thatmom

real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

Part 12 on the pros and cons of the family integrated model

(Please note that there is so much to say that I still have one more in this series coming. A letter to those in a family integrated church, Lord-willing, will be up in a day or two.)

I know there are many more things that could be said and I would certainly welcome any comments someone might want to add to the conversation. It is a thorny topic to address because I fully understand how difficult is to be part of a traditional church that doesn’t appreciate the importance of parents discipling their own children. I also understand that there are times when a church can actually work against the efforts of the parents and once that line is crossed, it is difficult, if not outright unwise, to remain in that sort of environment.

At the same time, I also recognize the dangers that are lurking within a family integrated church, especially as they are related to the leaders within the patriocentric movement. Again, I see this model as a severe and unnecessary overreaction to the traditional church and, knowing what I know at this time, would only recommend this type of congregation IF no other Bible teaching church was available.

All of that being said, here are some ways I think the traditional church might minister to families, especially homeschooling families who seek to disciple and mentor their own children.

Pastors ought to regularly preach and teach the importance of family worship at home and should inspire fathers to take the lead. I recognize that before this can happen, pastors must be convinced, themselves, that this is the most effective way of mentoring sons and daughters. Each pastor ought to prayerfully consider the programs and activities within his church and question whether they strengthen the hands of the parents in this task or if they compete with the parents. They may be surprised to learn that some things are actually undermining the discipling efforts of mom and dad.

Pastors would do well to read the writings of Richard Baxter, a Puritan pastor in England who took very seriously his role in the discipling of families. His philosophy was that if he preached sound doctrine from the pulpit, making application as he did, and if met personally with his families every year to be certain that they were catechizing their children, he would need to spend less time in individual counseling. His books The Reformed Pastor and The Christian Directory both serve as a model, though some of topics seem archaic, for pastors today who understand the role sound teaching plays in instructing families, especially fathers.

Sometimes it is very easy to understand why pastors would be reluctant to abandon children’s ministries programs in their church. I can remember one time when I was on the ministry outreach board and we were faced with the problem of two AWANA buses that were in terrible need of costly repairs. The pastor talked with us and asked us if it wouldn’t be a better idea if we asked parents to bring their children to the church or if we would consider asking the club leaders or other church members to give rides to any of the children who ordinarily rode the bus. He felt that if we did this, we could make a better effort of reaching unchurched families with the Gospel rather than only the children who rode the bus. His goal was to find more opportunities for church members to make connections with entire families.

You would have thought the sky had fallen. Some members of the board thought that we couldn’t possibly expect parents to actually be responsible for the spiritual training of their children, let alone actually driving them to the church building. The truth was, some of the church members enjoyed using that time alone at home and THEY didn’t even want to bring their OWN children to the church.

The pastor used this as an opportunity to reassess the goals of the church and to preach about the responsibility of parents in spiritually training their own children. Frankly, it is much easier to just line up a bunch of people, buy some AWANA books, and give a portion of the church budget to a children’s ministry than it is to inspire some parents to train their own children. But, home discipleship should be taught as the norm and as what is expected of all Christian families.
Christian education boards should consider the many family worship guides that are now available and should include the purchase of them in their budgets. Pastors could take the opportunity at a men’s breakfast to instruct dads how to begin having devotions if they have never done so, bringing in a father or two to share a testimony of the benefits of having a regular worship time with your family. Testimonies could also be shared from the pulpit or printed as a bulletin insert. Encouraging home discipleship should be done regularly and purposefully at all levels of instruction throughout the traditional church.

An even better idea could be for homeschooling families who are already practicing this in their homes to take the opportunity to reach out to other families in their churches, inviting them over for a meal, singing, and prayer, even if it might be awkward at first. If it is included at the end of the meal while you are still around the table and no pressure is put on the guests, I believe it can go a long way toward encouraging others to make home discipleship seem doable and valuable in their own homes.

Something else the Christian education board or children’s ministries might sponsor is a family-integrated Sunday school class. This is another way to get parents to be more involved in the training of their children and it would give an option to parents who are not comfortable with age segregation. The options for doing this are endless and can involve older children who need to learn how to prepare and lead Bible studies and to work well with others. Many of the unit study materials that are used by homeschoolers could be adapted for family Sunday school use and if several families took turns preparing the lessons it wouldn’t be burdensome and could also give dads an opportunity to be creative as they teach, which is something most dads don’t have a lot of time to do on a regular basis.

