Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Burleson -- A Landmarker?

Has Pastor Wade Burleson
Become A Landmarker?

Pastor Wade Burleson of Emmanual Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma made himself of reputation a few years ago when he staunchly opposed what not a few Southern Baptists regard as a couple of doctrinal improvements on the part of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

Because of Wade's differing with the policies adopted on Baptism and "Tongues," he basically "blew it" with the IMB and was eventually removed as a board member after some period of controversy.

I understand from sources close to Smyth & Helwys publishers, that Wade's new book, "Hardball Religion," among other things focuses on these two doctrinal issues, and Wade takes the IMB to task over (1) what he alleges to be "Landmarkism" on Baptism, and (2) the IMB's negative policy as to "Private Prayer Language" (aka "praying in tongues").

After I read Wade's book, I may review the book and it is probable that I will have to "clear" myself in regard to Wade's unapproved use of materials from my book on Landmarkism. I anticipate this probability inasmuch as it appears to me that Wade does not seem to really have a grasp of "Landmarkism" -- at least so far as I have discerned in his writings -- and it is conceivable that he misappropriated my materials in relation to the IMB, etc.

So far as I understand the IMB policy of insisting on their "missionary candidates" having received immersion (by a Baptist church or some other church which immerses and holds to the doctrine of eternal security), this does not within itself appear to constitute Landmarkism -- at least not the Landmarkism I was involved in for several years, nor the Landmarkism about which I wrote my book, OLD LANDMARKISM AND THE BAPTISTS.

No Landmarker on earth known to me would approve of the IMB policy on baptism as constituting the doctrine of Landmarkism as to valid baptism. Landmarkers would only partially agree with this policy, for more is required for "valid" or "scriptural" baptism in Landmarkism.

If a partial agreement by Landmarkers on a matter constitutes that matter as being "Landmarkism," then it seems that Wade Burleson qualifies as a "Landmarker."

Notice -- On his blog for March 11, 2009, Wade says "the kingdom of Jesus Christ includes people from all denominations."

Every Landmarker I ever knew would agree with Wade. In my book, I refer to some Landmarkers who define the kingdom in the very same manner as Wade defines it (pages 11, 16). Does that constitute Wade a "Landmarker."

As for the "tongues" issue, I understand that Wade approved of the policy forbidding public speaking in tongues, but he disagreed with the IMB on the matter of "private praying in tongues." He relied on Paul, who said, "forbid not to speak in tongues," as justifying "private praying in tongues."

But if Paul's words justify "private praying in tongues," why does Wade reject Paul's word as being applicable to publicly "speaking" in tongues?

Our Combox is open to Brother Burleson for what he calls his "gracious and civil comments."


  1. Dear Brother Bob,

    I am quite certain WD will not row his boat over here and cast an anchor down. I'd give a double latte if he did though :^)

    With that, I am...


  2. Thanks, Peter.

    If Wade Burleson or anyone of his choosing is interested in a Public Debate on the IMB policy, I will be happy to defend the IMB policy from being "Landmarkism." Just name the time and place, and I will do my best to show up on time.

    Since Wade seems to think that open discussion on differences such as this is profitable, perhaps he would agree to debate the subject.

  3. Bob, since you seem now all of the sudden concerned about allegations of Landmarkism in the SBC, then you can answer for yourself why you sent me the following unsolicited email over two years ago. Whether you agree now, with what you said then, is of no concern to me. I am just reminding you of your concerns then.

    Also, are you a member of a Southern Baptist church? The email is copied below to refresh your memory.

    Blessings to you in your ministry:

    Sent: Thu 2/23/06 3:31 PM

    Dear Brother Burleson:

    I have read some of your comments on Landmarkism, and I surely hate to see that it is apparently rising again to some significance among Southern Baptists.

    I spent the first several years of my Christian life in Landmarkism, after having been baptized at Parkview Baptist (SBC), Jackson, Tennessee in 1953 by a godly and beloved Pastor (now deceased) who first introduced me to the writings of J. R. Graves.

    I left the SBC over Neo-orthodoxy in the schools (particularly at Union University) in 1954, and spent the next eleven years of my life advocating Landmarkism among the "strong as a bear's breath" type of independent Baptists. In the Providence of God, I was enabled by His grace to study my way out of it and abandoned it in 1964.

