composed of all the regenerate up until now..or from Pentecost until now. The body is the the church which is always an assembly of regenerated, baptized believers gathered together to fulfill the Great Commission. The best picture of this can been seen in Revelation where Christ is walking in the midst of His church…which is the churches. The context of I Cor. 12 seems to me local and earthly only and doesn’t allow for a universal figment of the imagination.
I Cor. 12:25 “that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another”
This is obviously a local and earthly body.How could there be a schism in an invisible, universal church? The only schism I see is that part of the body would be in glory and part would be here…but that is something we have no control over. Why does Paul say there should be no schism and God provides one? How am I to care for the part of the body, which according to your theory, is in glory now? This should be read within the context of the local church to whom the letter was written, otherwise it is meaningless.

I Cor. 12:26 “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it”

How am I to suffer with my Chinese brother in Christ of whom I’ve never met? How is he to suffer with me? How am I to rejoice in his honor and vice verso? Not only this, but according to the theory of the Universal Church…we are presently one with all of the regenerate..even those received up in glory. How does my grandmother in glory suffer with me? How does she rejoice with me? How do I suffer or rejoice with her? This verse only makes sense within the confines of the local assembly to whom the letter was written…which is THE body of Christ according to the next verse.

Anyways, I’m gonna get back to bed since I’m actually getting tired again…haven’t been sleeping well lately. I hope I’m welcome to participate on this forum…its a pleasure discussing items most consider unimportant these days.

Thanks and God bless,

David Campbell
Florence, SC

Benji Ramsaur

Hey guys, I just submitted two comments and they did not go through. They were both long. Is there a limit on how many words can be used in a single comment?

Benji Ramsaur

Hey David, I’m going to try and comment in smaller portions.

1. I don’t think what I am saying is not “historic” Baptist doctrine.

“Who is a Lawful Minister of Baptism? Where you may observe that the persons bid to go are Disciples enabled to teach the doctrine of the Gospel for the conversion of souls to faith, and repentance. For it is clear That they who are bid to teach are bid to baptize also. So from this Commission I gather that a disciple enabled to bring down God to a soul, and to bring a soul again up to God, is a lawful Minister of Baptism. For that is the tenor of the New Covenant, Heb. 8:10. ‘I will be to them a God, and they shalt be to me a people; and I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,’ Canticles 6:3? (bold mine) [The Doctrine of Baptism And the Distinction of the COVENANTS by Thomas Patient–1654. Patient was a signer of the 1646 confession below]

“XLI THE person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being no where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.” (bold mine) [The First London Confession, 1646]

Benji Ramsaur

2. I believe the ekklesia was born at Pentecost for these reasons:

A. Luke’s two volume work [Luke & Acts] says nothing about ekklesia until after Pentecost.

B. Matthew mentions ekklesia three times and one of those times communicates that the ekklesia would be future–”I WILL build my church” Jesus said. Jesus sent His disciples out to preach during His earthly ministry. He could have said “I am building my church” or “I am building [up] my church”. However, He did not say that.

C. John’s complete set of works [John, 1-2-3 John, Revelation] says nothing about the ekklesia until after Pentecost took place in history.

D. One of the images of the church is that the church is the Sanctuary of God where the Spirit dwells. If the Spirit had not come yet, then there is no Sanctuary of God where the Spirit dwells. The idea that there was a Sanctuary [made up of God’s people] without the Spirit is foreign to the N.T. I think the implication of the N.T. is that the Sanctuary is the Sanctuary because Spirit indwelt individuals have assembled together as one.

E. Since I believe that the effect from the pouring out of the Spirit upon the “120 brethren” [or so] created the church, then for the text to speak of additions after this event is not a problem for my view.

F. Since Jesus spoke about building a future church in Matthew 16, then I don’t think Christ’s mention of the church in Matthew 18 necessitates that the church existed at that present time. I think this is a legitimate way to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.

* More of my comments concerning these kinds of things can be found here if you are interested:

Benji Ramsaur

3. I do not believe 1 Cor. 12 can be absolutely “limited” to the local church sphere.

Paul says in 1 Cor. 12:13 “…We all baptized into one body…”. (bold mine)

Paul was “not” a member of the local church in Corinth according to 1 Cor. 14:23:

“If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

Paul here speaks absolutely of the local church at Corinth assembling–”whole” church–and separates himself from the complete local church by not saying “’we’ are mad”, but “’ye’ are mad?”

Benji Ramsaur

4. I don’t think it can be proved that every instance of ekklesia means a local church assembly:

A. Acts 8: 3. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house [and thus what the writer calls the church was “not“ assembled], and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4Therefore they [I.e., the unassembled church] that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (bold mine)

B. Acts 9:31

C. 1 Corinthians 14:23. “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place… (bold mine)

Paul would be needlessly repeating himself if church here meant only the local church assembly. That is because he would basically be communicating “If therefore the whole assembly assemble together into one place”. Hence, I think this shows that Paul is thinking of the local church as “people” here who assemble together, not an assembly that assembles.

Benji Ramsaur

In reflecting on it some more, I think Paul would be communicating something worse than needless repetition.

I think he would be communicating nonsense/a contradiction if church in 1 Corinthians 14:23 meant a [local church] “assembly”.

How can an assembly assemble if an assembly is already assembled?

Benji Ramsaur

5. I believe the Bible and not the local church is the ultimate authority for the Christian.

A. The “Law of Christ”–which I believe to be the doctrine and commands of Jesus via the apostles–is the ultimate authority that Christians are to obey. This law is objectively revealed in the Bible.

B. Christians are called “slaves” of Jesus Christ [The Holman is good here in translating “doulos” as slavery]. Christians cannot ultimately serve two masters–Master Jesus/Master church.

C. I think we need to be careful to not translate the kind of “authority” the Pope has to local church.

Benji Ramsaur

6. I believe the local church should practice church disciple on individual church members who woefully disobey Master Jesus.

Benji Ramsaur

7. I think leadership style in the church should be exemplary/persuasive and not hierarchical.

A. 1 Peter 5:3

B. I believe there needs to be careful thinking when it comes to what the Greek word translated “obey” means and the Greek word translated “submit” means in Hebrews 13:17. For example, when it comes to the Greek word that is translated “obey”, it is not the same Greek word that is translated as “obey” in relation to children in Ephesians 6:1. I think the idea is that church members are to be “persuaded” by their leaders. However, that implies, I think, that leaders are to be “persuasive”.

C. Hierarchical leadership, which is not necessarily heavy handed I suppose, comes across as “here are the few anointed/ordained priests who do ‘service’ for others” to me. And I do think that is Judaism and not Christianity.

David Campbell

Benji…I’ve only responsed to your first two points…I will respond to the others as I have time….thanks for the dialogue…I very much enjoy this…Probably should be telling someone about Jesus instead; but oh well…I’ll just make sure to do that. :)

Point 1:

I don’t understand how this separates baptism from the local assembly…all that is said is disciples (regenerated, baptized members of local churches in good standing) are authorized to baptize by the Great Commission…which is my position). However, I highly doubt converts made and baptized by the immoral brother of I Cor. 5 during his expulsion would be deemed baptized Corinth brethren upon arrival. This man was to them what Jesus said for him to be, “and let him be unto thee a heathen and a publican”. I don’t think Jesus wants heathen publicans baptizing; and authority to deem thus is granted to the church Jesus built during his earthly ministry.

Point 2:

A. If we are going to use silence as evidence, I’d like to make a few assertions. Luke doesn’t say the church was created when the Spirit fell. In fact, not one verse of scripture says such in all the bible. Where do you get this idea from? Acts says nothing of the sort. It does, however, mention that the group of regenerated, baptized, organized (held democratic meeting electing Matthias) assembly gathered together to fulfill the Great Commission, and THAT DAY were ADDED disciples to the church after being empowered by the Holy Spirit. The paucity of common sense here is pitiable when forcing unmentioned church birth into the scripture. All it says happened that day was that individuals were added; from which one may rightly deduce Christ’s assembly was operative before this day.

B. I believe emphasis is better placed on the “who” and “where” of Matt. 16:18 and from this we may deduce an appropriate yet to come “when”. You are missing a profound ingredient of N.T. ecclesiology here by ignoring the fact that Jesus said He will build His church, personally. Where will He build His church? Upon the chief cornerstone and spiritual petra that is Himself. When then? Well its quite obvious He said that He would build it; so this is sometime during his earthly ministry…before Pentecost.

C. Johns works also don’t mention anything about the church being born at Pentecost.

D. First off, the Spirit couldn’t fill and indwell what didn’t already exist. Secondly, before the Spirit came….they had Jesus. Before it ever was a habitation for God in the Spirit…it was a habitation for God in the flesh. The Holy Spirit filled and empowered the church at Pentecost, but Jesus built this with flesh and bone.

E. Yes, I see this as a problem for your view concerning the whole of scripture’s absolute silence on the matter. “That day” 3000 were added….and that is all it says happened that day. The 120 or so composing Christ’s earthly ecclesia which He built with His own hands existed and functioned as an ecclesia before this day as is evident by their election of Matthias.

F. I do not find this a legitimate way of interpreting scripture with scripture. Jesus states He will personally build this institution upon the petra; Himself. Though future, even the greenest bible student should be able to infer this must take place during his earthly ministry, and Matt. 18:17 strongly supports this assertion.

David Campbell
Florence, SC

Benji Ramsaur


Point 1

I’m not saying it “separates” the disciple from the local church. However, what you mean by “separate” and what I mean might not be the exact same meaning.

I do think both quotes, especially when taken together, communicate that “plain” disciples may baptize solely by the authroity of Jesus so that they do not have to “submit” to some other authority as well–like the local church.

“THE person designed by Christ to dispense baptism…”

Point 2

We’re in the same boat. Neither one of us can point to any Scripture that will explicitly declare that the church was born on some particular day. If you want to call what I am doing an “argument from silence”, then I would say that by your own definition you are arguing from silence as well.

Both of us are reduced to having to “infer” from the Scriptures.

When my reasons are taken “together”, I think it points to Pentecost as the time when the church was born.


You said “Well its quite obvious He said that He would build it; so this is sometime during his earthly ministry…before Pentecost.”