Churches need to see homeschooling families as a valuable resource rather than “flies in their program ointment.” We have some awesome training materials for children and young adults that were purchased through homeschooling companies and that were written by homeschooling parents who understand how to teach. If you compare these resources with what is available in your average Christian bookstore, you quickly realize that there is no comparison. Homeschoolers don’t usually dummy down theology, but rather, encourage their children to think with maturity. Pastors and Christian education professionals ought to be able to humble themselves enough to seek Godly wisdom from Christian parents who have spent years mentoring and discipling young people.

Traditional churches need to step back and take a long look at their philosophy and methodology of youth ministry. Scripture has set before us a model that is too often ignored in the majority of churches, even the good Bible believing ones. Titus 2 instructs the older to teach the younger. It is really a perfect plan. So why don’t churches do this?

Typically, some young man whose best qualification for youth ministry is that he recently was one (a youth, that is) is hired to plan and execute activities for junior high and high school age young people. While the Bible studies may be really good and sometimes even meaty, there is typically no one in the room older than 25 who is having input into the topic. What a sad waste of the resources we often see in the church!

Traditional churches would be wise to begin their youth ministries with a team made up of parents and older retired Christians, those who have spent many years serving the Lord, asking them to brainstorm about those things that would have been the most valuable for them to know as they were growing up and becoming adults. This group should include both men and women and if some of them are grandparents, it is even better.

I am always amused when you have someone who has been married five or ten years with a few toddlers at home teaching about marriage and raising children. (It is even more amusing when these same people are instructing the parents of these same youth about marriage and family life, but that is for another blog entry. hint: Look at those who are frequently “instructing” at homeschooling conventions!) You know that same guy who rides a skate board down the center aisle at church to get teens to attend some event or other? What qualifications do they have, really, to be giving counsel? Why not tap into the group of believers who have been married 40, or 50, or 60 years and see what they have to say? Why not pay attention to those Christians whose Bibles are worn and marked and who have come through many fiery trials through the decades? I think many parents would be open to “youth ministry” if youth described the age of the attendees rather than the age of those who are offering the “sage” counsel to their young people. And homeschooling families would be even more interested if parents were included in all aspects of any youth ministry.

And here is one other thing about youth ministry. I am the first one to think that young people ought to have fun. But, too many youth activities in the typical church, whether it is a traditional church or a family integrated church, are centered on having fun. Where are the service projects and the outreach programs to the local community? (And by that I don’t mean a youth group car wash with bikini clad youth group babes holding signs.) And are the ones that are being done really productive or are they mostly symbolism over substance? That is a tough question that must be asked.

And here is one more word to those in leadership in the local church. Please realize that most homeschoolers have very strong convictions about raising their children and they want the freedom to have their children in worship with them. If I had a dollar for every time I have been told “We have a lovely nursery” I could take every one to lunch. Please realize that some families want to have their children in worship and that being in worship is normal, not the exception. This is not to say that nurseries or children’s church is inherently evil, but all children ought to feel welcome and so should their parents. I remember hearing one pastor say “Any preacher who is worth his salt can preach over the top of a crying baby.” He said it often enough that moms felt comfortable being in the service with little ones and I never did see any parent remain when a child was inconsolable.

And now a word for homeschoolers in traditional churches: LIGHTEN UP!!! If you really believe that the responsibility for discipling your children is yours, why are you so bent out of shape that the ministry in your local church doesn’t meet your qualifications? Don’t participate if you don’t want to. Continue what you are doing with your own family. Develop your own philosophy of youth ministry and then follow through on it yourself. Ultimately, you are responsible before the Lord and quite honestly there are times when what the pastor is preaching in some churches is worse for children to hear than what they would get in a Sunday school class! You have to make the decision as parents as to what they will or will not be taught.

But here is the difficult part. Don’t grandstand about what you will and will not participate in. I have been there and done that, to my own shame and folly, and all it does is makes you look like a legalistic jerk and shines the spotlight on your own children, singling them out for ridicule, something we get too much of as homeschoolers to begin with.

I know there are often horrendous influences on our kids, even while they are in church. I can remember one time when our oldest two were in a high school Sunday school class and the teacher brought in a bottle of beer and proceeded to slowly pour it into a frosted glass. He wanted to get the kids talking about underage drinking and he assumed that all the kids there were doing it or were in situations that put them in that situation. He never once thought that there were several homeschooling families whose kids weren’t exposed to this in the same way as the public kids were. And it never occurred to him that there were people in the church who didn’t drink at all. This is the same teacher who decided that worship service was boring and so he took the kids joy riding after Sunday school for several weeks in a row until someone finally asked what was going on. And this was the same guy who read the verse “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees” and insisted that “woe” meant “stop” as in stopping a horse!

