Monday, March 9, 2009

Multigenerational Faithfulness PART I: A Darwinian, Works-Based Salvation

Series of blog posts originally published on the Under Much Grace Blog.

A Summary of the Posts About Multigenerational Faithfulness

When I decided that to examine the loaded language term of “multigenerational faithfulness,” describing how Vision Forum and her affiliates refer to the term, I anticipated covering the concepts in just a few blog posts. Really... The ambiguous and nebulous term itself actually lacks substance in and of itself, so I did not anticipate that the term was indeed as loaded as it proved to be when I looked at exactly what they taught. I realized that the term was misleading, but I did not fully realize just how they used it to encapsulate so much of their core doctrine. Upon reviewing the downloadable sermons and written material available, I was quite surprised to realize just how much the term “multigenerational faithfulness” represents for Vision Forum and their affiliate teachers and supporters.

Even considering small sections of specific teachings became far more complicated that I anticipated, because of the subtlety of it all. That’s why the system works as well as it does. About 20 years ago, in a Minerth Meyer book that talked about manipulation in relationships, I recall how they pointed out the subtlety of the serpent. Snakes always avoid direct conflict unless making eye contact with prey or responding defensively to an immediate threat, and they do not knock on your door to announce their arrival when they want curl up on your living room couch. They find opportunistic ways to "sneak in" by concealing themselves in packages (Trojan horses) that you actually carry in yourself or they find breaks in the foundation of your home.

I believe that concept of multigenerational faithfulness takes advantage of this same type of subtlety, offering easier answers to the uncertainty of life by playing on our best desires for our families. We tend not to see the subtle distinctions along the the periphery of the message, those subtleties that we would otherwise reject outright. We become distracted, enticed and engaged by the obvious message which offers an entire pleasant package, much like a salesman markets a product to us. Addressing the many subtleties I discovered throughout the course of the discussion amounted to quite a few blog posts.

Thinking that multigenerational faithfulness refers to only the wonderful idea of raising your children so that they will be faithful Christians that will likewise raise their children to be faithful Christians, you might not anticipate the other associated concepts. Some of the ideas like homeschooling are quite pleasant and desirable, but some of them are based upon very narrowly defined doctrines that a person does not readily identify from the term “multigenerational faithfulness” alone.
  • Gender Hierarchy and Roles
  • Unchallenged, Unquestioned Submission and Obedience
  • Obedience to Eldest Male in Husband’s Extended Family
  • Election Through the Covenant Community and Birth
  • Militant Fecundity
  • Law Keeping to Merit Grace
  • Replacement Theology and Dominionism
  • Homeschooling and Home Catechism

I identify these as the more problematic core doctrinal concepts associated with Vision Forum’s concept of multigenerational faithfulness, undergirding the other doctrines:
  1. Subjection to the curses of the Old Covenant (as opposed to freedom from the Law under the New and Better Covenant under the Blood of the Lamb)
  2. Covenant blessing comes through the physical seed of believers under the New Covenant, with those who profess faith in Christ replacing physical Israel which makes “militant fecundity” essential.
  3. Legalistic interpretation of covenant keeping through instructing children in a works-based salvation.
  4. Developing inheritance (spiritual, intellectual and material) through human striving, a semi-Pelagian endeavor that extends from the works-based salvation aspects of the belief system.

Click to enlarge graphic.

So to help you sort through these many complicated implications, this topical list of the posts on this blog dealing with multigenerational faithfulness details the specifics that each blog entry includes.

Blog Posts Addressing
Examining Multigenerational Faithfulness

Scroll down to read hese Sesctions (HERE in PART I of this post):
>Overview of the Web of Multigenerational Faithfulness
  • Includes the Scripture references and proof texts for multigenerational faithfulness. Also refers to the FBFI 2006 Resolution criticizing the Family Integrated Church, offering some of the same criticisms of concern regarding multigenerational faithfulness
>Origins of the Term
>The Spiritual Eugenics of Multigenerational Faithfulness: More Social Darwinism
  • Examines the reasoning behind why Vision Forum views childbearing as God’s primary means of advancing the kingdom of God and the gnostic “higher life” Christianity which promotes elitism and separatism within certain groups of Christian homeschoolers.
>The Layers of Extra-biblical Belief Underneath Multigenerational Faithfulness and the 200 Year Plan
  • A review of Geoff Botkin’s method for planning dominion for one’s family, extending to 200 years. Geoff Botkin worked for the Great Commission Ministries, one of the most well-documented Bible-based Shepherding-Discipleship cults and was business partners with it’s founder Jim McCotter. Review the history of Geoffrey Botkin’s activities HERE. The Great Commission Ministries followed the dominionist focus of reaching the world for Christ in one generation, with a particular interest in both communication media as well as recruiting young people on college campuses.
>Is Wilson Pro-Abortion or Just Following Multi-Generational Faithfulness?
  • Discussion of the elitist mentality that stems from the view that God’s elect should restrict love, Christian service and ministry, offering it only to those who are perceived to be God’s elect under the concept of multigenerational faithfulness. (Those who reject God and will be numbered among the non-elect hate God and should be treated accordingly, per the mindset.) Examines Doug Wilson’s imprecatory prayers, particularly the prayer that the unborn babies of the non-elect should die in utero.
>Do New Testament Believers Become the New, Physical Seed of Abraham, Propagating the New Israel Nation of Christians Through the Womb?
  • Review of “Protestant Exclusivism,” and the odd interpretation of Replacement Theology observed by Vision Forum under the guise of multigenerational faithfulness aimed at the fulfilling of the dominion mandate.
>Lack of New Testament Support for Multigenerational Faithfulness
  • More discussion of the Old Covenant and works-based perspective of multigenerational faithfulness based upon the aberrant interpretation of the very few NT proof texts used, particularly those shared by the Shepherding/Discipleship/Submission doctrines.

Read These Sections HERE in PART II (the continuation of this blog post of Multigenerational Faithfulness? A Darwinian, Works-Based Salvation)

>Return of the Daughters, Multigenerational Faithfulness and Uncle Ned
  • A specific recap of Vision Forum’s teachings on the husband/father as the center of the home, wives and daughters as helpmeets that objects who exist to serve their patriarch’s “covenantal vision,” as well as the significance of submission to the oldest patriarch in the extended family system.
>First Time Obedience Introduction
The Selfish Sin of Shyness
  • A review of the submission required under multigenerational faithfulness as Vision Forum’s carryover from Bill Gothard’s submission teachings with various examples of this demand for unquestioned obedience without credulity. First post specifically examining “First Time Obedience” in young children.
>First Time Obedience and Unquestioned Submission
Part I: Parental Convenience
  • A review of the principle of sacerdotalism and parental convenience (as a control issue in dysfunctional families) as rationales for requiring “First Time Obedience” and “leaps of faith” required under multigenerational faithfulness.
>First Time Obedience and Unquestioned Submission
Part II: Spiritualizing All Activities
  • Review of the tendency to make every banal daily activity one of great eternal spiritual significance as a consequence of works-based salvation. Includes a discussion of viewing personality traits that do not fit the belief system’s paradigm as sinful as well as the building up of all gender related activities as sacramental for the impartation of inward sanctification.
>First Time Obedience and Unquestioned Submission:
Addendum to Part II (Spiritualizing All Activities)
  • Blog host’s personal experience with inherent personality traits treated by parents as sin, the idolatry of seeking parental approval, and the consequences of requiring unquestioned submission with the use of guilt and shame that predisposes one to easy brainwashing and compliance with thought reform. Includes a section from Biderman’s Chart of Coercion addressing the powerful effects of devaluing individuals in religious settings.
>First Time Obedience and Unquestioned Submission
Part III: Poor Development of Analytical Thought and Problem Solving Skills
  • Discussion of the development of how perfectionism, works-based salvation and First Time Obedience squelch problem-solving skill and prevent the development of critical thinking under the guise of multigenerational faithfulness.
>First Time Obedience and Unquestioned Submission
Part IV: Theological Concerns
  • A specific review of the theological problems in Voddie Baucham’s defense of First Time Obedience as well as the refutation of the practice from Scripture. Echos concerns noted in this previous blog post concerning Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith” book.
>RC Sproul, Jr’s Take on Multigenerational Faithfulness: “When You Rise Up”
  • A brief review of RC, Sproul, Jr’s book about “covenantal homeschooling,” which notes a particularly disturbing passage that describes a nine year old girl who cannot yet read but is praised for “learning what God requires.”
>Thoughts on Fear-Based Obedience: It is Hollow and not Holy
  • Notable quotes and considerations from both Andrew and Richard Sandlin that help to put multigenerational faithfulness into perspective.

Additional Posts on Submission Doctrine and the Shepherding Discipleship Movement

Additional Posts on Loading the Language
*Loading the Language
*The Term “Biblical” Becomes a Thought Stopping Cliche?
*"Biblical” Modifiers and Discernment
*The Selling of An Idea

The Ultimate Tragedy:

Another tragedy... is a problem of multigenerational nature. The serious dysfunction in a founding family will be absorbed by the children’s families and then their children’s families, a ripple of misery extending farther and farther down through the years. The dependency or dysfunction may change... But it’s there. It’s almost always there, wreaking it’s damage.

