August 13, 2020

The Little Red Book

Only Scriptural Baptist churches can make a legitimate claim to an unbroken succession back to the time of Christ and the apostles. Christ only built one kind of church and that church is described in detail in the New Testament. The only churches meeting the requirements of that description today are true Baptist churches. Baptist churches have existed in every age since their founding by Christ, though they have not always been known by that name. We do not deny that there are those in other so-called “churches” that have been born again by the grace of God. We do deny, however, that these man-made organizations are true churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Landmark Baptist Church self-description

When I was just a boy, I found a little red book in my father’s drawer of religious literature. The book was called The Trail of Blood. It would be part of my world for many, many years to come.

I would continue to see the book around our home and then in church until I was given my own copy shortly after I was baptized.

The Trail of Blood was the primary popular expression of a belief called Baptist Landmarkism. Landmarkism was the Baptist version of apostolic succession; a way to prove that Baptists, not Roman Catholics, Campbellites or any other denomination, were the actual historical successors to Jesus.

The Trail of Blood fascinated me as a child because of a large chart in the middle of the booklet. The chart started with John the Baptist and Jesus, then the apostles, and then quickly began a list of names I’d never heard of at the time: Montanists, Cathari, Paulinists, etc. All of these led up to modern Baptists, who could confidently claim that they were the true church founded by Jesus Christ, as history proved.

The title of the book came from the assertion that these true Baptists had been almost extinguished in every age, and this was traced with variable red dots on the chart. Hence, The Trail of Blood.

Of course, The Trail of Blood is nonsense. The “historical precedents weren’t Baptists at all, and many of theme were heretical groups by any standard. Interestingly, The Trail of Blood remains in print, and is still sold in Lifeway stores here in Kentucky, despite its repeatedly disproven and discredited claims.

I remains in print because the concern with asserting that one group is the “true” church amid a collection of impostors is as strong as ever.

The Trail of Blood was indicative of my church’s contention that only one denomination could be called the “true” church. This anxiety over which denomination of all the denominations in our city was the true church ran deep through our community, its preaching, its teaching and relationships with other churches in our community.

Anxiety? Yes, anxiety about which denomination was the church Jesus founded was a major part of the spiritual atmosphere for the first two decades of my life. It took me many more years to come to terms with how this affected me. Only recently have I come to see what a subtly persistent poison this anxiety is been in my own life.

Why was my church so anxious about these matters? Why did a church in the largest denomination in the world- a church with close to a thousand in the pews on Sunday morning- have any concern at all about this issue of which church was the true church?

History and culture are part of the answer.

Historically, Baptists in our community had been drawn into these debates by the birth of the Campbellite movement. The Campbellite movement claimed to have restored the New Testament church in its simplicity. Almost a third of Baptist churches in Kentucky were claimed by the Campbellite movement. This confrontation and loss led to a Landmarkist counter-movement that answered the claims of restorationists with “historical evidence.”

The difference between Baptists and Campbellites is so slight- mostly in the area of baptisimal regeneration- that it’s amazing to know that these two denominations were bitter rivals for generations. Later Campbellite evolution went liberal (Disciples), Fundamentalist (Church of Christ) and generic evangelical (Bob Russell independent Christian Churches.)

But the historical debate with the Campbellites and their Church of Christ cousins did not create or sustain the anxiety over the true church that I experienced growing up. My church was barely aware of the claims of the Campbellite movement.

We were, however, deeply aware of the claims of Roman Catholicism.

The religious culture of our community was one-third Catholic and one-third Baptist. This was the day when a definable, pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic culture was still a reality, and this meant that Baptists and Roman Catholics still had limited contact with one another. Issues of inter-marriage and even public schooling were alive and well.

Our church’s Landmarkism was firmly aimed at the Roman Catholic claim to be the true church. Landmarkism taught us that not only could this not be true on historical grounds- just read the chart- but it could not be true because of the obvious mistreatment and persecution of Baptists by Catholics.

