Friday, March 13, 2009

Invitation to Wade Burleson

Wade, Will You Please Let Us
in on the "Secret" Source?

Brother Wade, I wonder if perhaps you have lately been waking-up in the wee hours of the morning, audibly mumbling aloud, "What on earth have I done!"

Then, as you lie there in bed, your churning thoughts can't help but reflect back to the more than two years (2005-2008) of controversy and "hard feelings" which characterized your tenure on the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, as it has at last dawned upon you that all the while you "never had a leg to stand on."

Your mind goes on to recall -- as you toss around and begin to perspire -- how you continuously carried on a badgering agenda toward your fellow IMB trustees for their alleged "Landmarkism." But now, as you wait to spring your book on the matter to the public, the one known source you have quoted to ostensibly verify and authenticate your charge of "Landmarkism" denies that the IMB policy on baptism is "Landmarkist"
(as you alleged), but rather that source says the IMB policy is perfectly consistent with the SBC's Baptist Faith & Message Article VII.

I just wonder, Wade, since you evidently did not have my book, Old Landmarkism and the Baptists, when you first broached your charge that the policy of the IMB on baptism is "Landmarkist," where in the world did you get that idea?

Even if you had my book at that time (2005), you would not have imbibed that idea from that book, for you can't quote a single line from the book, citing the chapter and page number, which would identify the IMB policy as being "Landmarkist."

Do you remember, Wade, that TV show called "I've Got a Secret"? Is it perchance the case with you, that you also have a "secret"? Do you reveal your "secret" source in your new book, Wade -- perhaps a source we do not know about, which perhaps is a "Landmarkist" source -- which supports your view on this?

I wish to invite you, Wade, to please share with the readers of the Reformed Flyswatter what that "secret" is -- what "Landmarkist" source you relied on in 2005 and thereafter which substantiates the allegation you made in the controversy about the policy of the IMB in regard to baptism?

I have scores of Landmark writings in my library, Wade, from J. R. Graves to the modern Landmark advocates who consider me a "heretic" -- books, pamphlets, tracts, magazines -- and I personally was involved for several years in my church affiliation with, and in the advocacy of, Landmarkism, -- as I have related in my book -- and I have never yet come upon anything which would categorize the IMB policy as being "Landmarkist."

To put it bluntly, Wade, you evidently found something which I never heard or read -- something which is a "secret" so far as my knowledge of Landmarkism extends.

Will you please share that "secret" information with us on this blog? Our "front page" is wide open to you, Wade. Please reveal your "secret" source.


  1. Bob,

    I encourage everyone to buy the book. You'll see there are no secrets. Grin.

    I don't believe in them.



    Wade, I know you must be anxious to sell as many copies as possible. I hope Smyth & Helways is paying you "royalties" so you can donate them to the poor missionaries allegedly deprived by the
    "Landmarkers" at IMB.

    As for reading your book, as Curly said, "I can hardly wait!" My order has already been placed.

    I had already assumed you "had no secrets" on this matter, Wade, so I am not at all taken by surprise at your post. I knew that you and your publishers could scour all the Landmark sources "from here to kingdom come" and not find a single source which would sustain your allegation about the IMB and "Landmarkism." But if you do come upon one, send it to me -- we will post it here.

    Your book, as for having any sustaining material, I predict will be as empty as when Geraldo Rivera opened up Al Capone's vault.

    Keep grinning, Wade, for that's about the best thing one can do when he finds himself in an embarrassing predicament such as yours. "The emperor has no clothes!"

  3. "I Can Hardly Wait"

    Forgot to give you the link, Wade:

    I Can Hardly Wait

    That ought to make your grin even broader!

  4. Bob,

    I believe John Gill gives the finest explanation of Christian baptism, as defined by Scripture, within Baptist literature. I can assure you the IMB doctrinal policy on baptism comes nowhere close to Gill's understanding, as follows (with my interpretation in parenthesis):

    Practical Divinity~Book 3

    Chapter 1:

    Of Baptism

    As the first covenant, or testament, had ordinances of divine service, which are shaken, removed, and abolished; so the New Testament, or gospel dispensation, has ordinances of divine worship, which cannot be shaken, but will remain until the second coming of Christ: these, as Austin says {1}, are few; and easy to be observed, and of a very expressive signification. Among which, baptism must be reckoned one, and is proper to be treated of in the first place; for though it is not a church ordinance, it is an ordinance of God, and a part and branch of public worship.

    When I say baptism is not a church ordinance, I mean baptism is not an ordinance administered in the church, but out of it, and in order to admission into it, and communion with it; it is preparatory to it, and a qualification for it; it does not make a person a member of a church, or admit him into a visible church; persons must first be baptized, and then added to the church, as the three thousand converts were; a church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it.

