American Baptist Association
The American Baptist Association (ABA), formed by a merger of two related groups in 1924, is an association of Baptist churches. The principal founder was Ben M. Bogard, a pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. ABA headquarters, including its bookstore and publishing house, Bogard Press, is based in Texarkana, Texas.
|Part of a series on|
|American Baptist Association|
|Region||Worldwide, primarily the United States|
|Origin||March 4, 1924 |
Texarkana, Texas and Arkansas
|Separations||Baptist Missionary Association of America (1950)|
In the 1850s, conservative Baptist preachers spoke out against the tide of progressive, liberal theology and the practice of some Baptist churches in accepting pedobaptism and pulpit affiliation with other denominations. Missionary T.P. Crawford wrote the booklet Churches to the Front, a call for Baptists to return to scriptural church practices of mission work. J.R. Graves, a prominent Southern Baptist theologian, began writing articles on "returning to the ancient landmarks" in his Tennessee newspaper. It was a call for Southern Baptists to return to Biblical ecclesiology. Graves preached that the ancient view of Baptists was that there was not an invisible, universal church of all the saved. Only local churches had authority to baptize, to administer communion, to send missionaries, and to ordain ministers. The Landmark Baptists called for the Convention to give back the authority to local churches in mission work by rejecting the board system and adopting local church sponsored mission work.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a large portion of Southern Baptists still held to Landmark doctrine such as local church autonomy, rejection of alien baptism, and the practice of restricting the ordinance of communion to the members of the local church. These doctrines were debated and argued between fundamental and progressive Baptists. However, one main point of contention was that of what was termed "Gospel Missions." Gospel Missions referred to the practice of mission work being done directly through the authority of a local church rather than through the authority of a mission board system. In 1859, there was a push in the Southern Baptist Convention to do away with the Foreign Mission Board. Then, in 1892, T.P. Crawford, a Baptist missionary to China penned the book, Churches to the Front, in which he criticized the board system as an encroachment upon the authority of the local church's commission to carry out mission work. The Gospel Mission movement, which held the board system accountable to Biblical principles, was a significant catalyst in the split between Landmark churches and Convention churches. The term Landmarkism has its roots in Proverbs 22:28, "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." Many Baptist churches of that day were succumbing to the ecumenical movement of Protestant denominations. During the period of the Second Great Awakening, a revival of unprecedented proportions swept through America, and many unchurched people were saved. This revival swelled the ranks of all denominations, and Baptist preachers saw that the gospel of salvation by grace was being preached in churches who had previously taught that works and sacraments were required to enter heaven. Some Baptist pastors opened their doors to these people, accepting baptism from Protestant churches. Some even accepted those who had been baptized as infants. This open-door policy of ecumenicity continued to permeate the Baptist ranks. Methodists, Church of Christ, and preachers from many other denominations were preaching in Baptist pulpits. Landmark Baptist preachers began earnestly speaking out against the practices of ecumenism and the board system of missionary work, stating that these practices violated the sovereignty of church authority and Biblical doctrine. Three "Landmarks" were emphasized:
1. Church succession of an unbroken lineage of authority and doctrine from the time of the founding of the first church by Jesus Christ when He called the disciples in Galilee to the present age.
2. The local, visible assembly of saved, baptized believer, covenanted together to carry out the work of the Lord is the only type of church. There is no universal body of believers, and scriptural authority is only given to local bodies, each congregation being recognized as the body of Christ.
3. Baptism, administered by scriptural authority (a local church) to a scriptural candidate (a person professing faith in Christ) by a scriptural mode (immersion in water). This ruled out pedobaptism, sprinkling, and any baptism administered by a denomination or congregation that is not of like faith and practice.
Later in the Landmark Baptist movement, which was a revival of scriptural practices among Baptist churches rather than an organization of new doctrines and practices, the Landmarks of the faith were further enumerated:
1. Salvation by grace through faith
2. Eternal Security of the believer
3. Baptism by immersion of a believer by a scriptural church
4. Administration of the Lord's Supper by a scriptural church, given only to members of that local church
5. The church defined as a called out local assembly of saved, scripturally baptized believers covenanted together to carry out the commands and commission of Christ
6. The perpetuity of scriptural churches in an unbroken line of succession from the founding by Christ in Galilee until the present day, and that true Baptists were never part of the Roman church.