Stories of Catholic abuses were common in our church. When I dated a Catholic girl in high school, I was bombarded with the usual stories of what would happen if we married and had children. In our church, Catholic control of the religious world extended beyond the Catholic church to all Protestants, so we were as suspicious of the Methodists as we were the Roman Catholics.

This anxiety was at least partially about the knowledge that we weren’t the only people in the world claiming to be the church, and our many assertions about truth were not exclusive. There were Christians who drank beer, had dances, baptized babies and didn’t consider every movie to be the road to hell. There were other Christians out there who were ignoring the things we believed were absolutely vital.

But most importantly, the Roman Church asserted itself as the one true church, a claim our church believed uniquely belonged to us. Landmarkism was a way to stake out our claim as the only ones who were right and to convince ourselves and our children than our answers were God’s answers.

What about this same anxiety today? There are apparently still thousands and thousands of Christians who engage in constant polemics in the cause of establishing that their tradition, even their denomination, is the “true” church?

Despite the fact that our church did preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it followed another agenda as well: the idea that salvation is a gift to those who join the true church and stay with it. We did not hesitate to tell someone that they were not part of the church Jesus founded, but only a “religious society.”

Of course, I don’t believe these things today, but they have not left easily. In some ways, I’ve never ceased to have that anxiety. When a comment thread here at IM takes off in the direction of Lutheran vs. Catholic vs. Evangelicals vs. Emerging, my anxieties are alive and well. All the arguments for who has the true sacraments and who is the true church still shake me down.

I prefer the better way of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. The boundaries of the church are a generous view of baptism and the Eucharist. The substance of Christian belief is what has been believed in common by all Christians in all times and places. The essential center of each tradition contains what is most congenial to understanding the commitments of other traditions. The quest for the one, true denomination that all Christians must enter gives way to a critical appreciation of the church in its historical, cultural and geographic unity and diversity.

My problem is that while I can type this, it’s been far more difficult getting this into the deepest places of my emotional life. I am the most ecumenical person in my predictably fundamentalist Southern Baptist setting, but Catholic polemics and apologetics still throw me far off center. The boy who grew up in the Landmark environment and mindset is still alive inside the psychology of a man who works with Christians from every tradition and denomination.

This has been, hands down, the worst aspect of the blogosphere for me. From relentlessly critical Catholic apologists, to Lutherans defending their particular stance between Catholicism and Protestantism, to the narrow Calvinistic exclusivity of the Truly Reformed to the arrogant over-confidence of my own Southern Baptist denomination, my fellow Christians who are strongly committed to their own traditions tend to throw me into a defensive mindset that makes me ashamed of myself.

The anxiety over the true church has no place at all in the Jesus-centered spirituality that is the heart of my journey. It is my goal to love all other Christians, but my past and muddled present continue to get in the way.

Thanks to the Little Red Book, I’m still kind of a jerk.

Comments

  1. WebMonk says

    Well, I think I can lay your arguments to rest Michael. This may be painful to you and to others, but you are not part of the true Church that Christ founded.

    My denomination is that Church.

    That doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian. We are very generous in our inclusion of those who don’t agree with us – they are part of God’s family, but not members of the truly-practiced Church. We are the only ones who properly practice the sacraments, understand justification and sanctification, worship in the most God-honoring way, operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, and practice the love that Christians are supposed to have for everyone.

    Once you come to understand that our Church is the only true church, you will finally understand your place in the whole body of Christ and will want to join the true Church – mine. Until that day, I accept you as a brother Christian, but don’t you dare come anywhere near our Eucharist.

    I am the pastor and, so far, only member. We use the royal “we” because it makes us feel bigger.

    Peace and blessing to you,
    WebSnark

    er, I mean WebMonk.

  2. Michael,

    I was struck by the possibilities similarities between the book you describe in this post and a recent post on “The Catholic Luther” over at Inhabitatio Dei. In both situations, the idea of a “true” church seems primary. To what extent do you think such a concern is appropriate? Is this something that needs to be purged from our minds and hearts? Or is it something to be carefully worked into our thoughts on church?