Even if you are right in your belief that Jesus is referring to Himself as the rock upon whom He would build His church, then Jesus could have still built His church after he ascended. Based on your reasoning, Jesus would have to cease to exist after His earthly ministry in order to establish your case that He built the church duing His earthly ministry.


You said “the Spirit couldn’t fill and indwell what didn’t already exist.” So, is the body of every unbeliever a “Sanctuary” waiting to be indwelt by the Spirit if they would believe [1 Cor. 6:19-20]? I don’t think so. I think it is the Spirit that makes the individual body a Sanctuary. I think it is the Spirit within assembled individuals that makes the local church a Sanctuary.

You said “Before it ever was a habitation for God in the Spirit…it was a habitation for God in the flesh.” Yes it was. The Spirit had not yet “indwelt” the disciples.


I believe the church was birthed and then souls were added on that day [through Peter’s gospel preaching]. I don’t see an inconsistency in my position.


Then you would have to say “John Broadus” was worse than “the greenest Bible student”.

He was open to the possibility of “future local churches” being in view in relation to Matthew 18.

See his “Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew”. Pg. 388. Comment on Matt. 18:17, point #2.

Chris Johnson

Benji and ,

Could you both be correct here?

Meaning….that the church (as all are called out in one way or another) was baptized with the Holy Spirit (referring to Pentecost) and the mission of the Spirit through the church (called out ones) was being announced ….especially clear through John the baptizer.

Luke 3:16-18 “John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (17) “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (18) So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people.”

This newly formed group of called out ones were ordered to baptize (in water), even before their clothing for ministry,… those that understood the coming of the Spirit (Acts 19) through the preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The disciples had never really thought this way before Christ ordered them to obey in tending, feeding, and baptizing. The empowering of the Spirit advertized at Pentecost certainly was the signal that something new had begun in a marvelous new way as these new congregations were forming, not according to the letter of the Law, but according to the Spirit.

Luk 24:48-49 “You are witnesses of these things. (49) “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”

There should be little doubt that the clothing in power by the Spirit signaled and cemented to the disciples minds a new way, yet with the same Spirit. It seems this new Spirit empowered group became known as Christians sometime later at Antioch…instead of Synagogans that now accept Christ. This must have been difficult to understand in those earliest of churches, now “called out” by the Spirit to Christ alone.

Good discussion you guys are having,

Chris Johnson

meant to say, Benji and David,


David Campbell

Point 3:

As I mentioned above; the context of ! Cor. 12 is absolutely limited to the local church sphere.

Regarding 1 Cor 12:12-26; Paul develops, in the abstract, the organic nature and connection between members in a local church which is the precious body of Christ. We are to live and breathe as one united body of many members. You are cooking with grease to point out that Apostle Paul separates himself from the church at Corinth in 14:23 by saying “you”; and upon this sound logic, we will further season a healthy portion of biblical ecclesiology. In 12:27, Paul particularly applies the abstract concept of the body he developed in vs. 12-26 to the church at Corinth, and as in 14:23, excludes himself. The body of Christ finds concrete, literal expression in vs. 27 as a local assembly of regenerated baptized believers gathered together to fulfill the Great Commission. So does this mean that Paul is not a member of the body of Christ? Certainly not. Taking into account the abstract nature of his illustration, starting in vs. 12, one can correctly interpret that the numerical value of “one” in vs. 13 regards “type” and not “quantity”. This same principle is applied in Ephesians 4:5. There is not a numerical quantity of one baptism…but numerically one type of baptism. So thus we have deduced the proper meaning of I Cor. 12:13, “For in one spirit (a spirit of unity) were we all (Jews, Gentiles,slaves, free) baptized (by immersion in water) into one body (a local N.T. church).

I would like a chance to respond to the rest of your points before you answer. I’m taking the ol’ lady out to dinner here in a little while and will address the rest of your points tonight.

Thanks for the dialogue and God bless,

David Campbell
Florence, SC

David Campbell

With much gratitude for the scholarship of the greatest baptist of all time…B.H. Carrol

Concerning the 113 usages pertaining to Christ’s ecclesia in the New Testament; all are properly assigned into three categories: Generic/Abstract, Particular, and Prospective (Assembly in Glory). Using ecclesia in its abstract sense would be akin to the following statement about America’s jury. If I were to say, “Upon Plymouth rock, America will build her jury” I would be utilizing jury in the abstract sense. By no means would others of our nation misconstrue this statement as being one Universal Invisible Jury composed of all the jurors of all time. Contemporary thought would not conjure such a lofty idea, but instead would realize this as a reference to the institution of the jury, always being a properly gathered assembly, called out to a particular place, to judge matters concerning the law. Lets fast forward several centuries and arrive somewhere close to what is taught about the church today….in light of our jury example. Barrack Obama successfully socializes the nation and all the sudden juries are under centralized, authoritarian control and referred to as one visible, katholikos jury. Then some well-intentioned dissenters wish to split from this corrupt organization via a reformation, desiring a return to historic American-style law. However, instead of properly researching our contemporary American meaning of jury, they create a variation of the false katholikos jury feeling it historically patriotic to deem all Americans as part of a one invisible jury with no organization, each judging his own. Such is the sad state of contemporary ecclesiology…but not the case with Matt. 16:18. Our Lord’s contemporaries, familiar with the laws of language governing the use of the word, knew exactly what ecclesia meant when used by Jesus. It was to retain all of its ordinary characteristics with the only distinguishing factor being; it was CHRISTS ecclesia. Reflecting on its contemporary usage, one comes to the conclusion that requirements associated with an ecclesia include: an organized assembly that assembles. Your reference to Acts 8:3 is understandable given how I’ve explained thus far, but in the Greek sense, an organized ecclesia is still an ecclesia after returning to there homes, much like when congress disbands and goes home…they are still the congress…they just aren’t meeting. My NKJV states church as plural in Acts 9:31, but I think this is the verse some manuscripts have as singular. Supposing it is singular, this is simply the scattered church at Jerusalem finding peace and comfort in Paul’s conversion. I Cor. 14:23 has this same idea in mind, Paul is stating “when the assembly assembles”.

How can an assembly assemble if an assembly is already assembled? They can’t, but an ecclesia is still recognized as the ecclesia while unassembled, but this idea is restricted by the laws of language to assemblies than are fully capable of assembling and functioning.

Think I’m running a fever boss, I’ll get to the rest of your points in the morning, then we can hash out each others rebuttals and be disagreeing friends :)

David Campbell

Benji Ramsaur


I hope you get to feeling better. A fever is not fun. My wife makes me laugh–she just said “are you talking about me?”

Anyway, I think B.H. Carroll is correct in interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:13 as Baptism in the Spirit and not by the Spirit.

I do not believe water baptism is in view. I think water baptism symbolizes death and resurrection with Christ. We go in. We come out.

There is nothing in the text in 1 Corinthians that declares or suggests a “coming out”. I think we are baptized in the realm of the Spirit and we do not come out of that atmosphere. We do, however, come out of death.

You can read Carroll’s interpretation in comment #7 here:

Now, when it comes to the ekklesia, if I am understanding you correctly [and please correct me if I am wrong], it seems that what you are saying is that the thing that makes the ekklesia the ekklesia is not whether it is literally assembled or not, but it’s organization. And since a so called universal church [in your view] is not an organization, then it may not be considered an ekklesia.

In short, the organization is what makes a church a church. Am I reading you right?

Hope you get to feeling better.

Benji Ramsaur


Thanks for commenting brother. I believe you have given me something to think about. BTW, I never commented on your post on the subject of Calvin and baptism [over at SBC IMPACT], but I wanted to let you that it was interesting and informative.

Chris Johnson

Thanks Benji,

I think you may be referring to the section I wrote on Calvin that said…..

It is at this point that the eisegetical foundation is set by Calvin wherein he forms a “negative path” (looking back into the dividing wall) determined to reveal baptism; a path not contextually known by any baptized in the New Testament record beyond Pentecost. Looking to His own, Christ commands forward a “positive path” from a circumcision made without hands by commanding the Spirit filled to make disciples and baptize. This positive path is clearly seen in the disciples who by a good confession and a good conscious, in affirmation of the new covenant, positively affirm the command of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-5). Conversely, Calvin argues for an “increase in faith” to substantiate and “prop up” baptism; passionately arguing against a more accurate positive obedience where Jesus Christ leads His children in the light of the Holy Spirit.

It is also during the formation of his fundamentals that Calvin introduces a look back into Roman Catholic tradition. He explains

“ …I would remind the reader (though I think I have already expressed it in unambiguous terms), that in assigning this office to the sacraments, it is not as if I thought that there is a kind of secret efficacy perpetually inherent in them, by which they can of themselves promote or strengthen faith, but because our Lord has instituted them for the express purpose of helping to establish and increase our faith” (ICR 14.9).

Although he is playing both sides of the road at this point, it is clear that a “means” is effectually a special grace, again, existing in a negative formula, which ultimately arranges the need to baptize as a concept of physically belonging to a people. There is no escape from the physical aspects of what baptism represents in his scheme, since Calvin actively binds to the infant (and the family) that which is unavoidably formed from this eisegetical position. He cements his neo-Roman position again as he insists…

“All we say is, that God uses the means and the instruments which he sees to be expedient, in order that all things may be subservient to his glory, he being the Lord and disposer of all. Therefore as by bread and other aliment he feeds our bodies, as by the sun he illumines, and by fire gives warmth to the world, and yet bread, sun , and fire are nothing, save inasmuch as they are instruments under which he dispenses his blessings to us; so in like manner he spiritually nourishes our faith by means of the sacraments……” (ICR 14.12).


Calvin seemed to be very precise in his defense of sacramental ways (what I term a “negative path”), which is extended as well by many other denominations on things that they do not necessarily call sacraments, yet practiced much the same…none the less.

Again…this is a good discussion you and David are having, getting down to the details of how to frame these important arguments.



The Anglican, Rowan Williams, has an interesting insight into the concept of ‘church’:

“The New Testament sees the church as a community in which each person has a gift that only he or she can give into the common life. We Christians are so used to the imagery the Bible uses, especially the great metaphor of Christ’s body, that we forget just how radical and comprehensive is the vision of a community of universal giftedness. The ancient world had sometimes used the image of the body to describe a society in which there were different functions, a very natural use for such language. But it was left to Christians to reconceive this in terms of different gifts, and to draw out the further revolutionary implication that the frustration of any one member is the frustration of all because then there is something that is not being properly given. Someone has not been granted the freedom to offer what only that individual can give to the whole.