7. Since authority was vested in the church body, church government was to be congregational and democratic
8. Bridal identity of believers is earned by faithfulness to the commands of the Lord, including baptism, church membership and faithfulness in Christian living
These Baptist distinctives became a test of fellowship not only between Baptists and other denominations, but also among the Baptist ranks. Landmark Missionary Baptists began to see that the ever growing bureaucracy of the mission board system was extra-biblical in its practice and, like the ancient Roman hierarchy of centuries past, began to exert authority over local churches. At the end of the nineteenth century, many of these churches left the convention Baptists and continued to do mission work on a local level, through individual churches and local associations of churches.
Pioneers in the Landmark Baptists included the preachers Benjamin Marcus Bogard (March 9, 1868 – May 29, 1951) and Doss Nathan Jackson (July 14, 1895 – November 29, 1968). These two men were instrumental in their state associations of Arkansas and Texas, respectively. The Baptist Missionary Association of Texas was begun in 1900 as a way for sound, Landmark Baptist churches to conduct mission work on a state level away from what was seen as the corruption of the convention board system. This was followed by a departure of the Baptist churches in Arkansas from the convention and founding of the Arkansas Baptist State Association in 1902. In the year 1905, a nationwide association of Landmark Missionary Baptists was formed. It was called the General Association of Baptist Churches. In 1924, the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas joined this association, and the named was changed to the American Baptist Association.
The first interstate missionaries of the General Association (later the ABA) were sent out in 1905. They were J.A. Scarboro, ministering in Summit, GA, and C.R. Powell who was a missionary in Jacksonville, TX. The first foreign missionaries were I.N. Yohannon, a Jewish missionary to the Jews in Urmia, Persia (present-day Iran); S.M. Jureidini serving in Beirut, Syria; Jennie Edwards serving in Cuba; M.M. Munger, missionary to Mexico, and the following missionaries to the country of China: M.F. Crawford, W.D. King, T.J. League, Charles Tedder, Blanch Rose Walker, D.W. Herring, Alice Herring, L.M. Dawes, J.V. Dawes, G.P. Bostick, T.L. Blalock and Wade Bostick. Po-Chow, An Hwei, Taian Fu and Chining Chow were also supported as national missionaries in China.
According to reported statistics, the American Baptist Association of landmark missionary Baptist churches grew substantially, despite a split with the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas in 1950. In 1935 there were a reported 1,734 preachers, 2,662 churches with a total of 263,484 members. Thirty years later, in 1965 these numbers had grown to 3,150 preachers, 3,227 churches and 726,112 members. The American Baptist Association reached its height of growth in 1980, when they reported an estimated total of 5,700 preachers, 5,000 churches and 1,500,000 total church members. In the 1980s and 1990s these numbers began to drop dramatically, with many churches leaving the association to fellowship with convention churches or independent Baptists. Many other rural churches closed their doors as both population and interest in church declined in the scattered areas where these rural churches existed. By 2009, the American Baptist Association reported that there were 1,700 preachers among 1,600 churches with a total attendance of 100,000 members (Melton). The current numbers represent a remnant of only seven percent of the peak of the association. In 2017, the ABA had 44 interstate missionaries, 36 foreign missionaries, 71 national missionaries, and 10 missionary helpers. In addition, there are many other missionaries sent out by local ABA churches who do not report statistics through the associational mission office.
In 1950, The American Baptist Association annual meeting convened in Lakeland, FL. That year, a growing rift among the churches concerning church representation by proxy messenger, among other issues, resulted in hundreds of messengers walking out. Those messengers met together in Little Rock, Arkansas and formed the North American Baptist Association, now known as the Baptist Missionary Association of America. By 1968, The BMAA reported 3,000 preachers, 1,550 churches with a combined membership of approximately 200,000. According to their website, the association now has 1,300 churches with a membership of 230,000. They support 36 American international missionaries, 29 North American church planters, 680 national missionaries, and 200 support workers. Their main offices are in Conway, Arkansas. Several of the churches that split from the American Baptist Association in 1950 joined together to create the Interstate and Foreign Missionary Baptist Associational Assembly of America. This association is commonly referred to as Faithway Baptists, after the name of their Sunday school literature ministry. The Faithway Baptists claim 168 churches with a total membership of over 30,000.
In 2009, the American Baptist Association reported 1,600 congregations and 100,000 members. The largest number of associated churches are in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and on the west coast, with churches also in most of the United States. The association also has a presence in several countries outside the United States, most notably Mexico and the Philippine Islands. In 2019, churches from 45 states and 25 countries around the world associated with the American Baptist Association.