But as awful and as ignorant as someone like that is, it is best to simply choose not to participate and then to tell someone about it who can actually do something to fix the problem. Making a big deal out of it only further alienates others and gives people who are already uncomfortable with homeschooling a green light to dislike us. Again, if we really believe in home discipleship, then we ought to be practicing it whether anyone else in the church is or not.

In retrospect, some of the worst influences we would like to protect our children from are most often found in the family integrated church model. The isolationism that is bred, the misogyny and racism that are allowed to pass as “biblical” Christianity, and the Pharisaical system that is imposed are all far worse, to me, than an inept Sunday school teacher or a VBS ministry.

Something else that I have come to believe is important is learning to serve those who are skeptical of what we are doing and finding ways to bless and encourage them along the way. During one of our first years of homeschooling, we were sensing some disapproval from people in the church, which was understandable since most people in our area had never heard of homeschooling before we started.

I remembered that when I was a little girl, one of my favorite days of the year was May Day because I had friends whose mom helped them make and deliver beautiful May baskets filled with candy or flowers. I would wake up early in the morning to find this beautiful surprise hanging on the front door knob and it delighted me so much that I thought it would be fun to have my children take part in the same sort of surprise.

Without telling the kids my reasons behind it, I picked out six or so ladies I knew who were talking negatively about homeschooling and they were to be the recipients of the baskets. We spent several days designing and assembling beautiful baskets decorated with doilies and ribbons, filling them with beautiful candies. We got up before dark and delivered them to each door. And we never told anyone we were the ones who had done it.

I don’t know if any of these ladies figured it out and I don’t remember if I heard any more gossip that came from them. But what I do know is that our attitude toward these ladies changed completely and we were able to love them and befriend them in spite of anything they didn’t like about how we educated our children.

I also think that we need to learn to be content where God has placed us. Of course there are times when it may become impossible to stay in a church. Maybe you have come to embrace doctrine that is contrary to what is being taught in your church. Maybe there is a genuine threat to your family where your convictions are being challenged or even purposefully undermined. Maybe you are in a situation where you have been singled out by the pastor and preached at from his “bully pulpit.” I have experienced all of the above.

But there also may be things that you just don’t like, that aren’t your preferences, that simply irritate you as a homeschooler. If that is the situation, I would encourage you to seek ways to not only grow in your walk with the Lord personally but to minister to others so that you can earn the right to influence other families who need to take responsibility for the spiritual guidance of their children. Seek to practice what you believe about ministering to and evangelizing the lost and caring for the widows and orphans in their affliction. Try not to be as focused on the local church as on the church universal and your part in fulfilling its mission. I believe that as you learn to be gracious and kind to others, the Lord will bless your family in ways you can’t even imagine.

I have said several times on this blog that I believe that homeschooling is an important part of the revival that is beginning to rumble across our nation. The Lord has opened the eyes to so many people inside and outside the homeschooling community to the importance of building solid relationships with children and in training them for God’s glory. To that end, neither the local church or homeschooling families within the body of Christ can afford to squander the momentum we have helped to set in motion.

(to be continued…I ended up having too much to say that I still have an entire entry that addresses the family integrated church itself!)

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22 Comments»

  Cindy K wrote @

Karen,

This whole series has brought up all kinds of mixed feelings for me. I’ve had an opportunity to really appreciate the homeschooling moms who were in my peer group who invited me into their lives and homes and families like one more of their own. Sadly though, in homeschooling attentive non-FIC churches, I’ve often been treated like some kind of leper. I’ve endured pressure from ignorant people to have children and homeschool, all while building a homeschooling library in hopeful anticipation, having life-altering illnesses and traumas that took up most of my prime childbearing years and often feeling like I should have my OB history available for all to read and the bills paid on healthcare (that should have gone for adoption fees?) to prove my worth.

It’s easier for some to decide that I am rebelling against fruitfulness than it is to hear the painful sagas that my husband and I have lived. I also spent years assisting my husband full-time while recovering from illness and a few automobile accidents so he could continue to publish in his field and keep his job, yet some in the FIC would likely say that I was too masculine in the process. We don’t fit the mold (which means primarily that I don’t because it seems to me that compliance with the family model falls largely to the woman, and deviations fall to the fault of the woman and not the husband).

The comparison and the “get with the program” mentality in churches where homeschooling is a focus does leave my family out in the cold. If what I see as the family integrated model and the home discipleship model were the primary focus of all churches, I can tell you that my family of origin (my mom got saved when I was a 5 and my dad did when I was 16) and my family now would not fit and would likely choose not to attend. (I guess we’d start our own new movement for outcasts like us.) There would have been and is no comfortable place for any of us. And I fear that the response of the FIC minded would be to count our inability to fit the mold to be proof positive that we are not God’s elect. (At least, that’s how I’ve seen it work…) I also wouldn’t have gleaned the blessings of spending much time with the eldery.