  3. Dude….You SOOOOOOO got me with that one. We’re laughing hard around here….now.

    Awesome.

  4. It is a pristine example of denominational narcissism as well as insecurity. Every sinner who becomes born again is both a new creature and interconnected with every other born again person both living and dead.

    Landmarkism is almost dead, however the view that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church has been recently reconfirmed by Pope Benedict. This is not said with hate, but in truth and with a love for the Catholic people but ackowledging the unbiblical nature of that ecclesiastical system.

    Harsh and hateful words are counter productive, as you so noted, but so are kind words that compromise unpleasant realities.

  5. Bror Erickson says

    Michael,
    Thanks for the history, and the emotional honesty. I think every denomination has to grapple with this idea of the one Church in one way or another. Lutherans are no exception to that rule.
    For us Lutherans though, we will argue doctrine back and forth tirelessly. At least I do. I hate false doctrine. I see where it tends to lead. I’ve been terrorized with it myself, left wondering is my baptism valid? Have I done enough to prove my faith? you name it. I’ve watched my friends be led into despair and right out of the church, by a seemingly innocuouse doctrine. Luther himself equates false belief with despair, and other great shame and vice. So we hate doctrines that make baptism and the Lord’s Supper our work, rather than Christ’s gift.
    But one thing we Lutherans try to be careful about is thinking that we are going to heaven for being Lutheran, or that others aren’t part of THE Church, because they aren’t Lutheran. We are saved by the work of the Holy Spirit, who comes to us through the word. We figure then that whereever that word is spoke, the Holy Spirit is calling by the gospel, and enlightening with his gifts, and sanctifying Christ’s sheep. Even despite any false doctrine that may be accompanying it.

  6. Dan Inesanto says

    Just join the Lutheran church, though, and you can avoid all those dangerous false doctrines.

    Just join the Catholic church, and you are part of the true Church that will overcome all error.

    yadda, yadda, yadda

  7. Rick, as I was reading Michael’s post he word, “Narcissistic” kept popping up in my mind. I see that we are on the same page.

    Franky, I have so many good friends who do send me these well-meaning E-mails telling me that I’m in the “wrong” church. As one Missouri Lutheran said, in desperation, “Mike for the sake of your children, go to (x) church,” ( which was 60 miles away).

    I’m glad I’m served by a bigger God than that.

  8. I have meditated on what it may be like when we are living for eternity in the New Jerusalem with Jesus Christ. What reward will we have besides communion with Jesus Christ? There is only one other reward, I think: the people we have “led” to Jesus Christ during our lifetimes, the people they have “led” to Jesus Christ in their lifetimes, and so on. In this sense, the twelve apostles are the foundations of the New Jerusalem, because they were the very first preachers of the revealed Gospel.

    “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:4).

    Although we will receive rewards for the works we have done (1 Cor. 3:12-15), I do not think we will remember what we have not done. I also think that these works will be people we lead to the Lord and disciple.

    What does all of this mean in light your recent conversations about the true church, real presence, and whether someone is really reformed? There is a serious consequence to all of this. There are many Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. who will be with Jesus in eternity. I do not think any of us will remember our doctrinal fallacies at that point. Nor will we remember those of our fellow believers. However, our doctrinal fallacies can lead to less saved people. How?

    A person baptized as an infant, for example, may be led to believe he never needs to accept Jesus since he was saved as a baby. A person may be saved, but may be led to believe he never has to preach the Gospel or share Jesus with anyone, ever. I watched the JESUS Film with two friends, one saved and one not. The unsaved friend mouthed the sinner’s prayer word for word at the end. Was he saved? No, I think he said it because my other friend and I were witnessing to him all the time. Plus he had the hots for my other friend.

    Will it matter when I am with Jesus that I was baptized as an infant in the United Methodist, confirmed in elementary school, led through the sinner’s prayer in middle school at a Foursquare Gospel church, baptized by submersion in the name of Jesus Christ (not the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost) at a Sabbath Apostolic Holiness church? That I have been to so many churches, I can hardly remember the labels? That I almost became a card-carrying Catholic and Presbyterian (USA)? No, I will not remember any of that. Neither will I recall nor contemplate what I could have done for Jesus if I had let Him work through me more than I let Him work through me now.

