LANDMARKISM vs. INTERDENOMINATIONALISM:
An Analysis of Some of the Doctrinal Errors of George Zeller and the Middletown Bible Church
A CRITIQUE Of And A REPLY To
“An Analysis of the Doctrinal Errors of Landmarkism”
As found at www.middletownbiblechurch.org/lochurch/Landmark.htm,
By Curtis Pugh
author of the attack against Landmarkism to which I reply is a zealous
writer. I do not think he is a thorough
or an accurate theologian, but it is not the purpose of this present piece to
enter into an attack against Mr. Zeller personally. The method “ad hominem,” i.e.
to attack the person rather than to answer his arguments, is not worthy of any
true Christian and so we only point out some facts about the man as they bear
on the subject at hand. Since this is
both a “critique” and a “reply” it should be expected that the methods and
statements of Mr. Zeller are open to criticism as they vary from Revealed
Truth. The reader should be aware that
the reader should be aware that Mr. Zeller holds to a typical
“interdenominational Bible church” view of Scripture. I can speak to this issue as one having
personal knowledge of that theological system because I for several years was
such an “interdenominational Bible church” pastor myself. I was trained in a “denominationally
unrelated” Bible college many years ago by men educated in such places as Moody
Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary,
In his introduction to the article which is found on his church’s website Mr. Zeller makes two statements that require attention. His first misleading statement is seen when he writes: “They also believe that a historic ‘Baptist succession’ may be traced from John the Baptist to modern Baptist churches in which believer’s baptism and Landmark principles have prevailed.” He pursues this false charge later in his article in what he calls error number 5 of the Landmarkers – we will deal with it more fully when we come to that part.
Of course all serious Bible students know that scriptural baptism began with John the Baptist and that John’s baptism was the only baptism experienced by the Lord Jesus Christ and all His apostles. Bible scholars are generally in agreement that John’s baptism has never been replaced and therefore is the only scriptural baptism existent today. Landmarkers do believe in a succession of New Testament Churches that have practiced what Mr. Zeller calls “Landmark principles.” But he wants us to think that missionary Baptists believe that John the Baptist started the Baptist churches. (I do not say “Baptist church” for no such thing exists!) Landmark missionary Baptists, to my knowledge, universally hold that the Lord Jesus Christ established His kind of Church during His earthly ministry as shall be shown from the Scriptures farther on in this article. We do not believe that John the Baptist started any kind of Church.
it seems to me that in his introduction, Mr. Zeller would have us perceive
something bad about J.R. Graves when he writes that he was the “propounder” of
Landmarkism. By this Mr. Zeller suggests
that it was in the days of
However, it is
obvious that Mr. Zeller is either ignorant of – or chooses to ignore – the
facts of Baptist history. Probably he is
just plain ignorant of the facts. When I
was in the interdenominational movement, we studied what was called “church
history” which was actually the history of the Harlot and her daughters (see
I think Mr. Zeller’s contempt for Landmarkers is seen in his sarcasm when he writes: “If you consider yourself to be a Landmark Baptist and if any of the following ‘errors’ do not apply to you, then you are to be commended.” Such a seemingly prideful position as he takes is typical of “Bible church” people. I well remember when I was captive to their system how we used to “look down our spiritual noses” at those “poor misled Baptists” and their narrow and shallow views.
As a busy preacher doing mission work in a former communist country I have little time to reply to such an enemy as Mr. Zeller. My situation is aggravated because of ongoing weaknesses due to health problems. However, since Mr. Zeller has fired first and hurled what we suppose are his best shots at Bible-truth, I dare to take pen in hand against his salvo. We will fire our rounds out of the Old Reliable Weapon, the Written Word of God and believe that the elect people of God will be satisfied that Mr. Zeller’s fortress is reduced to rubble and that he is routed from the field.
Error of Making the “One Baptism” of
reader will notice that Mr. Zeller practices an amazing feat of circular
reasoning, basing his major propositions on statements he has not yet
proved. When he does this his
conclusions fail completely.
Furthermore, he displays in this section of his a most careless method
of Bible interpretation. He assumes that
Paul, the author of Ephesians, is writing to a “universal, invisible church” –
and by that he wants us to understand that he means every child of God. (He assumes such a “church” exists and does
not bother here to prove it, so his argument falls flat, being based as it is
on an unproved premise.) But he goes
beyond carelessness and instead of dealing with the passage accurately, he says
that Paul is writing about the common experiences of every believer when it is
obvious that Paul is writing about the common experiences of the members of the
There is indeed a vital union between Christ and every true believer! This is clearly taught in the Bible, but the Scriptures do not teach that every believer that ever has lived or ever shall live has a vital union with every other true believer. Such an idea approaches unto some kind of mysticism. He misses completely Paul’s pointed message to this congregation as to how they should live together and serve together as one because of the things they share in common. Instead he theorizes on some kind of universal unity he imagines is taught in the Bible.
He tries to say that the “one baptism” of Eph. 4:5 is not water baptism because “Water baptism is not something that all saved persons share in common.” But he fails to note that Paul was writing to a (local) Church of the New Testament sort and “water baptism” was something that they indeed all did share in common! So Mr. Zeller gets his exercise by jumping to the conclusion that Paul is writing to every saved person in the world when in fact, Paul wrote to a specific (local) Church.
He goes on to cite
But let us go
back to Mr. Zeller’s treatment of
did Paul really mean in this passage? In
Ephesians chapter 4 Paul cites 7 things that give unity to the members of the
New Testament kind of Church to which he wrote.
This Church was located in
course you understand that Mr. Zeller does not really believe in only “one
baptism.” He skirts the real issue here
– namely that at the date in which Paul wrote Ephesians, there was indeed only
one kind of baptism – i.e. water baptism.
Whatever you believe at this moment about the word “baptism,” Paul said
there was only one! Mr. Zeller, on the
other hand, believes in two baptisms – one real (water baptism) and the other
an imagined “Spirit-baptism.” But we
will deal with “Spirit-baptisms” later.
So in his argument for such a “spirit baptism” Mr. Zeller reveals that
he does not believe what Paul wrote, for Paul wrote that there is only one (kind)
of baptism. Mr. Zeller, you must make a
choice: Is the one baptism Paul wrote about water baptism or spirit
baptism? Paul said there was only one
kind! Which kind is it? You cannot have two or more kinds of baptism
and believe what Paul wrote in
But what to the scholars say? Are the commentators in agreement with Mr. Zeller? The old scholars are not infallible, but ought to be considered before bringing in a doctrine that is clearly something new. Surely some among the old ones were spiritual enough, erudite enough, clear-thinking enough to have seen what Mr. Zeller sees or says he sees. Let us take a survey of well-known commentators on this “one baptism.”
Barnes, a Methodist I believe, says
in commenting on
Even John Calvin says: “One baptism, This does not mean that Christian baptism is not to be administered more than once, but that one baptism is common to all…” So Calvin says Eph. 4:5 refers to water baptism – and interestingly enough, allows for “re-baptism,” a thing our forefathers always disallowed.
The well known John Gill wrote: “…there were divers baptisms under the law, but there is but one baptism under the Gospel; for John’s and Christ’s are the same: there are, besides, figurative or metaphorical ones, which are so in an improper sense, as the baptism of the Spirit, and the baptism of blood, or of sufferings; but there is but one baptism, literally and properly so called, which is water baptism.”
The renowned Matthew Henry wrote on this verse: “One baptism, by which we profess our faith, being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…”
And the great Greek language scholar A.T. Robertson says regarding this verse, “There is only one act of baptism for all (Jews and Gentiles) who confess Christ by means of this symbol, not that they are made disciples by this one act, but merely so profess him, put Christ on publicly by this ordinance.”
There you have it!
Barnes, Calvin, Gill, Matthew Henry, and A.T. Robertson all agree in
saying that Mr. Zeller is out of step with the Bible in his view of
we conclude that in this section of his treatise Mr. Zeller (1) violates sound
rules of biblical interpretation, (2) pretends without evidence that Paul
writes to some kind of universal, invisible church in Ephesians chapter four
instead of to a real New Testament kind of Church, (3) bases his argument on
the existence and supposed “Spirit-baptism” common to all the saved ones – a
thing he has not yet nor cannot ever prove, (4) opposes the clear statement of
Paul that there exists only one kind of baptism by insisting that there are two
kinds, and (5) flies in the face of renowned commentators and scholars in his
insistence that the “one baptism” of
So who is in error here? Is it the Landmark Baptists who insist on understanding Paul’s words in the light of the context in which they were written? Or does the error belong to Mr. Zeller who in zeal for his view disregards all sensible rules of Bible interpretation? We leave the conclusion to the thoughtful reader who will doubtless see the error of Mr. Zeller.
“2) The Error of Understanding
Again, the first thing Mr. Zeller does is jump the boundaries of sound interpretation by saying that “First we should notice that this baptism is the experience of every believer…” This is just poor scholarship or a deliberate attempt to deceive his readers! The baptism about which Paul writes is his own experience and the experience of those to whom he writes. When Paul writes “we” he includes himself and those to whom he was writing. Honesty demands that you go no further than that with his words.
Let me illustrate.
If I wrote, for example, “I will pick you up at at your office and we will drive to the
Bible conference.” You do not understand
that the “we” in the last part of that sentence refers to all who might read
that sentence. You, a sensible person,
understand that the “we” refers to (1) the writer, and (2) the person or
persons addressed. To make the “we” mean
all who might read these words for the next 2,000 years is an absurdity. But Mr. Zeller takes the “we” of
What Paul is saying in this verse is that he had been
baptized in water and so also in a similar manner had the members of the local,
New Testament Church in
Mr. Zeller insists that this baptism is a
Spirit-baptism and puts all believers into one “body.” He does not deal honestly with the metaphors
used to teach us about the Church.