I’ve read much about this term “multigenerational faithfulness,” a loaded language phrase created by those affiliated with the Family Integrated Church (FIC) and used extensively by those affiliated with Vision Forum including James McDonald, Voddie Baucham and RC Sproul, Jr. Though I cannot find the use of this specific phrase on any websites related directly to Doug Wilson or the CREC, they do promote and practice the same core concepts using the term “covenantal succession" or some variation of that instead.

To the best of my understanding from the research that I’ve done on the topic, the term became popular in the ‘90s within religious leadership training circles making reference to the work of Rabbi Edwin Friedman. Friedman applied Murray Bowen’s Family Systems Theory to churches and synagogues in his book “Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue.” Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist, pioneered the systems theory of family, and his work provides the whole basis for my arguments and the information posted on the website “Overcoming Botkin Syndrome” which counters the teaching of the Botkin family. The paradigm of family taught by Geoff Botkin and his daughters (Vision Forum affiliates and members of Doug Phillips’ local group) define what Bowen theory classifies as the epitome of family dysfunction, so it is highly ironic that Vision Forum and their following have adopted this term as their own. Vision Forum despises all things related to psychology and psychiatry because they believe that the original foundations of the discipline came from Darwinian assumptions and can therefore only be opposed to that which is Biblical. They deny that statistically validated scientific approaches to mental illness or learning disabilities (objective science and not theory based) or findings based upon the objective data obtained through advanced brain imaging and neurophysiology have value because it falls under the general category with Jungian and Freudian psychology. Diseases of the brain with behavioral implications are seen to be sin-based, so they reject these disciplines from which their own precious terminology of “multigenerational faithfulness” originated.

I wonder if Vision Forum started making application of the phrase knowingly, whether they knowingly copped the term from Christian leadership seminars or whether someone heard the terminology used in these circles and did not realize where the term actually originated? With all of the stealing of intellectual property within the camps of the many self-declared leaders in homeschooling, I’m not inclined to believe that adoption of the term was coincidental. Federal Visionists’ plagiarism precedes them, Raymond Moore’s White Paper cites those who profiteered from his work, and as just one example, many believe that Eric Wallace deserves the credit for the concept of “uniting church and family” because of his book and because of his refusal to appear at a Saint Louis homeschooling conference many years ago.

Vision Forum’s paradigms of family actually exceed many points of legalism within traditional Judaism as described by Maimonedes, bearing striking similarities to the pagan paterfamilias of Roman culture and the household codes from the writings of ancient philosophers like Aristotle’s “Books of Politics.” Considering the origins of the “multigenerational faithfulness” term in conjunction with the pagan origins of the patriarchal practices of Vision Forum, their own extra-biblical teachings fit far more applicably into a taxonomy with psychology, social science and more fundamentally, anthropology. Men like Michael Kruse argue and openly admit that the so-called “Biblical patriarchy” derives directly from the paterfamilias, from Aristotle and the writings of the Rabbis of that day. If you find my claims doubtful and you feel the pressure of milieu control, I challenge you to read the Christian leadership materials from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Murray Bowen’s work, Rabbi Friedman’s work, as well as the structure and practices of the paterfamilias to prove me wrong. Compare that information to the teaching of the Botkins and what I’ve posted on the “Overcoming Bodkin Syndrome” site. I challenge the readers here to search these matters out for themselves to corroborate the facts.

Those who promote this model of so-called “Biblical patriarchy” need to be honest with their following. They should state openly to their following that their teachings do contain much Biblical material, as they aspire to live with full conscience before God and in obedience to God’s Word. But in addition, they need to be ethical and state that their model also conforms to secular societal traditions as well if not more so than it does to that which is exclusively Biblical.

I don’t find anything wrong with the fact that Vision Forum’s model classifies as something of a social science or an anthropology of family. In that sense, one can argue that they are their own type of Social Darwinism, the connotative term that they so zealously decry, since these social sciences also originated within (but are not necessarily reflective of) naturalism, materialism and Darwinian thought. Depending on how a person validates truth and what style of hermeneutics they use (and do not just profess in theory only on their website), they can rationalize that their beliefs are purely Biblical through a various number of ego defenses, essentially believing their own contrived press.

Some religious schools of thought like those followed at Vision Forum reject all that is believed to be secular and is therefore declared evil, yet other more objective approaches do not assign ethical value to all things secular. Many practices we engage in as believers and interact with in our daily lives are secular and non-religious (i.e., indoor plumbing, houseplants, kitchen curtains), but their absence in the Bible does not classify them as unbiblical or non-Biblical and therefore something to denounce, mark and avoid. Many schools of Christian thought would note that some practices absolutely spring from that which is defined for us in the Word of God but that other practices and traditions that we engage in while in the world and not of it are banal, mundane and non-ethical.

All human thought is affected by and reflects an individual person’s ethics, but thoughts concerning practical matters that are based upon objective facts are intrinsically non- ethical. How one ascribes meaning to those facts may or may not become ethical as reflective of the worldview and reasoning of the thinker. For example, a discussion of the mechanics of indoor plumbing, how to install it and how to maintain it has no intrinsic ethical weight. That indoor plumbing does function because of the constancy of physical science which is a study of our material environment. A description of what we know about the mechanics of physical law (buoyancy, Boles law and other physical facts about the dynamics of water, pressure and gravity) are not intrinsically ethical, in and of themselves. How we understand and make sense of the basis of those physical laws, how we pursue understanding those physical laws and our choices regarding problem-solving in an attempt to understand those physical laws most definitely derive from our ethics and have worldview implications. The factual, objective information regarding the details of the mechanics of the physical world can be observed and can have meaning for both the Christian and non-Christian, and though these matters are “secular” (non-religious), the fact that they are secular does NOT mean that they are intrinsically ethical and therefore evil.

Check back over coming weeks for more on “multi generational faithfulness,” a topic I’ve been collecting information about for a few months but have a renewed interest in since reading Voddie Baucham’s use of the term in his book. How amused I was to see that Karen Campbell has also started her own series of blog articles detailing her own thoughts about the term and how those who follow Vision Forum’s teachings use and apply it. Karen seems to be a fine example of an evangelical Christian homeschooler -- and one that exemplifies the concept (with homeschooled grandchildren to boot!), yet I’m sure those who use the term would deny that it applies to her. Perhaps they might say that what she’s taught her family to be faithful unto is skewed because she rejects the teachings of patriocentricity. Read more at

On this blog and elsewhere in many venues, I’ve mentioned what I call the “Spiritual Eugenics” of patriocentricity, using this term to describe those who view the Calvinistic concepts of grace and limited atonement as a means to justify cruel behavior toward those whom they esteem to be error, assuming that those persons are non-elect and therefore hated by God. For example, men like Doug Wilson find this understanding to be cause for imprecatory prayer which calls for the demise and destruction of those whom he deems his enemies, though other groups treat both professing Christians and unbelievers in the same manner for the sin of rejecting their teachings. In his book, “Mother Kirk,” Wilson says that the pro-life movement should face facts and realize that they should not strive to save every unborn life. Christians should rather choose to pray to God to ask Him to grant that the unborn children of the heathen, the non-elect, die in utero because God hates them. When I applied “spiritual eugenics” to this area of patriocentricity, I recognized that those who call for militant fecundity also promote an aspect of this same idea in some respect. They assume that all of those who are born into their churches qualify as God’s guaranteed elect, so they rationalize that as the nation of Israel expanded their kingdom by growth in the nation’s population from their father Abraham, the church also advances God’s kingdom by means of church members having large numbers of children. Some of these groups also formally state that church membership in their covenant community serves as a more significant factor in salvation than an individual’s personal faith and confession in Christ as Savior.

Multigenerational Faithfulness

Earlier this week, I listened to both parts of a sermon on multigenerational faithfulness by Bill Einwechter in July of 2005, a pastor in Pennsylvania who also speaks regularly at Vision Forum sponsored meetings and conferences. (Find the download HERE on Sermon Audio.)

In a discussion of how we should follow Abraham’s example in our efforts to take dominion in our lives and on the earth so as to realize the Kingdom of God, Einwechter teaches that Christians under the New Covenant are also subject and bound to the full ramifications of certain aspects of Old Testament Law as found in Deuteronomy Chapter Six. The system of blessings and cursings he presents still applies to families today, and to avoid bringing the consequences of sin down on the heads of one’s progeny to the 3rd and 4th generations that follow (as cited in the sermon), one must protect these generations by faithfully and scrupulously observing the Law, presumably, in the same manner that Abraham did.