    But…people may not be there who may have been there if I had evangelized and discipled others better than I do now. What if that Assemblies of God had been built up the street when I was young, and I had asked Jesus into my heart earlier? What if the youth pastor who led me to the Lord had not been laid off? Would I have learned more sooner? Would I have led more people to the Lord?

    Yes, this may sound anathema to the Reformed, and I believe only Jesus can lead others to Himself. But I disobey Him as well. What if He wanted to use me to lead that person to the Lord? to disciple that believer at that moment in that way? Bad doctrine and plain, old-fashioned sin can affect the eternal outcome, I believe, of so many people who, though we will not remember them if they do not come to Jesus, still, they will not be there when they could be there. Whom will we NOT know when we are with Jesus whom we could know if we had obeyed Him?

  9. Bror Erickson says

    Here is what I don’t get in the way all of this is handled. It is assumed that everyone in the argument must be wrong including one’s self. It is considered arrogant that one is actually convinced that his position is the correct one. Yet, am I to stand up on sunday morning and preach as the word of God something I am not convinced is true?
    Here in Utah we have people who wake up one morning and realize that they have been lied to by their religious leaders their whole entire life, that mormonism is a sham. They leave mormonism. All right and good. But then they do one more curious thing. They assume all other religions must be a sham too. you couldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. They also tend to believe that Christian churches teach the same thing that mormonism teaches. Perhaps the same thing happens amongst those in Christian churches that lose confidence in their particular denominations stance.
    If you aren’t convinced you are right about what God’s word says, maybe you ought not be teaching it. If you realized that you were mistaken about a given idea at one point and time, and maybe still are, that doesn’t mean everyone else has to be mistaken about it too.

  10. History doesn’t bear out the unity of the early church nearly to the degree Catholics and Orthodox would like us to think it does. Neither is there uniform ecclesiastical polity in the early church.

  11. Michael,

    I didn’t know anyone was still using the term “Campbellite.” And the “Bob Russell independent Christian Churches” was an interesting descriptor (yep, that’s my tribe — but I’m sure Bob might be a bit chagrined by the terminology).

    By the way, I love the podcast. Keep up the good work!

  12. I think that my denomination is the best one.

    Of course I do: If I didn’t think that, it wouldn’t be my denomination. I’d go and join the one that I did think was best instead.

    But it’s a looong leap from “the best available” to “the only true church”. I think it’s perfectly possible to subscribe to the former while being horrified by the latter.

  13. Bror,

    I’ve been reading Warraq’s book about Muslim apostates, and noticed the same thing. They tend to reject all religion rather than find a place in Christianity.

    I find comfort, for their souls and the Mormons as well, in the thought. “Those who reject Jesus, but continue to search for Truth, are still going toward Him.”

  14. Lifeway still sells it in Kentucky? That’s so odd, because it seems like every real historical Landmarkist that I’ve ever met (not the modern quasi-ones like Malcom Yarnell) are from Kentucky. What’s the deal?

  15. Campbellite is still in use, but Campbellites hate it, and prefer “Restoration Movement” or maybe “Stone-Campbell Movement” or possibly “The Right Ones.”

    You mean Alexander Campbell wasn’t correct, Michael? If doctrine was based on volume, the Sage of Bethany clearly punched above his weight class.

    Hey, i’m one of those squishy po-mo Disciples of Christ folk, but i do know my history and heritage. And i’ll admit many of my peers are pseudo-UUers, believing in “no more than one God.”

  16. Ky was one of the primary states for Landmark churches. And in West Ky, there are still many.

  17. This is strictly speculation, but could our tendency to see our own church as the ‘one true church’ be at all related to the obsession with position and authority that Jesus repeatedly had to deal with in the twelve disciples (does anyone see any signs that we’re any different?)? We may not be able to aspire to being seated at Christ’s left or right, but having our own group be the one true church isn’t much different.