Obviously the term “body” is a metaphor or word picture designed to
convey spiritual truth. We Landmark
Baptists rejoice in the truth that every
The word “body” is one of several metaphors (word pictures) used to describe a New Testament kind of Church. ”Chaste virgin” is another as are “building,” “temple,” etc. Notice that all these metaphors are all local in nature. Nobody ever heard of a “universal building” or a “universal body.” Using such terms as Mr. Zeller does is contradictory to the nature of the very words used and also contrary to logic. A “building” which exists only in bricks and stones and bits of mortar scattered throughout the age of grace and around the world cannot be conceived to be a “building” in any real or useful sense. Such a thing would have no real existence as parts of it are dead and parts are yet to be saved and thus in his kind of “body.”
“Body” is clearly a metaphor used to portray how a local Church is to be a tool of service to its functional Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Mr. Zeller’s mystical, invisible, universal “body” – if such a thing really existed – would be grisly body-parts scattered over both time and space and even into Heaven itself – not a body at all. Such a “body” as Mr. Zeller sets before us has never accomplished anything. It has never met together, heard a sermon, observed a scriptural ordinance, sent out a missionary, ordained a preacher, disciplined a wayward member, or done anything that a real Church-body ought to do and can do. It is an absolutely useless thing, necessary and suitable only to Protestant theology. In point of fact, there is no such thing taught in the Bible! Mr. Zeller’s universal “body” exists only in the theological briefcases and heads of those Protestants who need such a “universal church” – a subject we will deal with farther along in this article.
Mr. Zeller then proceeds to argue that this verse must of necessity not mean water baptism because water is not mentioned! This would be laughable if it were not written as a serious argument. As a matter of fact, in the King James Bible, the word “baptism” appears 22 times and not even in one single instance does “water” occur in the verse that contains that word and sometimes does not appear in the verses that make up the context. Would Mr. Zeller have us believe because “water” does not occur in these verses that the word “baptism” used in them means something other than water baptism? If his argument is to “hold water” (pardon the pun) he must insist that these other verses have nothing to do with water baptism either. Of course consistency does not appear to be Mr. Zeller’s strong point and he dare not be consistent with his own argument when dealing with other verses on baptism.
We are in perfect agreement with Mr. Zeller that when a sinner is regenerated he is placed into Christ. However, to make Christ the element into which the person is immersed and the Spirit of God the administrator of such a “mystical baptism” is without a biblical basis. Furthermore, it is a perversion of what John the Baptist prophesied that Christ would do.
But what is the meaning of
Consider what the theologian Louis Berkhof (not a Baptist) wrote about the pseudo-science of arguing from the original languages based on dictionary definitions – and picking and choosing a particular definition given by some of them – what I have called “Greek-i-fying:”
“It is necessary to bear in mind that the Lexicons are not absolutely reliable, and that they are least so, when they descend to particulars. They merely embody those results of the exegetical labours of various interpreters that commended themselves to the discriminating judgment of the lexicographer, and often reveal a difference of opinion. It is quite possible, and in some cases perfectly evident, that the choice of a meaning was determined by dogmatical bias… If the interpreter has any reason to doubt the meaning of a word, as given by the Lexicon, he will have to investigate for himself.” (PRINCIPLES OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION, Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1950), pp. 68, 69.
First of all
notice that this verse teaches that whatever “baptism” means, it is brought
about by the Holy Spirit. But here is
the question: Does this require that the Holy Spirit “baptize” someone or that
He brings about their baptism? A similar
grammatical construction with
Of course non-mystically minded people, people who do
not have a theological axe to grind, understand that the “body” of
Next Mr. Zeller becomes confused to the point that he
would confuse the reader. He actually
writes that this “Spirit-baptism” was predicted by John the Baptist in
John the Baptist in his prophecy (Matt. ) spoke about the coming Jewish feast day of Pentecost. On that day the Risen, Glorified Christ did indeed plunge His little Church into the Holy Spirit, empowering them for spiritual service. Mr. Zeller says nothing of Christ being the Administrator, but rather that the Holy Spirit is the Administrator. He makes this sweeping change without any biblical authority. Such deliberate changing of the meaning of plain words is basic unfaithfulness to the Word of God and leads to confusion rather than understanding. We say shame on Mr. Zeller for such unscrupulous and careless handling of the Word of God!
Here are the facts. The Greek word translated “with” in the phrase “with the Holy Ghost” is the little Greek word transliterated as “en” and is translated 1,902 times in your King James Bible as “in.” It is translated according to Mr. James Strong as “by” 163 times, “with” 140 times, “among” 117 times, “at” 113 times, “on” 62 times, “through” 39 times, and is used miscellaneously 265 times. To do as Mr. Zeller does and insist that the word “with” should be changed to “by” thus trying to make the Holy Spirit the Administrator of this unfelt, unknown, un-experienced “Spirit baptism” is without any solid foundation, to say the least. Again, he has “Greek-i-fied” the Bible trying to prove a point that cannot be proved.
Reliable commentators are divided in their views on
A.T. Robertson, renowned Greek scholar, wrote about
So, we ask again: Who is right on this point? Is it Mr. Zeller with his insistence that there exists a universal “body” entered into by a “Spirit-baptism” without having proved the existence of either? Or are Landmarkers more consistent with Scripture by believing that the Holy Spirit leads men and women to be baptized in water and thus become members of a real Church-body? Is Mr. Zeller right in believing in two kinds of baptism or are Paul and the Landmarkers right in insisting that there is only one (kind) of baptism – a real, normal, scriptural baptism in the usual element – water? Surely to any thinking person, Mr. Zeller’s contradiction of Paul’s plain statement that there is only one (kind) of baptism shows that his whole argument is in error.
“3) The Error of Beginning the Church before Pentecost and before the Cross.”
Mr. Zeller continues his practice of circular reasoning, insisting that the “body” and the “church” are both universal and that if we can figure out when the Spirit first baptized believers into this universal church or universal body we can know when the church began. But he has not demonstrated satisfactorily that either the body or the church is universal. So his major premise is unproved and therefore his entire proposition fails.
What is the nature of that entity called in the Greek
the “ecclesia” (sometimes spelled “ekklesia”)?
Is there a clear and simple way to understand the meaning of the word as
Christ and His disciples used it and understood it’s
meaning? Can we know what Paul
understood by this word “ecclesia” and what he meant when he used it? The answer is, yes, the English reader can
know the truth of the matter. B.H.
Carroll, in his two published seminary lectures proves that “ecclesia” always
means a local, functioning assembly except for a very few times when used in an
ideological, conceptual or generic sense.
(His work published in English for many years is known as EKKLESIA – THE
CHURCH and is available in the
The plain facts are these: The word “ecclesia”
appears in the Greek New Testament 117 times.
It is usually translated in the singular as “church” and sometimes as
the plural “churches.” But it is never
used of a mystical, universal “church” that includes all of the saved. All the saved together constitute the family
of God, but not the
Consider this: The Lord Jesus Christ taught many
parables about the present phase of His kingdom. These were designed to teach that the kingdom
was different in nature to the ideas held by the Jews of His time. For instance, the Jews expected that the
entire Jewish nation would enter the kingdom (cf.
Mr. Zeller would have us believe that the church
began on the day of Pentecost – 50 days after the Lord suffered on
If the church started on that Pentecost, she has no New Testament ordinances. She has to reach back into the old dispensation for her ordinances for both baptism and the Lord’s Supper were instituted prior to Mr. Zeller’s supposed birthday of the church. Not only that, but the church was commissioned before she existed, according to Mr. Zeller. And the careful Bible reader will notice that She was commissioned in words used to indicate that She did exist at the time of commissioning. Strange, isn’t it, that Mr. Zeller’s New Testament Church has ordinances from a previous dispensation! And even stranger still is the idea that a non-existent church was given the Great Commission! But that is Mr. Zeller’s position when he insists that the church was born on Pentecost.
Mr. Zeller insists that the statement of our Lord
The nature of a church – a local, functioning assembly called together to conduct business – is consistent with the fact that Jesus called certain men to be with Him. Thus they were a gathered, local assembly and they functioned in an organized way as we shall show. This was the kind of real Church that Jesus built!
Bro. S.E. Anderson in one of his books lists 21 things that Christ’s (local) Church had before Pentecost. We have already pointed out that they had baptism and the Lord’s Supper before Pentecost – Church ordinances before there was a church! We have also pointed out that they had the Great Commission before they existed, according to Mr. Zeller’s “Pentecost birthday” theory. Strange! But we will furnish you with Bro. Anderson’s complete list. Here it is.
Believers before Pentecost had the Gospel. (Matt. 4:23;
2. Believers before Pentecost were genuinely converted. (Luke 1:15-17; 19:1-10)
3. Believers before Pentecost were baptized after conversion. (Matt. 3:6-8)
4. Believers before Pentecost had Christ as their Head. (Matt. 23:8)
5. Believers before Pentecost were instructed in Church polity. (Matt. 18:15-20)
6. Believers before Pentecost were ordained. (John 15:16)
7. Believers before Pentecost were commissioned (Matt. 28:16-20)
8. Believers before Pentecost were organized enough for their needs. (John 13:29)
9. Believers before Pentecost had a missions program. (Matt. 10:1- 11:1)
10. Believers before Pentecost had the essentials of church-life. (Evangelism, service and worship, and the presence of Christ among them) (Matt. 4:9; )
11. Believers before Pentecost had qualified pastors. (John 21:15-17)
12. Believers before Pentecost had the Lord’s Supper. (Matt. 26:26-30)
13. Believers before Pentecost had the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22)
14. Believers before Pentecost had Divine power to do Christ’s work. (Luke 9:1)
15. Believers before Pentecost sang “in the midst of the church.” (compare Heb. ; with Matt. 26:30)
16. Believers before Pentecost had prayer meetings. (Acts )
17. Believers before Pentecost had business meetings. (Acts 1:15-26)
Believers before Pentecost had a membership
roll. (Matt. 10:2-4;
19. Believers before Pentecost were united into a church in such a way that they could be “added unto.” (Acts 2:1 & 41)
Believers before Pentecost had Christ as their
Foundation and Corner Stone (Matt: ;
Believers before Pentecost had Christ for a time
as their pastor (“poimen”). Eph.
