Dr. Couch, the Landmark Baptist churches believe there is no universal church; they believe in local assemblies only. Also, they say the church began directly with John the Baptist. How do they defend these positions?
ANSWER: They can’t! But they are so out of it in terms of interpretation that they don’t even know they are in the dark! The problem is they cannot read very well; too, they mix the dispensations all together, pulling some verses from here, and some from there, putting them all in one pot and stirring them up. John the Baptist came to herald the coming of Israel’s king and Messiah. This has nothing to do with the church age following Israel’s rejection of their king and the repudiation of the Davidic kingdom over which Christ is to reign.
Also, remember that such way out views show that those folks have an agenda. Always ask: what is your agenda? They have an ax to grind. They hold to something that is odd because they have certain legalistic fears. What do they do with 1 Cor. 1:2 where Paul says he is addressing the church in Corinth, "to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours."
All believers are included together. All are joined "in Christ Jesus" and are all saints "by calling," and as well, they are joined together all "in every place" who call upon Him. How could that be any more clear? What would they do with 12:12-13 where Paul says by one Spirit "we were all baptized into one body"? Paul was not a part of the local Corinthian assembly. How could he say that all were placed into "one body"? Is this the local Corinthian church "body," or the entire body of believers who are now part of the spiritual body of Christ?
I know some of these folks and I brought up to them these issues. They just looked at me as if they had gone brain dead. They didn’t say a word, nor could they answer me. They just did a lot of blinking, and never came back. I discovered by this that they held to some wooden-headed positions and had never considered the other side. But worse, they did not want to consider what the biblical text was actually saying. They had no hermeneutical skills or clear thinking abilities.
These kinds of folks, unless they are open to the Bible, you have to leave alone and just keep on truckin! They will not listen. For them to change their mind on some of these issues is abhorrent and causes them great inner trauma. It is as if they are about to lose their salvation.
Thanks for asking!
Dr. Mal Couch