Karen O'Dell Bullock

MARTIN, MATTHEW THOMAS (1842–1898). Matthew Thomas Martin, Baptist preacher, was born on August 6, 1842, in Smith County, Mississippi, to John P. and Hannah Ford (Carmon) Martin. He was educated at Mississippi College and served in the Civil War. In 1871 he was elected to the chair of mathematics at Mississippi College, where he taught for nine years. During his tenure, Martin served as financial agent of the institution; he liquidated the $42,000 scholarship debt, redeemed the property mortgage, and added $50,000 to the endowment fund. From 1877 to 1881 he managed the convention-sponsored newspaper, the Mississippi Baptist Record. Also in 1877 he entered the ministry and was licensed to preach. He left Clinton in 1881 and moved to Meridian, where he became associated with Rev. C. M. Gordon in the administration of Meridian Female College. As agent, he traveled in behalf of the institution for one or two sessions, after which he and his wife moved to Waco, Texas, in an effort to improve her failing health. Martin spent ten years as an evangelist in Texas, where his peculiar doctrines concerning salvation spawned the controversy known as "Martinism." As a member of the First Baptist Church of Waco, pastored by Rev. Benajah H. Carroll, Martin expressed views first in the late 1800s that eventually culminated in charges of heresy against him. Martin taught regarding salvation assurance that "Whoever doubts, or has doubted, his conversion is not sound." His preaching credentials were withdrawn in July 1889, after which he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he was again licensed to preach by the church at Woodstock. After he returned to Marlin, Texas, and the Marlin Baptist Church was dismissed, on September 2, 1890, from the Waco Baptist Association for reordaining Martin to the ministry, he made a final move to Gloster, Mississippi, in 1892. A similar controversy erupted in the Mississippi Baptist Association over Martin's doctrinal views in 1893 while he was pastor of the Gloster congregation. Martinism was officially condemned among Texas Baptists in 1895 and Mississippi Baptists in 1897. Martin died of heart disease on October 24, 1898, near St. Louis, Missouri, and was buried in Gloster, Mississippi. The report on obituaries in the Mississippi Baptist Convention Annual of 1899 called him a "dauntless logician; a man of great power, great mind, great heart, and great toil."


James Milton Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist Standard, 1923). Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists (4 vols., Nashville: Broadman, 1958–82). B. F. Fuller, History of Texas Baptists (Louisville, Kentucky: Baptist Book Concern, 1900). Benjamin F. Riley, A History of the Baptists of Texas (Dallas, 1907).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Karen O'Dell Bullock, "MARTIN, MATTHEW THOMAS," accessed February 22, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 6, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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