This has all been a great hardship for us in attending church and in finding a new one. And not happy where we are, we’re beginning the adventure of looking again… I don’t look forward to this aspect of the process. The churches I would most like to attend have such an exclusionary attitude and the preaching in many does sound like some of the FIC message, until I get fully out of the childbearing years, I guess we’re just in for disappointment. As your experience was there for many years, Karen, finding a good church home can be complicated.

  LizJ wrote @

Cindy K. wrote,

For me as well, although for different reasons than Cindy, because of our different background and different personal experiences.

But…Karen, I’m glad I hung in there with the series.

In the beginning, I thought this was going to be all about how traditional churches were bad, and although the patriarchal leanings of some FIC were wrong in your opinion, that FIC was a superior model. I was glad to see the balance that developed in your opinion over time. Glad, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. I have, over time, appreciated so much your writing and podcasts. You might be surprised how much they speak to this not-homeschooling mom and how much God has used you in my life (ok…not yet homeschooling, but we are still considering educational options for my younger daughter for her last two years of high school).

BTW, our youth group (which is far from perfect) has a team of about 40 volunteers that assist with the program. It is about evenly split between young adults and parents of youth/young adults. The reasoning is that these young adults are being raised up to be our next generation of lay leadership, and this is one of the areas where they have interest in serving (it is not the only area where young adults serve, though). There are older “parent age” adults in our youth services and in almost all scheduled activities.

  LizJ wrote @

Oh, gosh, totally botched that formatting. The message above was all me. The quote I was referencing from Cindy was”

“This whole series has brought up all kinds of mixed feelings for me”

  Jack Brooks wrote @

Sick churches create sick counter-reactions. How many Christians really work on studying the Bible and building a church approach from systematic theology? I think very few; almost none. Instead, factionalists with a semi-legitimate vision build followings around themselves and launch movements that claim their goal is reform but in reality split the churches.

I was discipled early on in my faith by Plymouth Brethren Christians. It took me years to purge the anti-pastor, anti-checks-and-balances, we’re-more-first-century-than-thou mentality out of my mind. But I also noticed, when i moved away from the Northeast, that the Plymouth Brethren did not thrive where there were no Roman Catholic churches (such as Columbia, SC). The Plymouth Brethren assemblies fed off the Roman Catholic Church. They needed the Roman Catholic Church, because it provided an essential extreme against which they could contrast themselves and justify their own ecclesiastical eccentricities. So isn’t it also likely that if, say, traditional Southern Baptist churches all reformed their approaches to children’s and youth ministry, and eliminated the atomizing effect the programming has on family ministry, most of the FIC would shrink away?

A rebel group formerly of a church I know of in the upper Midwest would not survive without the glue of their constant rebellion against the pastor of 1st Baptist Church. Even though that guy has been gone for years.

  thatmom wrote @

Liz, thanks for the kind words of encouragement. They came on a day when I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and discouraged! The Lord knew I needed your cyber-hug!

  thatmom wrote @

Jack, your experience/insight is quite interesting. I, too, have seen churches and ministries fueled from reaction. I had just never verbalized it quite as well as you did.

I do think that, as I have pointed out, much of the reaction for FIC churches is justified. But I think all the over-the-top rhetoric is proof that it is an over reaction. I think those who are on the far radical end of the patriocentric model would still choose to begin their own congregations, even if a church encouraged home discipleship because normal conservative churches aren’t going to go along with some of the nonessential stuff that they hold to as essential.

  Jack Brooks wrote @

Yup; and it’s our job to not go along with it! Adding to the essentials of the faith, or to the essential nature of the Body of Christ, is a sin. People who say that adopting the FIC pattern is the divine mandate are no different than church of Christers who say only their baptism “counts”, or Pentecostals who say that only they are the Spirit-baptized ones, or Missouri-Synod Lutherans who forbid their people from taking the Lord’s Table with other brethren in the Lord. As a pastor, I take the stand that if someone in the flock starts communicating to others that home schooling is the Eleventh Commandment, or that FIC is what really spiritual churches have to do, I consider that an attack on the peace and unity of the flock, however non-maliciously intended.

If home-schoolers and FIC-ers showed at least a little bit of willingness to theologically examine the spiritual “chefs” to whose tables they flock to eat, like Bill Gothard or Doug Phillips, instead of just going to their conferences and unquestioningly eating it all up, their pastors wouldn’t be forced into the defensive postures I describe. A big part of my job is to be a gatekeeper over people’s heart and minds — I’m dealing with something like that now with that horrible little book, “The Shack.” I wish I didn’t have to do the gatekeeper thing with the people I normally would consider the most conservative people in the congregation, and who ought to be my most reliable allies.