Within a section concerning the diligence to birth faithful, godly seed in the same manner that Abraham and the patriarchs of old did, Einwechter points out that “we need children . . . and wealth” to carry out multigenerational faithfulness and that a family without children “has no heritage.” Children are needful to carry our names and our work into the future. The seed of the righteous is not merely limited to sharing the Gospel through evangelism or through dutifully training up our children in the way that they should go, nurturing them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The group believes that the church today actually originates with the nation of Israel in some physical sense as well as the spiritual, so multigenerational faithfulness must include a sowing of our physical seed with the same zealous effort of evangelists who preach salvation to the lost. Because of this strong identification with the nation of Israel as found in the Old Covenant, this group believes that the Church remains subject to the Old Covenant in at least respect to expanding the church in order to take dominion. If believers in Christ today transgress these Old Covenant laws, they believe that the New Testament Church will pay the same consequences that Israel did before Christ presented Himself as the sufficient propitiation atoning for all sin and liberating us from the Old Covenant.

Daughters and Multigenerational Faithfulness

Sons and daughters differ according to Einwechter and the "continuity of history" of name and family extends only through sons. Einwechter states that multigenerational faithfulness works differently for daughters because a daughter no longer carries on her own family’s heritage or work within her new marriage. She serves her new husband’s family name and “his covenant,” so their marriage allows the husband to “extend his influence into other families.” Daughters are the “dynamic means” whereby men extend their name and heritage “into other covenantal family units,” or more specifically as Einwechter implies, into her own family of origin. The man “extends the covenant” of his own fathers through marriage. “Daughters are not dead ends . . . Faithful families must work together to give their sons and daughters to one another in marriage.” He also explains that multigenerational faithfulness cannot be limited to simply training our children but should include “the goal of giving them in marriage to other well-trained children from godly homes.”

When men and women marry, Paul teaches that women should submit to their husbands as unto the Lord. The husband leaves his parents and cleaves unto his new bride, and the two become one flesh. But I find it distressing that any Christian would ever find any need to utter that “Daughters are not dead ends.” In this sermon, we see the patriocentric belief that daughters must be given in marriage (a social and societal construct) and that both sets of parents bear responsibility for matchmaking under their version of courtship. These details and information present nothing new and highlights that which has already been stated in the writings and other media of the patriocentrists. But I find that the context and other aspects of this description of daughters as related to multigenerational faithfulness quite revealing.

Einwechter describes marriage as though it is some type of sub-process of taking over the world, and I suppose that for those who find dominion to be the strongest motivator in their Christian service, marriage becomes a type of taking over of their little corner of it. I agree that husbands extend their name and heritage through marriage, though I would add that the wife also extends her own heritage as well and does not serve only as a lesser creature or tool as this teaching subtly implies through it’s “dead end” disclaimer. (The traditional understanding concerning “Jewishness” maintains that Jewish heritage passes down from mother to child, not through the father, for example.) But what is meant by a man “extending his covenant?” Aren’t we all partakers in the same covenant in Christ Jesus as believers? Is not the covenant of marriage a new covenant that exists between husband, wife, and the Lord, something that is not an extension of any other, pre-existing covenant and not contingent upon another covenant belonging to the husband alone? A man does start his own unique chapter in this history and in his name when he weds. But what is meant by this reference to a “covenant” that is “extended?”

Daughters are the means to a man’s end of conquering “other covenantal family units”? When my husband married me, he overtook part of my father’s family? Our marriage was part of his taking over his own little corner of the world, his having dominion over my parents in some way? What?! Some critics observe that the practices in these rigid and demanding Christian churches bear striking similarities to the practices found in the FLDS and extreme forms of Islam – groups who are also obsessed with assimilating families and birthing large families. These similarities seem especially disturbing to critics when considered in light the ambiguous and fluid moratorium on Old Covenant Law observed by those who embrace this version of multigenerational faithfulness.

Social Darwinism

Darwinism describes Charles Darwin’s theory accounting for the evolution of one species into another through a process of gradual inherent changes passed on generationally, resulting in new orders, families, genuses and species of organic life. His theory defines this process that he called “natural selection,” describing a drive to emerge from the competition of organisms’ survival to emerge as predominant. Individual traits, systems, and species, etc. survive adversity, and those traits, systems, and species that are not resilient enough to persevere through the adversities of mutation and environment do not survive. Herbert Spencer then coined the term “survival of the fittest” to describe natural selection in social dynamics, and Darwin’s own cousin, Sir Francis Galton, applied the concept to frame out the philosophy of eugenics. Under the guise of seeking the greater good for all mankind, those who desire power and wealth and employ this thinking fall into corruption, usually accomplishing their ends by collectivistic, authoritarian, totalitarian, and hegemonic means. Please also note that, ironically, eugenics advances that which is “normative” by seeking to eradicate the “bungled, botched” and defective on its quest to improve the human gene pool for the greater good through a process of guided or directed evolution.

I’ve already described a certain sector of the church that seeks to take dominion over the earth in the Name of Jesus Christ while berating, cursing and condemning others who do not share their belief system (targeting unbeliever and confessing evangelical Christian alike). They approach other Christians who agree on the essentials of Christianity but differ in nonessential beliefs as their adversaries, as if engaged in some type of competition for limited resources. They define their beliefs and practices as superior to all others, and they define themselves as God’s intellectual and elect elite. Though a misinterpretation of the principles of theonomy that pushes them to achieve dominion in all areas of life on earth and in every “social sphere,” they often withdraw from the culture to preserve the pious nature, achieved through obedience to formulas of the Law of the Old Covenant in order to preserve their posterity and protect it from harm. In this sermon by Einwechter, these sentiments are quite noted to be not limited to practical matters in life and in spiritual matters, but they attach their dominion to the propagation of their own “spiritual species” through birthing large families in the natural in order to accomplish their ends. Thus the covenant family of God and His nation of Israel that is realized in their faithful remnant will be propagated as their sons expand their dominions through the spiritual species of their godly seed. They pick spouses for their adult children from a pool of like-minded faithful followers of their ideology, and even some parents will not consent to the selection of mates that have not been homeschooled. Daughters, the less normative gender, serve as the precious instruments by which these men extend their names, heritages and covenants into the daughter’s families, expanding into the daughter’s “covenantal family units.”

Now, folks, if Sunday School is Social Darwinism as Vision Forum and its following teaches, what, pray tell, is multigenerational faithfulness?

It sounds like projection to me, or something more akin to “the pot calling the kettle black.”

The “200 Year Plan” promoted by Vision Forum derives from some goal setting that Geoff Botkin did with his children to help them have a “vision” and plan for their lives. **Please link here to read more about Geoff Botkin's background** and his long tenure with one of the most well documented Shepherding Discipleship Bible-based cults, the Great Commission Ministries group.

This process of goal setting and planning is not new, as many people and many disciplines practice a very goal oriented and objective planning process, complete with measurable goals. (Most don't extend the planning to 200 years, however.) I cannot speak highly enough about this, having been trained in objective planning like this in my own profession as a nurse. For a hospitalized surgical patient, for example, my long-term goal for them will be to ambulate unassisted for 100 feet without assistance upon discharge, but while in my care, I must set specific, measurable goals for each day. For post-op day one, my goal may be to get out of bed six hours after returning from the OR. On post-op day three, my goal will be “Patient will ambulate three times around the clinical area four times per day.” I can’t wait until 10PM to encourage that patient to make all twelve 12 laps by midnight! You eat an elephant by disciplining yourself to eat one bite at a time, and I know well the many benefits and wisdom of this type of planning process.

Mr. Botkin describes sitting down with his sons to communicate what he would like to see each of them accomplish. He collaborated with his sons regarding their comprehensive life goals for themselves, and they mapped out all of these specifics together. When the worked everything out to see all their desires accomplished, the plan extended to 200 years. He states quite admirable goals: he hopes to carry "disciple-making principles found in the Word of God over into his family." He states his desire to “train his sons in how to fight, how to resist lies, how to resist disinformation, and how to be champions of what is true.” These are fine and laudable goals that all believers in Christ should strive to rest within. How could one pursue anything more noble than conquering falsehood through championing and teaching God’s truth? If we could only agree on our interpretations about what the Bible communicates to us as truth, for these goals should be shared by all committed Christians.

As is so true of Vision Forum material as was true of Bill Gothard’s training or other such programs, on the surface of things and when considering the veneer, their ideas sound reasonable. In an interview with Kevin Swanson, Botkin states many principles that just make my heart sing, but these things are limited to the surface layer. If you’ve not read the specifics of Geoff Botkin’s ideology in his daughters’ book, if you have not heard his sermons or you never saw the “Return of the Daughters” video, when you listen to his interview with Swanson, you would never suspect any problems with the concept. You might even desire to purchase the audio of the conference that Vision Forum presented because of the window dressing of the plan, impressed with the very good aspects of the general idea. Having studied this material, heard my brethren at church in San Antonio discuss the practical and problematic aspects of these belief systems and having been through the mill of a formulaic and legalistic system personally, some of the problems become quite obvious to me.