Now we raise this question: What did the church have after Pentecost that she did not have before Pentecost? She lacked one thing prior to Pentecost: The public testimony of God’s power. This was shown to all observers when Christ, the Divine Administrator, immersed His waiting Church into the Holy Spirit with demonstrable power as seen on that day of Pentecost. Prior to Pentecost she existed and lacked nothing that she gained on Pentecost other than that public testimony of Divine favor. So it was with the temple built by Solomon. It was complete and existed prior to the time the visible glory of the Lord filled the house. It was a real temple fitted for the worship and service of God, lacking only the visible Presence of God. (See 1 Kings chap. 8). And the Lord’s Church, prior to Pentecost, was a real, functioning Church, lacking only the manifestation of the glory and power of God. And that lack was filled on Pentecost, once, never to be repeated.
Mr. Zeller claims that believers before Pentecost did
not have the Holy Spirit, but we read these words in
Every believer is a “dispensationalist” whether you
call yourself that or not, because everybody recognizes that God has dealt with
His people differently in different ages or periods of time. I doubt very much that anyone who reads this
took a living lamb to a temple this past Saturday and laid his hands on the
animal and then confessed his sins.
Everyone recognizes that animal sacrifices as a type of Christ have
ceased now that the reality has come and fulfilled His work on the hill called
But when did that Old Testament system, that Law
system, end. I know that “… Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every
one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4) However, this verse speaks of personal
righteousness and not the end of the Old Testament Law system. Our quest is to find out what the Word of God
says, for only the Bible is our safe and sure Guide in matters of spiritual
truth. What saith the Scriptures? It does not really matter what John Nelson
Darby said, or Coats, or Kelley, or any of that sect named Plymouth
Brethren. It does not matter what C.I.
Scofield put in his Bible notes or Dallas Seminary teaches nor even what Mr.
George Zeller says. The Bible says: “The law and the prophets were
until John: since that time the
John the Baptist is a perplexing dilemma to an interdenominationalist such as Mr. Zeller! I heard one of their great ones, now deceased, Dr. J. Vernon McGee say, “John the Baptist was an Old Testament prophet that stepped out onto the New Testament stage.” That is about the best that interdenominational theology can do with John! He always messes up their system of dispensational charts and theories. He just cannot be made to “fit” into their scheme of things. But Jesus said, to the contrary of what Dr. McGee and others have said, “But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.” (Luke 7:16) So John was much more than a prophet! You cannot be an honest student of the Bible and merely relegate John to the Old Testament. The Scriptures certainly do not relegate him to that age as we shall show.
Jesus also said that something began with John the Baptist. His words were: “…since that time the
The British Baptist historian Robert Robinson
writes as follows in his ECCLESIASTICAL RESEARCHES (dated 1792 and
republished by Church History Research & Archives,
“The new economy began with
the baptism of John. The evangelist
Mark expressly says so [Mark 1:1] …However it be, the
conception and the birth of Jesus had no influence on the Jewish economy: it
was the baptism of John that opened a new state of religion; and before this
the new world, or more properly the new age did not begin. …Certainly John
will rise from the dead… We need not wait till that day to know the true character
of John, for, as no name of antiquity is less suspected, or more applauded both
by Jews and Christians than his, so an infallible judge hath already declared,
that John was burning and a shining light, that his authority to baptize was
from heaven, and that among them, that were born of women, there had not risen
a greater than John the Baptist.” [John ;
Strange, is it not, that Robert Robinson, English Baptist, espoused “Landmark views” almost 100 years prior to the rise of J.R. Graves and the coining of the term “Landmarkism” itself. Is this not another demonstration that “Landmarkism” is the historic doctrine and practice of conservative, mainline Baptists?
John the Baptist began a new message and that message was continued by the Lord Jesus Christ and all God-called New Testament preachers. This fact is easily demonstrated in the Bible. Consider the following passages.
1. John came preaching “repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2) This was before Pentecost. Notice what John’s message was.
2. After Jesus’ baptism and John’s imprisonment, we read: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17) This was before Pentecost. Notice that Jesus continued preaching the same message that John had first preached. Thus it is shown that Jesus did not initiate the preaching of the gospel, but continued the message of John.
is the same message preached by the apostles and other New Testament preachers
for we read: “But when they believed Philip preaching the things
preached this same kingdom message throughout his ministry. “And he [Paul] went into the synagogue,
and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the
things concerning the
No doubt some hyper-dispensationalist will say
that we do not preach the gospel of the kingdom today: that instead we preach
the gospel of the grace of God. I submit
to you that properly understood and properly proclaimed they are one and the
same gospel. This is demonstrated by
Paul’s clear statement in
Lord Jesus said the law ended with John the Baptist and the preaching of the
Gospel began with him. We have shown
that this same kingdom Gospel was preached by New Testament era preachers. And we have shown that the preaching of the
Gospel of the grace of God is the same thing as the preaching of the
But what was the purpose of the ministry of John the
Baptist? Do the Scriptures tell us what his
purpose was? What did he
We are greatly indebted to Baptist elder Chuck Hunt, pastor of the Pleasant View Baptist Church, Bromley, Kentucky, U.S.A. for allowing us to quote from his unfinished, and yet unpublished work on this great subject. The concepts set forth in this little piece are, we believe, first of all Biblical and secondly, of great importance. We look forward to the publication of Brother Hunt’s completed work.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are from the work of Brother Hunt as noted above.
The Tract Itself
“The Bible is filled with similes, metaphors, parables, and it even has its place for allegories. A real possibility exists of wrongfully associating one of these literary devices uniquely developed within a particular context with a teaching foreign to that context. In which case, neither the metaphor nor the incorrectly associated truth is given due regard, and improper deductions can be drawn from the carelessly associated metaphor that color that particular doctrine with shades of confusion. The elucidation the metaphor should have added is also lost. The teaching of an organic and vital union to Jesus Christ is a truly biblical teaching that is glorious and is demonstrated in Jesus’ metaphor of the vine and the branches, but the Pauline metaphor of Jesus Christ as the head of the body does not teach this truth. The purpose of this book” (pastor Hunt’s book – ed.) “is to present the nature and meaning of the metaphor of Jesus Christ as head of His body, the church, while consistently honoring the grammatical historical method of interpretation.”
Let it be clear to every reader: the great truth that every true believer has a vital union to the Lord Jesus Christ is not in question. The Bible clearly teaches this great doctrine and we believe it. However, the metaphor of Christ as head of the body is not designed to teach this truth and is greatly misleading, bringing with it misconceptions as to the nature and importance of the church.
If Christ is the organic head of the church as in the
first illustration above, the church is only the trunk. Neither Christ is complete,
for He is only a head, and neither is the church complete for it is only
a trunk and not a complete body. But
this view is absolutely contrary to Paul’s teaching in
“If one interprets the head-body metaphor in
“Not only does this head-body metaphor as one body
(the organic idea) weaken the doctrine of our union to Jesus Christ, but
interpreting it in this way causes one to miss the beauty of what is meant to
be portrayed when viewed correctly… consider
Perhaps here we should interject this important biblical fact. All, we repeat, all the metaphors used to help us understand the nature and function of the church are local in nature. A bride is local, a building is local, a temple is local and a body is necessarily local in nature. Ten, or a thousand, or a million body parts scattered throughout time and throughout the world does not, indeed cannot in any sense constitute a body! This is consistent with the fact that the church is a local bride, building, temple and body. If you desire to learn how the Greek word ecclesia (church) is consistently used in the New Testament and as well in the Septuagint, the Apocrypha and also in classical Greek usage, contact us for a free copy of B.H. Carroll’s ECCLESIA – THE CHURCH in the Romanian language. Except for a few places where ecclesia is used of a concept or idea (generic use) the word ecclesia always is used of a real, organized, official gathering of people in a place. To make Christ the head of a universal, invisible, mystical “body” in an organic sense is to miss the real and very practical teaching of the New Testament. Christ is the real, functioning head over each of his churches – that is the truth taught by the New Testament.
“First Corinthians helps us understand this truth, ”But now hath God set the members every one of
them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”
This action is by the work of the Holy Spirit as verse 13 explains, “For
by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” The Holy Spirit leads those saved to a
particular assembly to be baptized in water and become a functioning member of
a body of Christ. So in salvation we are
regenerated, gifted, and designed as a particular member of a body as fashioned
by God’s design, but we do not fulfill that purpose until we leave the world
and join a body of Christ.” (To teach that there is more than one kind church
entered by more than one kind of baptism – eg. “water
baptism” and “spirit baptism” – is not only a misinterpretation of
“There is no universal, invisible body that we instantly become a member of at the moment of salvation. This whole doctrine finds its strength in a misunderstanding of the head-body metaphor. The properly understood metaphor depicts a union that is not organic and vital, but relational and functional. It is not depicting our salvational union of being placed in Christ, but it is depicting a corporate functional union of believers set by God in a metaphorical body which is an organized assembly of believers, His church. There is as much difference between being in Christ and being in the body of Christ as there is between the Son of God and the Son of God incarnate who upon earth was local and visible and still is as the Lord in Heaven. Being in Christ refers to salvation, and being in the body of Christ refers to a work of sanctification; wherein a divinely organized assembly of believers corporately exercises and displays the diverse gifts of Christ in the unity created by the Holy Spirit.”