    Admission to baptism lies solely in the breast of the administrator, who is the only judge of qualifications for it, and has the sole power of receiving to it, and of rejecting from it; if nor satisfied, he may reject a person thought fit by a church, and admit a person to baptism not thought fit by a church; but a disagreement is not desirable nor advisable.

    The orderly, regular, scriptural rule of proceeding seems to be this: a person inclined to submit to baptism, and to join in communion with a church, should first apply to an administrator; and upon giving him satisfaction, be baptized by him; and then should propose to the church for communion; when he would be able to answer all proper questions: if asked, to give a reason of the hope that is in him, he is ready to do it; if a testimony of his life and conversation is required, if none present can give it, he can direct where it is to be had; and if the question is put to him, whether he is a baptized person or not, he can answer in the affirmative, and give proof of it, and so the way is clear for his admission into church fellowship.

    So Saul, when converted, was immediately baptized by Ananias, without any previous knowledge and consent of the church; and, it was many days after this that he proposed to join himself to the disciples, and was received, #Ac 9:18,19,23,26-28

    (The new IMB policy on baptism violates the above in five areas:)

    (1). The new policy forces baptism to take place within a church for identification with a church, not recognizing that baptism can, and often should, take place outside a church (winning the convert on the mission field and baptizing in a river or lake) and it represents one's unashamed identification with Jesus Christ and His followers.

    (2). Thus, the new policy places the emphasis of baptism on the person's identification with a church, not identification with Christ.

    (3). Therefore, the IMB is now asking questions about what the church who baptizes an individual believed, rather than asking what the individual being baptized believes. What is in the head of the baptizer is deemed more important than what is in the heart of the baptized.

    (4). So the new IMB policy violates the historic Baptistic understanding of baptism, not to mention the Scriptural description of believer's baptism by immersion, by adopting a Landmark understanding of baptism with it's emphasis on examining the qualifications of the church, or person, doing the baptizing when both the New Testament and Baptist Faith and Message make no such demand.

    (5). So the eventual end to the matter is that the IMB's sacerdotal and Landmark new policy on baptism violates the autonomy of the local Southern Baptist Church, by rejecting the prospective missionary candidate who is a member of an SBC church, who has been Scripturally baptized, but not by a "proper church," a condition only attached to Landmark theology.

    In His Grace,


  5. JOHN GILL or BF&M?

    Without commenting (at this time) on either John Gill's view or your remarks, Wade, let me understand you:

    (1) Do you stand for what is presented in the Baptist Faith & Message on the Church (Article VI) and Baptism (Article VII)?

    (2) Are SBC missionaries asked to stand for those same two articles?

    When you were on the IMB, were the missionaries asked to sign-on to the Baptist Faith & Message or to the views taught in the "Body of Divinity" of Dr. John Gill or some other Baptist of the past?

    Also, Wade, I have repeatedly asked you for a statement from a "Landmark" source which sustains your classifying the IMB policy as being "Landmarkism." Yet you have offered nothing but your own thoughts and conclusions.
    I herewith renew the request, Wade.


    Wade, will you please quote the IMB source for each of the items you have alleged to be its policy? Perhaps I have missed something.

  7. The new doctrinal policy on baptism is found in the IMB policy handbook. You can also find it on my website. I was calling the IMB baptismal policy Landmark (November 2005, see my blog) long before I ever heard of you or your Landmark book (February 2006, see you email you posted). So, it is obvious that you cannot be my source for whatever understanding of Landmarkism I have. As you know, you and I don't agree on many things, but that does not negate my appreciation for your ministry.

    Interestingly, in your unsolicited email to me over three years ago, you tell me you had independent concerns that Southern Baptist leadership holds to Landmark tenets - an opinion you reached on your own from reading THEIR writings, not mine. Amazing how smart people think alike. Smile.

    Bob, again, you are not the person from whom I learned what Landmarkism is or is not, but I found your book on the subject a good one. You encouraged me yesterday to focus on my ministry and my church and not the Convention. Yet, you continue to write posts and ask me to debate you.

    I find it impossible to do both things you suggest of me. So, I will take your former advice and not continue to debate you on the matter. However, feel free to post anything you desire about me.

    It only increases interest in my book.




    Wade, you have quoted -- and evidently aligned yourself with -- Dr. Gill. The late and great Doctor, one of the predecessors of C. H. Spurgeon, is quoted by you as follows:

    "a person inclined to submit to baptism, and to join in communion with a church, should first apply to an administrator; and upon giving him satisfaction, be baptized by him;"

    Wade, does this imply that Dr. Gill was a "Landmarker," inasmuch as he seems to make the "administrator" the "authorized" person to be "satisfied" as to a party's qualification for baptism, which baptism is evidently essential for his being added to the church communion?

