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Landmark Baptist Church


The Landmark Baptist Church holds the idea of Landmarkism. Landmarkism is not really a denomination, but rather a position that is held by the nature and practices of the church. They trace their origin to the days of Jesus Christ. Their name Landmark Baptist came out of a controversy within the Southern Baptist Convention in 1800. Their leaders were James Madison Pendleton, James Robinson Graves, and Amos Cooper Dayton.

It is an independent church and is considered as being a New Testament Church. They are not affiliated with any man-made external organization. They believe the head of their church is the Lord Jesus Christ and their headquarters is in Heaven.

They believe the only church that can claim to be a Landmark Baptist Church is one who is of Scriptural Baptist denomination. They must also have an unbroken link back to the time of Christ and His Apostles.


The beginning of the Landmark Baptist Church was from the James Madison Pendleton publication called “An Old Landmark Reset” that was written in 1854. There were five questions that the publication stressed...

"(1) Can Baptists with their principles on the Scriptures, consistently recognize those societies not organized according to the Jerusalem church, but possessing different government, different officers, a different class of members, different ordinances, doctrines and practices as churches of Christ?

(2) Ought they to be called gospel churches or churches in a religious sense?

(3) Can we consistently recognize the ministers of such irregular and unscriptural bodies as gospel ministers?

(4) Is it not virtually recognizing them as official ministers to invite them into our pulpits or by any other act that would or could be construed as such recognition?

(5) Can we consistently address as brethren those professing Christianity who not only have not the doctrine of Christ and walk not according to his commandments but are arrayed in direct and bitter opposition to them?"

James Madison Pendleton was born November 20, 1811 in Virginia. He was a Baptist preacher as well as a theologian and educator. He was baptized at the age of seventeen, and ordained at Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1833. He was the professor of Theology at Union University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1857.

Pendleton disagreed with the secession of the States during the civil war and moved to the North. He was given the title of Doctor of Divinity in 1865. He was one of the founders of the Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania.

James Madison Pendleton along with Amos Cooper Dayton and James Robinson Graves influenced the Landmark movement and were known as the Great Triumvirate. Pendleton wrote the document of the movement known as the Old Landmark Reset. The movement began within the Southern Baptist Convention. Pendleton wanted to restrict the Landmark ideology to the authority and the function of the local churches. The Triumvirate dissolved over Pendleton's opinions regarding slavery and his aspirations to maintain the union of the United States following the Civil War.

The influence that Pendleton left behind was his emphasis on self government for the local churches. His organization of ordinances, his preaching, and discipline showed him to be a great supporter of the kingdom of Christ and his faithfulness in the application of the Bible. Pendleton taught the purity of the ordinances fell on the responsibility of the individual believers. James Madison Pendleton died March 4, 1891 and was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Amos Cooper Dayton died before James Pendleton. He was a physician, dentist and a Baptist minister, but was probably best known as one of the founders of the Landmark Baptist Movement. He was born at Plainfield, New Jersey on April 1, 1813. Amos Dayton was raised as a Presbyterian until 1852 when he united with the Baptists. He was the secretary of the Southern Baptist convention Bible Board. He published the Baptist Banner in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the pastor of Houston Lake Baptist Church and First Baptist Church. Amos Cooper Dayton died of tuberculosis June 11, 1865 at Perry Georgia.

The death of James Madison Pendleton and Amos Cooper Dayton left the Landmark Movement in the hands of James Robinson Graves. James Robinson Graves was born April 10, 1820 in Chester, Vermont. He was a Baptist preacher, evangelist, author and gifted speaker. He was considered one of the most influential men in the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the main founders of the Landmark movement. James Robinson Graves died June 26, 1893 in Memphis, Tennessee.


The Landmark Baptist believes in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. They believe God has preserved His words in His Word and only use the King James Bible translation.

The Landmark Baptist believes in the deity of Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in the sinless life of Christ, in His substitutionary death, and his bodily resurrection. They believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. They believe every part of Scripture is essential and they should not break one of the least of the commandments.

They believe Christians should bring forth the fruits of salvation in their lives and they should strive for a good relationship with Jesus Christ. They believe the clothes they wear, the activities they participate in, the jobs they hold. the use of language and the places they spend time at should reflect Christ in their lives. They also believe they should avoid evil of any kind.

The Landmark Baptist believes predestination of the elect. They believe God loves his elect and they are loved, redeemed, quickened and saved. They believe this is not done on their own merit but only through God and His free grace and mercy. They believe God will call His elect unto Himself. They teach the essential of repentance.

They believe their church is only local and visible. They believe the church has existed since its organization by Jesus before Pentecost. They believe in the Great Commission and that it has only been give to the local churches.

The Landmark Baptist believes in only two ordinances that are valid only when they are performed by authority of a New Testament Baptist church. Those two ordinances are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Cite Article Source

MLA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne. "Landmark Baptist Church." Becker Bible Studies Library Jan 2006.   <>.

APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne. (2006, January) "Landmark Baptist Church." Becker Bible Studies Library Retrieved   from

Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne. (2006) "Landmark Baptist Church." Becker Bible Studies Library (January), (accessed )

About the Author

Joanne B. Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies teacher and author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Christian Counseling with honors from Liberty University. She is well-known as a counsleor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on the history of development of the Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.

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