“The composite head-body metaphor is the myth that needs to be separated from the real metaphor of a complete body (his church) over which Jesus Christ presides as head. Each true New Testament church is a body which is his by possession and relationship and to which He is the Head.” (End of tract.)
With the understanding in mind that Christ is NOT an organic “Head” attached to a headless “body” but is the real functioning Head over each of His Churches, we shall proceed to answer Mr. Zeller’s questions as he numbered them.
“…1. If Christ is the Head of all things to the church, and if the church is composed only of local Landmark Baptist churches, then does this mean that true believers who are not part of Landmark congregations HAVE NO HEAD? How can a true believer be without Christ as Head?” Mr. Zeller shows his lack of understanding again. No Landmarker ever taught that “the church is composed only of Landmark congregations.” We believe in Churches – not a “church.” Also Mr. Zeller demonstrates that he is confused about the nature of the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. He would have us believe that his “universal, invisible body” is a headless thing somehow attached to Christ who is a bodiless Head. But we have shown above that the organic Headship of Christ is not a scriptural concept at all. Christ is a real functioning Head over His churches! He is complete and not dependent upon the Churches to sustain Him! He governs them as their only Head and Lawgiver. He is Head over His Churches as a husband is head over his wife.
True New Testament Churches have no dictator-pastors or governing boards or denominational overlords to rule over them. They are pure, independent democracies governed by their Head, the Lord Jesus as revealed in His Word. Saved men and women who are disobedient to Christ for a time have rejected His Headship over them and so in that sense have no head. Consider this: the Bible says that Christ is the “head of all principality and power.” (Colossians ), but Satan and his demons are not voluntarily subject to Christ so in a sense have rejected His headship. While Christ exercises absolute sovereignty over them it would not be proper to speak of Christ as being their Head in the same way He is Head over His true Churches. In fact, those individuals who are living in rebellion to Christ by rejecting baptism administered by a scriptural administrator (a true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ) are rebels and so they have no functioning Head! They exist outside a true New Testament body (Church) and Christ is “the Head over all things to the church.” Nowhere does the Bible say that Christ is the Head over rebellious wayward church members. Nor does this Scripture talk about Christ being the Head over individual believers. Mr. Zeller keeps confusing “churches” with individual believers.
“…2. Are only the Landmark churches indwelt by the
Spirit? Have all other assemblies of
believers been abandoned by the Spirit?”
Again Mr. Zeller attempts to take a passage addressed
to a local New Testament Church and treat it as if it were addressed to his
mystical, universal, invisible idea of a church. We would answer this way: Every true believer
is a believer because he has been regenerated.
Having been regenerated he is indwelt as an individual by the Holy
Spirit. He has been made a partaker of
the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Paul,
The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that worship which is based on false doctrines and not prompted and led by the Holy Spirit is unacceptable to God. He said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John ). Since the Holy Spirit indwells every truly regenerate person, the Spirit is in them individually even when they gather in unscriptural assemblies that may claim to be churches but which teach some false doctrines. However, I doubt that the Spirit of God is present in the midst of a false church in the sense He is present when a true Church gathers scripturally and corporately for worship, prayer, hearing the Word, and conducting matters of Church business. I doubt that Christ is glorified in such man-made assemblies that exist in opposition to those assemblies that are Christ’s. If their worship and service is unacceptable to God, it must be that the Spirit of God did not direct either one.
But as usual, in his persistent misinterpretation
of Scripture, Mr. Zeller confuses what is said to and about a real Church (this
I am reminded of the worship of the Samaritans in
Whenever you go beyond the pages of the Revealed Word of God in either doctrine or practice, you don’t know what you are doing. You have left off following the Guide Book and have substituted your own ideas just as the Samaritans did. Because of this their worship, however “spiritual” it may have seemed and however “blessed” and emotionally satisfied their adherents may have felt, and no matter how “edifying” the preaching may have been, none of it was acceptable to God! So it is today with the Harlot and her Protestant daughters, regardless of appearances in men’s eyes and the feelings of men’s senses. Individually, all the saved are possessed of the Spirit of God. Corporately, only Christ’s true Churches have been “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. ) and are thus indwelt corporately as God’.
“…3. Is God demonstrating and pointing out His wisdom only through the Landmark Baptist churches? Does God say to the angels: ‘If you want to learn of My manifold wisdom, consider only the Landmark Baptists, but don’t consider all of the other born again believers whom I have saved by My grace’?”
First of all, not every church that is called a “Landmark Baptist” Church is necessarily a true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Correctness in origin is necessary, but so also are correct doctrine and practice. Doubtless there are some churches called “Landmark Baptist” which have erred in doctrine and have departed from historic Baptist practice to the point that their “candlestick” has been removed and they are no longer a testimony to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sure that every reader will agree with that last statement. It is better to say that the true Churches are to be found today among the people called Baptists.
Let me ask a
question or two, please. Does God send
His angels to the Orthodox and Catholic churches to learn of His manifold
wisdom? Of course not, because they are
not His (kind) of churches. Would Mr.
Zeller have us believe that God sends His angels to the daughters of this
filthy Harlot to learn of His manifold wisdom?
Of course not, because the daughters of the Harlot are also themselves
Harlots as He said in
We do not claim that all Baptists have always practiced consistently with their knowledge. Mr. Spurgeon is one whom we believe did not, but as he said it so well, let the well-known British Baptist pastor of a bygone generation say it for us.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said: “I am
not ashamed of the denomination to which I belong, sprung as we are, direct
from the loins of Christ, having never passed through the turbid stream of
Romanism, and having an origin apart from all dissent or Protestantism,
because we have existed before all sects.” (C.H.S.
Again Mr. Spurgeon
waxed bold and said, “We believe that the Baptists are the original
Christians. We did not commence
our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin
were born; we never came from the church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we
have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days
of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river
which may travel underground for a little season, have
always had honest and holy adherents.” (C.H.S., METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE PULPIT, Vol. 7, 1861, (
it, that such “Landmark ideas” were held by Mr. Spurgeon! The Cotton Grove Resolutions were adopted in
1851. The influence of J.R. Graves must
have quickly and powerfully crossed the
I submit that God’s angels only learn of His plan and His free and sovereign grace by looking in on true, New Testament Churches and not by looking in on counterfeit ones.
“…4. Are only the Landmark Baptists included in the one body? Are all other godly saints in the world therefore excluded from this body? How can such a teaching be used to promote CHRISTIAN UNITY?”
Here we go again!
Mr. Zeller insists that there is “one body” and by that he means that
there is some kind of mystical, universal something out there that he calls a
“body.” The plain teaching of the Bible
is that “body” is a metaphor teaching us about the Churches and speaks of the
local nature of each Church, among other things. If, as Mr. Spurgeon and historic mainline
Baptists have consistently maintained, the Baptists are the original
Christians, then all other man-made churches are false and not “bodies” or
Churches at all in the scriptural sense.
So, yes, only members of true Baptist Churches are members of such a
true, local “church-body” as the Scriptures speak. All other saved people are not a part of a
“church-body” i.e. a true New Testament kind of Church – a sound
Now to the matter of what Mr. Zeller terms
He has gone off on an unscriptural path once again, suggesting that the
churches of God are to try to manufacture or “promote” a “Christian
unity.” Such a term is NOT found in the
Bible, though the Bible speaks of unity.
“…5. Is Christ the Head only of the Landmark Baptists? Is Christ the Saviour only of the Landmark Baptists? What about true believers who are no associated with Landmark churches? How can they be saved if they have no Saviour?”
As we have shown above, only local churches can be spoken of as a “body.” We are not foolish enough to contend that all “Landmark Baptist Churches” are true Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have stated that a church must be scriptural in (1) origin, (2) doctrine, and (3) practice to be a true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We would think it better to say that Christ is the Head only of true New Testament Churches – Churches that have a scriptural origin, a scriptural doctrine and a scriptural practice.
Mr. Zeller poses a question based on a wrong assumption. He assumes, again and without biblical proof, that the word “body” refers to a universal, invisible
“church.” The simple statement that
Christ is the “savior of the
body” indicates that Christ is not only the Head of each New Testament
Church, but He is the Savior of each one – in
“…6. Did the Lord Jesus give Himself on the cross only for the Landmark Baptists? Are they the only “church” that Christ loved and gave Himself for? Are we so narrow as to limit God’s love and Christ’s death to a certain sect.”
Regarding Christ’s love: In
So, we ask, why does Mr. Zeller try to say that because the Bible says
that Christ “loved the
Church” it necessarily implies that there were no others whom Christ also
loved. But the “church” Jesus loved was
the Church He built – the real assembly of scripturally baptized believers who
met with Him and were His followers during His earthly ministry. In
So also the statement that Christ gave Himself for the Church implies a special sense in which the sacrifice of Christ was made for His Church, but does not necessarily mean that Christ did not die for individuals outside His Churches. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of those for whom Christ died were outside of His Churches when He died for them. Christ died to redeem Old Testament saints who were never and shall never be in His Churches. And those of us who are saved and alive today were certainly outside Christ’s Churches when He died for us.
If Mr. Spurgeon and the vast majority of mainline Baptists down through
the centuries are correct and therefore it is among the people called Baptists
that the true Churches of Jesus Christ are to be found, then this special love
is not just for “a certain sect.”
That “certain sect” is a special people and has an unbroken line up to
the Lord Jesus Himself through the Church He established – a real, “local,”
But Mr. Zeller does not want to enter into a discussion of the love and
the hatred of God, for as a modern “Arminian” he cannot deal honestly with the
hatred of God. The Bible says that God
hated Esau before he was born and therefore before he had ever done anything
Furthermore the Bible is clear that God hates the Harlot, her Daughters
and the Abominations of the earth. This
we are told in
Which brings us to another
matter that ought to be cleared up. God’s people are called upon to come out of
the false religious system pictured as the Harlot and her Daughters, etc.