Botkin made several comments that I found admirable, statements that would otherwise lead me to believe in the sound principles that this approach to good stewardship conveys. Botkin explains that these efforts are about the great commission and that the plan helps fathers model faithfulness in the home from the times that their sons are young so that “their sons do not have to get spoon-fed from their dads the rest of their life.” I think this is wonderful, but I know well that this is not the absolute that Vision Forum teaches, and these statements mislead the listener because they contrast many of the foundational principles upon which Vision Forum ideology operates. The fathers of adult sons govern and guide sons well into their adulthood, and the great commission does not refer to sharing the Gospel with the lost, but primarily through birthing godly seed. Unless you understood that about Vision Forum, you would not suspect that anything was amiss in this message. Botkin also says that this process revolves around training sons to “take their marching orders from the Word of God.” Without knowledge of the disparagement between how creatively they interpret and apply the Word of God, I would never suspect any inconsistencies. Based on the veneer, it all sounds legitimate.

Botkin states that he uses an Excel spreadsheet, assigning a row for each year and assigns columns to each “initiative” in life. Among these initiatives, he lists the categories of personal, practical goals, legislative, marital, how many children, and even speculates about his death. He does state that this is not presumptive upon the Lord, and the plan can be amended as necessary to accommodate for these changes. And then it gets a bit weird, if you are familiar with some of the more rigid teachings of the Botkin family.

Consider again the presuppositional belief in a particular eschatology followed by Vision Forum, an idea that is certainly within the pale of orthodoxy but one that I believe the group takes to an extreme, excluding other directives and mandates in Scripture (such as showing love and forebearance to fellow brethren). Though I intend to come back to address this in greater detail, consider that Vision Forum follows a post-millennial understanding of eschatology, therefore anticipating that the church will continue to persevere here on earth for many more years until Christ and the Church establishes dominion in the earth, permeating every realm of society with Christian governance. These believers see the Church as the primary means that God will accomplish dominion, and this group believes that the primary means of the expansion of the church comes through the birthing of godly seed through their own families as opposed to evangelizing the lost in the secular culture. The concept of “Replacement Theology” encourages the identification of the Church today with the fulfillment of the Old Covenant mandates, so there is a greater importance placed upon the tribal aspects of the commands to the nation of Israel when the purity of the spiritual Israel was still dependent upon their nationality. (Those who embrace New Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology identify Christ’s ascension at Pentecost as the event that called the New Testament Church into being, so there is not the strong identification with the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants perceived by those who follow these extreme forms of Covenant Theology. The distinction seems subtle, but the ramifications of it become quite powerful.)

Multigenerational faithfulness rests upon two primary passages of Scripture from Deuteronomy, Chapters Five and Six, as well as Genesis Chapter 18, identifying with the Old Covenant mandates, blessings and cursings. For that reason, they believe that they fulfill God’s physical representation of Israel today (replacing those of Jewish descent as God’s chosen), and they must faithfully birth godly seed just as Abraham and the other Old Testament Patriarchs did in the natural. Though evangelism offered to the lost is not avoided, the primary means of advancing the kingdom follows the Old Covenant model. I also find it quite telling that in every discourse on the subject I've listened to or read thus far, the speaker or writer venerates the Puritans and their separatist piety, serving to intensify the elitist and exclusionary tendencies of this contemporary group.

What issues do I find in the Vision Forum 200 Year Plan and why does this matter? In general, there is nothing wrong with these pursuits of planning, however combined with the concept of the Vision Forum teaching that grown sons still must submit to the wisdom and guidance of their fathers, grown adults actually follow a plan that belongs to their fathers (or is strongly influenced) and not themselves. A man must leave his parents and cleave unto his new wife, following God’s plan for his life, not his earthly father’s plan. There are indications of this in Geoff Botkin's statements, though they are quite subtle. These plans are very specific and I find the authoritarianism and feudalism inherent in the belief system of submission to one’s oldest living patriarch quite evident in these statements:
If my son is 57 or 56, if my son is serving as prime minister of New Zealand, what does he need to do now to be preparing himself to be adequate, just, righteous, well-educated ruler, so that he can administer justice in the way that it must be done?

And so we guide them in the areas where they are truly gifted, we give them reading material, we help train them in the areas where they are strong, we give them access to tutors and others that are great for them to be around that will sharpen them in these areas, and we adjust this 200 Year Plan accordingly.
The Vision Forum system is one of hierarchy and submission. Those who have participated in such a system recognize the attention placed upon the chain of command within the ideology. There are clear rulers and clear followers, following what many describe as neo-feudalism which gives way to sacerdotalism and the abuse of power. Though these groups profess Reformed Theology, in practice, the gnostic levels of higher spirituality and the priesthood of both patriarchs and church elders prove more consistent with Roman Catholic Theology in this respect. For this reason, I found the references made to discipleship and governance, such as found in the comment about New Zealand to be some cause for concern. The ruling class in the group seeks to advance their rule through their progeny. Here is another comment that piques my concern about this mindset of the patriarchal ruling class (definitely not enjoyed by all in the group):
Teach them to be fathers, churchmen and leaders in the church to be shepherds of other men. The church is integral in this whole aspect, so they see themselves as preparing themselves to be shepherds of their children and also their spiritual children in churches.
And finally, there are subtle comments made that downplay the significance of daughters, comments that I found disturbing. This belief system places men in a position of priority, and women are not seen as those who need to discern difficult matters (they are filtered by their "federal head" who teaches them privately while they are safely governed and protected in the home). I don’t believe that it’s honest to say that women are not valued, but they are the “non-normative” gender, and as some teach, they are the "derivative" and "indirect" Image of God. Throughout these discussions of vision, these teachings address men nearly exclusively. (Women do not have independent visions, missions or callings apart from their male counterpart, be that father or husband, as their callings are limited to home and childbearing.) They bear God’s image but not as fully as a man does. I believe that these subtle comments bear out my point as well as the presumed and primary purpose of women to bear children in support of the male priority in multigenerational faithfulness.
When he’s 57 and he can look across and see if he’s met those goals. Plot out your death and the death of your sons to see the result of your efforts. Each one of my children has roughly 156,000 male descendants. And that’s a lot of people to be applied to the works of righteousness we have laid out today.

Why not note how many female descendants you will have in addition to sons? Does not the seed of the man **(transmited to the daughter by virtue of genetics) also transmit to the posterity of his daughters? If you did not realize the status assigned to women within this system by drawing from other knowledge of Vision Forum’s teachings, I doubt that the unsuspecting listener to just this one radio show would note this subtle factor. I noted it quite well. This system is a works-based system of legalism and has little to do with Christ Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit within our lives, and the unmerited favor God extends to us, especially when sin abounds in our lives. Grace becomes like unto that which Gothard teaches: a spiritual essence that it earned and dispensed based upon one’s obedience. Faith also corresponds to Bill Gothard’s model where one does not trust God regardless of sight and circumstances, but faith is reduced to “having a vision for God’s plan for your life” akin to a motivational, sales and self-help message.

I would like to explain a bit more about the mentality behind what I understand to be Douglas Wilson of the CREC’s position on reaching out to women who are pregnant and are considering abortion. As I believe that I fueled some of this debate by alluding to Doug Wilson’s statement in “Mother Kirk," I’d like to again address what he’s actually said. I believe that his reasoning represents the mindset of the patriocentrists, and this reasoning no only concerns how those who are not Christian should be treated, the reasoning also determines how this group of Christians views reproduction in general. This mindset is neo-tribal and exclusive, aspects of which I’ve discussed recently on this blog.

I left the following comment on a blog in response to a comment that stated that Doug Wilson is pro-abortion. In some sense, this person was absolutely accurate. The reasoning stems from a mentality of superiority and what I believe are logical conclusions of what many promote as Christian hierarchy which reflects God’s sovereignty. I made a few corrections in what I originally posted as a comment on the True Womanhood blog. I offer it here as part of this ongoing investigation of “multigenerational faithfulness” and "covenantal succession." Some of this will be redundant, but I would like to post it anyway, for the sake of clarification.

About Wilson “supporting abortion.” I would not say that this is exactly his position.

Federal Vision and the teachings that resulted in Steve Schissel (I don’t understand any of that with him) and Doug Wilson losing their ordination involved their view of the importance of the “covenant community,” or for those of you who don’t speak Covenant Theology-speak, this means church. “Federal” in Latin means “Covenant,” so Federal Vision is a vision for the church in real English. But if you are Wilson, you have to demonstrate that you are clever and smarter than everybody else, so you have to make things a little more obscure.

In this teaching, these guys insisted that they were getting back to what the Protestant Reformers taught, and it boils down to this (for which at least 3 denominations have denounced them for): Your eternal fate and your salvation (justification, sanctification) depend as much or more upon church membership than they do upon the condition of your heart and your own personal confession of faith. There is an assumption that all people who are born into the church (to church members) automatically get this station with God (God’s elect), though if you asked these patriocentrists, they would say that it is also dependent upon personal confession. Because they believe that God chooses those whom He will save as an act of His sovereign will, those whom Ephesians calls God’s elect, everyone else deserves what they get. God hates the non-elect.