When St. Paul speaks about the church as the body of Christ, especially in his letters to Christians in Rome and Corinth, this is what is at the forefront of his mind. The church is a diverse community, but its diversity is not just a natural diversity of temperaments or preferences–we trivialize the idea if that’s all there is to it. It has a diversity of gifts given by the Spirit, a diversity of relationships with God, we might say, out of which come diverse perspectives on God and diverse ways of making God’s work real for each other.

And this is an intensely practical and moral principle–indeed, you could rightly say that for St. Paul this was where all Christian morality started. Look, for example, at the Second letter to the Corinthians (chapters 8 and 9), in which Paul is writing about the question of the relative wealth and poverty of different churches. Some have more than they need; others don’t have enough. This means that some are being frustrated in what they are free to give. So Paul says to the wealthier churches, “Equip them from what you don’t need; and who knows? They may be able to give to you in due course.”

It’s a very basic and simple application of a principle that permeates the whole of Paul’s vision. If you have a gift, it’s there so that you can help another to become a giver in turn. God’s gift makes givers. But notice too how the converse works: later in the same letter, Paul speaks about his own experience of being made to suffer when other Christians are made to suffer. “Who is weak and I am not weak?” he asks. When another Christian is frustrated, held back from growing, Paul too is held back. We grow only together.”

Ben Stratton

I wish I had time to jump into this discussion. Let me say that Benji misunderstands the position of the English Baptists and the ordinances. The below quote from 1646 really clears things up:

The English Baptists & the Authority to Baptize

“We do not affirm, that every common Disciple may Baptize, there was some mistake in laying down our Opinion, page 14. Where it is conceived, that we hold, Whatsoever Disciple can teach the word, can make out Christ, may Baptize, and administer other Ordinances. We do not so. For though believing Women being baptized are Disciples, Acts 9:36, and can make out Christ; yea, and some of them (by their experimental knowledge and spiritual understanding of the way, order, & Faith of the Gospel) may be able to instruct their Teachers, Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:3, yet we do not hold, that a woman may preach, baptize, nor administer other Ordinances. Nor do we judge it meet, for any Brother to baptize or to administer other Ordinances; unless he have received such gifts of the Spirit, as fitteth, or enables him to preach the Gospel. And those gifts being first tried by and known to the Church, such a Brother is chosen and appointed thereunto by the Sufferage of the Church.” Hansard Knollys

(Hansard Knollys {1598-1691} was an noted English Baptist pastor and author. He pastored the Baptist church in Great St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate for 46 years and signed both the 1644/1646 and 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Article 41 of the revised 1646 London Baptist Confession says, “The person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being no where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.” A few Southern Baptist pastors such as Bro. Wade Burleson, pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma have claimed this article proves the English Baptists did not believe baptism was a local church ordinance and were willing to receive alien immersion. Nothing could be further from the truth. In 1646 Knollys wrote “The Shining of a Flaming Fire in Zion”, in answer to Mr. Saltmarsh and his book “Smoke in the Temple” and explained what this article really meant. The quote above is from this work. Knollys declared that the English Baptists did indeed believe baptism was connected to the local church and only men who had been “tried”, “chosen”, “appointed” by a local Baptist church could baptize. This is exactly what conservative Baptists today believe.)

David Worley

There’s no doubt that there’s a universal, invisible Church. The Church is spoken of in the Bible as being the ones who will gather at the marriage feast of the Son of God. But, the universal, invisible Church is always seen in a local, visible Church on this planet; in this time frame. And, the ordinances were given to the Church… baptism and the LS…were given to the Church to carry out.

There are no Lone Ranger Christians out there…riding across the prairie…doing their own thing…that’s not taught in the Bible. God works in our world today thru the local assembly of Believers called a Church.


Chris Johnson

Brother Vol,

That is pretty obvious. The question for believers though fall inside this estimation of the obvious. Calvin for instance is the premiere Landmarkist since he assumes that administrators bring children into the covenant and in an unusual way when compared to the view the Apostles took of baptism.


David Campbell

5. I believe the God’s inscribed breath is active in salvation and an absolute, infallible guide for life.

A. I agree with this assessment

B. Very interesting distinction…but one cannot be a faithful subject of Christ without submitting to Him as Head of His church, in order to honor this obligation, one must be be faithfully serving His earthly institution obediently. Ephesian 5 vs. 24 (Abstract development of idea) For the husband (generic reference to husband) is the head of the wife (generic reference to wife), as also Christ is head of the church (generic reference to church); and He is the Savior of the body (generic reference to body). vs. 23(Here the abstract finds concrete expression through particular application) Therefore, just as the church (particular to Ephesus and each congregation addressed by this circular letter) is subject to Christ, so let the wives (particular reference to wives) be to their own husbands(particular reference to husbands) in everything.

C. But of course

David Campbell

Well, by hierarchical, all I meant was that a New Testament congregation is an autonomous and purely democratic body having two offices; that of the Bishop/Elder and that of the deacon.

A. 1 Peter 5:3, I take this as demonstrating the proper behavior of a Bishop/Elder, “You must not do because I say, but do because I also do”. The responsibility of a deacon is to serve the Bishop/Elder and help him carry out his ministerial duties including: overseeing, presiding over, shepherding, teaching, and preaching. My present view of SBC churches is that too many are run by deacons unwilling to faithfully serve the flock via serving that office which is above them.

B. I would prefer something just a little bit stronger, but not by much, generally agree.

C. Well I meant it to come across as,”here are the two offices of my purley democratic N.T. congregation that must be properly recognized by all”

David Campbell

The previous post, benji, was in response to #7, regarding #6….right on brothaman

David Campbell
Florence, SC

I’ll get to your rebuttals later this afternoon..sorry for being so slow, just let me catch up to ya….later

John Fariss

Hey David et al,

I tried to enter a comment yesterday, and my computer ate it. I am going to try again, and if this one fails. . . God must not want me to comment.

My compliments to you, first for laying out your opinions, and second, for intereacting with people in the comment thread in a civil way. There have been differences of opinion, but I have not see attacks or name calling or anything of the sort. In fact, the comments, on both sides, have been thought-provoking and Christ-honoring.

In my aborted attempt, I tried to get into some details of your comments, especially about your belief (expressed in slightly different terms by David, Robin, Matt, & Wes) about there “always” having been a true, gospel, or New Testament church, even though (1) you concede it not be traced as explicitly as Carrol, Graves, Pendleton, and other classic Landmarkists did, and (2) that your own position is more a matter of a posteriori reasoning (Wes made this explicit in his statement, “I base this belief on Jesus’ promise that He would build His church, and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Mt. 16:18)” rather than historical research. With all due respect, reasoning like this makes for good sound bites when preaching to one’s base, but fails to show skeptics (such as myself) anything I would call evidence.

Taking a step back, it occurs to me that you are operating under the presupposition that there cannot be a true believer unless that a believer is “produced” by a true church; or at least that when a “church” reaches some point of theological error it is precluded from being a church at all, and therefore cannot “produce” Christians. Hence, with the growing theological errors of Catholicism from roughly the 3rd or 4th centuries until the Protestant reformation there either (1) had to be churches in which the Gospel was proclaimed without error, or (2) Jesus is a liar (Mt. 16:18), because without true churches there could not be true Christians. Is this sumation of your presuppositions anything like correct? If not, please show me where I am in error.

This strikes me as somewhat circular reasoning. Consequently in your system of thought, the existance of such a church (or churches) and its authority becomes very important. This authority then extends to issues such as the administration of ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It also means that the local visible church is emphasized, either exclusively or nearly so, over a “universal” church, as the later could not include churches beyond the tipping point of theological error. I would be interested to know at what point you believe a “church” ceases to be a “church” because of theological error.

Like Tom Kelly, I do not believe you guys are classic Landmarkers, a la Graves, Pendleton, etc.; in fact I never have beleived that. Kelly uses the term “Landmarkistic” to describe you, and I tend to agree with that, although I prefer the term, “neo-landmark” to distinguish your position from the classic one.

John Fariss

David Worley


Or, could it just be called good, sound ecclesiology? Why is this not an option for you?

I do believe that if you’d check out the so-called BI fellas, you’d find nothing more than just good ole, SB, BFM2K theology, which is based squarely on the Word of God.


David Worley

Why do I get this nagging feeling in the back of my neck that the comment stream has been taken over, and it no longer belongs to me? That somehow it’s taken on a life of it’s own? Oh well, maybe the feeling will go away pretty soon.

David :)

PS. BTW, John, I dont know David Campbell. He sounds like a nice fella. So, you would lump him in with all of us “BI” fellas? And, of course, there can be Churches that are true Churches, but they have errors in doctrine. For example, the Assembly of God Church preaches the Gospel, but they’re Arminian, and they’re also in error about tongue speaking…amongst a few other things. But, I would still count them as an evangelical Church. Just a Gospel preaching church that is in error in their doctrine over non-essential things.

David Campbell

Sup John, I’m not sure, but I think your comment is directed at me? If not, excuse my intrusion into you and Mr. Worley’s dialogue.

Questions: Why do you classify this ecclesiology neo-landmarkism? What are some alternative classifications regarding opposing views?

Many baptists have realized that “locality” is inherent to ecclesia, which is why the Holy Spirit had no need for descriptors such as “local” and “universal”; as evidenced by silence on the matter. Saying “local church” is akin to “circular circle”…and I only utilize this redundancy for purposes of informing the uninformed. Also, during this controversy within the SBC, many Southern Baptists held to this ecclesiology and rejected Landmarkism; remaining in the convention after their departure. In addition, many baptist churches pre-dating the convention, never affiliating, held this line of thought as well as those born of schisms post-dating the Landmark controversy.There is nothing “neo” about it and it is not Landmarkism; its a baptist ecclesiology, plain and simple. You are free to define it in any way you choose, but in the words of Forrest Gump, “Thats all I have to say about that”. :) I’m interested in your answers to the questions above, but not really looking to debate classification.