  18. Campbellite. Haha, that gets me everytime.

  19. Michael,

    Thanks for the history lesson on Landmarkism and sharing about the soul-seizures that tradition has caused you over the years. I had never heard of Landmarkism until I started reading some of the SBC blogs and even then I still didn’t grasp what it was/is.

    Some neighbor kids talked about the trail of blood when I was a kid, but I thought it was why the doors of our church were red and there were red stains on Jesus’ hands above the altar. No wonder some of my neighborhood friends looked at me funny when I talked about church.

  20. Patrick Kyle says

    Michael,

    Thanks for the insight and the background on this one true church business. It was either a very brave thing or a very foolish thing you did in your previous post on union with Christ and the sacraments, facing your anxieties and being”shaken down”as you put it. If this has helped you overcome your anxieties and work through your own theology, it is a brave thing. Especially inviting a bunch of Lutherans to give it their best shot. A lot of these guys consider the TRs to be a pack of wusses when it comes to debate and polemics. If it has increased your anxiety and caused smoldering resentment against those convinced by their doctrine.. maybe its not so helpful.( However, I understand the itch that has to be scratched, regardless of the consequences.) This tension is probably a part of blogging and can’t be avoided.

    webmonk, Dan I, j michael jones,

    Clever… witty reparte’… nice and condescending.

    Michael issued an invitation and lifted his ban on trying to convert people to various respective brands of theology as long as substantive contribution was being made. What did you think would happen?
    These guys stepped forward and gave it their best shot. I think it was pretty light on the “convert to my side” stuff, and really heavy on the “explain what we believe side.” And some of these guys did an outstanding job too. You will have to look long and hard to find better explanations of the Lutheran position. Bror, John H,Larry, Rick Ritchie; these guys know their stuff and you would do well to pay attention to what they said, at least so you aren’t ignorant of what we believe. Considering how rough even inter-Lutheran dialogue can be, they were pretty gentle and considerate too.
    Its good to be convinced of your theology. I think the Lutheran theology is the best explication of the faith or I wouldn’t hold to it. Michael and all of you guys think your theology is superior to that of other denominations, or you would be in a different one.From the tone of your comments,you may lack conviction that your church has the best bead on the truth, but you are certainly convinced you are superior to the plebes that actually have conviction enough to try and convince others.
    Every denomination has that “we are the true visible church on Earth” crap, or else they have no reason for existence. Non-Denoms can be the worst because its subtle, and cloaked in “we are all in Christ” platitudes. If you are not convinced that your theology holds something vital for the church that is ignored or denied by the rest of Christ’s Body and not found elsewhere, then disband and join up with your brothers and sisters in other parts of the body and quit causing division. If your distinctives are not worth a split in the Body of Christ, then you need to go back to Rome or Constantinople. If they are worth a split in the body, then have the b@#!s to stand up and defend them, and don’t mock those who do.

  21. Michael,
    Thanks for the honesty and self-examination. There is so much that you write about that is relevant to what the church needs to grapple with. Funny I don’t hear much of this on Christian Radio?!

    Adventists and JW’s have also used some of the same groups to back up their view of Christian history. It seems like any group that was persecuted by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages is often included in the ancestry of a modern church that views Rome as its enemy. This is another version of the “an enemy of my enemy is my friend” phenomena.

    As a Catholic, I frequently hear the rants against the RCC, and especially its actions throughout history. History is both the root/trunk and thorn in the side of the RCC. Catholics are stuck with this history and tradition which catalogs both its sins and the actions of the Spirit over the years.

    But the point I want to make, is that Christianity needs a root and timeline, that belongs to all of Christianity not just the RCC. The Holy Spirit did not disappear or hide in just a few small splinter groups for centuries just to pop up after the Reformation or in “My church” “after a real good reading of the Bible.” Therefore this means that all of Christianity must somehow take honest ownership of Catholic history and not turn it into the enemy. Some groups do this, many do not, and they enjoy pointing their fingers saying, “look what they did – we would never do that.” But of course we all did “that” and do “that”.