This “certain sect” about which Mr. Zeller writes is the only alternative to the Harlot and her Daughters. This “certain sect” called Baptists represents the only churches with a scriptural origin that have among them some who have maintained pure doctrine and practice. These are the true New Testament Churches.
Sound Baptists reject the “baptisms” of both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics. We regard them as false churches, their clergy as not being true ministers of Christ and their baptisms as invalid. Simply put, Calvin, Zwingli, Luther and the other Protestant Reformers were Catholics until they were excluded from that organization. But they never came to the true Churches of Jesus Christ for scriptural baptism, ordination and authority. The only “baptism” that they ever had was Catholic baptism, which is no true baptism at all. Now the New Testament pattern is that only baptized men ever administered valid baptism. (Even the Lord Jesus walked more than 60 miles to obtain valid baptism from John the Baptist before entering upon His ministry!) All those persons baptized by the Reformers lack a genuine or valid baptism because the Reformers were un-baptized men, having only Catholic “baptism.” Thus Protestant baptisms, whether Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Unitarian, Episcopal, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Holiness, etc., etc., are all invalid because they are baptisms without Divine authority. Any man who presumes to baptize without possessing a valid baptism himself cannot administer scriptural baptism because he lacks it himself.
So we see there is a vast difference between this “certain sect” and the other churches. Let us look at a selected quote by T.G. Jones, eminent Southern Baptist Convention pastor, vice president of the Convention, and scholar of another generation. He wrote:
“They [the Baptists] have always
maintained that their churches are as ancient as Christianity itself. That their foundations were
laid by no less honorable hands than those of Christ and his apostles. In all ages since the first, the Baptists
have believed their denomination more ancient than themselves. The American Baptists deny that they owe
their origin to Roger Williams. The
English Baptists will not grant that John Smyth or Thomas Helwysse was their
founder. The Welsh Baptists strenuously
contend that they received their creed in the first century, from those who had
obtained it, direct, from the apostles themselves. The Dutch Baptists trace their spiritual
pedigree up to the same source. The
German Baptists maintained that they were older than the Reformation, older
than the corrupt hierarchy which it [the Reformation] sought to
reform. The Waldensian Baptists boasted
an ancestry far older than Waldo, older than the most ancient of their
predecessors in the vales of
Now we think that this singular unanimity of
opinion among the Baptists of all countries and of all ages, respecting their
common origin in apostolic and primitive times – a unanimity the existence of
which might easily be established by numerous quotations from historians and
other writers among them, is of itself a fact of no little value, as furnishing
a presumptive argument of much force in support of the Baptist claim. In
We call your attention to the fact that the book
by T.G. Jones (quoted above) was not printed by
Sound Baptists – Churches of the New Testament sort – are the only churches in existence with a valid claim to doctrinal correctness, scriptural polity and a scriptural origin. So they are not just a “certain sect” as Mr. Zeller charges, but the true churches of Jesus Christ! Why should He not love them with a special love?
“…7. Is it only the ‘Baptist bride’ that is going
to be presented to Christ faultless and spotless? Is not this the certain hope and expectancy
of every child of God? Compare
Again Mr. Zeller has jumped the fence and is violating all the common sense rules of Bible interpretation by wanting us to think that the Book of Jude was addressed to his universal, invisible “church.” IF, and I say IF, such a thing existed in Jude’s day, he did not write his little letter to it. Jude wrote his letter to a New Testament kind of Church – a real, local one with a scriptural doctrine, practice and origin. He wrote his letter to a Church that was local and could receive a real “pen and ink” letter. This Church was warned in verse 4 about “certain men crept in unawares” - crept in where we ask? Why, into the Churches, and Jude warns his readers that there was a danger that such men had crept into their Church. Jude wrote to a Church that had fellowship dinners and warned the Church to which he wrote about these men, saying: “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you…” Mr. Zeller’s universal, invisible “church” has never had a fellowship dinner, but the kind of Church to which Jude wrote had them.
Yes, true Churches are spoken of as Christ’s bride and certain promises have been made to them that have not been given to those outside of true Churches. If that sounds “narrow” to Mr. Zeller, it is because he is too broad!
a couple of things ought to be pointed out here. (1) The New Testament has almost nothing to
say about true believers who were not scripturally baptized members of true New
Testament Churches. True Churches were
the only sort of churches that existed back then. That is the reason that none of them had
distinguishing names. They did not need
to be distinguished one from the other as all were then the same. It is true that wolves were coming in and
deceivers were arising, but in that New Testament era, none dared initiate his
own baptism or originate his own church as many have done today and as are
often found among the “
“…8. When people get saved does God add them only to Landmark churches? Why are there so many true, genuine believers who are in no way associated with Landmark assemblies? Has God failed to add them to His true church?”
verse to which Mr. Zeller refers is
what say the commentators on this verse in Acts? Barnes, our Methodist friend, says:
“…Added or caused them to be inclined to be joined to the church. The church. To the assembly of the followers of
Christ…” Jamieson, Faussett and
Brown, John Gill, Matthew Henry and even John Calvin all say this verse means
those who were regenerated were led to join the
still leads His people to be joined to New Testament Churches, but in this day
of apostasy and deception many professing to be the Lord’s people are led
astray into counterfeit churches, at least for a time. Thus you may find genuinely saved people in
many different kinds of churches other than the New Testament sort. This condition was anticipated by the Holy
Spirit when He inspired the Bible and thus that Book contains warnings
regarding the necessity of sound doctrine and practice as well as the call in
After these questions, in brackets, Mr. Zeller goes off into a most interesting and novel interpretation of what the phrase “the gates of hell” means. Space does not permit me to deal fully with his eccentric idea here, but let it be sufficient to say that “the gates of hell” refers to the governments of the unseen spirit world. “Gates” in the Old Testament were the seats of city government – the place where the local leaders met for various purposes. There is ample testimony to this in the Old Testament pages of your Bible.
Barnes, our Methodist commentator rightly says:
“And the gates of hell, etc. Ancient cities were surrounded by walls. In the gates, by which they were entered, were the principal places for holding courts, transacting business, and deliberating on public matters. See Barnes "Mt ". The word gates, therefore, is used for counsels, designs, machinations, evil purposes. Hell means, here, the place of departed spirits, particularly evil spirits. And the meaning of the passage is, that all the plots, stratagems, and machinations, of the enemies of the church, should not be able to overcome it—a promise that has been remarkably fulfilled.”
But Mr. Zeller does it again. He changes horses in the midst of the stream! The promise of the Lord was that the gates of hell (whatever you understand that phrase to mean) would not prevail against the Church that He would complete building. Mr. Zeller, failing to follow sound, common sense rules of interpretation changes the word “church” into “believers” and says the promise is to all believers and that no one since Pentecost has gone to hell upon death. (He uses the word “hades” to mean the abode of the dead.) Aside from his novel idea about the “gates of hades,” the important thing to note is that Mr. Zeller has again jumped the fence and changed the plain meaning of Scripture by changing the word “church” into “believers” in his thinking and writing. This is misinterpretation of the Bible. How can this man think to arrive at truth if he consistently changes Bible words?
As we pointed out earlier in this article, Jesus’ promise was that He would complete building His “church” and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Sound Baptists insist that Jesus did indeed build His true New Testament kind of Church and that through both evangelism and church-planting of the New Testament kind successive Churches of the same New Testament sort have existed and do presently exist in various parts of the world.
Obviously the phrase “
Again Mr. Zeller fails in his use of common sense
rules of Bible interpretation. He would
have us believe that it is possible to be a stumbling block to saved people who
have died and are in the presence of the Lord for according to him they are
part of his universal, invisible church.
We must also be careful not to be a stumbling block to the elect
children of God who have not yet been born physically, for they, too, are part
of his church, since all the saved of this church age are included in his
“church.” That is, of course, if Paul
was writing in
When Paul wrote the above-mentioned verse, there was only one kind of Church. There were no false churches such as have proliferated in this age of apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and there was no universal, invisible “church” as Mr. Zeller teaches. As we have shown, believers were members of true New Testament Churches, for no other kind then existed. Paul simply instructs the New Testament Church of Corinth to give no offense to anyone – Jew, Gentile or members of New Testament Churches. Who else was there in the world? What Paul means is to consider the culture, beliefs and practices of each of these groups and live so as not to deliberately offend them. Do not go to the home of a Jew eating a ham sandwich! Do not go to the home of a pagan Gentile and demand kosher food! Do not flaunt your Christian liberty to weak members of a Church and cause them to stumble. These are the kinds of things Paul had in mind.
Again we point out that the New Testament has little to say about and practically nothing to say to true believers who exist outside of true New Testament Churches. Mr. Zeller is confused and confuses the issues with which he deals because he does not pay strict attention to not only what is written, but also to who wrote it, to whom it was written, when it was written, and under what circumstances. He pays no attention to either the immediate context or the larger context of the whole Bible. He is not diligent to stick to the original words used and their ordinary meanings as well as any special or technical meanings that may have been ascribed to them by the writer. He fails in observing logical, common sense rules of understanding the Bible. And so he is confused on almost every issue. Every candid reader will agree to these statements, I believe.
“5) The Error which Insists that the True Churches are Linked to John the Baptist (the Successionist Theory).
We have already stated that sound Baptists do not think that John the Baptist founded any kind of church. We have already proved that with the ministry of John the Baptist came the end of the Old Testament law system or age. We have shown that the gospel began with John the Baptist, was continued by Jesus Christ and His apostles and New Testament preachers. (See our presentation of the origin and continuance of the gospel under Mr. Zeller’s 3rd point above.) We believe the Bible is clear that the first true church was gathered by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself during the ministry of John the Baptist. His first members had been baptized by John in preparation for the coming of Christ.