As to your legitimate skepticism, I will address this when I have time and look forward to discussing it…I currently owe Mr. Benji some answers regarding our discussion and after I get to those, I will gladly dialogue…provided Mr. Worley doesn’t mind us hi-jacking his post stream…:)

Benji…I’ll get to what I owe ya this evening and we’ll finish this up soon…girlfriend must take priority over our little debate right now.

God Bless,

David Campbell

John Fariss


You say, “Or, could it just be called good, sound ecclesiology? Why is this not an option for you?” David, I made no value judgment, as to whether it was good or bad. Both good ecclesiology and bad ecclesiology have presuppositions. I am merely trying to understand yours. We have had discussions before, and I think you know from those that I am pretty straightforward. I don’t set traps or try to ambush anyone. We may disagree, and if so, so be it. But I am just trying to understand where you are coming from, and why you are where you are.

What is the “tipping point” so to speak for a church with theological error to cease to be a church, is there is one?

And both to and about David Campbell: I do not know know whether he is “BI” or not; I have not read enough of what he has written to have an opinion. If you don’t like the term “neo-landmark,” then I have no problem with that, or with not calling you that. There was nothing perjorative in it. It simply seems to me that you (volfan007) have some affinity to landmarkism without being a classic landmarker. And David C., no I really wasn’t addressing you, but would enjoy doing so–feel free to jump in anytime you feel froggy. Right now though I have a call from a couple in crisis and must go.

John Fariss


Some thoughts on ‘the Ekklesia, the People of God’

– The Ekklesia is the People ‘of God’: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for Himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

– One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,” that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.

– This People has for its Head, Jesus the Christ (the Anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the Christ the Head into the Body, the Ekklesia is “the messianic people.”

– The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.

– The Ekklesia’s law is the New Commandment to love as Christ loved us.” This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.

– The Mission of the Ekklesia is to be salt of the earth and light of the world. This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”

– The destiny of the Ekklesia, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God Himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by Him at the end of time, as is prayed
‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven’.

St. Joan of Arc, before she was burned at the stake, was questioned by the English Church and asked about the relationship of Christ and the Church. Her answer was
‘they are one and the same. It is that simple.’

Universal Church, Ekklesia, Mystical Body of Christ, there are many names, but was Joan right when she said that the Church and Christ were one and the same? Well, we have Our Lord to thank for the answer:

Saul had persecuted many Christians terribly at Jerusalem, the first center of the Church. As he was on his way to Damascus, he heard the Voice of Our Lord:
‘Saul, Saul . . . why persecutest thou ME ?’

David Campbell

Hey Benji,

In regard to your rebuttals:

Point 1
The authority to baptize was granted to the institution of the local church, the baptized congregation he addressed when delivering the Great Commission. One can only become a “plain disciple” by joining a N.T. congregation of baptized believers. The “plain disciple” may baptize, solely upon the authority given by Jesus. Yes, this is that person designed by Christ to dispense baptism. This authority is not conferred upon him by the people of the local church, but inherited from Christ’s Commission alone. However, the local church is its own gatekeeper; and church discipline a primary tenet. A “plain disciple” is required by our Lord to be accountable and submissive to His institution. If disfellowshipped for unrepentant sin or willfully disassociating, a baptism by him would be considered outside the authority of the local church and invalid. Hopefully this illustration demonstrates my view as to what “under the authority of a local church” means. I see your point as allowing for separation of the disciple and the local church. On this we can just agree to disagree. I believe this is congruent with the First London Confession, 1646.

Point 2

A. I really don’t see my position as an inference, but based on the clear teaching of scripture. Obviously, however, you see things in the exact same way. I will place, impartially :), our items on an infallible scale so we can both view whether the church began before or on Pentecost. On your plate, we will place absolute silence and a “castle in the air” whose origin is derived from one verse in the 12th chapter of a letter written to a local church. On my plate, we will place a baptized assembly, organized and instructed by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, given the Lord’s Supper, the Great Commission, functioning democratically (Matthias), with the disciples having inhaled a foretaste of the promise to come on the first day of the week when they were assembled (John 20:22). Obviously, I see the scale tipping my way, for all criteria of bona fide ecclesia are exemplified before Pentecost. This is the church Jesus Christ built before Pentecost and was later filled with Power from on high.

Sorry Benji, gotta run some errands, I promise I’ll get to the rest later.

David Campbell

Benji Ramsaur


Thanks for the primary source. It is illuminating.

There is also the brilliant and historically influential Baptist John Gill:

“As the first covenant, or testament, had ordinances of divine service, which are shaken, removed, and abolished; so the New Testament, or gospel dispensation, has ordinances of divine worship, which cannot be shaken, but will remain until the second coming of Christ: these, as Austin says,[1] are few; and easy to be observed, and of a very expressive signification. Among which, baptism must be reckoned one, and is proper to be treated of in the first place; for though it is not a church ordinance, it is an ordinance of God, and a part and branch of public worship. When I say it is not a church ordinance, I mean it is not an ordinance administered in the church, but out of it, and in order to admission into it, and communion with it; it is preparatory to it, and a qualification for it; it does not make a person a member of a church, or admit him into a visible church; persons must first be baptized, and then added to the church, as the three thousand converts were; a church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it. Admission to baptism lies solely in the breast of the administrator, who is the only judge of qualifications for it, and has the sole power of receiving to it, and of rejecting from it; if nor satisfied, he may reject a person thought fit by a church, and admit a person to baptism not thought fit by a church; but a disagreement is not desirable nor advisable: the orderly, regular, scriptural rule of proceeding seems to be this: a person inclined to submit to baptism, and to join in communion with a church, should first apply to an administrator; and upon giving him satisfaction, be baptized by him; and then should propose to the church for communion…” (bold mine) [Baptism: A Public Ordinance]

Benji Ramsaur


I plan on waiting until you are through. I hope you are feeling better.

David Campbell


I’m sure you are itching to respond to what i’ve said; do so whenever you like. Also, I’d like to change something with my last response. Right now though, I’m going to relax, listen to The Meters, and eat this tasty Mcflurry. Exhausted. Till the morrow.

P.S. My primary source was the N.T. …baha

Chris Johnson

Sister Christiane,

I was reading through your post at #65, and realized you had mentioned an important distinction about those baptized in water and those baptized in the Spirit. Some may think that water is necessary for salvation…. That doctrine could not be further from the truth that is realized through biblical exegesis. Whether it be a Baptist or a Roman Catholic, there is no clearer answer in scripture…but that the blood of Jesus Christ is the only requirement for the remission of sin. In fact, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

Hebrews 9:22-28 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (23) Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (24) For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; (25) nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. (26) Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (27) And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (28) so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Those that eagerly await Him are those that have been baptized in the Spirit by Christ alone. That is the faith once for all delivered to the Saints at all points throughout history.

Matthew 3:11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Mark 1:7-9 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. (8) “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (9) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Acts 1:4-5 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; (5) for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

If a Baptist were to believe that their baptism was anything more than a recognition of the Spirit’s coming as a response and obedience to the command of Christ,… that is where they would begin to overstate the reality of baptism in their life. And if a Baptist, or any other Christ follower for the matter, believed that baptism was something bequeathing rights and privileges to the extent that somehow the baptism was attributive and effectively mingling into the blood of Christ,….well…. that Baptist would be denying Christ and would be preaching another gospel. Anyone that denies Christ is not His child. Nothing can be added to the blood of Christ for the remission of sin.

There is salvation by no one else or any other thing (water) …than Jesus Christ.

Revelation 5:4-10 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; (5) and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” (6) And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. (7) And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. (8) When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (9) And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (10) “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”


David Worley


The tipping point to me is the essential, fundamental truths of the Christian faith. If a Church holds to the essential doctrines of the faith, then they are a true Church, IMHO. But, if a church denies the essentials of the faith, then they cease to be a true church.

I do believe, John, that a church can be a true church, and yet be in error on the minor points of doctrine. Thus, I would count the Assembly of God Pastor as a Brother in Christ, but I would not look upon his church as being a good, sound church…due to the errors in thier doctrine. Christians? yes. A good, sound Church? No.

Now, a liberal, Methodist Church that denies the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus, I would count as heretical church; a church that has departed from the faith; a church that is inspired by the demons of Hell(1 Cor. 10).

Now, if you’re asking me what would make a church a good, sound Church; as well as being a true Church; then I’d say a Church that holds to the BFM2K would be a good, sound Church.


John Fariss

Hey David,

I’m sorry–the question, as I worded it, was not the question I meant to ask, although you answered it as it was written. I was the one not clear. What I was trying to get at was not so much a definition of what you think constitutes a good, sound, and true church today, but rather what constituted one circa 300 AD (or even 200, at whatever point the church of the New Testament began to become diluted, corrupted, etc.) through about 1600 AD, the Protestant Reformation–when there was no “BF&M” of any vintage. Does that help you to see the point I am persuing? My question–and it is a question I am exploring myself, not a perspective I am pushing on you or anyone else–is this: can a church which is in (theological) error, even grave error, still produce Christians? If the answer to that question is, “no,” then it gives credence to the a posteriori conclusion that there “had” to have been true churches in that era. If the answer is, “yes,” then it makes the case for that reasoning weaker, IMHO.

In your reply at #71, you said, “The tipping point to me is the essential, fundamental truths of the Christian faith. If a Church holds to the essential doctrines of the faith, then they are a true Church, IMHO. But, if a church denies the essentials of the faith, then they cease to be a true church.” You seem to equate not affirming (or holding) to the essential doctrines with deny(ing) the essentials of the faith. But are they the same? Is a lack (or failure if you prefer) to affirm something the same as denying it? For instance, if I say that Jesus Christ is the son of God and you say Jesus Christ is the eternal son of God, my failure to affirm the word “eternal” is not a denial, but may be nothing more than an oversight. I would tend to think that equating not affirming something with denying the same thing is a false dichotemy, but I would like to hear your take on it.


Benji Ramsaur

David C,

I think we are both arguing our case from what we perceive to be “implicit” in the Scriptures. I think what I am saying is consistent with a dictionary definition.

There is no verse that explicitly says “The church was born at Pentecost” [my view]

There is no verse that explicitly says “The church was born after Peter’s confession and before Pentecost” [your view…I think]

When it comes to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, what I said is that I don’t think that chapter can be “absolutely” limited to the local church sphere. I did not say anything as to what might get the “emphasis” [local or universal]. However, you disagree and believe it is absolutely limited to the local church sphere.