So the mentality is that the non-elect deserve what they have coming to them. I’ve read things on Michael Metzler’s blog (reportedly hacked with sections missing) where he’s quoted Wilson encouraging imprecatory prayer and saying that we should rejoice when we see the children of the heathen naked and hungry in the streets. This brings glory to God because he is punishing His enemies. (“Destroy my enemies God, and Joe Shmoe is my enemy. Kill them and have Your vengeance, because I know that you hate them and their hearts hate you.”) This was also the attitude that the more well-off had in Victorian times, as people said if you were poor, destitute or ill, this was God’s sovereign justice against you. This is the same hierarchical mentality that promotes scapegoating through slavery. That person was born a slave because God knew who they were and that is the station that they merit. There is a logical conclusion that is not stated that says we should basically not mess with God’s sovereign will by trying to elevate these people out of poverty, and we should not really minister to the needy. These things should be restricted to those who honor God only (by participation in the covenant community or those who are church members).

So, he’s said that we should be honest about pro-life efforts, and we should let the children of Molech go kill themselves, because this is the just end of the heathen. (Notice that there is always an assumption that human beings can tell somehow who is elect from who is not. Maybe this gift is limited to Wilson? If you were elect, you would think like the patriocentrists. This is the same mentality behind the persecution of the Jews. God turned His back on them and all Christians should hate them.)

So somehow, those who are elect should be able to discern who is God’s elect and who is not, and they should direct their missionary efforts, including pro-life efforts, to only the elect, and that can be easily determined: the elect are in the covenant community or look that they will likely come to join the covenant community. He says “The ancient psalmist blessed the one who would take little ones of those who hate God and dash them on the rock (Ps 137:9). We should likewise pray that the babies of the non-elect should die in utero so that they are never even born, in accordance with this Psalm.

So he is technically not “pro-abortion.” He is just pro-death, suffering and destruction of any kind to those who are non-elect.

This is the same reason why Christian attorneys out there and so many patriocentrists are willing to violate 1 Cor 6 (which admonishes Christians keep matters among Christian’s out of Caesar’s courts). These Christians who take other Christians into the courts just make the decision in their heads that they know beyond certainty that those whom they are at liberty to sue are non-elect. They declare you non-Christian, and then they can take you to court or into kangaroo courts of arbitration or mediation with lawyers of their choosing (that they manipulate), and they can fleece you.

And let me say that I talk much of ideological totalism, thought reform, collectivism and the lot in association with these groups. They purpose to do the right thing, but they do it by human means to create a “more perfect world” for the “greater good.” But in the process of solving for x in human equations, their ends become their idols and they use any means to accomplish them. They can’t tolerate tension very well (some we will always have with us, such as differing interpretations and intramural issues concerning Scripture), and so they believe that they are doing God’s work to make those tensions go away. But man cannot do this, so the results are always the works of the flesh. When you do this en masse, it always degrades into thought reform. Dehumanize those that don’t fit the prescribed standard and marginalize them, debilitate them, shut them up or destroy them. Send them to Rhode Island in exile like the Puritans in Massachusetts did with the Baptists and whoever else they found to be problematic. This is what the Spanish Inquisition did. This is what Hitler did with his Jewish “problem” and anyone else that did not suit him. This is what the Pharisees did ("Thank you Lord for not making me a worthless sinner like this one… Thank you Lord that You did not see to it that I was born a goy, a slave or a woman.”) Kick the dog and slit its throat to get rid of the inconvenient tension of life, an inevitable part of the human experience.

What is truly sad is that this is a trap that we humans fall into by making small compromises, and if we do not stay rooted and grounded in love and the Word in balance, we don’t even see that we are falling into error. This is the very nature of the idolatry of idealism. Satan takes good intentions and uses them along with the deceitfulness of our hearts (that not yet transformed through sanctification), and he turns us into that which we most hate.

So all that to say, Doug Wilson is not “technically” pro-abortion. He’s just pro-death for anyone outside the covenant community. This is evidenced, of course, by total agreement with him. Such is the case with most all the patriocentrists....

And I assume that it should go without saying that Jesus taught us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who despitefully use us. We should not turn ourselves into doormats with them, but we should not pray destruction on people, nor should we rejoice in the demise of anyone. Our real warfare is not against the non-elect, and this comes from Covenant Theology’s identification of themselves as attached to Israel directly. We are to take authority over our own thoughts as well as principalities, powers, the rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places. That’s not warfare against people. We should not pray against those people personally but should pray for their deliverance. We should pray for God to deliver them from the spiritual forces that hold them back from unity with the Body of Christ (as opposed to their forced version of uniformity). We should pray that their wounds be healed (as I believe much of what many seemingly wicked people do is just self-protection and pain from their own unhealed wounds). We are never taught anywhere in the New Testament to curse or condemn people, and even Paul states in I Cor 5, I think, that we should give people over unto their own corruption SO THAT GOD MIGHT SAVE THEM eventually. We should release them, letting God deal with them. We are not to pray for their harm and we certainly should not rejoice in their affliction.

We are also never told to restrict our charities to only the elect. God told Daniel that man looks only to the outward things, as only God can see the intent of the heart and judge righteously. That’s why vengeance is His and not ours. We can certainly say “The Lord rebuke you,” but we are never told to curse. We are to hate sin, conduct ourselves with wisdom and to “one another” each other. I’ve never seen that this was ever restricted from sinners. The only people we are to hold at length from ourselves are recalcitrant people who will not repent or show themselves accountable to the brethren and those corrupt religious teachers who pervert the Gospel, thus abusing their sheep. Even then though, we are to pray that in the Day of the Lord and in the fullness of time that God will redeem them.

The patriocentrists see themselves like Abraham’s real seed, and they think that the holiness mandates for Israel’s purity still apply to their “spiritual nation.” But these new supposed Covenant Theologians (as I don’t really think this is a correct interpretation of Covenant Theology and Theonomy) forget that salvation is no longer restricted from the gentiles/available only to the Jews, and salvation is no longer nation-based. We follow the Holy Spirit to do what the Law used to do for Israel to keep her pure. God works our purity from the inside out now, not the outside in like the patriarchalists demand. This is also why they are focused on “fecundity,” as they are interpolating Old Testament identification with Israel with salvation of the world. That is why evangelism of the lost is not key to them. It’s replacement theology on the steroid of human pride and tribalism.

From the
Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International
Deomination's website:

Resolution 06-03: Concerning the Integrated Church Movement

While recognizing that the family is under attack in our nation and in many churches today, and recognizing that choice to have (or not have) age-graded ministries is the prerogative of individual local churches as God directs them, the FBFI denounces the doctrinally errant and schismatic teaching characteristic of the Integrated Church movement for the following reasons:

• It encourages schisms in local church bodies by encouraging its adherents to change the theology and philosophy of the churches of which they are members.

• It does violence to local church authority, calling on local church members to leave their churches when the church does not bow the philosophical demands of the movement.

• It espouses an ecclesiology based upon the family that is not based upon the New Testament but rather is an adaptation of Old Testament patriarchy.

• It falsely lays the claim that the destruction of the family in the US is the solely the fault of age-graded ministries in local churches. We contend that this is a simplistic and therefore false accusation.

• It espouses a postmillennial theology that is contradictory to a dispensational understanding of Scripture.

• It is oddly inclusive, basing fellowship on a particular philosophy of ministry rather than the great fundamentals of the faith.

This movement is most prominently represented by Doug Phillips (Vision Forum) and R.C. Sproul Jr., among others.

Echoing the FBFI Resolution from 2006, when reviewing information on the Vision Forum concept of multigenerational faithfulness, I find it terribly interesting that those who promote the concept draw such little support for the more extreme edges of the view from the New Testament. I would like to look specifically at those NT Scriptures in an upcoming post, but for now, I would like to briefly examine the significance that Vision Forum places on their own natural physical offspring as Abraham’s physical seed (spiritual eugenics). I do not believe that one can truly appreciate the concept of multigenerational faithfulness without appreciating the extreme neo-tribal, pietistic and separatist views of Vision Form, a “Protestant Exclusivism” that which Raymond Moore likened to spirit of the pietistic Massachusetts Bay Colony of the 17th Century. I believe that here we see the rationale as to why the Family Integrated Churches spend virtually no effort evangelizing the lost and focus only on “spiritual purification” of those who are already Christian, much like a spiritual cleansing of the Church in the same type of spirit that fundamentalist Islamic groups carry out “ethnic cleansing.” This is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Please refer back to my discussion of Doug Wilson’s prayers that the unborn babies of the non-elect die in utero if you find this concept to be a gross exaggeration. People who depart ecclesiocentric churches are cursed with “Death, Disease and Divorce” (the Dispensing of Existence) when they do so without the approval and blessings of their church leadership and are classified as apostates who are deserving of God’s full wrath for exiting “God’s umbrella of protection.” I believe that those who have been threatened with lawsuits and pursued in the courts by men like Doug Phillips can also attest to this type of spirit held toward those whom they esteem as God’s enemies (a group that includes Christian believers that often just happen to be their own, personal critics). I believe also that seeds of this same mentality are encouraged by Ken Sande’s teaching that after certain conditions as established by Sande have been satisfied, it is appropriate to sue a fellow believer in Caesar’s courts if you don't believe that they are really behaving like you think Christians behave (Peaemaker, Appendix D). I have much personal knowledge of how this principle, whether thus intended by Mr. Sande or not, has been grossly exploited by the patriocentrists with *the saga* of Joe Taylor demonstrating just one of these examples. Those who seek to justify their own licensiousness and/or cover their own past error actually, literally, and actively seek to establish and classify their fellow believers who threaten their exposure as the non-elect (or those who do not demonstrate Christian behavior) in order to use the legal system to squelch all criticism. Yes, Christians (patriocentrists in particular) try to label their critics as non-Christians so that they can, in their own minds, be justified in bringing legal action against their critics in order to silence them through the legal system. I wish that I had liberty to share more of these sagas with the readers here, but too many of the persecuted have been too beaten down by this process to risk further harassment. Some are also still engaged in ongoing proceedings and others have been silenced with settlements out of court, thus prohibiting discussions of these matters.