  22. I’ve never heard of landmarkism at all. I guess I was to sheltered in my own denomination!

    I love your blog because I too have come to see that although there is some that divides us as Christians, there is far more that unites us.

    My journey as a Christian is challenged and encouraged by what other Christians bring to the table. I may not always agree, but it causes me to think about what I believe.

    I value others views, as much as I hope they can value others. We are Christians first, members of a denomination second.

    Thanks for you post and for your honesty that always comes through. Really appreciate your blog.

  23. Wow, I haven’t heard anyone talk about that book in years, and I thought I had the only copy! I had somehow gotten it when I was in high school and had pretty much accepted it as the “gospel” truth. It was only in the last couple of years that I heard that it wasn’t, so I can sympathize with your frustration.

    The terms you use “landmarkism” and “Campbellite” are unfamiliar to me, but the attitudes I recognize! They are all too familiar in the circles that I am a part of.

  24. I grew up church of Christ and it’s funny, but I never knew who Alexander Campbell was until I went to college. But I still remember spending Sunday School learning why all you guys were wrong and how to beat you in a debate(we CofCers loved our debates). Catholics, Baptists, Methodists – it didn’t really matter. Somehow all of you had read the clear instruction of Scripture wrongly and were on the fast track to Hell. Not that we were condemning you, no sir. That’s just what the Bible said, and there’s no arguing with that.

    And we had our own scarlet thread weaving back through the centuries, tying us to the 1st Century church. There was always a remnant God was preserving – us.

    I’m grateful that by God’s grace my Christian family has expanded over the years. I’m not quite so concerned if you were sprinkled, immersed, dipped 3 times or whatever as I once was. God is good that way.

    Thanks for the post, Michael.

  25. u2wesley says

    Michael:

    The Trail of Blood has been updated and repackaged.

    In a stellar marketing move, B&H is reissuing it under the title The Path of Plasma.

  26. carlton figg says

    To begin with, I do not believe that Jesus came down to earth to launch a new “church” or religion. Everybody is missing the most important point in the Bible, and that is that Jesus was born a Jew, lived the life of a Jew and died a Jew.

    Of course, there are those who will rush in with the argument that Jesus said: ” . . . thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”. The fact is that, in translation, this part of our scripture has been distorted. Jesus did not use the word “church” — the word He used was “ecclesia” (Greek) which means “gathering” or “following”.

    There are various verses in the Bible to establish that Jesus stood firmly by his birth-right as a Jew, the most pronounced being his instructions to the disciples, who were told to “go nowhere near the Gentiles” — but to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and tell them that the kingdom of God was near at hand.

    Jesus did not want a new religion. This fact is established in John (10:16) where he says: “I have other sheep (non-Jews) who do not belong to this fold (Jews)” And He goes on to express the desire to convert the non-Jews to Judaism so that “there will be one flock and one shepherd” !!

    So all this talk and arguments of the “true” church etc and etc boils down to a lot of hogwash. Jesus did not start a new religion, nor did he even mention the word “church”. People with vested interests did that — people with agendas of their own. As a metter of fact, they are still doing it !!

  27. aaron arledge says

    I believe Landmarkism is alive and well in Arkansas. They had some sort of vote at their convention last year that had something to do with it.

  28. Bror Erickson says

    So Carlton Figg,
    I’m to believe the disciple’s who followed Jesus and learned from him directly for a minimum of three years; the same disciples who recorded the life and saying of Jesus for us, got it wrong when they broke with the synagogue?
    You are only partially right, what Jesus did was fulfill the prophecies of Scripture. the Christians were not the ones who started the new religion. The Jews who rejected Christ as their savior, were the ones who started the new religion, by rejecting their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is Jesus.

  29. The first thing I noticed about The Chart (TM):

    The “False Church” timeline on the top hits ALL the Standard Anti-Catholic shticks and urban legends; Standard Anti-Catholic Rant, Type 75-B, without the outboard motor.