Now, Paul mentions “we” [though he was not a member of the local church in Corinth] three times in chapter 12–verse 13 [twice] and verse 23.

Now, I assume that you believe that all of the Bible is profitable–even down to the details.

Therefore, what do you believe is the spiritual benefit that we are supposed to receive from Paul saying “we” in those verses?

Also, notice something that Paul is emphasizing when one compares 1 Corinthians 12:11-13 with Ephesians 4:4-6:

1 Corinthians 12:11-13

11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13For by [“in” IMO] one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (bold mine)

Ephesians 4:4-6

4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

5One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (bold mine)

Paul is emphasizing oneness in both passages. Paul, in particular, speaks of the oneness of the body and the oneness of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 and “baptism” is snuggled up in that context. Paul starts out in Ephesians 4 talking about the one body and one Spirit before he mentions the “one” baptism.

In the light of this, I think the baptism in 1 Corinthians [which I interpret to be Spirit baptism] is the same baptism in Ephesians.

And since I believe Paul is talking about Spirit baptism [and not water baptism], I think Ephesians 4 is saying there is only “one” Spirit baptism, not two. I don’t think he is saying there is only one baptism of any kind whatsoever.

David Worley


If a church does not deny the essentials of the faith, then they’re a true Church. But, are you saying that some of the Churches thru out history, especially before 400 A.D., didnt know the essentials of the faith? the fundamentals of the faith? I would seriously doubt that. I’m no historian, but I would think that most of them knew the essential doctrines of the faith.

Now, some of the TRUE churches in history may not have known about all the doctrines which the BFM2K addresses. And, some of the TRUE Churches of history may not have understood, nor even believed, in what Dr. Mohler calls “2nd Tier” doctrines. But, if they denied the essential, fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, then, of course, I wouldnt call them a true Church.


David Campbell

Hey Benji, slept my fanny off yesterday trying to get better, sorry for the delay.

Your rebuttals (cont.)

B. Yes, I suppose it could have been built after His ascension, but I believe the preponderance of evidence provided demonstrates otherwise. Just show me where it says the Holy Spirit will build the church and I’ll hop back over to your side.

D. Sorry for confusing my position here…I didn’t mean to put forth the indwelling of the individual associated with regeneration, but the filling and dwelling of the Spirit within the church Jesus built when he baptized (figuratively) the congregation in the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4). Jesus built; Holy Spirit filled thus becoming a habitation for God in the Spirit. I was also trying to illustrate that the absence of the Holy Spirit doesn’t prevent this from being a church before Pentecost because it was a habitation for God in the flesh, Jesus. God was with the church before Pentecost in the Person of Jesus Christ.
E. Don’t mean to be overemphasizing this, but “that day” souls were only added. I understand you.
You said, “Then you would have to say “John Broadus” was worse than “the greenest Bible student”.”
Yes, that comment was cheap, indirect intimidation. Formerly an atheist, I’m very used to using tools like this in hopes of getting my point across. Basically I was calling anyone who didn’t agree with me “stupid”. You, sir, and Broadus are certainly not. My apologies for the immature, dogmatic statement I made.

I’ll dialogue concerning the rest of your stuff, hopefully, in a little while.
God Bless

David Campbell

You said, “Now, when it comes to the ekklesia, if I am understanding you correctly [and please correct me if I am wrong], it seems that what you are saying is that the thing that makes the ekklesia the ekklesia is not whether it is literally assembled or not, but it’s organization. And since a so called universal church [in your view] is not an organization, then it may not be considered an ekklesia.In short, the organization is what makes a church a church. Am I reading you right?”

I used to believe that the General Assembly (prospective church in glory, Church Universal), was presently operative and that local churches were somehow a visible expression of this invisible entity. To tell you the truth, I really have no problem (not that I’m anyone) with people who hold this opinion as long as they don’t downplay the role and authority of the local church. Someone like, apparently, Mr. Worley for example, I have no problem with. I can’t tell you how many individuals I run into these days, in their twenties like myself, that pledge allegiance only to the invisible universal church saying, “Jesus didn’t believe in organized religion and neither do I”. I realize no one on this blog is within 10000 leagues of such heresy. I say this to bring up B.H. Carroll, whose writings caused me to see the church differently.

I believe that you, Benji, David Miller, David Rogers, and all of these other wanna be Baptists whose posts I see on GREAT blogs such as SBCtoday; well, you guys have taken the existence of two churches, invisible vs. visible, to its logical conclusion and I find these words of Carroll ringing true for baptists such as the SBCtoday guys. (I don’t know any of them but love their blog)

“And is it not an historical fact that, since Protestant Pedobaptists invented this idea of a now existing, invisible, universal, spiritual church, to offset the equally erroneous Romanist idea of a present visible, universal church, reverence and honor for God’s New Testament particular church have been ground to fine powder between them as between the upper and nether millstones? Today when one seeks to obtain due honor for the particular assembly, its ordinances, its duties, is he not in many cases thwarted in measure, or altogether in some cases, by objections arising from one or the other of these erroneous views? ” ~Carrol

This Southern Baptist giant had the same effect on me as did some others on A.W. Pink, who backed the view of water baptism in I Cor 12.

“For almost ten years after his regeneration the writer never doubted that the “body” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 had reference to “the Church Universal.” This was taught him by those known as “Plymouth Brethren,” which is found in the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible, and is widely accepted by evangelicals and prophetic students. Not until God brought him among Southern Baptists (a high privilege for which he will ever be deeply thankful) did he first hear the above view challenged. But it was difficult for him to weigh impartially an exposition which meant the refutation of a teaching received from men highly respected, to say nothing of confessing he had held an altogether erroneous concept so long, and had allowed himself to read 1 Corinthians 12 (and similar passages) through other men’s spectacles. However, of late, the writer has been led to make a prayerful and independent study of the subject for himself, with the result that he is obliged to renounce his former view as utterly untenable and unscriptural.” ~ Arthur W. Pink

I’ve nearly memorized the work of these two men concerning the church, though I might misrepresent them at times.

I realized that B.H. Carroll’s investigation of each use of ecclesia was spot on and the foggy universal church theory I held couldn’t hold up under the scrutiny of these two men. That was my personal experience. So what do I think an “ecclesia” is.?

“An organized assembly, whose member have been properly called out from private homes to attend public affairs. This definition necessarily implies prescribed conditions of membership” ~ Carroll

I will reply to your last comment about what you beleive and share what elements moved me from your interpretation….and I think that should just about wrap our little discussion up. I just hope that I gave a clear enough presentation of what I believe that it might sit in the back of your mind as you study the scriptures, although I am nobody like I said.

God Bless,

David Campbell

David Rogers

David Campbell,

I left this conversation before I realized it would continue on in the way it has, and so I missed a good part of the interaction thus far. However, noticing your comments to Benji, I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity to try to understand a little better your perspective…

1. I am interested to know if you make any distinction between the “church” and the “body of Christ.” It seems to me, by the way, that Paul equates them in verses such as Col. 1:18, and 1:24.

2. If Paul says there is one body (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 4:4), which one is he referring to–the “body” in Corinth, the “body” in Ephesus,…?

3. Are you saying that whenever the term “ekklesia” occurs in the NT, we should always understand it to refer to “An organized assembly, whose members have been properly called out from private homes to attend public affairs”?

In your studies on the church, I would like to recommend you read as well the articles by John Woodhouse on Christian Unity, Ecclesiology, and Denominations, which I link to here:

I would be interested to hear any biblical response/refutation you may have of the argument Woodhouse presents there.

David Campbell

Mr. Rogers,

I’m currently waiting for my local church to authorize the baptism of David Rogers in the “boo yah”. I’ll respond as soon as I receive authorization.

David Campbell

“boo yah” – true N.T. ecclesiology

bahahaha….I thought that was funny…I’ll check that article out this afternoon and reply to your post in full this afternoon…I viewed you profile and saw many bands I’ve never heard of. I discovered waterdeep about a year ago and really liked them. I can’t seem to find any other “jam” oriented music that praises our Lord. Are any of those bands you listed of a similar genre? If not, do you know any other Christian bands that incorporate extended jam of the J.Garcia variety???

David Rogers

David Campbell,

I will be anxious to read your reply.

From that list, I would choose especially The Waiting and Smalltown Poets as examples of Christian bands that have a biblically sound and thoughtful lyrics. I wouldn’t really classify them as the “praise and worship” genre, though. I really appreciate the sensitive approach toward human need and God’s grace that comes through in Waterdeep’s music. Another artist of which I could say the same is Plumb. He was not on the list, but Jon Foreman’s solo stuff is good in this regard too. And, I’m sure there are many more. At the risk of highjacking this comment stream, do you have any recommendations?

David Campbell

hmmm…so when was David Rogers anxiety born? According to you guys….there is absolutely no possible way that you could be anxious right now because your statement “will be” is future and must mean after you get to heaven…haha…


heading up to the office and will read that convincing, invincible post you recommended….By the way, I just started adding praise music into my worldy mix…kinda warming up to it…i’ll definitely check out what you recommended…but unfortunately I have no idea about “faith jam” :) thanks

David Campbell

Mr. Rogers,

Question 1

No sir, I do not make any distinction between the body and
the church. I allow the laws of language concerning the practical,
contemporary use of ecclesia to reveal the ramifications of this quite literal metaphor. Yes, I believe the church is the body of Christ just like the Word of God explains. Jesus Christ is head over all things regarding the assembly in Glory; head over all things to the institution of the local church; and head over all things to each particular church. I find comfort in my position regarding His headship of the church, which is His body, in Revelation 1. “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches”. “and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man”. Jesus was standing in the midst of His church, which is His body, which are churches. I find the idea of one church erroneous because He refers to His “church” as churches. According to your theory; He would have said write this to the church…and then addressed each visible expression of the invisible entity. That is not the case. Col. 1:18 and 1:24 are items which refer to the institution Christ is in the midst of in Revelation. Our Lord’s precious earthly institution; the local church.


