Thursday, March 5, 2009

Patriarchy, Kinism and the Confederate Cause PART I: Patriarchy and the Constitution Party

A review of the disturbing connection between the so-called "Biblical patriarchy" movement and the confederate cause. From a series of individual blog posts at Under Much Grace Blog.

The other day, I received an email asking about what I knew of the “racist roots of the Constitution Party.” I denied that there are racist roots but I did explain that I believed that there were Christian Reconstruction roots from a vein that appealed to the writings of Confederate Presbyterian ministers who were, by. I don’t think it’s fair, right or reasonable to say that the roots of the organization extend much beyond states rights and a notably Christian perspective, but the Constitution Party (CP) unfortunately does attract "racialists," racists, and neo-confederates. There’s also the problem of the League of the South (LoS) which, at its inception, did not appear to be an organization with any racist or racialist interest. (This may be idealistic naivete on the part of my husband and myself, but this is what we believed.) I’ve never heard anything racist or anything remotely racialist from the CP itself during our participation which ended in 2003, and I know only what everyone else does about its inception. Our departure from the CP came about because of the patriarchal rhetoric from both Doug Phillips who directed the CP efforts of the state we lived in at the time and from Michael Peroutka during the 2004 election.

My introduction to Christian Reconstruction came about through my mentor who attended Lee University (then College), the Church of God institution in Cleveland, TN that had a notably Reformed presence in their Theology Department. During Christian school devotions every morning, he would sometimes play tapes from D. James Kennedy. I supported Coral Ridge Ministries for many years thereafter, particularly when Kennedy started highlighting Creation Science. In the early ‘90s, my husband and I also began supporting American Vision (Gary DeMar’s organization) and the then Taxpayers Party (now CP) because they strongly reflected our views (to the best of our ability to discern at the time). Neither of us would have even entertained the thought of promoting theocracy, let alone racism. In fact, American Vision’s website hosts Gary DeMar’s articles noting the errors in Dabney’s arguments justifying slavery.

We moved to Maryland in the early ‘90s, and we eventually participated in the then Taxpayers Party (which later became the CP). About this same time in ‘93 -‘94, Coral Ridge launched their Washington, DC office, and we received all sorts of appeals to participate in what basically sounded like a Christian lobbyist group in the summation of it. We prayed about participating, and though I loved the concept, surprisingly, “I had no peace about it.” At about the time that Coral Ridge launched these efforts, we started receiving three or four large mailings from them per week. I understand marketing techniques and their effectiveness at generating income, but I found this barrage of waste quite ridiculous. We were so put off by this that we dropped all support of Coral Ridge Ministries and have not contributed since. We like to give to worthy causes, but we do not like to be coerced into doing so. I don’t believe that coercion and manipulation demonstrate good Christian character, particularly concerning fund raising.

During our time in Maryland, we eventually participated in the CP. I never heard anything remotely racialist or racist from them, in theory or practice. I never had any indication that the group was anything other than a group of Christians who wanted to restore the system of government that our founders had given us – that of a decentralized federal government. The group was notably Christian, though there was not any type of flavor of this American nationalism that is purveyed by Vision Forum. (If there was, I did not recognize it as anything overt or inappropriate for a Christian.) I could tell that Howard Phillips held to a Reformed view, whether he stated this openly or not, I do not specifically recall. I really loved attending the local meetings of the CP, and I still strongly agree with Howard that the Republican Party does not significantly differ from the Democratic Party anymore. I did like certain Republican Candidates like Alan Keyes, and it was interesting to note that the CP featured him as a speaker then, and I believe that the CP still invites him to speak at their functions. Were it not for Keyes’ strong view of world government which the CP platform opposed, I would have expected Howard to offer him the VP ticket in ‘96.

In ‘97, we moved to the San Antonio, TX area and became busy about life outside of politics. Shortly thereafter, I heard Doug Phillips on a local, afternoon radio program when he filled in as host for the week, realizing that he too had moved to the area. It was then that I realized that he was Howard’s son. About a year later, we learned that he attended the same Presbyterian church that we did, though I don’t know whether he was an “official member” of the church. Homeschoolers and church members frequently mentioned his name and beliefs, as many of the churchgoers there participated in his local homeschooling support efforts. The Phillips family attended there irregularly, so we rarely saw them. We anticipated meeting Doug, considering that we would like to participate in the Texas CP efforts. But this meeting at church proved disappointing, as it was clear that we did not meet Doug’s “legalistic standards of acceptability” for participation, even with the party efforts. We asked to help with the party as we had done in Maryland, but we were clearly not welcome.

About this time, my husband decided to start contributing to the League of the South. At their inception, though they supported secession, the group seemed to be something of an historical society that preserved the Southern and Christian Perspective. My husband had studied Southern History under James I. Robertson, Jr. (the preeminent authority on Lt. Col. “Stonewall” Jackson) while at Virginia Tech, and the LoS appealed to his fondness for that course work and perspective. My husband cannot recall if he found out about the group from “The Lofton Letter” or from some tie to the Chalcedon Foundation, but all of these groups interconnected informally with individuals involved in the CP. When my husband approached me about the LoS, he assured me that the group had no racist interests. I would later learn that though the LoS made no racist statements at its inception, it would later make formal statements in support of kinism, “racialism” or a preserving of one’s own ethnic and racial group. We were also unaware of Steve Wilkins’ and Doug Wilson's interest and support of Southern slavery. (We had no knowledge of outwardly “racialist” ideals that were openly expressed by Michael Hill in his capacity as LoS President circa 2004. We did not learn of kinism as a concept or that it was formally associated with the LoS until 2007 when we investigated Doug Phillips’ increasingly notable influence with American Vision and the Chalcedon Foundation, choosing then to withdraw support from them because of Doug Phillips spiritual abuse and aberrant teachings. We certainly would never have participated with the LoS if we knew that anything like kinism was a factor.)