Mr. Zeller insists that John the Baptist was under
the Old Testament dispensation. We have
shown that the Bible says that “the law
and the prophets were until John and since that time the
Zeller insists that the Landmark view mixes law and grace. It does not.
It is Mr. Zeller’s view that has John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus
operating under the law dispensation. It
is Mr. Zeller’s view that has the
Jesus Said He Preached Grace
does the Lord Jesus Christ say about His own ministry? Did He indicate that He initiated something
new and different? Or, is Mr. Zeller
right in consigning the Lord Jesus Christ to the age of the Law? In
The Bible says, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John ). This verse contrasts the Old Testament law system with the ministry of Jesus Christ. This verse would have us believe that grace and truth supplanted that system initiated by Moses. The types and shadows were fulfilled and replaced by reality! Simple, isn’t it? But Mr. Zeller insists that the age of grace and truth did not begin until Pentecost and that this new age was initiated by the Holy Spirit and not by Christ at all. Again, it is seen that Mr. Zeller’s artificial dispensational scheme does not agree with the Bible. Of course, if he admitted that the Bible is right he would have to admit that sound Baptists are right and it would be expected that he would become one after having been scripturally baptized.
the gospels began with John the Baptist.
In fact if you will read
So who is it that is confusing law and grace? Is it Mr. Zeller whose view is challenged by the Word of God when it says the law ended with John the Baptist and that the age of grace began with the preaching of Jesus Christ? Or is it the simple view that says, as Jesus said, the law dispensation ended with John the Baptist? The Landmark view is simple, scriptural and easily understood. It is black and white in its distinctions. It is difficult only to those who have been trained in interdenominatonalism or hyper-dispensationalism and who must, therefore, learn the true Bible definitions of certain words and become acquainted with the teaching of certain verses universally ignored by those who hold to the Protestant Interdenominational view.
Mr. Zeller, your church family tree does not go back to John the Baptist. Nobody’s church family tree does. However, sound Baptists have a baptism that goes back to John the Baptist, the only man God ever sent to initiate baptism. I call your attention to these verses which prove this point: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6). “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (John 1:33). John was a God-sent man – sent in a unique way. God sent him to initiate baptism. John is the only man who was sent to initiate baptism as far as it has been revealed to us in the Bible.
Yes, there are many saved men who have not been Spirit-baptized into the universal, invisible body of Christ since the Spirit baptizes no one and the universal, invisible “body” does not exist. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus baptized His waiting Church in or with the Holy Spirit, giving them power and visible signs manifesting that power. This was in fulfillment of John the Baptist’s prophecy which said: “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:8). To twist this and other verses which say the same thing into something done by the Holy Spirit when the plain words say “he” (Christ) shall baptize you is a grievous error.
Mr. Zeller advances a most preposterous idea. He says, “John’s baptism was not
sufficient for the new dispensation.
They had to be baptized in the name of Christ. There is a distinct difference between
Christian baptism and John’s baptism.” He
manifests an ignoring of the context and the nature of the events recorded in
the account of Paul’s “re-baptism” of the 12 men in
We would raise some questions here. If John’s baptism was not sufficient for the age of grace, we would ask when was Jesus re-baptized with this new “Christian baptism” and who baptized Him? Are we to believe that Christ lacked “Christian baptism?” Christ is our Example and we are to follow Him. As He had John’s baptism, so have I. Show me where Jesus was re-baptized with your “Christian baptism” and I will follow my Divine Example in this.
If a man baptized by a Baptist has Baptist baptism, then according to Mr. Zeller, the Lord Jesus Christ had Baptist baptism. I don’t think Mr. Zeller wants to go there!
We would also ask when were the apostles baptized with this new “Christian baptism” seeing they had only what he calls “John’s baptism?” Who instituted such a new “Christian baptism” and when did it occur the first time? When were the apostles re-baptized with this “Christian baptism?” Since a man must have a valid baptism to administer it according to the New Testament pattern – unless he has direct authority from God as John had – what man was sent directly from God to initiate this new baptism? Who was the first to receive it? If John’s baptism was invalid after the day of Pentecost, are we to believe that un-baptized men (the apostles) could originate a new baptism and it be valid in Heaven’s eyes? Why is the New Testament silent on any details or even any hints about such a new, “Christian baptism?” Perhaps we must have “Holy Ghost vision” or “doves’ eyes” so as to be able to “read between the lines” in order to read about this new “Christian baptism.” Nothing about “Christian baptism” is to be found in the Bible whatsoever! It is a contrived idea necessary only to Mr. Zeller’s Protestant interdenominationalist soup of doctrines.
The Bible says “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)…” thus indicating that when Jesus was fulfilling His earthly ministry He was credited with baptizing. However, when He was preparing His disciples – His Church – for His departure, He instructed them to make converts, baptize them, and teach them. This is the essence of the Great Commission. Thus they were to baptize in the name of the Trinity. In Acts we find the preachers baptizing “in Jesus name,” “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and “in the name of the Lord.” Were the early Christian preachers disobedient to the Lord’s commission? No they were not! To baptize “in Jesus name” or any of the variants listed or in the names of the Trinity is not just to recite mere words saying that is what you are doing. It means to baptize with Divine authority. We understand what it is to have a “power of attorney” and act “in the name” of someone else. After His departure, no longer could it be said that “Jesus baptized,” but it would be necessary, if scriptural baptism were to continue, that the Churches would have authority delegated to them to baptize – the authority of the Son of God – for they had not had that authority before.
Mr. Zeller cites
John indicated this position of his early on in
his ministry. In
By the way, perhaps we should point out another of Mr. Zeller’s
inconsistencies. Christ had a bride
while He was in the flesh according to
Further to this point, we find that the bride of Christ in a prospective sense will inhabit the New Jerusalem and that the Gentiles will come in and out of the city. And we are told that nothing can enter the city that defiles, so these must be saved Gentiles. But they are separate from the bride. Makes sense, does it not – it is usual at a wedding that there are more guests than there are brides.
Yes, the founder of the true New Testament Churches was Jesus Christ,
not John the Baptist and NOT the Holy Spirit as Mr. Zeller would have us
believe. Christ must have first place,
and the Landmark view sets fort the truth that Jesus did keep His word – He did
build His kind of
“6) The Error of Believer’s Baptism Not being Recognized as Legitimate unless it is Performed by one of their Men in one of their Churches.”
As we have shown before, Protestants have no valid baptism. They have no valid baptism because the baptism they have to give is either from the Harlot directly, or one of her Daughters, and Harlot baptism cannot be recognized as scriptural baptism. That baptism has been passed down to the present day in succession among them. It is the only baptism they have. Old Tertullian (A.D. 160 – 230) said it well, “Doubtless they who are not baptized aright are not baptized at all.”
Four Requirements for Valid Baptism
There are four requirements for scriptural baptism – that is for a baptism to be valid in the eyes of Heaven, for these requirements are Heaven given as seen in the teachings and pattern of the New Testament. First of all scriptural baptism must have a scriptural candidate – i.e. a sinner giving evidence of repentance and professing faith in Jesus Christ. Secondly, scriptural baptism requires a scriptural mode – i.e. immersion in water. Thirdly, for a baptism to be valid it must have a scriptural motive – i.e. to show forth the believer’s identity with the death, burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ. Baptism administered as a sacrament to wash away sins is not a scriptural or valid baptism. And fourthly, for a baptism to be valid, it must have a scriptural administrator.
This last point is generally the sticking point with Protestants because if they admit to this requirement, they un-baptize themselves – i.e. they must admit that they are themselves yet un-baptized. This is further complicated if “they” claim to be a minister of Christ, for all whom they have put under the water are yet un-baptized also. Pride often enters in and will not allow a man to admit he has been wrong on such a fundamental thing as baptism! A vested interest also often enters in, for to admit such a thing usually means that if he admits such a thing, a minister will lose his “church” and his salary – and perhaps his annuity.
Here are the facts: Christ commissioned His kind of Church to evangelize, baptize and teach obedience to all the things He had commanded them. Now according to Mr. Zeller’s view, the “church” commissioned by Christ could not be the universal, invisible “body” for it did not yet exist and would not until the day of Pentecost. Just who or what did Christ commission, Mr. Zeller?
The student of the Word must decide in what capacity
those gathered were commissioned. (We
think above 500 brethren were gathered when the Lord gave the commission to His
church that consisted of 11 men. Compare
Well, the Catholic party says that the Great Commission was given to the apostles as apostles. But the same problem exists for the Bible student who might try to espouse this view. Unless you can convince yourself that apostles still exist and that they can produce the signs of an apostle, you must believe that the apostolate ended with the death of John the apostle, the last living one. So with either this view or the preceding one, it must be admitted that the Great Commission ended about A.D. 100. With the end of the Great Commission came the end of valid baptism if that is the case.
Only if we understand that the Great Commission was given to the Lord’s Church – a real, functioning, “local” New Testament kind of Church – do we still have a valid Commission and thus valid baptism because the Lord’s kind of Churches still exist, one in succession to another down through the centuries. Churches which have no valid claim to a scriptural doctrine and practice as well as a succession to the Church Jesus built have no commission for they are a different species than that which Jesus commissioned. The New Testament gives us 11 marks by which we can recognize a true, New Testament kind of Church. For the sake of brevity and in order to stay on the subject of a New Testament kind of Church we insert the following from my booklet, “Eleven Marks of a New Testament Church.” We will only deal with the first mark.