  Cindy K wrote @

I just put up some new info on the FIC, this relating to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary version. There are two new posts and at least that many to follow.

Apparently, SBTS defers to a view of youth ministry as defined by Steve Wright. His view has many similarities with the Family Integrated Church concept that originated within the Reformed groups like Vision Forum and RPCGA and Henry Reyenga’s system. But there are many distinctions. The SBC apparently is not calling for a wholesale rejection of all age-appropriate ministries and focus groups like Vision Forum.

When I finish reviewing the audio (I’ve only listened to one of about 7 audio downloads on the topic), I will comment on Voddie Baucham’s book. I’m far less impressed with Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith” book in comparison to “reThink” (the Steve Wright book). I’m on page 21 and stopped because of the host of problems I have with many assumptions and statements made in the book. Thus far, there is a strong rejection and devaluing of parenting that is not pious like the VF system, drawing lines between “us and them.” A father who has taught his son to keep his eye on the ball has failed if he does not also teach him to keep his eyes on Christ. But I would say that failing to teach a child to keep his eye on the ball (practical and good general moral training and standards of conduct) also amounts to failure. My husband had outstanding parenting in far more respects than not, and I would wholeheartedly say the same thing about my own father who did not receive Jesus until I’d nearly graduated from high school. I believe that unbelievers can be effective parents, something that I don’t hear in the book thus far.

I’m also not happy about what seems very much like works-based Christianity. What in your life gives your walk in Christ legitimacy? Well, I might be walking with Christ and growing, yet I may not be manifesting good works to the same degree as others would like. Faith gives our walk legitimacy, otherwise you are walking by sight and not by faith. I really found myself squirming hard when Voddie writes that his wife and family give his Christian walk legitimacy. I don’t even like what the context communicates, as I think that if one uses this as a primary measure of the value of one’s faith, one could argue that a Muslim or a Moonie’s faith is also legitimate because of one’s “lovely family” and one’s service to them. If wife or child fails you, does that mean your faith in Christ and your Christian walk become illegitimate? The first and foremost proof text for this comes from Matt 22:34-40. That makes little sense to me as either a direct or peripheral support to the concept that one’s family makes one’s Christian walk legitimate. Perhaps this was a poor choice of words, and Voddie is really stating something along the lines of that which causes others to esteem one’s faith as more credible. But this is not what he says in context.

(My husband says that I have to read the rest of Voddie’s book when he is not present, as I comment on every few paragraphs, thinking aloud, trying to do fair justice to the text. Thus far, I’ve found that quite difficult.

More, more, more to come on my blog….

  thatmom wrote @

Pastor Jack,

I so appreciated your perspective, that of being the gatekeeper over the hearts of your congregants. This is one of the things that has endeared my own pastor to me. He is not hesitant to warn us of the dangers that are lurking, both in Christiandom in general as well as in our own community. And he has told us many times that we are to be Bereans and are to hold him accountable, too.

BTW, as I have been reading the comments out loud to my husband, he and I have enjoyed your “intensity.” We have known two E-Free pastors fairly well over the years and both of them also have had that same edge, which we enjoyed in them as well. Just noticed…..

  thatmom wrote @

Cindy, I wanted to comment on bringing legitimacy to a man’s ministry.

I have read and heard couple verses used to support this view:

The Proverbs 31 reference to the husband being praised in the gates is said to mean that the man is honored because his wife is a keeper at home, implying that her works bring him honor.

The other is the Timothy qualifications for an elder having his household under control. Again, the wife’s behavior (her works) bring a man honor.

While I would agree that the Biblical qualifications for an elder do include how well he manages his household, I strongly disagree with many within the FIC camp as to what the wife’s like must look like in order to make him qualified. I also don’t like it that in some cases, the obvious problems with either the husband’ or the wife’s character are overlooked as long as the nonessentials are present.

  Jack Brooks wrote @

It might be because I’m from New Jersey. We’re all edgy that way. 😀

I’m all for training Christian parents to be the prime disciplers of their children. I’m all against the local church atomizing the extended family into little disconnected units by the it uses programs.

But no one is ever allowed to cross that line between principle and law. We’re not allowed to bind where the apostles didn’t bind. No one is allowed to doctrinally re-define the church as a “family of families”, when the New Testament disagrees.

There is a foundational problem underneath the surface issues of the FIC movement — how do you apply Old Testament social rules and structures to the New Testament church? With that question in mind, would Doug Phillips say it’s OK to own slaves, too? Is he a neo-Confederate as well, or a member of the L:eague of the South?