I no longer ascribe “mystical, universal, or invisible” to the body of Christ; and think these adjectives actually serve in deflecting the beauty and significance intended by this particular synonym. A synonym which has the exact same meaning and rightfully able to replace each of the 113 instances of ecclesia which refer to that of Christ’s. Other terms applicable, wholly in and of themselves, to our Lord’s local assemblies are “flock”, “house of God”, “temple of God”, “bride”, “body” and “church” for, in this present earthly age, all are but, not to minimize, types of the great anti-type to come.
All of these absolutely wonderful, quite profound and extremely honorable usages refer to Christ’s ecclesia, and there are three categories which encompass all usages of the term. These are generic/abstract, particular/local, and prospective/in glory. There is not presently operative, a church universal composed of all the
regenerate of all time, for we cannot gather. There are those in glory, those here, and those unborn, but when that most glorious day arrives my friend, we shall rejoice like never before. The day our Lord presents to Himself, a glorious church without spot or wrinkle; what a day, what a day that will be. The day our Lord finally
gathers together from the four corners of the world, His elect, having foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and hallelujah, GLORIFIED us all; I’m telling you sir, thats going to be quite a day. The day we all assemble, from every tongue, tribe, and nation, that day sir, is the first day are eyes shall befall the Ultimate Assembly,
the Body of Christ, The Flock, The Bride of Christ, the final Temple and House of God. However, for those of us currently trapped in a box of space and time, we should pledge complete allegiance to Christ’s earthly institution and look upon the Church Universal prospectively, perhaps proleptically, but never as a present reality usurping the authority conferred by Christ onto His only earthly institution; via a two church universal/local ecclesiology. When Paul says there is but one body, yes, presently, there is one body, the magnanimously magnificent institution of the N.T. church, of which all these terms wholly apply, and whom Christ addressed and walked amongst as pictured in Revelation.

Col 1:18 and 1:24 are references to the church in the generic, from which the local church applied wholly and completely to themselves. Col 2:19 is to be applied particularly to the Church at Colosse. And then Col. 3:19 the “you” is the church at Colosse to whom the letter is addressed…and they were called into “one” body. This is a local A.K.A. body of Christ A.K.A. the type of the anti-type in glory which has yet to assemble, thus not operative and are presently actual.

I Cor 12:27 also illustrates the same idea. “You” is the church at Corinth to whom the letter was addressed; they, in and of themselves, are “the” or “a” body of Christ. If Paul were referring to a Universal, Invisible, Mystical body of Christ that was presently composed of all God’s elect; he would have included himself as in 12:13. Why did Paul include himself in 12:13 but not 12:27? Because he identified Himself as a baptized disciple of a congregation and the abstract idea he develops in vs. 12-26 is true for all local churches. But this separation of himself in vs. 27 is paramount in that we see what the body of Christ is; a local church. I said above I believed the adjectives “Invisible, Mystical, Universal” deflect the point he is trying to emphasize. I say this because it has turned the focus in reference to the local church outward instead of inward where it belongs.

Question 3

I’m saying that within this definition lies the laws of language one must apply to Christ’s ecclesia. There can be no assembly in the actual where a gathering of such is impossible. I no longer make the huge etymological fallacy of allegoration.

I read the article and would like to respond to it in detail. Not sure when I will have time, very busy tomorrow and the next day and I’ve used up all of my time for today. Thank you for the artist recommendations; I really, really like them. Exactly what I’ve been looking for!

God Bless,

David Campbell

David Campbell

Obviously the focus of the local church should be outward and evanglestic, but the idea of “the body of Christ” should solely be applied to the time insitution instead of promoting “less creed, more liberty” in the form of “Lets just set aside what we all believe to be doctrinal error for the greater good…we are all the body of Christ…so lets just ignore doctrine and all act like we are supposed too”. NO NO NO NO NO….whoa unto him who shouts this from the hilltops…for “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Prov. 14:12


David Rogers

David C.,

Consider Ephesians 2:19-22:

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Would you agree the “you” being addressed here is the church? Would you agree that the group composed of “fellow citizens” who are “saints,” “the household of God,” “the body of Christ,” and “the church” all refer to the same entity?

I think it is important to take into consideration that although the entire church will not assemble together until the final day around the throne of the Lamb, this very same entity is in the process of “growing into a holy temple in the Lord,” and “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” in this present dispensation. In other words, yes, it is true the “universal church” is not yet complete, nor is it assembled, but that doesn’t mean it does not yet even exist.

Also, I don’t think your reply deals satisfactorily with the oneness of the church/body of Christ. It makes no sense to say there is no difference between “the body” and “a body,” or to say that the “church in Corinth,” the “church in Ephesus,” etc. are all independently the “one body” Paul is referring to.

Glad you like the music.

It makes perfect sense, however, to see local congregations as local expressions of the one Church made up of all the saints in all the world. Consider, for example, 1 Cor. 1:2:

“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”

David Rogers

“Glad you like the music” was supposed to be at the end of the comment, not randomly placed in the middle. Something weird happened with my keyboard. :)

David Rogers

One other point… If you consider 1 Cor. 12:27 to refer to the local church, would you also say, then, that 1 Cor. 12:28 indicates a plurality of apostles is normative within a local church?

David Campbell

First of all Mr. Rogers, I believe I owe you an apology for my rude comments above. Not that you care, but I realize the inappropriateness of some of my comments and don’t know you in a way that makes this behavior permissible. I’m very sorry. Will you forgive me?

Your responses:

Ephesian 2:19-22

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”

I believe the above to be affirming the church at Ephesus as members of the “family of God”…which I distinguish from “the church”. I would also apply this principle to I Cor. 1:2.

I would like to use the ASV for a better indication of what I believe “whole structure” to mean.

ASV 2:19-22

So then ye (Ephesus) are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye (Ephesus) are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; in whom EACH SEVERAL BUILDING (institution of church), fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye (Ephesus) also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

Sorry, by capitalizing I don’t mean to be yelling or anything, but just don’t know how to bold or italicize. Anyways, “whole building” or “each several building” is a reference to the church as an institution finding concrete, particular application in vs.22. “Each several building” is a more literal rendering, which I’ve seen a few with notes stating such, but using “whole” anyways. Either way, this is the institution of the local church.

You said, ” In other words, yes, it is true the “universal church” is not yet complete, nor is it assembled, but that doesn’t mean it does not yet even exist.”

What is being added to regarding this idea is the Assembly in Glory presently existing outside of time and separate from the time/space reality you and I are typing in. For you and I, the institution of the local church has the complete right away. One day, He will present a complete and unblemished Church Universal to Himself, and on that day this prospective assembly will become actual. It is not as of yet.

You said, “Also, I don’t think your reply deals satisfactorily with the oneness of the church/body of Christ.”

I’m sorry you don’t think they deal with this straw man satisfactorily, but I have demonstrated what I believe is the express teaching of the scriptures.

Your last point

I Cor. 12:12-26 – abstract illustration defining the body of Christ

I Cor. 12:13 – I believe this to be water baptism(#39)into the local
church but if it is referring to the baptism in the
Spirit by Jesus; it was of a corporate nature to
empower the church Jesus built providing supernatural
gifts for signs useful for accrediting the institution
as God’s new instrument. Show me a man performing
these gifts and you will have shown me a man baptized
in the Spirit. Carroll points out this baptism would
have been “unto” the church based on “eis”
with “baptizo” being translated “unto” more times than
not. I disagree with him, but either way, no need for
individual spirit baptism in the mystical body of
Christ or church universal. By “we” he would mean the
church as an institution.

I Cor. 12:27 – Concept previously developed in the abstract (vs. 13-
26) receives concrete expression via particular
application. The Church at Corinth is the body of

I Cor. 12:28 – reference to eclessia as an institution (the one
exemplified in Revelation 1); obviously being so for
the very reason you demonstrated above. I’m sure you
understand what I mean by institution, but just in case
refer to post #49 of this thread where I ripped off
an example of Carroll’s somewhat.

Origin of the Church: The appointment of the church office of Apostle taking place in Luke 6 and the foundation laid in Matt. 16:18 I believe are superior indicators as to the church being founded during His earthly ministry. This along with the collection of other assertions mentioned in previous posts allows for an implicit (thanks Benji) deduction I believe to be much stronger than the scriptures silence regarding the Pentecost theory.

David Campbell

David Rogers

David C.

I didn’t take your comments as rude. If you meant them that way (which I don’t think you did), I accept your apology. If you were just having fun (which I think you were), no apology needed.

Now, to the points we were discussing…

You said: “I believe the above to be affirming the church at Ephesus as members of the ‘family of God’…which I distinguish from ‘the church.'”

Do you distinguish “the household of God” (???? ????) from the church in 1 Timothy 3:15 as well? Looks to me that Paul did not.

Also, it appears that the translation of the ASV is based off of a textual variant which most translations do not go by: (?? ? ???? ? ???????? as opposed to ?? ? ???? ????????). Since I am not much of an expert on Greek, I asked a friend who is a Greek professor, and this is what he told me:

“The definite article (?) included before the noun “building” (????????) would put the adjective ???? (all, every, each) in the predicate position, where it is translated ‘every’ or ‘each’ for singular nouns, like here. Otherwise, without the definite article (?) included before the noun, the adjective would be in the attributive position, where it would be translated ‘whole’.

As to the variant itself, it shows up in a few manuscripts. But, the Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine traditions do not include the definite article.”

In other words, the acculumate manuscript evidence does not support the translation of the ASV here. I think it is noteworthy that in all of the English translations on BibleGateway, only the Wycliffe NT has a translation somewhat similar to the ASV on this phrase.

To pick and choose, according to your interpretation, and say that the “church universal” is indeed currently being built up, but “outside of time and separate from the time/space reality,” while the local church “has the complete right away,” seems entirely arbitrary to me.

To be honest, I am having a hard time following all this about the church “in the abstract,” “as an institution,” etc. It seems to me that you sort of hop around from one understanding of the term to the other, according to which one best fits your paradigm. If, for instance, as you claim, 1 Cor. 12:27 clearly refers to a local church setting, then it only seems normal that 1 Cor. 12:28 does as well, which, would mean that you would expect to find all of the spiritual gifts enumerated there (including that of apostles) in the same local church. To me, it makes much more sense to read “universal Church, of which the local expression is what we normally call ‘the local church'” in each and every case. In other words, “the church” refers to the broader entity, and “a church” to the local expression of that same entity.

And, I don’t quite catch the significance of being baptized “unto” the church, as opposed to being baptized “into” the church. In any case, Carroll’s rendering here seems to contradict the opinion of the vast majority of translators (at least all those available on BibleGateway) at this point.

