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Landmarkism is a type of Baptist ecclesiology developed in the American South in the mid-19th century. It is committed to a strong version of the perpetuity theory of Baptist origins, attributing an unbroken continuity and unique legitimacy to the Baptist movement since the apostolic period. It includes belief in the exclusive validity of Baptist churches and invalidity of non-Baptist liturgical forms and practices. It led to intense debates and splits in the Baptist community.


The movement began in the Southern United States in 1851, shaped by James Robinson Graves of Tennessee,[1][2] and Ben M. Bogard of Arkansas.[3] The movement was a reaction to religious progressivism earlier in the century.[2] At the time it arose, its proponents claimed Landmarkism was a return to what Baptists had previously believed, while scholars since then have claimed it was "a major departure".[1]

In 1859, the Southern Baptist Convention approved several resolutions disapproving of Landmarkism, which led to adherents gradually withdrawing from the Southern Baptist Convention "to form their own churches and associations and create an independent Landmark Baptist tradition."[4]

The main baptist groups adhering to Landmark principles and doctrines in the present day are the churches of the American Baptist Association (founded by Ben Bogard), Baptist Missionary Association of America, and the Interstate & Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association.[5]


  1. ^ a b Garrett, Jr., James Leo (2009). Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study. Mercer University Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-88146-129-9. 
  2. ^ a b Stookey, Stephen (2008). "Baptists and Landmarkism and the Turn toward Provincialism: 1851". In Williams, Michael Edward and Walter B. Shurden. Turning Points in Baptist History. Mercer University Press. pp. 178–181. ISBN 978-0-88146-135-0. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  3. ^ J. Kristian Pratt, The Father of Modern Landmarkism: The Life of Ben M. Bogard (Mercer University Press; 2013)
  4. ^ Johnson, Robert E. (2010). A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches. Cambridge University Press. p. 148. ISBN 0-521-70170-8. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  5. ^ Parsons, George. "Landmark Baptists". Middletown Bible church. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Moritz, Fred. The Landmark Controversy: A Study in Baptist History and Polity (The Maranatha Series) (2013); 22pp