    Since I knew Landmarkism very well from the "inside" of independent Baptists and saw its divisive and sectarian character, I wrote a book, OLD LANDMARKISM AND THE BAPTISTS, briefly discussing the history and teachings of Graves and other Landmark Baptists, including myself. If you have not seen the book, I will be happy to send you a free copy. It is a 188-page paperback, fully documented.

    Over the past 41 years, I have received many testimonies from readers -- especially preachers -- who have been helped by my various writings on the erroneous theories and practices of Landmarkism.

    Here in Texas, as recently as this week I read the SBTC Texan magazine article by Jim Richards which advocated some of the principles involved in Landmarkism (Feb. 6, 2006, page 5). I hate to see the SBTC leadership get on this dead-end trail which leads to the type of Landmark sectarianism which I have witnessed among independent Baptists, the American Baptist Association (Texarkana headquarters), and the Baptist Missionary Association (Little Rock headquarters).

    I have tried my best to maintain fellowship with Christian brethren who hold to Landmarkism, but they usually have held me at arm's length and regard me as a heretic!

    Bob L. Ross
    Pilgrim Publications
    Pasadena, Texas

  4. Thanks, Wade, for the comments.

    Nothing in that email, Wade, referred to the IMB policy on baptism as being "Landmarkism." That is the issue which I understand you raise in your book and which I understand you have sought to support by use of my book.

    I will be happy to defend the policy of the IMB as opposed to your views, if you care to debate the matter.

  5. Wade, perhaps your publishers, Smyth & Helwys, would be interested in sponsoring a Debate whereby it could serve as one means of promoting your book. At the same time, I could have copies of my OLD LANDMARKISM on hand just in case some naive soul might want a copy.

    btw, Wade, I was baptized by a Southern Baptist (1953) who introduced me to the writings of J. R. Graves. I cut my teeth on Landmarkism and know it like the back of my hand. I am currently a member of an "old folks" Southern Baptist church just a "drive-and-pitching wedge" from my book store. We are not Landmarkers, but the "unwritten law" is that one has to be on Social Security to be a member! That's better than having "Landmark" church authority for baptism, don't you think?

  6. To Wade --

    I heard from your publishers, Wade, and among other things I told the gentleman at Smith & Helwys --

    Actually, I have a blanket policy that my writings may be used "with or without permission."

    In Wade's case, had he contacted me and revealed to me in what context he was using my writings, I think I could have spared him some embarrassment -- supposing he used my materials as if they supported what he considers to be "Landmarkism" -- at least with those who actually understand Landmarkism. . . .

    Having been a Landmarker for a number of years, I can assure you that Wade's concept is far from accurate on "Landmarkism." My book does not support Wade's concept of "Landmarkism." Those who know the concepts of Landmarkism will recognize Wade's error wherein he classifies the IMB policy on Baptism as being Landmarkism.

    It's a shame, Wade, that you did not contact me before you tried to support your view by use of my book. Now, you will forever be embarrassed by your lack of proper representation of both Landmarkism and the IMB.

    One of the first things I learned in the arena of controversy and debate was DON'T MISREPRESENT THE VIEW YOU ARE ENDEAVORING TO REFUTE.

    Also, when you make an allegation, BE SURE YOU CAN BACK IT UP WITH A REFERENCE THAT CAN BE EVALUATED BY THIRD PARTIES -- not merely a "Trust me" reference.

    I think you have probably been learning that lesson in more ways than one here lately, considering the "sources" you have relied on for certain allegations.

  7. Wade, I noticed on Peter's blog that you are trying to toss around the email I sent to you a few years back, as if it has some significance in relation to your views.

    Actually, Wade, if you like, you can short-cut this endeavor by simply referring people to the URL where that item has been posted for at least THREE YEARS:

    Select Writings of Bob Ross

    If you can find one word in that item which suggests that the IMB policy is "Landmarkism," by all means let us know.

  8. Dear Brother Bob,

    I see I was right: while Wade did paddle by over this way, as expected, he dropped no anchor to stay awhile.

    I don't blame him though. Somewhere Jeremiah asked, "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?" If he cannot defend his book before the presses, whats he going to do when the book is in the store? :^)

    Since he actually showed up, when we meet up somewhere, I'll buy you a cafe latte anyway!

    Grace, brother Bob. With that, I am...