Ben M. Bogard

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Benjamin Marcus Bogard

(Pastor, Antioch Missionary Baptist
Church of Little Rock, 1920-1947)

Benjamin Marcus Bogard.jpg

Born March 9, 1868
Elizabethtown
Hardin County, Kentucky
Died May 29, 1951
Little Rock, Arkansas
Spouse Lynn Oneida Meacham Owen Bogard (married 1891-1951, his death)

Benjamin Marcus Bogard, known as Ben M. Bogard (March 9, 1868 – May 29, 1951), was an American clergyman, author, editor, educator, radio speaker, and debater who in 1924 was the principal founder of the American Baptist Association, based in Texarkana, Texas. He was known for his conservative theological views and repudiation of the theory of evolution.

Background

The son of tobacco tenant farmers, M. L. and Nancy Bogard, he was born in Elizabethtown in Hardin County, Kentucky, not far from the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. In 1873, the Bogards moved to Caseyville in Union County in western Kentucky, where he attended school, the Woodland Baptist Church, and evangelical camp meetings.[1] In the spring of 1913, long after Bogard had left there, Caseyville (not to be confused with Casey County in central Kentucky) was wiped off the map by a flood of the Ohio River.[2]

In February 1885, Bogard was baptized in an ice-covered pond during a church service. From 1887 to 1888, he attended Georgetown College in Georgetown in Scott County near Lexington, Kentucky. He was ordained as a Baptist minister and began a two-year education at the since defunct men's institution, Bethel College in Russellville in south Kentucky. In 1891, Bogard married Lynn Oneida Meacham Owen (1868-1952), a widow with a daughter, and the couple had a son, Douglas Bogard (1891-1978). From 1892 to 1898, Bogard was the pastor of several churches in Kentucky and Missouri.[1]


Baptist clergyman

In 1895, in Fulton in far western Kentucky, Bogard met John Newton Hall, a figure in the Landmark Baptist movement, which emphasized key "landmarks" of Scripture, with a stress of literal interpretation of chapter and verse. Bogard embraced Landmarkism and defended it in his writings and in the 237 religion debates in which he was engaged during his clerical career.[1] One of his encounters was with the flamboyant Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. In that discussion, Bogard affirmed that: "Miracles and divine healing, as taught and manifested in the Word of God, ceased with the closing of the apostolic age," which means that there were no overt miracles after the year A. D. 70. Pentecostals, however, maintain that spiritual gifts continue until the return of Jesus Christ.[3] Bogard debated many preachers of the Churches of Christ denomination, including Joseph Sale Warlick.[4]

Bogard defended the concept of the eternal security of a confessed believer in Christ, whose destiny is assured despite his continuing sinful nature. This view held by many Baptists, said Bogard's critics, may be in conflict with Ezekiel 3:3: if one "trusts to his righteousness, and commit iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in his iniquity that he hath committed, therein shall he die." This line from Ezekiel though speaks of trust in one's "righteous" and not professed faith in Christ. Bogard argued that the blood of Christ covers the sinner who cannot "lose his salvation" once he genuinely repents and turns to God.[5] He also debated the Church of Christ theologian N. B. Hardeman of Tennessee on a variety of topics, including the nature of the Holy Spirit, baptism, and falling from grace.[6]

In 1900, Bogard published Pillars of Orthodoxy through a Baptist press in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1901, he became the half-owner and the editor of the Arkansas Baptist denominational newspaper. In 1904, he procured editorial control of the publication. In 1905, he left the Southern Baptist Convention and became an Independent Baptist. Nearly two decades later, he worked to establish the ABA, or the Missionary Baptist denomination, which dispatches missionaries through the individual churches, rather than a general associational body. ABA headquarters are located on the Texas side of State Line Avenue in Texarkana, Texas.[1] Bogard came to Arkansas in 1899 and was until 1903 the pastor of First Baptist Church in Searcy in White County near Little Rock. At various times from December 1903 to 1909, he was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Argenta, now North Little Rock in Pulaski County. Then he became an itinerant minister and held revival services across seven states. In 1914, he moved to Texarkana in Miller County in southwestern Arkansas, where he founded The Baptist Commoner, which in 1917 he merged with the Arkansas Baptistto form The Baptist and Commoner. In 1920, he became the pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock, where he remained until his retirement in 1947.[1] At the time, no Missionary Baptist pastor earned more than the $100 gross monthly salary paid to Bogard by the Antioch Church. Many drew $50 or less per month.[7]

During the 1920s, Bogard joined the Ku Klux Klan, which at the time was considered anti-Roman Catholic. He attacked the theory of evolution as the cause of moral decline in the United States. In 1926, Bogard and Doss Nathan Jackson wrote Evolution: Unscientific and Unscriptural, which claimed that Charles Darwin's theory results in atheism and Bolshevism.[8]

In 1927, after the Arkansas State Senate tabled an anti-evolution bill, Bogard and his supported organized a petition drive to place the measure on the November 1928 ballot as Initiated Act No. 1. In the campaign he found himself defending an atheist's right to public speech. Bogard believed that his ideas would prevail in an honest exchange of issues. Arkansas voters passed the anti-evolution act by a two-to-one margin; they also supported Democratic presidential nominee Al Smith though Bogard had been among the southern clergy who opposed the first ever Roman Catholic nominee of a major party despite Smith's choice of U.S. Senator Joseph Robinson of Arkansas for the vice presidency.[8]

Legacy

In 1931, after a dispute with the owner, Bogard resigned as editor of The Baptist and Commoner. In 1934, he started the Orthodox Baptist Searchlight newspaper and launched, through the auspices of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock. This seminary superceded the former Missionary Baptist College, which had been established in 1919 in Sheridan in Grant County in south Arkansas, even before Bogard's work in the formation of the American Baptist Association.[1]

Bogard was honored by Ripley's Believe It or Not for preaching "every Sunday for sixty-one years without missing a single Sunday."[1]

Bogard died in Little Rock at the age of eighty-three and is interred there at Roselawn Memorial Park, the resting place of many of the Arkansas leadership class. The Bogard Press at the Baptist Bookstore in Texarkana, Texas, is named in his honor.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Ben M. Bogard. findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
  2. Caseyville, KY Flood, April 1913. 3.gendisasters.com. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
  3. "Defending the Faith with a Broken Sword", Part 2. christiancourier.com. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
  4. Joseph Sale Warlick (1866-1941). therestorationmovement.com. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
  5. Can a saved person be lost?. vscoc.org. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
  6. Hardeman-Bogard Debate, Little Rock, Arkansas, April 19-22, 1938 (paperback). Amazon. Retrieved on May 4, 2013. 
  7. Billy Hathorn, "Austin Toliver Powers and Leander Louis Clover: Planting the American Baptist Association in Northwest Louisiana during the Middle 20th Century," North Louisiana History, Vol. XLI (Summer-Fall 2010), p. 133
  8. 8.0 8.1 Benjamin Marcus Bogard. encyclopediaofarkansas.net. Retrieved on June 25, 2013.