I doubt you find many dispensationalists (like me) endorsing the FIC movement. The whole thing seems based on a distorted version of Covenant Theology.

  Cindy K wrote @

Karen,

Voddie goes on to offer your argument as a secondary example. I noted the same thing to my husband before I read further. Voddie does go on to list the qualifications of elder in that section, but it is not the centerpiece of that section and not the primary argument. He builds from the perspective of a man that then manifests his faith in the realm of family, then going on to addressing qualifications for service in the church as a support. I don’t like the fact that he starts with the more general text and then works to the more specific examples in Scripture.

Immediately before he makes the statement that his family makes his faith legitimate, he says that his family could actually prove his faith “inauthentic.” The Pharisees make the same argument, something that Voddie may or may not be doing here. I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t like the language that he uses in conjunction with less specific proof texting first. I am concerned that he claims that family is always a sure test of faith under all circumstances, and I don’t find that to always be true. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a sensitive issue for me were it not for the patriocentric tendency to rely upon performance standards. And I also started delving into “Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment” again… I’ve also seen family matters exploited by churches to abuse and berate followers while those same abusive leaders ignore their own serious family issues (wife beating, porn and issues with kids). Those things have me quite sensitized, and to see these things come to the surface so early in the book troubles me personally.

This topic was also one of MANY that troubled me that are consistent the standard patriocentric fare. I just found that this statement troubled me most, primarily because it offered a really weak proof text and then offered the stronger evidence from Scripture as a secondary argument in support of a section that had a flavour of self-justification and qualification in it that I did not find to be gentle. I just have a big problem with people declaring people’s faith “inauthenic” or “legitmate” based on families as a measuring rod.

I did state before that it may have just been a poorly worded phrase that could have been better said otherwise. It is also difficult that so early in the book, there is an attitude of superiority that pits secular parenting against Christian parenting in ways that I don’t really care for very much either, to sum it up concisely. There’s a great deal of “my way or the highway” sense to it that is subtle and building in the text. In combination with the concept of family as the most significant qualifier of faith (not witness), I just found this all to be disturbing and what I would call “not very gentle,” given the subject matter.

I hope that my opinion about the book improves, so I did set it aside for now. I don’t want to read it just to blast it, and after reading the much more productive book, I think it was a tough act to follow…

  Cindy K wrote @

Above I wrote : am concerned that he claims that family is always a sure test of faith under all circumstances, and I don’t find that to always be true.

Frankly, I don’t expect that Voddie Baucham would agree that this would be a sure test under all circumstances. The trouble with so many of these issues concerning these new twists on Christianity is that people imply that this like this are true, and followers will take up with that interpretation and take it to an extreme. That may not be what he intends here, and he is just logically working by starting with an individual, to family, to church in a linear fashion. I’ve just been trained to not use that kind of association and language in that way, particularly about something that is used in these circles as a standard of comparison.

I really hate reading these books when I approach them with the hope of finding them to be not as troublesome. I get so disappointed when I hope in my idealistic fashion that some of these writings will prove that things aren’t as bad as they first seem. I picked up Dabney’s writings that my husband believed were above reproach, hoping to prove that they did not contain racist material and only argued from a religious perspective (it is permissible to enslave uncivilized pagans who worship evil gods) that denied race as a factor. I was brokenhearted to find that Dabney did make these arguments. I still would like to hope that we are all working toward the same endpoint — revealing and realizing truth — but it is far easier of a process when you agree with the writer.

  thatmom wrote @

Pastor Jack,

I would define Phillips as a neo-confederate nof sorts. He promotes the Henty books and those loathsome Elsie Dinsmore books, both which have racists undertones and in some instances outright racist comments. I don’t know if currently he sells the edited or unedited versions. Anyone know?

  Cindy K wrote @

Pastor Brooks wrote: I doubt you find many dispensationalists (like me) endorsing the FIC movement. The whole thing seems based on a distorted version of Covenant Theology.

Pastor Brooks,

I completely agree with you, and I know plenty of folks who qualify and are professed Covenant Theologians who believe that the FIC related doctrine is quite distorted. One of them emailed me when they saw my name listed on a smear website to encourage me in my efforts exposing this stuff.