But I digress from the topic of multigenerational faithfulness...

The primary weight of the Vision Forum arguments rest upon Old Testament Scriptures that make reference to physical Israel when holiness before God depended on the purity of the physical race of the Jews, the physical nation of Israel. And even some of the primary Scriptures from the Old Testament that are used that are offered as proof texts really don’t apply in a way that supports that Christian believers are Abraham’s new physical seed. Even a belief in what is termed “Replacement Theology” does not hold that the fruit of the womb of believers makes today’s Christian responsible to advance the Kingdom of God through “militant fecundity.” (Note that this is not to say that there is not a problem with too many believers rejecting God’s blessing of children, a completely separate and unrelated argument that I fully acknowledge as a separate and legitimate concern within today’s church. But it is a separate concern.) Even those denominations that believe that the significance and role of the Nation of Israel passed away after the death and resurrection of Jesus do not follow the mandates of the Old Covenant as if all believers have literally become Jewish in the natural sense. They understand that Israel no longer plays a role in establishing the Kingdom of God as a consequence of rejecting Jesus, the Messiah. (Note my somewhat subtle point that I would like to state most obviously here: What Vision Forum teaches far exceeds Covenant Theology, Theonomy and Replacement Theology.)

Here is one such example of the typical understanding of Replacement Theology from Congregation Shema Yisrael, a Messianic congregation in my own, local area:
Replacement Theology does not believe that all the prophecies in the Holy Scriptures concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Land of Promise, like Ezekiel 36-48, and Zechariah 12-14, much of Isaiah 59-66, and many other prophetic passages are to be taken literally, but taken non-literally, or "spiritualized" into promises of God's blessing for the Church. However, the prophecies of condemnation and judgment still remain for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Those passages are taken literally.

Bill Einwechter has offered the most comprehensive and concise description of the Scriptural basis for multigenerational faithfulness in his two part sermon on the topic, and I believe that his candor and forthright description should be applauded even though I disagree with his interpretation. He offers several psalms as examples of the concept of New Covenant believers as the physical seed of Abraham in his teaching. Psalm 37:25 says “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or their seed out begging bread.” After God opened up salvation and righteousness to all nations and no longer depended upon one’s physical belonging to the nation of Israel, the significance of physical nation of Israel in the literal sense of “seed” became insignificant. The unbeliever as the spiritual seed of the believer is as significant as the physical seed of the believer, one of the wonderful blessings of opening the door of salvation to nations other than the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and, Jacob. Anyone who believes (not restricted by physical offspring) can partake of God’s providential faithfulness, and we know that this was the great desire and command of Jesus before He ascended into heaven. He called us to go forth into all the earth and preach the Gospel of His Kingdom to every creature in order to make disciples of them. He did not say to establish His kingdom through procreation of “pure spiritual seed” of either believing gentlies or Jews. If Jesus meant this as a focus, He certainly could have specified this, noting that the culture of His day was saturated with sexual displays and cities devoted to licensciousness, much like our own culture of today.

So Psalm 37:25 does talk about God’s provision and, in terms of the Old Covenant, and it does speak of Israel. However, it does not state in any way that gentiles become beneficiaries of the Old Covenant that God extended toward Israel prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus. We have a covenant of grace, not of flesh, and Paul said that to strive to attain the Old Covenant (of which he himself was a beneficiary as a Jew) was to make a mockery of grace and to deny Jesus Christ. As believers under the New Covenant by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone, we can draw hope and confidence from this verse through the better covenant, that of which the Old Covenant was only a foreshadowing. It in no way implies physical seed for the New Covenant believer in the way that it applied only to Israel under the Old Covenant. To use Psalm 37:25 almost argues a type of message akin to the Judaizers, making New Covenant Believers a type of Jew in the natural. The Psalm 25 reference of Israel’s seed inheriting the earth also does not imply that one becomes a natural Jew. This is interpreting the New Covenant by trying to apply it by use of the Old Covenant.

Unfortunately, Einwechter fails to consult the Book of Romans to read what Paul had to say about following the New Covenant by means of the Old one in this teaching on multigenerational faithfulness. Geoff Botkin also teaches that young men are to be godly sons of the Law in his justification for following an Old Covenant style life in order to merit grace and acceptance before God. (Botkin notes courtesy of Sovereign Grace Family Church and Trinity Reformation Baptist Church sermon notes and website archives). I invite the reader here to examine what Paul clearly stated directly about such teachings. Please compare Paul’s statement to Vision Forum’s interpretation of multigenerational faithfulness and the aberrant interpretation of New Covenant believers as today’s “physical Israel” through covenant-keeping under the Old Covenant standards. Paul says that the faith is made void and the righteousness of faith set Abraham apart.

Romans 4:13 - 17:
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
Romans 5 continues to say, in verses 1 and 2 that:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Believers are not justified through the flesh or by virtue of birth into the covenant community of the church, though children born to covenant believers partake of the general blessings of having Christian parents. That blessing, however, does not grant children any special eternal, spiritual privileges and does not grant them automatic status as God’s elect by virtue of their birth in the same manner that being born into physical Israel granted the Old Covenant Jew the special status as a part of God’s chosen nation. Paul clearly states that justification comes through faith that the individual puts in Christ, not as a virtue of one’s birth into a Christian family. We would certainly hope that all of our children will become authentic Christian believers through faith, but the child’s great blessing is a virtue of being raised by those who are believers themselves who hopefully saturate them in the Word of God from the cradle according to the Shema as a consequence. The blessing and benefit is not an automatic virtue bestowed upon children because they are our physical seed. The most powerful seed we sow as Christian believers is not our own physical seed. The seed that we sow as Christian believers is God’s Seed of the Word of Life into the lives of our children but especially into the lives of all those with whom we have contact in the spirit and hope of evangelism.

The Shema
from Deuteronomy Chapter 6

Actually, this Vision Forum teaching argues the same ideas about justification through birth into the covenant community of the church for which Federal Vision was criticized. They argued that church membership (also a virtue and blessing of infants born into a family of Christians in the covenant community) was a more significant determining factor that faith in Jesus Christ through confession and baptism. This blog article presents a very concise assessment of the teachings of Federal Vision concering the salvation of the children of believers, however one can also read the assessments and statements of the many denominations that denounced this teaching as aberrant. The interested reader can link to them from this report's references and link list under the section entitled "Information related to particular church bodies" included at the bottom of the web page.

The seed of the New Covenant believer is not physical seed, though God certainly does bless us through our offspring that we train in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The seed that we sow is not the seed of the Law of the Old Covenant. We sow the seed of the Word of God – the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ Jesus which offers forgiveness of sin and the ongoing saving power and care of Jesus Christ towards those who believe in Him. It offers forgiveness for the debts we incur by virtue of living that we can never pay through the precious sacrifice of Jesus, and not of works or virtue of our births should any of us boast.

Multigenerational faithfulness, as taught and promoted by Vision Forum in context, how Vision Forum responds to critics and criticism, how Vision Forum deals with those who hold do different interpretations of intramural issues in the Body of Christ, and how Vision Forum relates to the lost supports a social Darwinian approach to following the dominion mandate of Genesis.

Before you adopt the outer layers of the general concept, consider whether you believe that New Covenant believers are the transplanted physical seed of Abraham.

Consider whether believers are to work their way back to live as new and improved versions of Adam or Abraham who are called to propagate the earth with pure spiritual seed or whether we as believers are called to evangelize ALL those who are dying in their sins, a group that includes our own children until they come to their own faith in Jesus the Messiah. We can and should follow the Shema of Deuteronomy 6, but we must never forget that we are under a better covenant than the Mosaic one! We are under grace! Decide for yourself how the New Covenant should be appropriated before you sign on for all things pertaining to VF's "MGF" concept. You are likely getting more than you bargained for in the process. Be wise and informed in your choosing.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
And of his fulness have all we received,
and grace for grace.

For the law was given by Moses,
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

John 1:14 -17

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Romans 11:28 - 31

Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless,
then should no place have been sought for the second.
Hebrews 8:5 - 7

And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Hebrews 12:24

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you:
for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Romans 6:13-14

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Romans 8:1 - 10


(CLICK to enlarge graphic.)