David Campbell

Well tell your friend that my friend A.T. Robertson disagrees in his Word Pictures.

2:21 {Each several building} (pasa oikodome). So without article Aleph B D G K L. oikodome is a late word from oikos and demw, to build for building up (edification) as in #Eph 4:29, qen for the building itself as here (#Mr 13:1f.). Ordinary Greek idiom here calls for “every building,” not for “all the building” (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 772), though it is not perfectly clear what that means. Each believer is called a naos qeou (#1Co 3:16). One may note the plural in #Mr 13:1 (oikodomai) of the various parts of the temple. Perhaps that is the idea here without precise definition of each oikodome. But there are examples of pas without the article where “all” is the idea as in pases ktisews (all creation) in #Col 1:15. {Fitly framed together} (sunarmologoumene). Double compound from sun and harmologos (binding, harmos, joint and legw), apparently made by Paul and in N.T. only here and #Eph 4:16. Architectural metaphor. {Into a holy temple} (eis naon hagion). The whole structure with all the oikodomai. Another metaphor for the Kingdom of God with which compare Peter’s “spiritual house” (oikos pneumatikos) in which each is a living stone being built in (#1Pe 2:5).

And the translator’s of the NEV have this to say.

“Or “every building.” Although “every building” is a more natural translation of the Greek, it does not fit as naturally into the context, which (with its emphasis on corporate unity) seems to stress the idea of one building.”

David Campbell

They are viewing these passages through the same lense as you, not realizing the corporate unity exists within the institution of the local church. They are mind boggled by this, not knowing what it means.

David Rogers

It is odd to me that Robertson does not mention the Westcott-Hort text here:

?? ? ???? ????????

Maybe someone who understands these things a little better than I do can explain why.

Also, when you say NEV, are you referring to the New English Bible, the New International Version, or something else? You wouldn’t happen to have an internet link to that quote, would you?

David Campbell

I will answer your last rebuttal in a little while…got this on my phone.

Meant to say NET Bible…

They used the best manuscripts on the planet. Lots of footnotes like the one I mentioned about Ephesians 2:21.

Pauline Epistles done by

John D. Grassmick, Ph.D.
(University of Glasgow)

W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D.
(University of Sheffield)

Gregory J. Herrick, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)

Harold W. Hoehner, Ph.D.
(Cambridge University)

David K. Lowery, Ph.D.
(University of Aberdeen)

Jay E. Smith, Ph.D.
(Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

David Rogers

Thanks for the link!

I went there and found the NET’s translation:

“In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,”

as well as the additional accompanying note to the one you gave, on Eph. 2:21:

“Although several important witnesses (?1 A C P 6 81 326 1739c 1881) have ???? ? ???????? (pasa Jh oikodomh), instead of ???? ???????? (the reading of ?* B D F G ? 33 1739* Ï), the article is almost surely a scribal addition intended to clarify the meaning of the text, for with the article the meaning is unambiguously ‘the whole building.'”

It doesn’t look to me like the NET is a very strong witness in favor of your view. :)

David Campbell

Personally I think the addition of the definite article by the scribe serves to bolster my position. And based on how your professor translates the passage with the definite article…he would agree. Without the definite article, it naturally lends itself to “each several”, which is how the greatest N.T. scholar that ever lived translated it, but it perhaps could be “all the building”. The addition of the definite article lends itself to the translation your professor arrived at.

Ask your professor why Ephesians 3:15 is translated “every family”, when it could be translated “all the family”. This has the same construction as 2:21…but they go with every. Too bad they don’t have some theological errors to filter this one too.

Also, either way, “all the building” or “each several” both renderings refer to the institution Christ addressed and walked amongst in Rev. or particularly to Ephesus.

I will answer the rest of your stuff after dinner…

David Campbell

David Rogers

Just a small comment that (as I am sure you are aware) various important translations (such as NIV, KJV, Young’s Literal Translation, etc.) do have “all the family” (or something like it) as their translation in Eph. 3:15.

Tom Kelley

David Rogers said…
To be honest, I am having a hard time following all this about the church “in the abstract,” “as an institution,” etc. It seems to me that you sort of hop around from one understanding of the term to the other, according to which one best fits your paradigm.

David R.,
This is how it seems to me as well. Of course, it could just be that I am blinded by my grave ecclesiological errors and this incapable of understanding obvious Scriptural meaning. :)

I made a comment early on and then bowed out of the discussion, not being particularly interested in defending what I consider simply a matter of opinion on secondary or tertiary matters. But I have been reading all the comments. It has been an interesting exchange.

David C,
Frankly, I can’t see what the difference is between the concept of a “universal church” and the concept of “the family of God” or “all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. If we can affirm that all believers are united in Christ, then it seems to me mere semantics whether we use the word “church” to refer to that reality.

When I see people insisting that “church” always and only means “local”, and insisting that what might appear to be uses of the term in a more universal sense must be interpreted as references to “the institution of the local church”, I have to ask myself why this matter so much to them. The only reason I can see for this insistence is to defend the notion that “the local church” carries with it some sort of special authority, particularly in regards to the exercise of the ordinances. As I stated previously, I don’t see a direct and clear command or instruction associating the practices (or order) of baptism, church membership (whatever that means), and communion. Example and inference are finer in so far as they go, but if we insist on them carrying the same weight as direct command and instruction in the formation of major doctrine, we end up with the conclusions of the Campbellites regarding church music, etc.

I am more interested in those practices and doctrines which unite believers in love than those which divide them. I think Jesus is, too.

Benji Ramsaur

I think an issue is whether one believes that what the called out ones [ekklesia] are called out of is either:

1. Their literal homes


2. Something Spiritual [like darkness]

Benji Ramsaur

Here are the three categories that David C. gave for ekklesia in #49:

“Generic/Abstract, Particular, and Prospective (Assembly in Glory).”

However, I don’t think any of these categories fits with the way ekklesia is used in Ephesians 5:

25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Notice that the same church is both:

1. sanctified/cleansed


2. ultimately glorified.

I don’t think:

A. a Generic/Abstract church would be both #1 & #2 since the glorified church would not be an abstract church that finds concrete expression in a glorified local church. The glorified church will be much bigger than a mere local church.
B. a Particular church would be both #1 & #2 since the glorified church will be much bigger than a mere particular church.
C. a Prospective church would be both #1 & #2 since Ephesians communicates that the church in view will be sanctified. How can a “prospective” church be sanctified?

Benji Ramsaur

To elaborate a little more on C in comment #97.

I think [and correct me if I am wrong David C.] that David would interpret church in Ephesians 5 to be the Prospective church.

So the idea is that Jesus died for the prospective church that would be actual in glory. Now, if the text only referred to the glorified church, then David’s view would not have a problem.

However, the text not only refers to the glorified church but to the same church being actually sanctified during this age. And that is what I see as a problem for his view.

David’s view only allows for the actual church to exist in glory in Ephesians 5. However, I think the actual church must exist in this age in order for an actual sanctification to take place.

Again, correct me if I am wrong David C.

David Campbell

Mr. Rogers,

The problem with the A.T. Robertson post was it pasted incorrectly. Sorry about that.

The Family of God

-Become sons by birth (John 1:11-13)
-Children by faith (Ga. 3:26)
-Applies to O.T. sinners (Acts 10:43)(Romans 4:16)
-This family in Heaven and Earth (Eph. 3:15)

The family of God consists of all the regenerate from Adam until now.
We are born into the family, but we are added to the church after
baptism by immersion.(Acts 2:41) There is no other way in. Period.
We are not born into the church. Not one verse says such a thing.

After further review, I find my previous position regarding Ephesians 2:19 untenable and will now answer your question, yes, I consider fellow citizens with the saints, household of God, and body as all relating to the local church corporately and metaphorically as an institution. As an institution, it is one body, one bride, one commonwealth of citizens, one household, and one new man.

I Cor. 1:2

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ— their Lord and ours:”

I now believe this verse corporately unites the church at Corinth together with all believers in all local churches. How did Jesus address all who call on His name in Asia Minor? “Send it to the seven churches”. I find no evidence here for the existence of a Universal Church. To state that because all Christian are in Christ together means there is presently a Church Universal is puzzling to me. I am probably just missing your point. Could you explain why this supports a Universal Church? If this were a reference to some kind of entity outside of the local churches, I would deem this the family of God we are re-born into. I think to consider this as an implication for a Universal Church because all are in Christ Jesus would be in ignorance of the following verse. See also comment below about regarding Galatians 3:26.

I Thess. 2:14.
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews

Mr. Miller and Tom, you say you are having a hard time following me regarding abstract, institution, etc and Mr. Miller stated…”if 1 Cor. 12:27 clearly refers to a local church setting, then it only seems normal that 1 Cor. 12:28 does as well, which, would mean that you would expect to find all of the spiritual gifts enumerated there (including that of apostles) in the same local church.” Ok, I believe the Christians of this prior day would easily decipher what Paul is discussing here. All this might seem foreign to you since you didn’t grow up in the 1st century, so let me illustrate how easy to understand this would be using terms you clearly understand.

I state that Paul develops an idea in the abstract (vs13-26) and then particularly applies the concept he has illustrated to the church at Corinth(vs.27). You guys are insinuating my method to be convoluted, picking and choosing what fits my paradigm, to claim absolute right on the ordinances. Mr. Miller said that since a concept is developed in the abstract, and then particularly applied to the church at Corinth, I must then use the particular application again in 28, thus coming up with a plurality of apostles in a local church; thus an invalid method. Though you guys are pretty much saying this method is a convoluted attempt at forcing the text to say what I want it too, I’m sure you actually probably use it on a daily basis. If I were to make statements about “the dog”, you wouldn’t create a conglomeration of all dogs into one dog because you are familiar with the term. 1st century Christians, in the same way, would never do this with ecclesia, knowing actual locality is inherent regarding all participants.

Process used above with familiar contemporary terms. I hope this doesn’t seem to ridiculous ? Lets assume Paul writes a letter to your family about family function.

I David 1:2
To the family of God which is at the Miller residence. Grace to you.

