Knowledge of regional religious movements can help forward your research. In the case of Landmarkism, theology affected the descendants of Scots-Irish immigrants who had already joined the Baptists in America. It can be found mainly in the Southeastern and Southwestern United States.
In 1851, Baptists in Kentucky and Tennessee began questioning whether a non-immersed minister from another denomination could preach in a Baptist congregation. The question spoke to the very nature of the church. The conclusion for many was such ministers had a false baptism and a false view of the church.
The Meaning of Landmark
The term Landmark comes from Proverbs 22:28 “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (KJV). In their reasoning, these landmarks included congregational autonomy, believer’s baptism by immersion, closed communion and a belief the true church has always been on the earth since New Testament times. The unbroken succession of the true church means the Baptist Church.
The Impact of Landmarkism
The impact of Landmarkism can be still felt among those who reject it. For example, many Baptist will rebaptize non-immersed Christians from other denominations who wish to become Baptists. Landmarkism also became somewhat of a litmus test of the true church and proof Baptists are not Protestants. In 1859, the Southern Baptist Convention rejected Landmarkism. This caused many to withdraw forming their own Landmark congregations.
Landmark Baptist Websites
The website Landmark Baptist: Non-Protestant Baptists holds a wealth of background information. In its “Reference” section are scanned older works documenting people in the movement. The Baptist History Homepage includes biographies, links to old periodicals and is continually adding old documents and books.
It is within journals, books and controversies that your ancestor may have been named as a participant. For further information, see the chapter “Baptist Landmarkism” in James Leo Garrett’s Baptist Theology: A Four Century Study (2009).
If you would like to learn more about your Landmark Baptist ancestors or research your family tree Click Here.