As I note in these previous posts, the term “multigenerational faithfulness” sounds like something very desirable, but it has multiple layers. I don't believe that those who promote the concept give the listener informed consent about all that the concept entails by giving out only vague information when the concept is introduced and promoted. Because of the subtle techniques used, the unsuspecting person may be drawn into other beliefs that they would not wilfully choose otherwise. Because the less desirable concepts are kept below the surface, the listener may invest themselves in the peripheral concepts first.

By the time the less desirable beliefs and concepts present themselves as the deeper layers appear, because people like to be consistent and tend to deny when they have been deceived, they are very likely to buy into and just accept these other concepts without thinking about them objectively. This is true of most manipulative groups that conceal the full scope of their teachings. If they were open and honest about the full nature of their beliefs, most reasonable people would reject them outright. But after one has been enticed emotionally, offered what seems like a viable solution to a problem or promised some benefit, the whole package becomes much more difficult to reject. The person's own good nature and best virtues, to be consistent and rational, are thus used against them resulting in their own deception and exploitation.

Web of Multigenerational Faithfulness Concepts:

1. Gender Hierarchy and Roles

2. Unchallenged Submission and Obedience (includes “first time obedience” in children)

3. Obedience to Eldest Male in Husband’s Extended Family

4. Election Through the Covenant Community and Birth

5. Militant Fecundity

6. Law Keeping to Merit Grace

7. Replacement Theology and Dominionism

8. Homeschooling and Home Catechism

There are those who profess to be Theonomists who believe in error that Theonomy advocates what the FBFI identified as an Old Testament legalism as opposed to New Covenant ecclesiology. They essentially live as Christians who follow the Old Covenant Law, subject to the legalistic requirements, standards, blessings and cursings that the Israelites followed. In personal correspondence that I had recently with Andrew Sandlin, he noted this in response to these concepts:
Historically the church has seen Jesus as the True Seed of Abraham, and all those united to Him in faith are heirs of the Abrahamic promises (Gal. 3). While those promises include, in general, glorious pledges to our children, one of the errors of the modern patriarchy movement is to turn those promises into a technique of works-righteousness in which parental law-keeping (defined as rule adherence) secures multi-generational blessings. But for Moses, at the heart of the law is the Gospel, and it is this Gospel that seems tragically absent from much patriarchal ideology.

Below, I have noted the main concepts and Scriptures used by those who promote the Vision Forum concept of multigenerational faithfulness.

Below is an overview of the Vision Forum “multigenerational faithfulness” concept and the Scriptures from which they derive their interpretations. I post them here for your benefit and review. Consider the criticisms that this view is supported primarily with Old Covenant Scripture rather than a balance of Scripture from the New Testament as well.


Scriptures Used by Vision Forum
to Support Multigenerational Faithfulness

Deuteronomy Chapters 5 & 6

Moses issues these commandments to the physical nation of Israel, but they are set off with warnings and cautions. For multigenerational faithfulness to operate, one’s works must be pure in order to ensure that the consequences of our actions are not extended to the 3rd and 4th generations that follow us (Deut 5:8-9). But the goal is to work toward the dominion mandate (Gen 18:18-19) by heeding the Law in our lifetime, training our children and thus obtaining a blessing that extends to thousands of generations (Deut 5:10; 6:10-11).

  • Deut 6 The Shema (parallels Eph 6)
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;

13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.
16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

  • Deuteronomy 5:8-10
8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

Blessing of Mercy (earned through keeping of the Law):
10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

  • Ephesians 6: 1-13
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The Covenant Blessing Comes Through the Physical Seed of Abraham
  • Genesis 18:16-19
16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
  • Psalm 25
Unto thee O Lord do I lift up my soul... let me not be ashamed; let not mine enemies triumph over me...His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth...
  • Psalm 37:25
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
  • Psalm 112:1-2
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.

Generational Faithfulness Contingent Upon
Covenant Keeping Through Instructing Children

  • Deuteronomy 4:9
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons
  • Deuteronomy 11:19
And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and
when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
  • Deuteronomy 32:46 -47
46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
  • 1 Peter 5:5
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.
  • 2 Peter 1:5
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge

Inheritance (spiritual, intellectual, material)
Inheritance When There Are No Children in a Marriage
  • Proverbs 13:22
A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
  • Numbers 27:9-11
9 And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.
10 And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren.
11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.

In an earlier section, I listed all of the Scriptural “proof texts” that those from Vision Forum use to support their teachings on multigenerational faithfulness. As stated earlier, most of them pertain to the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, detailing how the Israelites were instructed to relate to God under the Old Covenant. According to the writings of Paul and the Book of Hebrews, those under the New Covenant, whether Jew or Gentile, received a Better Covenant than the Israelites did. They lived under the law and were subject to all its penalties. Those who follow the New Covenant live under grace and are not subject to the condemnation and curses of the law, as Jesus paid all the penalties that sin demanded. The Old Covenant was the Gospel concealed, a foreshadowing of the Gospel, and the New Covenant was the Gospel revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Until we come to faith, the Law serves as our schoolmaster or teacher, but when we receive the Holy Spirit by faith and experience new birth in the Spirit through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, the Law becomes written on our hearts.

The Consequences of John's Sin....???
But if John gets it right, he had blessings for 1000 generations. Generational thinking is the KEY.
(Listen HERE.)

Again, I would like to draw attention to the idea that we can draw encouragement, instruction and wisdom from the Old Covenant, but it is only a foreshadowing. God showed grace and favor to the people of Israel. They rejected the Messiah because the minds of some of those in Israel’s hearts were hardened to the truth and their vision clouded. That produced an unexpected blessing for the Gentiles, for through the Jews’ rejection of the Messiah, grace was offered to the Gentiles. And Paul says in his Epistle to the Church at Rome that it is through the grace and mercy shown to the Gentiles that mercy might again be extended to the natural Israel. In the end, the grace and mercy is shown to all people, both Jew and Gentile. Each group who rejects the truth becomes God’s unexpected instrument of mercy to the other. God uses all things, working them together for good for the righteous and to bring Himself greater glory as all circumstances work perfection in us.

Grace is a complex thing to understand, and God’s profound forgiveness of our sins through the Blood of Jesus is not only miraculous, it is truly a miraculous thing to even understand what God has done for us. Our human nature prefers and understands reciprocity. We do not get things without them requiring something of us. When we give, we generally receive something in return for that giving, whether it be payment or love or some intangible benefit. Understanding just how profoundly miraculous God’s pure, unmerited grace and favor towards us proves to be work, and so the author of Hebrews describes it as a striving to enter His rest. The author laments that we as believers apparently find it difficult, often clinging to what I believe is a rudimentary understanding of grace beyond equitable exchange of forgiveness for good works. We have institutionalized this understanding with indulgences and confessions and pardons, clinging to the milk of the faith when we should be masticating the thick meat of maturity. I believe this is because of our nature which tends to cling to the understanding that most exchanges rest on reciprocity. Christ’s atonement and imputation (Him with all of our sins and us with all of His perfect righteousness before God in holiness) violate the natural order of reciprocity under the Spirit of Love as opposed to the Letter of the Law.

Perhaps this explains multigenerational faithfulness and the reliance upon primarily Old Testament Scriptures that describe man’s relationship to God and with one another under the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant was easier to understand as it established the principle of exchange – how our sins cry out for blood atonement. We learn early, when Adam and Eve leave the Garden of Eden that blood must be shed to cover their nakedness with animal skins. The blood of the innocent cries out to our Holy God from the ground. So in that sense, the even exchange of punishment for transgression and blessing for adequate or excellent performance comes much easier to the mind of man. In that sense, when we become born again or born of the Spirit of God, it makes the process all the more profoundly miraculous, for our natural minds do not understand that there is no even exchange. We then spend our Christian lives deepening our understanding of how profound God’s love for us really is on so many levels, for He so willingly offered Himself in our stead because of love. That love breaks every rule that we understand in the natural sense, and that kind of love worked into us and lived out separates us from the natural state of the exchange in kind and measure. We tend to cling to the Old Covenant because it is, in many ways, much easier for our natural minds to understand. It seems to be a way that seems right to us, and it preserves a sense of our dignity and an illusion of our inherent goodness.

In addition to the Ephesians 6 reference, I did find another statement today that also sites Ephesians Chapter 5 as an additional NT support or proof text for multigenerational faithfulness. And I’ve found the two verses in Peter’s Epistles. I would like to examine them specifically to see whether they tell us that we as Christians are Abraham’s physical seed or whether we are just his spiritual heirs to the Better Covenant that God intended in Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Covenant in the form of the New and Better one. Does the New Covenant teach that God visits sins of parents to their forth generation? Does the Bible teach that we are to honor our physical progeny as more significant than sharing the Gospel with unbelievers who are dying in their sins? Does the concept of God’s elect mean that we restrict care and the sharing of kindness and resources so that those we esteem as non-elect should be shunned as the whole scope of multigenerational faithfulness teaches through unstated assumption and vague implication and the “unwritten rules” conveyed through context clues?