The American Baptist Association hold no official authority over any associating churches. According to their website, "The American Baptist Association is a worldwide group of independent Baptist churches voluntarily associating in their efforts to fulfill the Great Commission. Its organization is designed to be minimal to ensure the complete independence and equal representation of every church in the association." Churches of the American Baptist Association practice a congregational form of church government, with each local church body autonomous and independent of any other ecclesiastical authority.
A key doctrinal position of the churches of the American Baptist Association that sets them apart from many other Baptist groups is the practice of closed communion, also known as "Restricted Lord's Supper," in which the ordinance of communion is restricted to members of the local church body observing the ordinance. This practice precludes both non-believers and non-members from partaking in the ordinance. Closed communion is closely linked with church discipline as found in 1 Corinthians 5:11.
- We believe that love one for another as Jesus loves the believer manifests our discipleship, proves our love for God and symbolizes our authority as New Testament churches. Love is therefore the great commandment of the LORD Jesus Christ upon which all others are dependent (Matt. 22:35-40; John 13:34, 35; John 15:12; 1 John 4:7-21; 1 John 5:1-3; Rev. 2:4, 5).
- We believe in the infallible, verbal inspiration of the whole Bible and that the Bible is the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice (Psalm 119:160; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
- We believe in the personal triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equal in divine perfection (Matt. 28:19).
- We believe in the Genesis account of Creation (Gen. 1; 2).
- We believe that Satan is a fallen angel, the archenemy of God and man, the unholy god of this world, and that his destiny is the eternal lake of fire (Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:11-19; Matt. 25:41; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:10-17; Rev. 20:10).
- We believe in the virgin birth and sinless humanity of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:18-20; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22).
- We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 10:30; John 1:1, 14; 2 Cor. 5:19).
- We believe the Holy Spirit is the divine Administrator for Jesus Christ in His churches (Luke 24:49; John 14:16, 17; Acts 1:4, 5, 8; Acts 2:1-4).
- We believe that miraculous spiritual manifestation gifts were done away when the Bible was completed. Faith, Hope and Love are the vital abiding Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. chapters 12-14).
- We believe that Man was created in the image of God and lived in innocency until he fell by voluntary transgression from his sinless state, the result being that all mankind are sinners (Gen. 1:26; Gen. 3:6-24; Rom. 5:12, 19).
- We believe that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ was substitutionary for all mankind and is efficacious only to those who believe (Isa. 53:6; Heb. 2:9; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2).
- We believe in the bodily resurrection and ascension of Christ and the bodily resurrection of His saints (Matt. 28:1-7; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:42-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
- We believe in the premillennial, personal, bodily return of Christ as the crowning event of the Gentile age. This event will include the resurrection of the righteous to eternal heaven, and the Millennium will be followed by the resurrection of the unrighteous unto eternal punishment in the lake of fire and that the righteous shall enter into the heaven age (John 14:1-6; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19; Rev. 20:4-6; Rev. 20:11-15; Rev. 21:8).
- We believe that the depraved sinner is saved wholly by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and the requisites to regeneration are repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 13:3-5; John 3:16-18; Acts 20:21; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8, 9), and that the Holy Spirit convicts sinners, regenerates, seals, secures, and indwells every believer (John 3:6; John 16:8, 9; Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; Eph. 4:30; Titus 3:5).
- We believe that all who trust Jesus Christ for salvation are eternally secure in Him and shall not perish (John 3:36; John 5:24; John 10:27-30; Rom. 8:35-39; Heb. 10:39; 1 Peter 1:5).
- We believe that God deals with believers as His children, that He chastises the disobedient, and that He rewards the obedient (Matt. 16:27; Matt. 25:14-23; John 1:12; Heb. 12:5-11; 2 John 8; Rev. 22:12).
- We believe that Jesus Christ established His church during His ministry on earth and that it is always a local, visible assembly of scripturally baptized believers in covenant relationship to carry out the Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ, and each church is an independent, self-governing body, and no other ecclesiastical body may exercise authority over it. We believe that Jesus Christ gave the Great Commission to the New Testament churches only, and that He promised the perpetuity of His churches (Matt. 4:18-22; Matt. 16:18; Matt. 28:19, 20; Mark 1:14-20; John 1:35-51; Eph. 3:21).
- We believe that there are two pictorial ordinances in the Lord's churches: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Scriptural baptism is the immersion of penitent believers in water, administered by the authority of a New Testament church in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Lord's Supper is a memorial ordinance, restricted to the members of the church observing the ordinance (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 8:12, 38; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 5:11-13; 1 Cor. 11:1, 2, 17-20, 26).