“In the New Testament we find certain characteristics or marks that are essential to all churches of the New Testament kind. A New Testament kind of church is the kind Jesus started. It is the kind He promised a continual existence. It is the kind He is pleased with today. It is His church. We believe it is the only kind of church that is acceptable to God. If we would find churches of the New Testament kind, we must look for those essential marks or characteristics which we find in the New Testament. Others have done this and some have left helpful information behind. For instance, some years ago a Southern Baptist Convention pastor, J.M Carroll, presented lectures in different places in the United States on the subject of Baptist history. His lectures were extremely popular among the Baptists, many of whom were ignorant of their own history. After his death his lecture notes were put in book form. We quote from the introduction to Bro. Carroll’s little book, THE TRAIL OF BLOOD. (This little book has been translated into Romanian and is available free. If you wish to obtain this little book, contact the address printed on this booklet.) In the introduction to THE TRAIL OF BLOOD, Baptist pastor Clarence Walker wrote:
‘In any town there are many different churches -- all claiming to be the true church. Dr. Carroll did as you can do now -- take the marks, or teachings, of the different churches and find the ones which have these marks, or doctrines. The ones which have these marks, or doctrines, taught in God's Word, are the true churches.’
It is clear that Jesus cannot the founder of all the different “churches.” They have origins different from the church Jesus founded. They have different doctrines and different practices from the church Jesus founded. They have different doctrines and different practices from each other. He founded His kind of church because He wanted it to be a specific kind of church. He wanted it to have certain characteristics. Since God alone knows best what will please Him, it is logical that only the kind of church Christ founded can please Him. It is important that the reader keep this last statement in mind. God knows what pleases Him better than we do. Christ founded the kind of church He wanted. Men may think they know better than Christ and so they may make changes in Christ’s churches or they may start their own kind of church, but Christ’s churches are the kind He started. These are the kind of churches that please Him.
A few words about the importance of the churches are in order here. Just as the whole Bible is Christ centered, the whole New Testament has a second emphasis and that is the churches. The four Gospels tell us of the ministry of Christ and include His work in building His first church. The Book of Acts records how that one church evangelized and many were born from her through ordained men. The Epistles were mostly written to individual churches or groups of churches dealing with doctrinal and practical issues within the churches. Those New Testament books addressed to individuals were written to men who labored in the churches and in establishing new ones. The Book of Revelation has in it seven letters from Christ addressed to seven individual churches and the rest of the book deals with events, most of which take place prior to Christ returning to the earth to reign with His bride. So the New Testament certainly gives great importance to Christ’s kind of New Testament churches! The words were addressed to members of churches - true churches – churches of the kind Jesus founded.
Christ is said to have a special love for His church (Eph. 5:25). She is so important to Him as to be pictured as His bride (John 3:29) and to her as the bride of Christ is given the work of evangelism in connection with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20; Rev. 22:17). Today, many would try to live for Christ, worship and serve God outside of Christ’s kind of churches. Because of the importance of Christ’s churches, as the New Testament evidences, we doubt whether such worship and service is acceptable to God and to Christ. After all, it is in the church that God is glorified through Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:21). Man made organizations glorify the man that founded them, often bearing his name. Only in true churches of Christ is the Lord Jesus Christ glorified. What true believer, taught in the Word, would try to please God outside of a God-approved church?
Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Jesus also promised that His presence would be with His Churches even down to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). Because of these promises of Christ we can expect to find true New Testament Churches in existence somewhere in the world in our own time. They may not be in every city or even in every country and you may not have found them, but they exist.
If we would find the Lord’s Churches we must not
judge them according to our own ideas and preferences (Isa. 55:9). We must judge them according to the Word of
God. They are not to be known by some
special name, for anyone can use a name and claim that name makes them
special. They are not to be known by
temporary, external signs, but by those things which are essential and
perpetual. They are not necessarily the
churches of Christ because of their great size, popularity, prestige, or
political influence. False churches are
often the most popular and influential.
It has always been true that God’s people are a small number (Luke
12:32; Rom. 11:5; Isa. 1:9;
Even in the days of the apostles some men left the
truth (Acts 15:24;
In his book Bro.
Carroll listed eleven marks or characteristics of true New Testament
Churches. These are Scriptural
marks. These are essential marks. Christ’s churches have borne these marks down
through the centuries since He established the first one. The true churches of Christ bear these marks
today. We are convinced that in our time
this kind of church is to be found among the people called Baptists. This is because of the (1) origin of the
Baptists and (2) the doctrine and practice of mainline Baptists down through
the centuries. We are convinced that
some Baptist churches bear these eleven essential marks of New Testament
churches. We are equally convinced that
not all “Baptist churches” are true New Testament Churches. Any group can call themselves a
“church.” Any “church” can call herself “Baptist.”
Unless a church bears the essential marks of a
THE FIRST MARK OF A
It is not enough just to say that Christ is the Head of a church! He must actually be the Head! He must direct the activities and work of the church. If Christ is not the Head of a church, He is only a figurehead. If Christ is not the Head of a church, He has no real part in that church. In order to be the Head of a church, Christ’s Word, the Bible, must be obeyed. If we would follow Christ, we cannot omit any part of the Lord’s instructions to us, nor can we add to them.
There are two
errors into which men fall relative to the Headship of Christ over each
church. Some would substitute a
pope. They may not call him or her a
pope. They may call him or her a pastor
or a teacher or a prophet. It does not
matter what he or she is called, if his ideas are followed instead of the
instructions of Christ, he is a pope.
Many “churches” today follow the teachings of some long-dead “pope” and
are loyal to his interpretations of the Bible or to his additional
“revelations” than they are to the simple words of the Bible. The second error is tradition and this error
is more subtle. Traditions - Baptist
traditions or traditions of the Harlot and her Protestant daughters – it does
not matter the source. They all result
in false worship. They are the
commandments of men and are not according to truth (Matt ). True
worship must be not only a spiritual matter, it must be – it absolutely MUST be
according to truth (John -24). The Bible has nothing good to say about
religious traditions. In His entire
ministry Jesus had nothing good to say about religious traditions! Jesus and His disciples did not conform to
the religious traditions of His day (see
The origin of
religious traditions can universally be traced to paganism and idolatry. If the Bible is clear on anything, it is
this: Christ’s church, His bride, is to be pure from idolatry (1 Cor. ,
One thing is absolutely clear. A church that is ruled by anyone or anything other than Christ and His Word is not a New Testament kind of church. It is something else. Whether pope or tradition, anything or anyone that is followed other than Christ becomes the head of a church. Such a replacement means that the church has become another kind of church. It is not Christ’s church for He is not the Head of it. He did not build that kind of church. He is not present in her meetings for she lacks His authority.
Christ gave to
His churches certain rights or authority.
He did not give them unlimited authority, but specific authority. This authority relates to the job He gave the
churches to do while He is away. The first
kind of authority Christ gave to His churches is judicial authority: by that we
mean the authority to judge. Churches
have only limited judicial power (1 Cor. -13). By following the democratic process (voting),
the members of each church have the right to determine (judge) who is qualified
for membership. In the same manner
(voting) the members of each church have the right to determine who is to be
excluded from the fellowship of the church (1 Cor. 5:9-13, note especially
verse 12). Such action must be based, of
course, on Christ’s teachings concerning this matter (Matt. -17).
This they must act according to the Word of God if they would be
Christ’s kind of church. They are equally responsible to treat those excluded
members according to the New Testament (Matt. 18:17;
The second kind
of authority Christ gave to His churches is executive power. This executive power is unlimited so that we
can say that true Churches are executive in nature. By that we mean they are responsible to carry
out the instructions of Christ who is to be the Head of each church (Luke ).
There is no limitation in this matter.
There is no acceptable excuse for a church not carrying out the
instructions of Christ. Churches are to
obey Christ’s instructions to them. They
are to carry out His commandments and follow His example (Matt 28:18;
There is a third kind of power and that is legislative power. Churches do not have legislative power! Christ did not give them legislative power. We mean they do not have authority to make rules and regulations. Christ is the lawgiver! They cannot change the rules, instructions and commandments given by Christ. They have no right to change the ordinances or any of the teachings of the Bible. They have no right to change the Scriptural practices of the churches, or to make innovations in the worship of God. In their evangelism they must use only the methods of the New Testament, that is, the methods Christ and His apostles used. They have no authority to make innovations or to follow the inventions of men.
Christ established a church just as He promised He would do (Matt. ). If He did not He is a liar at worst or a failure at best. (There is no Scripture that teaches that the church or anything else was founded on “Pentecost.”) Christ built His church from material prepared by John the Baptist. From the first church that Christ established during His earthly ministry all true churches have descended. The New Testament pattern of church succession is this: baptized, ordained men who were acting in connection with an already-existing church traveled and evangelized, baptized converts and organized them into churches. This is clear from the Book of Acts. It is in this way that Christ’s kind of churches have continued existence. Such a continuance of New Testament churches is not apostolic succession, ministerial succession, nor merely baptismal succession. New Testament churches start other New Testament churches through men whom they send forth to do this work. This is the New Testament pattern.
A church established in connection with anyone other than Jesus Christ is not His. A church that does not obey the New Testament certainly does not have Christ for her head. A church without Christ as her head is not a New Testament kind of church. Christ is both the Head and Founder of His New Testament kind of churches.” (end of quote.)
Further we would point out that in every instance of valid baptism in the New Testament certain things were true. (1) The person doing the baptizing was a man. (2) The man doing the baptizing was a man who had been scripturally baptized – his baptism met the four requirements listed above. (3) The man doing the baptizing was an ordained man – ordained by a true New Testament kind of Church – he was recognized and set apart for special ministry. (3) The man doing the baptizing was a member in good standing of a previously existing New Testament kind of Church. He was not a freelancer. Anyone “baptized” by someone lacking even one of these qualifications has a baptism different that that practiced and accepted as valid by the Churches of the New Testament era.
“7). The Error of ‘Closed Communion’ which Involves not Allowing True, Genuine, Obedient Believers to Partake of Communion merely because they are not Members of a Landmark Assembly.”