We are clearly told in Ephesians as well as in the Gospels that we should show lovingkindness to unbelievers and to those within the Body of Christ. We are told to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who despitefully use us. We are to not reward evil for evil or even indifference, but we are to return evil with good. Though we might be at odds with our civil authorities who rule over us unjustly, we are to submit to them, carrying the burden of a soldier for two miles instead of one. We are told to clothe the naked and feed the sick, and we are not instructed to assess the likelihood of a “return on our good investment” prior to showing this generosity. Only the religious abusers who claim to be our fellow believers who continue to teach falsehood and who receive no correction are we to mark and avoid. We should depart foolishness, but we are to be generous and good, never taught to reject unbelievers in favor of “covenantal succession.” I remember how profoundly influenced I was at a young age when my mother read the account of Acts 16 to me. The incarcerated Paul remained in custody, even though the earthquake allowed for his freedom, thus sparing the life of the jailer who was so moved that he came to faith in Jesus that night because of this testimony. How many believers would do such a thing today? It would likely break my heart to know.

First, we are offered Ephesians 5 and 6 as proof texts in support of covenantal succession and a preferring of natural flesh to support multigenerational faithfulness. But do these references support this teaching in such a way? Voddie Baucham draws many references from Ephesians, specifically from Chapters 4, 5 and 6. I applaud him if he is teaching merely what is written within these chapters concerning order within the home, loving care of those for whom one is responsible and for provision for one’s family. Does it teach that women are to have no individual callings or giftings that do not directly serve the patriarch of the home to further his vision, or that husbands should rule over their wives like they rule over small children? Does Ephesians state anywhere that young women must never leave the sphere of the home or the protection of their patriarch when they reach adulthood, or does that doctrine come exclusively from Vision Forum’s novel interpretation Numbers 30 in the Old Covenant? Does it teach, contrary to Paul’s writings and the author of Hebrews, that Christians will be punished to the third and fourth generations for their parents’ shortcomings, or does it say that they are made to be individually new creatures in Christ who follow the guiding of the Spirit and are made to be free from the consequences of the law?

Does Ephesians speak about building one’s temporal legacy, or is it focused on spiritual edification for the benefit of the whole Body of Christ? I find themes of genuine love, forbearance, forgiveness and mutual edification of both one’s family and the larger Body of Christ. I’ve already addressed Ephesians 5 in some detail here, noting that many patriocentrists believe that husbands play an active and wllful role in the spiritual sanctification of their wives, but prior to this section, I see the theme of mutual submission and sober, faithful living. Ephesians 6 admonishes us to submit peaceably to those who are our designated authorities in love and respect so as to bring honor to the Lord. And chapter 6 concludes with the instruction of how our warfare differs from how war is waged in the natural world.

I don’t know that I personally see a parallel between the fifth and sixth chapters of both Deuteronomy and Ephesians as I hear parroted in discussions of multigenerational faithfulness apart from the admonishment of children to obey parents. But my question remains: does this portion of Scripture advocate the core beliefs of Vision Forum’s concept of multigenerational faithfulness? How do these chapters in Ephesians teach anything new or different from that which has been traditionally understood from the passages? Why is all of this information presented as new or special under the multigenerational interpretation?Certainly, these passages speak to properly raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, so I they absolutely do apply to our modern issues of how to educate our children. Depending on your presuppositions about gender, this section of Ephesians does address interaction within a family as well as how we are to respond to authorities in general. Obedience is addressed, though I personally argue that it demands an unquestioned obedience without credulity (under all circumstances) or what some refer to as “First Time Obedience.” I do not see First Time Obedience as always being an issue of rebellion that is supported in Ephesians, though that is another tether of multigenerational faithfulness for discussion on another day. Actually, I find the focus of Ephesians on mutual edification and submission or what some call “one anothering” to argue against a rigid and authoritarian demand for unquestioned obedience and as something that dulls discernment of individuals.

Though I must say that unlike many that I know who follow patriocentricity, I disagree that the book of Ephesians speaks primarily to male headship and hierarchy in the family and thus the church. The central theme of the book is not family for me at all. For me, I speaks of God’s love and care of us through His redemption of us with example of how we are to love and care for one another in a spirit of mutual submission and consideration. It instructs us in how our warfare and means of loving and caring for one another differs dramatically from the world’s means of accomplishing all of these things in it’s own power and reason.

Looking at the passages in Peter’s Epistles that are cited by those who promote multigenerational faithfulness, what can we glean from these passages?

1 Peter 5 has been offered as a proof text for multigenerational faithfulness, but I believe that it follows from a presumption of aberrant submission doctrine. Bill Gothard as well as those who established this twist on this section of Scripture in the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement use this particular chapter to support the concept of submission without credulity. Though the passage starts with an admonishment to shepherds to properly care for their sheep, pastors who care for their parishioners, the Shepherding doctrines use this passage to support the idea that one earns “grace points” by meriting power and success through good works of the law, primarily through submission. I recently discussed this teaching in some depth in this previous post.

1 Peter 5:1 - 11:

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “ God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The only other New Testament multigenerational faithfulness proof text that I can find offered by the advocates of the ideology comes from 2 Peter 1:5 (though I have included some context here to help us understand how this verse applies):

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I’m not sure how this section of Scripture applies specifically to multigenerational faithfulness. The verses do speak of “making one’s call and election sure,” but I think that this speaks more to an individual responsibility to the truth as opposed to an automatic status of spiritual position. It also states that God calls us by His glory and virtue through His divine power, not through earned merit of our own or the merits of birth. It mentions that some forget that they have been cleansed from old sins and develop a type of blindness that they were offered unmerited forgiveness. This argues against working the law to obtain status or to merit power. The passage sets brotherly kindness and other virtues as a standard, and it does not instruct that these virtues should be shown to one group as opposed to another. Virtue should be shown to all in a spirit of kindness that glorifies God, and it does not teach us that covenant children or those who follow in covenantal succession as a virtue of birth receive more of that virtue or should taste of the first fruits of those blessings of kindness.

So in summary, clearly, the New Testament does stress the love and responsibility that the love for family requires of believers, offering examples of God’s great love and care of us as the standard for the love that we should have for others. This is particularly true of those who belong to us through the intimate and mysterious connections of marriage and family. But I see that theme emerge above all others – that by walking in love and sober wisdom, we bring glory to God through His witness and spiritual power in us – something that we do not and cannot merit. Paul and Peter both give us instruction in how we can best submit to those who have authority over us in a way that brings honor to God. I take no issue with that, and I see the beautiful admonishment Paul brings to parents to lovingly care for their children without provoking them to anger. (I could argue that a demand for “First Time Obedience” could easily become a provocation to anger in many instances, particularly if credulity and discernment conflicts with the abuse of power or authoritarianism.)

But do these Scriptures support all of the core concepts of multigenerational faithfulness?

Core Concepts of Multigenerational Faithfulness:

  • Subjection to the curses of the Old Covenant (as opposed to freedom from the Law under the New and Better Covenant under the Blood of the Lamb)
  • Covenant blessing comes through the physical seed of believers, with those who profess faith in Christ replacing physical Israel. Therefore, these new Covenant Christians live as though they must procreate to fill the earth as opposed to first observing the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples through conversion of sinners.
  • Legalistic interpretation of covenant keeping through instructing children.
  • Developing inheritance (spiritual, intellectual and material) through human striving.

Do these Scriptures support the entire web related concepts associated with multigenerational faithfulness? Though I do not share the Vision Forum interpretation of gender hierarchy, the general topic of obedience (including First Time Obedience), and concerns related to training children (spiritually and academically), these topics are discussed in Ephesians and in 1 Peter 5. Though I believe some of these interpretations echo the aberrant teachings of cultic Christianity consistent with the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement, some of these topics are touched upon in these New Covenant Scriptures cited by the advocates of the concept.

(Click to Enlarge Graphic)

But what of the remaining concepts that are taught in conjunction with this view of multigenerational faithfulness?
  • Obedience to Eldest Male in Husband’s Extended Family
  • Election Through the Covenant Community and Birth
  • Militant Fecundity
  • Law Keeping to Merit Grace
  • Replacement Theology and Dominionism
The writings of Peter and Paul do not support these claims, but I find that the New Testament Scriptures actually counter these concepts as they are promoted under the overarching concept of multigenerational faithfulness. Peter and Paul addressed the very issue of the merits of one’s birth and the traditions associated with the Old Covenant, speaking against an “all or nothing” perception of the Old Covenant traditions beyond moral law. Both spoke against meriting favor with God through following the Law. These concepts come primarily from an aberrant overfocus on gender, family and childbearing as God’s primary means of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth. Yet Jesus said that His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, is not of this world. We are called to build spiritual legacies, not exclusivist and elitist ones that focus on intolerance. The perverse and extreme interpretation of replacement theology as manifested in the special status gained through the covenantal succession of birth speaks more of Darwinian evolution and the spiritual eugenics of religious purification. These concepts are absent in the New Testament, let alone those listed as proof texts for the multigenerational faithfulness concept.

Did the FBFI get it right?
Do they prefer and Old Testament legalism in favor of New Testament ecclesiology?

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