About the Henty books and about the neoconfederate business… I have friends who attended many of Doug Phillips’ “Faith and Freedom” tours (travelling the East Coast to go to historical sites and hear the Christian Reconstruction perspective of history). On those trips, Doug has been quite candid about his beliefs about slavery. It is part of God’s ordained economy (per Phillips) according to God’s Word, relying on the Old South arguments defending slavery and social hierarchy. What he is careful about is specifying exactly who is ordained to be a slave. The people who made the argument that it is acceptable to enslave those who reject Christianity also attached that to race. Doug seems to defer to all those that Rousas Rushdoony encouraged to be republished and studied back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the first and foremost of which was Robert Lewis Dabney. (My friends who attended the F&F tour said that Doug LOVES Dabney that by the time their bus got to his homestead ? or the Dabney-related location on the tour, they felt like they needed to get off the bus, take off their shoes and kiss the Dabney ground.) He also defers to Heman Humphrey who Doug states is a “Yankee,” but he was a “Yankee” who stated that he believed that slavery was also part of God’s ordained providence and should not be overturned as an institution at one point in his life. (Though Humphrey classifies as being against slavery, according to some of his writings and the writings of groups with whom he participated, he did support social hierarchy.) I have perfect confidence in my friends and have no reservations saying that Doug Phillips does embrace slavery along with his agrarian views of family as the cure to our social and ECONOMIC ills. Now whether he goes all the way with Dabney’s hateful racism (was Dabney only an accurate prophet about everything but racism), Doug does not say.

Considering that Doug’s cohorts have advocated stoning of rebellious teens and has so many close associates in the League of the South, I think that there are legitimate questions to ask about these things. Just got to “Jews on First” and search for Peroutka… and read an article about the dedication of a monument in Bowie, MD. Note which flag Peroutka refers to as the American flag, flown at the park. There are some nice pictures on the site. In his book on Dabney, Doug refers to his fellow Dabneyophile (sp?), Lloyd Sprinkle, as a close friend. What one cannot say is whether Doug developed his ideology and affiliations through his Christian Reconstruction connections or through the League of the South, for a great many of these individuals overlap through participation in both groups. The same is true of the Constitution Party, though the CP does not have a platform and does not make statements that are kinist or racist, though they also share the states rights convictions of the League of the South. And I don’t know why the CP did not distance themselves or make qualifying position statements about Michael Hill’s racist LoS decrees about kinism and white supremacy when he made them circa 2004-2005.

If you want more info, I recently did a set of blog posts on this topic:
http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Southern%20Cause

  Cindy K wrote @

Karen,

I am told by several Henty enthusiasts including a whole group of homeschooling moms that are not Vision Forum affectionate that VF no longer sells the edited version of the Henty books. They used one publisher and then switched to another at some point, right about the time that they went really wacko, declaring sins.

The guy that they currently use offered some of the books on CD. This publisher did not edit the racist content, to the shock and horror of a dear friend of mine who loaned out her book from the first publisher and never got it back. She replaced it with the new version sold by VF without realizing it, and she and her children were pretty shocked. She was also disappointed with the quality of the new book.

I could investigate it and figure out the names of the publishing houses that produced the Henty books if you like. I’d just have to play telephone tag with my friend in Maryland first to get the info. But this mom of 7 is hard to catch nowadays.

  polymathis wrote @

Greetings ThatMom and others,

Providentially I ran across your posting. I have been investigating FIC churches for over a year now. My interest is more from a leadership position as I have not experienced an FIC church first-hand. Nevertheless, your observations in the last two installments have strongly overlapped mine (for both FIC and non-FIC). I am pleased to see others who are willing to evaluate up and coming movements.

I am also sad to hear about the various difficulties you and your readers have encountered. The concerns you have rightly pointed out in many “traditional” churches are the same many Reformed churches have brought up over the decades.

May your analysis be used to cause people to slow down and prioritize with the Gospel of Unity in the forefront of our families and the churches.

  thatmom wrote @

Welcome, polymathis.

As time goes on, I am becoming more and more concerned with the direction I see this taking. For example, the Colorado Home Educators are sponsoring a conference in Indianapolis in March ’09 to “cast their vision” for Christian homeschooling and 3 of the 4 keynote speakers are men who are traveling around the country promoting the FIC. I am currently working on a series of podcasts that will include a discussion of this. I really welcome your insights as a pastor and future homeschooler.

  Polymathis wrote @

Greetings,

Sorry for the late response; I thought I tagged the “notify” but I guess I did not!

Yes, I am aware of the upcoming Christian Education Manifesto. The site claims they will turn back 1000 of wrong education methods. It is also sad to see the Fifth Commandment ignored in such a conference: were are the spiritual fathers? These are young men my age who are gung-ho for a movement but oblivious to the consequences of their approach: it is stressing methods over the Message of Jesus Christ.

I have personally studied two of the four leaders speeches and writings and find amazing assertions that homeschooling and/or FIC as a “revival”–nay a Malachi 4, Spirit-filled, quintessential revival! Naturally, as a minister I have attempted to dialogue with two of them (I can’t talk to everyone at once!) but to no avail thus far. In fact, a rewriting of homeschooling history (pre-1900s) is being pushed by some of these leaders. A critique is forthcoming: both on FIC and rewritten history. Some people will surely read it and think I am against homeschooling…but God has blessed my wife and I with a child and we will homeschool.