- We believe that there are two divinely appointed offices in a church, pastors and deacons, to be filled by men whose qualifications are set forth in Titus and 1 Timothy.
- We believe that all associations, fellowships, and committees are, and properly should be, servants of, and under control of the churches (Matt. 20:25-28).
- We believe in freedom of worship without interference from the government and affirm our belief in civil obedience, unless the laws and regulations of civil government run contrary to the Holy Scriptures (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-15).
- We believe the Bible definition of marriage is the union between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Cor. 7:2-4; Eph. 5:22-31)
There are several seminaries, Bible institutes and colleges associated with the American Baptist Association. Many of these schools are recognized by the American Baptist Association's accrediting body, the American Baptist Association of Theological Schools, (ABATS). These schools include:
Missionary Baptist Seminary
After the Missionary Baptist College in Sheridan closed due to economic woes of the Great Depression in May 1934, Dr. Conrad N. Glover, along with Dr. Ben M. Bogard and Dr. J. Louis Guthrie made plans to develop a new seminary. In September 1934, the Missionary Baptist Seminary was started out of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dr. Conrad N. Glover was the First President of the seminary, with Dr. J. Louis Guthrie as Vice President. Dr. Ben M. Bogard, pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Little Rock, Arkansas at that time, was elected Dean of the school. In May 1979, the Seminary relocated to Stagecoach Road in Little Rock, and has remained there since. The current President of the seminary is Carroll Koon, who is also the current pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
- Most Missionary Baptist churches teach Baptist successionism and do not consider themselves Protestant.
- http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/D_1064.asp Data from the National Council of Churches' Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches
- "Benjamin Marcus Bogard (1868–1951)". encyclopediaofarkansas.net. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
- Crawford, T. P. (1892). Churches to the Front. Landmark Media Production.
- Graves, J. R. (1880). Old Landmarkism: What is It?. Baptist Sunday School Committee.
- Cross, I. K. (1984). Landmarkism: An Update. Bogard Press. p. 21.
- Bible, King James Version. pp. Proverbs 22.28.
- Clark, Henry B. (1982). Freedom of Religion in America: Historical Roots, Philosophical Concepts, Contemporary Problems. Transaction Publishers. p. 16.
- Glover, C.N. (1979). The American Baptist Association 1924-1974. Bogard Press.
- Jones, Danny S. (2017). The Baptist Missionary Handbook. Baptist Training Center. ISBN 978-1-947598-00-3.
- "Home". BMA Missions. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- 2010-2011 American Baptist Association Online Yearbook Directory http://www.abaptist.org/general.html
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- "Theology Forum: What is "open" or "closed" communion — and why does it matter?". Southern Equip. 2018-09-21. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "ABA | Seminary Directory". ABA. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Northwest Alabama Baptist Institute". Northwest Alabama Baptist Institute. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Batesville Baptist Institute". bbionline. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Home". Central Arkansas Baptist Bible Institute. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Missionary Baptist Seminary | Home". mb-seminary.com. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Fresno Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary", Wikipedia, 2017-08-16, retrieved 2019-07-13
- "History of the California Landmark Bible Schools". calmbc.org. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Seminary". www.tularembc.com. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Emmaus Baptist College — An Intimate, Private College Experience". emmausbaptistcollege.com. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "West Florida Baptist Institute/Bible College and Church Training". wfbi.net. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Westwood School of Missions | Missionary Training". Westwood School of Missions | Missionary Training. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Indiana Baptist Institute of Theology & Missions". Indiana Baptist Institute of Theology & Missions. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Cumberland Baptist Institute – "Training Christian Workers to Make a Difference"". Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "LMBIS – Louisiana Missionary Baptist Institute & Seminary". Retrieved 2019-07-13.
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- "Concord Baptist Institute – Concord Missionary Baptist Church". Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Home". hbiedu.net. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Texas Baptist Institute & Seminary | Henderson, Texas | Learn more about how you can follow God's leading into your calling". Retrieved 2019-07-13.
- "Missionary Baptist Seminary History" http://www.mb-seminary.com/ (Click About-> History to view the above information)
- "Missionary Baptist Seminary Contact" http://www.mb-seminary.com/ (Click on Contact to see the above information)
- "Missionary Baptist Seminary Administration" http://www.mb-seminary.com/ (Click on About-> Administration to view the above information)