First of all, it is the Lord’s Table, or the Lord’s Supper, and not ours. As we have pointed out, Churches have no legislative power. True Churches have limited judicial power, but possess exclusive executive power to carry out the instructions of the Head of the Church. (I use the word “church” in the ideological sense speaking of the concept of Headship, knowing that Christ is indeed the Head over each of His true Churches.) Because Churches have no legislative power, they cannot make the rules as to who partakes together of the Lord’s Supper. So we “Landmarkers” cannot change what the Bible teaches on this matter, regardless of how inclusive we might want to be.
No evidence exists that suggests that “closed communion” originated with J.R. Graves or in his days. Closed communion is much older than that as can be demonstrated in Baptist history. Pedo-baptists (baby-baptizers) have written against the Baptists many times down through the centuries because of their closed table.
Down through the centuries many pedo-baptists have
recognized that the Baptists are at least consistent in their practice of
closed communion. There are, after all,
certain persons who are barred from the Lord’s table. The Scriptures nowhere allow that an
un-baptized person has a right to the Lord’s table. Baptists are consistent by not allowing those
whom they regard as un-baptized to partake of the Lord’s
table. Mr. Zeller’s problem
really is this: New Testament Baptists – Landmarkers, if you please, do not
regard Catholic administrations, Protestant administrations or man-made
administrations as valid administrations.
We do not accept their churches as true Churches. We do not accept their ministers as true
ministers of Jesus Christ. So we are
consistent. We do not allow those whom
we regard as un-baptized to participate in the Lord’s Supper. In following this policy we make no judgment
as to the salvation or piety of any person.
We simply are consistent.
Baptist elder T. P. Simmons in his book, A SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF BIBLE DOCTRINE, lists 5 reasons Baptists practice close communion. We believe they are adequate arguments for closed communion and so we give them as follows:
“1. Because Christ instituted close communion.
When Christ instituted the Supper, only the eleven apostles were present with
Him, Judas having already gone out. He
did not have His mother there. Neither
did He have others of His followers in
Because the scriptural order observed in Pentecost and thereafter leads to
close communion. The order on Pentecost
and thereafter was (1) faith; (2) baptism; (3) church membership; and (4) the
Lord’s Supper. See
Because the interest of scriptural church discipline demand the practice of
close communion. In Rom. and
Now suppose a church finds it necessary to exclude a false teacher. If the church practices open communion, this false teacher can still commune with the church, notwithstanding the fact that partaking of the Lord’s Supper is one of the most intimate and sacred privileges of church membership. Allowing such would go a long way toward nullifying church discipline. It would involve the church in glaring inconsistency. If one is not fit to be in the church, he is not fit to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Because it is impossible to observe the Lord’s Supper by open communion. A church may eat unleavened bread and sip
wine with a group in which divisions are present, but Paul plainly says that
“it is not possible to eat the Lord’s Supper” under such circumstances. See
5. Because the Lord’s Supper is a local church ordinance. The meaning of this statement is that it is to be observed by the members of one local church. Not all Baptists recognize this. But it is recognized by most of the stricter Baptists. And where it is recognized, it becomes the most conclusive proof of close communion.
In proof of this proposition two proofs are offered:
(1) The one loaf in the supper symbolizes the unity of the one body… Now for others, than the members of the church observing the supper, to partake is incongruous with this symbolism.
There are certain classes that a church
is commanded not to eat with. See
Again and again we have seen Mr. Zeller either deliberately or ignorantly confuse those things written to and about real, local Churches of Jesus Christ with his imaginary, universal, invisible, mystical “church” that never meets, never held a communion service, never disciplined a member, never ordained a man for special service, never held a business meeting, never worshipped or served in any way. Paul gave instructions regarding the Supper with the words, “ye come together” six times in 1 Corinthians chapter 14. Obviously his teaching was that they were to come together as a Church for observing the Supper. His words cannot be conceived to be directed to free-lance “Christians” or itinerate believers or rogue preachers that refuse to submit to Christ’s authority as delegated to His Churches. We just cannot conceive of the idea that a church coming out of the Harlot or a church founded by some man are equal to the Church that Jesus built and so we reject their administrations.
“8). The Error which Identifies the Bride of Christ as being composed only of Landmark Baptists, excluding all other true believers.”
Mr. Zeller cites
We call your attention to two things in these two verses above. (1) “His wife hath made herself ready” indicates that not just being saved automatically puts a person in the bride of Christ. Salvation is free, is of grace, and is a sovereign work of the Spirit of God in regeneration. As we have stated and illustrated previously, the sinner is a participant in the new birth or regeneration, but is passive and not causative. Sinners are NOT born of their own will or decision (John ). But here we have something different. The bride of Christ is composed of those who have made themselves ready and we see no evidence that free-lance “Christians,” irresponsible renegade “saints” and rogue “believers” have made themselves ready. (2) The phrase, “The fine linen is the righteousness of saints” is very interesting. The Greek scholar A.T. Robertson says, “The righteous acts of the saints …This is the explanation… of the bridal dress and explains why there is work for the Bride as well as for Christ.” The bride of Christ will be dressed in her righteous deeds. Imputed righteousness is one thing and secures the salvation of the individual. But God is faithful and those who have suffered much as our Baptist forefathers have suffered – though under other names, perhaps – shall be rewarded along with those who serve faithfully in the Lord’s true Churches for they shall wear their own fine linen.
Mr. Zeller would have us believe that the New Jerusalem, that future home of the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:9-10) will also be inhabited by careless converts, renegade saints, and rogue believers as well as those who have faithfully served and suffered for Christ’s sake in true New Testament Churches.
has not told us who the “guests” will be at the wedding supper of the bride and
the Bridegroom, nor has he told us who the multitude of “gentiles” will be who
are allowed into the New Jerusalem to bring their riches into it as the Bible
Mr. Zeller sums up his errors very well for us. He wrote: “Once it is understood that the church is made up of all true believers of this age, then it is a very simple thing to recognize that the bride of Christ will likewise be made up of all true believers of this age.” His error is clearly seen and we believe in this present paper we have demonstrated this error. Mr. Zeller thinks the church is all the saved, though he has not demonstrated it nor can he prove it. Thus his premise is both unproved and cannot be proved! His whole argument falls apart because it is founded on his ideas and not on Bible facts.
Again Mr. Zeller wrote: “To correct this error of eschatology, it is first necessary to correct the error of ecclesiology. If they understand the true nature of the church, then they will understand who the bride really is.” We are in one-hundred-percent agreement with this last statement of Mr. Zeller. If Mr. Zeller and his interdenominational friends understood the true nature of the church, then they would understand who the bride really is. If they understood that true Churches are local, New Testament “Landmark” Baptist Churches, they would understand who the bride really is.
Mr. Zeller concludes his piece against Landmarkism with the verse: “For he that is not against us is on our part” (Mark ). He says that the “very troublesome sectarianism known as Landmarksim would do well to learn from our Lord’s words..” Let us be honest with this verse and look at the context: “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” I doubt that Mr. Zeller is a miracle worker, but if he wishes to make application of this verse to himself, so be it. There is nothing here that would cause anyone to think that the free-lance miracle worker spoken of by the disciples was doing the same work as Christ and His disciples. What do we know about this man? We know only what is written and that is very little. We know that the word translated “lightly” is translated once this way and 12 other times as “quickly.” Thus it makes sense to say that the Lord Jesus Christ said, such a one as works a miracle in my name cannot quickly speak evil of me. If a man claims to be working miracles in the name of the Lord Jesus, he cannot turn around and immediately criticize the Lord. So leave him alone. It seems to me that John regarded this man as one of the “tares” which we are not to “gather up” lest we “root up also the wheat with them” (Matthew ). The Lord said leave them alone!
it is quite another thing to say that this man was approved of the Lord and
thus should be approved of Landmarkers today.
Especially is this true if you consider the other side of the coin. Look at what the Lord said in
But there are some among the people called Landmark Baptists who have a valid claim to a scriptural origin and whose practice and doctrine is sound and in agreement with the Word of God. These have gathered with the Lord Jesus Christ just as the 11 did long ago. And, despite the writings of Mr. Zeller, the fires of persecution and the unbelief of many, these kind of Churches have existed since the first one and shall until the Lord Jesus Christ removes us from this world.
Throughout this extended article we have demonstrated several serious inconsistencies and faulty methods of interpretation used by Mr. Zeller. In fact, his only real consistency has been his consistent insistence that there exists a universal, invisible “church” made up of all the saved of the age of grace. He has abandoned or ignored all the sensible rules of biblical interpretation in pursuit of his ethereal “church.” He has changed the plain meaning of Bible words to suit his pet theory.
He has not demonstrated that such a mystical, universal, invisible “church” as he teaches really exists. He has contradicted the plain words of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. His reckless methods of biblical interpretation are scary. If he follows the same abandon in his teaching of other subjects as he does ecclesiology, it is no wonder that he is also unsound on his soteriology. Please, Mr. Zeller, I invite you to put aside your interdenominational system long enough to consider what the Bible really has to say. I did and God showed me that that system is wrong and that hidden away among those people called Baptists are to be found the true Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE TRAIL OF BLOOD – J.M Carroll
EKKLESIA – THE CHURCH – B.H. Carroll
MINUTES OF THE
FIFTY YEARS AMONG THE BAPTISTS – David Benedict
A SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF BIBLE DOCTRINE – T.P. Simmons
ECCLESIASTICAL RESEARCHES – Robert Robinson
HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS, Vol.
MYTH OF THE
THREE WITNESSES FOR THE BAPTISTS – Curtis A. Pugh
THE FIRST BAPTIST – S.E. Anderson
MY CHURCH – J.B. Moody
BAPTISM – A.C.