I David 12:12-26
For as the house is one and has many parts, but all the parts of that one house, being many, so also is Christ. In one spirit were we all baptized unto one house-whether Jews or Greeks, and have all been made to drink into one spirit. For in fact the house is not one part but many. If the roof should say, “Because I am not a brick, I am, I am not of the house,” is it therefore not of the house? But now God has set the parts, each one of them, in the house just as He pleased. But now indeed there are many parts, yet one house. And the foundation cannot say to the wall, “I have no need of you”. That there should be no schism in the house. And if one part crumbles, all the parts crumble with it.

The ridiculous presentation above is an idea in the abstract relating to a metaphor that can be particularly applied to the institution of the family thus illustrating the importance of unity for each family unit.

I David 12:27-28 (particular application)
Now you (Miller family) are the/a house of Christ, and parts individually. And God has appointed these in the family; first husbands, second wives, third sons, after that infants, dogs, and cats.( I say “the/a because there is no definite article in the Greek text)

The above illustrates the easily identifiable transition from the particular application to the institution of the family. I hope this illustration didn’t insult your intelligence but I just wanted to show you how easy it to apply laws of language concerning family abstractly and particularly. The Greek mind concerning ecclesia had no problem understanding these applications, and did so intuitively, just as you do with familiar words. Our understanding of what a family is would never allow us to ignore the laws of language governing the use of “family” with the “house” metaphor and create an invisible, universal, family. If anyone desires to create a universal, invisible, mystical family with my illustration feel free to do so, but don’t do it with I Cor. 12:13.

Now, Mr. Miller, regarding what B.H. Carroll meant about “unto”. When I said I disagreed, I meant concerning the capitalization of Spirit in I Cor. 12:13. Regarding “unto”, however, I would agree this better prevents miscommunication on the matter. Allow me to mention a few passages, which upon review, convinced me water baptism is in view concerning the metaphor revealing the local church should function as a physical body, the body of Christ to be exact. (I Cor. 12:13)

Acts 19:3
And he (Paul) said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

Someone had perpetuated the baptism of John after his death when no longer valid. “Into John’s baptism” certainly doesn’t mean there was a mystical entity called “John’s Baptism”, but it simply demonstrates with whom they identified their baptism. They had not received the baptism which identifies us with Christ. They later were literally baptized in water for the purposes of identification with Christ. This is being “baptized into Christ”.

Roman 6:3-4
Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.

The ordinance of water baptism, given to Christ’s institution, the church (Great Commission delivered to the baptized congregation), identifies us with Christ, but does not “place” us into Christ and certainly is not a requirement for salvation. Neither did it literally make them “Christ” or a part of Christ, obviously. Also, they were “baptized into His death”. This is not literal, for certainly we can’t actually be “placed” into his death because it was an historically accomplished fact. Taken figuratively, our literal water baptism “identifies” us not only with Christ and His death, but also His burial and resurrection. In addition, we are identifying with the new life we are to lead. The literal water baptism, done out of obedience, identifies us with Christ and the new life. This is being “baptized into Christ”

Galatians 3:26-28
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

The water baptism administered by the churches of Galatia was also the means of identifying with Christ. Water baptism is an act of post-faith obedience and public demonstration of having put on Christ. We put on the glorious clothing of Christ for the whole world to see. Also, notice how the letter is addressed “to the churches of Galatia”. According to 3:28, all of these individuals are “one in Christ” for they are all “sons of God” (vs. 26). The letter is addressed to the institution of the church in Galatia (to the churches), and not to a Universal Invisible Church in Galatia. All those belonging to Christ’s institution in Galatia, are “sons of God through faith”, meaning they all belong to the family of God; which includes all of the regenerate since Adam. This family, however, is not the church we are added to after water baptism. Does this baptism “place” us into Christ? Certainly not. Does it somehow turn us into or “place” us into a mystical, invisible Christ? Definitely not. The literal water baptism signifies our public identification with the Lord. This is being “baptized into Christ.”

I Cor. 10:2
all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea

Notice, this passage is very near the one in question, and should be compared with 12:13 for proper digestion. Does this mean that they became a mystical, invisible Moses? Certainly not, but their figurative baptism in the cloud and sea, signified their separation from Egypt and their identification with the leader Moses, God’s mouthpiece. Did this baptism literally place them into Moses? Most definitely not. This figurative baptism identified them with Moses. This is “baptism into Moses”

I Cor. 12:13
For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

The uniting of Jew, Greek, slave, and free, exists within the body of Christ, which is the church. The particular application of this metaphor in vs. 27 allows us to know this applies wholly to the church at Corinth. If this is the baptism in the Holy Spirit by Jesus, it does not mean that they were literally created into The Body of Christ, any more than the baptisms mentioned above literally transformed people into entities known as “John’s Baptism”, “Christ”, “His Death”, or “Moses”. I assure you there is no universal, mystical, invisible entity called “John’s Baptism” and there is no universal, invisible, mystical entity called “Moses”. I am equally sure there is no universal, invisible, mystical body of Christ. From the erroneous Pentecost Theory comes the idea that all individuals are literally “placed” into the “Invisible Mystical Body of Christ” at salvation. That is not the case here, nor with the other baptisms mentioned above. The church was not born, it was built. While not in error because of individual application, it is erroneous because the idea is absolutely preposterous. Locality is to be just as inherent to “the body” ( a metaphor) as it is with “ecclesia”. Visibility is just as inherent to a physical body as it is with ecclesia. An invisible body in an oxymoron, and so is an invisible assembly. Actually, the most invisible quality of the Pentecost Theory is scriptural support. This fabricated, figment of the catholicized reformer’s imagination is entirely fictitious and utterly misleading. If the baptism in the Holy Spirit is in view, this refers to a figurative baptism of the church in the Spirit at Pentecost. Another figurative baptism would be the pain with which Jesus was baptized. It was a corporately figurative baptism “into one body” like that “into Moses”, for the purpose of “identification” and accreditation as God’s new instrument. This was accomplished through the visible appearance and supernatural empowerment associated with the atomic magnitude in which the Spirit came. Like the other baptisms mentioned, no entity creation or actual placement is involved. God’s new instrument, the body of Christ, is a metaphor for the church that 1st century Christians would have never allowed to usurp the laws of language concerning the use of ecclesia. The reason we should not interpret “ecclesia” to mean “called out” in any other way than its contemporary use is because, according to the scriptures, the only new thought was that it belonged to Christ. All other ideas remained contemporary. The body metaphor illustrates how an assembly is critically dependent upon unity. It will cease to breath and function in the absence.

Though many people ascribe themselves to the above interpretation, I on the other hand agree with Arthur Pink that water baptism is in view. Within the context, it is not violent to the text to interpret this as the “spirit” of the body to which they were baptized. Within the local church lies a “spirit of unity”. This exact idea is found in Phil. 1:27. The context being that of unity provides a solid foundation for this assertion. Like the verses on baptism illustrated above, this water baptism does not literally “place” us into the body, but identifies us with the body, the church. My belief is that not only are we identifying and clothing ourselves with Christ in baptism, but we are also identifying ourselves with His church.
This is “baptism into the body”.

I am out of time, Benji, I will respond to your comment when I have time, not sure when that will be as I’ve gotten busy.

God Bless,

David Campbell

David Campbell

Mr. Rogers,

“Just because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense.” Adrian Rogers

David Campbell

Benji, sorry for the delay, I’ve really enjoyed our discussion and hope that both of us have come away sharpened….I know I have. I wanted to spend more time and take greater care with this last response, but currently its not feasible. This will be my last post under the Mr. Worley’s “Landmarkist’s Really” thread, for not only do I feel I’m outwearing my welcome, but I’ve also become extremely busy and being the extrovert that I am, I don’t like discussions I don’t have enough time to tie up the loose ends to my own satisfaction. One shouldn’t allow the majority opinion to trump open-mindedness and self-investigation. Thank goodness Copernicus didn’t give into geocentricity. Personally, I ignored the ecclesiology I tried to present on this thread, probably poorly, for quite a while. It was only until I realized that many great minds actually taught it that I gave it a thorough investigation. I learned enough about it that it sat at the back of my mind for a long while until demonstrating superiority, IMHO.

Mr Rogers, I enjoyed our conversation as well and am grateful for the freedom we have in Christ and this blessed country to openly disagree while remaining brothers in Christ and fellow citizens. If you plan on responding to my last post; feel free to do so to make your points known to me, but I won’t have time to take this any further even though I’m sure we both want too. I’m aware of some supposed inconsistencies with what I’ve shared, but what doctrinal position outside of the fundamentals of the faith is without apparent difficulties? I’m not sure how how I mixed your name up with Miller; my apologies. Also, your father was an absolute giant as I’m sure you know. I had no idea you were his son. I’m sure you’ve led quite an interesting life and judging by what you have done so far with the time you have had on this earth; you are truly a sacrificial saint in Christ. I hope to one day impact as many lives with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as you have.

Benji, related to your question on Ephesians 5.

My former pastor gave me a pair of “local church” spectacles to put on when viewing all of the letters to the churches. This letter, for myself, is not difficult to understand in light of its circular purpose. Paul intended for this letter to be passed around amongst the churches, and is why the tone concerning “ecclesia” is of a more general nature than other letters. I read in one of your posts that you love “the baptist church”. The reference you made to baptists as an entity is similar to what Paul does in all of his N.T. letters. We both know there is not one unified baptist body composed of all baptists, but in reality, there are plain and simply baptist churches; some who unite for missions and education, and others solely independent of everything; including “common sense”:). The “mysterious” context of “Chirst and the church”, in my opinion, doesn’t allow for the deductions you have proposed which serve in refuting my position. The mood of the inspired Greek text concerning both “sanctify” and “present to Himself” is subjunctive relegating this to a state of supposition. This conjures elements of desire, possibility, and hypothesis; rather than actual fact. The passage is relating to Christ and the Assembled Glory Church as His Bride, to teach on relations of the husband and wife. The Local, Visible Bride of Christ, composed of the redeemed of all time, isn’t presented to Him and actual until Rev 21, and here is considered mysteriously proleptic in vs. 25, demonstrating that by His death He “might” sanctify, cleanse, and present a bride to Himself. This assembly is not a present reality, because something that can’t assemble, isn’t an ecclesia. One day Christ will receive to Himself, His eternal companion, and what a day that will be.

Enjoyed the discussion,

David Campbell

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