    At your church, Wade, to whom does one give "satisfaction" that he or she is qualifed to receive baptism? If you do the baptizing, are you the one to whom they give "satisfaction"? Does this "authority" to be "satisfied" with one's profession prior to baptism make you a "Landmarker"?

    If it does not make you a Landmarker, how so? And why does it not make the church as a whole a Landmark church? Consider:

    Are you not the one whom the church has collectively approved as being qualifed to hear such confessions of faith and to administer baptisms, and therefore your actions are in effect "church authorized" actions? Would this not constitute "church authority" for baptism, which is definitely "Landmark" doctrine?


    "Bob, again, you are not the person from whom I learned what Landmarkism is or is not, but I found your book on the subject a good one.

    Thanks for that clarification, Wade. I always knew you did not get your ideas about
    "Landmarkism" from me, and your clarification relieves me of the perception that some might have that I am responsible for the misunderstanding you have of "Landmarkism." You have emphasized in this post that you did not get your ideas on "Landmarkism" from Bob Ross, and I am grateful for that acknowledgment.

    As for what you say about my book, I don't know whether to accept your comment as being a commendation or a condemnation.

    In a certain way, it reminds me somewhat of that girl in Acts who followed Paul around (Acts 16:17), recommending Paul's message. It was not really a recommendaton which Paul was proud to have.

    My book evidently left you with the same defective concept on Landmarkism which you had before you read it, and for that I cannot be pleased.

    I appreciate your taking time to comment to the extent that you have, Wade, and I do believe you would better serve the cause of Christ if you would sever yourself as far as possible from this controversy about the IMB.

    It is doubtful, however, that your new book is going to do anything but mire you deeper into the controversy, and such will continue to divert you to a great extent from the more profitable things relating to the ministry of the Gospel.

    We all reap what we sow, Wade, and I think you are reaping the consequences of your erroneous concept about "Landmarkism" in relation to the IMB policy on baptism, and making it the focus of your attention the past few years.

  10. Bob,

    The "administrator" is the person who had the privilege of leading the person to Christ, or, if it is more convenient, it can be the pastor of a church, but Gill's point is baptism has nothing to do with admittance into a "local" church and everything to do with being identified with Christ.


    On the basis of what we understand to be Wade Burleson's "template" of "Landmarkism," it seems that not only the IMB is "Landmarkist," but so was John Gill and so is Wade Burleson.

    Each and all have some type of approved
    "intermediary" who is to be "satisfied" as to who is qualified for baptism.

    I am inclined to think that Wade's view on this makes "Landmarkers" of us all!

  12. AGAIN . . .

    If you are going to continue to appeal to Dr. Gill, I must ask you again:

    (1) Do you stand for what is presented in the Baptist Faith & Message on the Church (Article VI) and Baptism (Article VII)?

    (2) Are SBC missionaries asked to stand for those same two articles?

    When you were on the IMB, were the missionaries asked to sign-on to the Baptist Faith & Message or to the views taught in the "Body of Divinity" of Dr. John Gill or some other Baptist of the past?

    If your principle makes "Landmarkers" out of the IMB, then why not Dr. Gill? He puts the administration of baptism and the approval of the candidate on the shoulders of the "administrasstor."

    This makes the administrator a "one member" Landmark board, doesn't it? He decides on the profession's validity, administers the baptism, and thus qualifes the person for church communion.


    For the life of me, it appears that Brother Burleson believes in a "one-man Landmark" system of approving of baptism and church membership.

    He is quoting John Gill to the effect that the "administrator" is the one who has the scriptural right to receive "satisfaction" that a person is qualified for baptism, to then administer the baptism, and by this means the baptized person is qualifed to be received into the church.

    In other words, without the approving
    "satisfaction" of the administrator, a person's profession is not approved, and he will not be baptized, and therefore he cannot become a member of the church.

    To be perfect blunt, this seems to be the narrowest and strictest form of "Landmarkism" one could have -- yet it is endorsed by no less than Wade Burleson!

  14. Bob,

    To be perfectly succinct and blunt:

    The person who has the privilege of leading someone to Christ also has the privilege of baptizing that convert - without any "church" approval.

    That is about as non-Landmark as you can get.



    Does your latest comment indicate you are now going to forsake Dr. Gill as your Baptist
    "authority" on the administrator of baptism, Wade?

    Note: I'm going out to supper. I'll check on the condition of my "little flyswatter" later this evening.

  16. No sir. Gill and the First London Confession are in agreement, and I agree both!


    Good night!