If you are interested in a semi-outsiders view of some homeschooling issues, please check out my latest postings. If they are helpful, please feel free to pass them on, as sane homeschoolers need a dissenting voice in this time of radicalism and dogmatism.

The Future of Homeschooling
Some Observations on Homeschooling

[PS: in spite of my strong Reformed stance, I am not interesting in turning CHEC and such organizations into churches–that is not their function, but some of their leaders are trying to make them parachurch groups instead of homeschooling helps]

  Kathleen wrote @

I’ve been to polymathis’ blog just recently and read two articles on homeschooling. One is a particularly thoughtful post (I’m planning on commenting over there soon) on the future of homeschooling. That post sums up many of my own thoughts as well. What’s really interesting is all the hype that these so-called homeschool “leaders” use to promote their ideals. Homeschooling is one option, and it takes on so many different flavors, with varying levels of commitment in families. That results in statistics that actually don’t support the hype of homeschool superiority of Christians. Though we homeschooled, and our teens are currently enrolled in classes in college/charter-like school, we know that homeschooling is not the panacea for all the educational and moral woes in our country.

The statistics that even Brian Ray of NHERI used in 2004(?) showed that there was not a huge academic advantage of homeschooling over other schooling choices. We need to look at homeschooling realistically.

Because of the church I used to attend, I used to hear just how much more academically advanced homeschooling was over the public school or Christian-school choice. In my own experience, I found many of the students were very terrible at grammar, punctuation and spelling, but could play an instrument nicely! Often, in that homeschool church, classes were offered for all kinds of subjects: Literature, Science, Math, Speech and Debate (with state competitions) instruments of all kinds, World View class, and others, and they all cost hundreds of dollars each class. I know some families who are involved in so many classes in a week that they are rarely home. I don’t know how they afford it, either. Incidentally, as was mentioned in one of the articles I’m listing here, I’m the product of a public school experience and I believe I had excellent grammar/English teaching, as well as music teaching or better than what I’ve seen coming from some homeschool families. The h.s. students (in my past circle of contacts) often regurgitate many of the same things that their parents believe but when it comes to some critical thinking skills, they clam up when questioned why they believe the way they do. This isn’t the case for every family, of course, but when it came to homeschool, educational, or biblical ideals set by “leaders”, often many of the families jump on board because it’s easier than discerning for themselves by God’s Spirit whether something is right teaching or not.

Another blog article that evaluated some of the more extreme teachings on the homeschool circuit was here:

http://dangitbill.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/homeschooling-not-the-gospel/#comment-1294

Karen, I do believe that some of these self-appointed homeschool “leaders” have hijacked the very good option of homeschooling and are turning it into an exploit for their own desires. Homeschooling should not be used as a badge of spiritual maturity, because, frankly, I’ve seen how the sausage is made, and it isn’t pretty at times.

As a side note: Geoffrey Botkin and his motley crue of bandits were rubbing elbows with the creators of “Expelled” and “Fireproof” this past week with the Harris family blogging about it at The Rebelution blog. At several points in the blog articles they mentioned how evil Hollywood is and that the San Antonio Film Festival and its students there were going to transform the Film industry for God. That, in effect, they were saying, “Can nothing good come out of Hollywood?” Well, I placed a comment on one of the twin’s Facebook note pages (and didn’t get a response, though I was respectful) that gently reminded them of several Christians in Hollywood of note: Patricia Heaton, producer of the film “Amazing Grace” and starred in the show “Everybody Loves Raymond” is a professed Christian and also hosted a Christian comedy DVD featured on tv entitled, “Thou Shalt Laugh”. Another believer in Hollywood that was interviewed and had a good testimony of his faith is Zach Levi, who stars in the tv adventure “Chuck” on NBC. His neat, God-glorifying testimony is here:

http://relevantmagazine.com/pc_article.php?id=1023

I can name a few others who are doing their parts in Hollywood, but of course Doug Phillips and Co. wouldn’t want to acknowledge that, because it deters from their agenda.

Thanks for letting me rant. 🙂

  Kathleen wrote @

Karen, I think my comment is stuck in moderation because of the links in it.

  Polymathis wrote @

I’ve added more postings:

The Revival of Homeschooling
Famous Homeschoolers in History

And an upcoming in-depth analysis of the Family Integrated Church movement in their own public words and docs.

Some of you have “been there; done that” but I hope they are helpful to you and others.

SDG


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