    Second thing I noticed:

    The Chart’s view of Church history is identical with that of the Mormons, Moonies, JWs, Adventists, IFBs, and a lot of Hyper-Fundie “splinter churches”:
    1) Christ founded a True Church that was Just Like Us.
    2) Within a generation or two after The Apostles, everything went Apostate (usually into Romish Popery). And this Churchianity/Mystery Whore of Babylon became the only game in town.
    3) Then Our Founder (of Our Denomination/splinter fellowship/cult) was Anointed by God to Return to the True New Testament Church.
    4) WE Are The Only True Church; all others are apostates and heretics and are all going to Hell.

    Note that this has a gap between Christ and The Apostles (who live in a sort of “holy history” indistinguishable from mythology) and When Our Clique Was Founded. Everyone in-between Got It Wrong.

  30. iMonk, thank you for your posts that particularly address those of us in the SBC. I appreciated your insight very much.

    I was introduced to the Trail of Blood several months ago by my Father-in-Law: “I’ve got this great book I want you to see!” He wanted to see if I could find it online and order some more copies for him. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t really interested in purchasing copies of this book.

    My FIL really enjoys reading, but I’m afraid he too often ends up reading stuff like “ToB”. Can someone suggest another book that might guide him a better direction? I’ve thought about something along the lines of “The Reformation for Armchair Theologians.” Any other suggestions?

  31. I’ve always enjoyed that passage. A college chum of mine, who was baptized as a teen in the Christian Church was forbidden membership in my San Antonio SBC congregation, citing his being baptized outside the One True Church. The associate pastor gave him a photocopy including the passage you quoted. Having grown up in a dispensationalist Baptist environment, I had somehow come to believe that one only needed to be baptized as a confessing believer. How wonderful to have this rectified with this beautiful, stunning argument of truth and clarity! Its strong embrace of church history spoke grace to both our minds in a powerful way, filled as they were with “church history” and documents of the “church fathers”.

    So he went and joined the other SBC church closer to the university, which would accept any baptism (although perhaps not the in absentia one that the LDS church does), and then transferred his membership. He’s now an elder in the SBC. The power of that one passage!

    Ah, the memories! Thanks for bringing back a flood of ridiculously good times!

  32. >Matt A. said: “Can someone suggest another book that might guide him a better direction?”

    Yep. Get him a copy of Baptist Successionism by James Edward McGoldrick. McGoldrick is a Baptist historian. McGoldrick pretty much proves that Baptists came out of the English Seperatist movement and date back to about 1600.

    McGoldrick is antidotal for ToB poisoning.

  33. Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus-Christ,
    I’m a french evangelist and my daughter wants preach the gospel in Saint Pierre, a small French island close of Canada. I want to help her when she will wants. If you want, you can pray for this !
    God bless you and guide you !
    Pray also for me for that Jesus Christ guide me, because I need too !
    THANK YOU VERY MUCH !
    My blog : http://thebible3.blogspot.com/
    Serge RAGONNAUD

  34. What reward will we have besides communion with Jesus Christ? There is only one other reward, I think: the people we have “led” to Jesus Christ during our lifetimes, the people they have “led” to Jesus Christ in their lifetimes, and so on. — Michael Rew

    Then beware of Wretched Urgency, the high-pressure manipulation to Save More Souls, Save More Souls, Save More Souls, etc.

    I used to be mixed up in a group that taught the only thing Christ will judge us on (once we’re saved) is How Many Souls Did You Win? And I saw the fruits of it, the constant high pressure and despair IMonk calls “Wretched Urgency”, the sheep-rustling (“Rededications”), the cutthroat one-upmanship of “Who Saved the most Souls? ME, not Thee!” (Leaving aside the fact that the Christian afterlife is supposed to be Resurrection of the Body, not Fluffy Cloud Heaven; just a “soul” is incomplete.)

    And everything else was neglected or brushed aside in the Wretched Urgency to Save Souls. What were they being Saved for? To Save Souls, of course. Christ as Amway Upline in a cosmic pyramid scheme.