After spending more time at the Presbyterian Church in San Antonio (circa 2000) and watching the exodus of families that left when Doug Phillips formally founded his local church, we believed beyond doubt that his group demonstrated significant spiritually abusive practices. I believe that in 2002, the CP held a local conference which my husband attended, though I refused to attend the sessions because Doug Phillips had no interest in our offers of help with the Texas CP. (Why would I want to participate in local efforts if we were not welcome when Howard Phillips left town?) At that time, Howard Phillips said to my husband in an open session of about 12 people that “We could sure use your help again back in Maryland.” What was not spoken was that we were not welcome as active participants in the Texas efforts of the party, and Doug would not so much as make eye contact with either my husband or me. In addition, the better part of a day of the CP conference involved a trek to Vision Forum and I assume Boerne Christian Assembly’s grounds or Doug’s home for a BBQ which my husband declined. That CP conference communicated Doug’s position of influence in the party, one that we found deeply disconcerting.

About that time as well, we started to receive small, cardboard boxes from the CP with fundraising letters enclosed. I assume that sending letters in a box instead of an envelope would decrease the chances that the information would not be discarded as junk mail. We gave regularly and fairly generously to the CP at this time, so I found this additional fund raising tactic to be disturbing, just like the four and five letters per week from Coral Ridge Ministries that we’d received in years past. Shortly thereafter, Doug Phillips published the declared “sins” (any alternative to homeschooling, educating or working of women outside the home) in his short-lived, revised version of his“Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” and became quite vitriolic with other ministers who disagreed with him. During the expensive process of another, cross-country move and in consideration of our growing concerns about the party, we ceased contributing to the CP in 2003. We also ceased contributions to the LoS around this same time.

Then Michael Peroutka formally entered the scene as the 2004 Presidential Candidate, just after we relocated and settled into our new state of residence. When the 2004 election approached, I reviewed information about the CP candidates, learning of Michael Peroutka for the first time. I find it odd that we’d never encountered him (like we had John Lofton), particularly considering that we lived so close to Annapolis when we lived in Maryland. Within months of studying Doug Phillips’ family rhetoric while writing an article addressing cultic Christianity, I found Peroutka’s rhetoric to be far too similar to Vision Forum’s language. Both my husband and I found Peroutka’s message to be very disturbing and we did not vote with the CP in the 2004 election.

We also observed a shift in American Vision’s approach and philosophy from one of what I esteemed as a libertarian honor of freedom to a more theocratic approach. Doug Phillips’ materials also began to appear regularly in American Vision’s publications. I’d never observed any kind of openly theocratic sentiment in Gary DeMar’s writings until sometime after 2000, one that has grown so that patriocentrists (and their products) now figure prominently if not centrally in American Vision publications and emails. They also now openly promote Gary North's products, another individual with many troubling beliefs. We seemed faced with a new concern: In the off-chance that the CP candidate would ever win the Presidential election, it seems likely that Doug Phillips would be awarded some position of influence (?ministry of containment and habilitation of the non-normative?). And we wondered whether Peroutka also formally held the odd view of family advocated by Doug Phillips because of the similar language. It also raised questions as to where Doug Phillips first learned and developed his odd gender obsession. Did his father encourage his love for R.L. Dabney, his odd views about women (very different from that of the CP) and Doug’s reputation of threatening to sue his critics and fellow believers? With these concerns in mind, I wrote to Howard to ask if he would make a position statement about Doug’s beliefs or if he could tell me what kind of role his son would play in the party. I never heard a response.

So our reasons for leaving the CP had to do with the worship of family mixed with Christian nationalism, not racism or racialism specifically. We left the party because of the hierarchical view of the family and the authoritarian style of both Doug Phillips and Michael Peroutka’s similar messages and disturbing tone associated with the 2004 election. Peroutka’s message was notably different to us, not carrying the spirit of liberty that we heard from Howard Phillips, but rather a message of paternalism and something akin to Doug Phillips’ folk religion of ersatz-Calvinism, family and American nationalism. I wonder now how much of my naivete in the past stemmed from my own denial, desiring to see only what I wanted to see in Christian Reconstruction or whether the paternalistic, authoritarian leanings that may have always been a part of Christian Reconstruction had become more mainstream and public? As others share the same sentiment about the shift towards more authoritarian styles and an advocacy of what could be considered a theocratic goal, I believe that BOTH this new paradigm shift in Christian Reconstruction AND my own idealism likely contributed to my ignorance.

That “racialist” factor did not unfold for us until we started to study the roots of Doug’s patriarchy and his worshipful devotion to R.L. Dabney, an individual who would be considered openly racist by today’s standards, or what some describe as a white supremasist. Prior to actually reading the writings of Dabney himself, my husband denied that Dabney did make such statements because Dabney had been portrayed as virtuous during his study of Southern History. In the process of studying the “church and home” connection, the reality of the neo-confederate groups presented as an unavoidable factor because of their presence within Doug Phillips’ demographic.

The patriarchs venerate Dabney and their vision of “the natural religion of family” which reads nearly identically to the writings of Palmer. Doug Phillips has spoken publicly in the past about his views that slavery of some variety (I’m assuming indentured servitude) as a part of his answer to current economic crisis in the U.S. He’s made apologies for his birth above the Mason Dixon Line, characterized Yankees as a generalized group of unbiblical Unitarians and Transcendentalists, and expressed fondness for the 17th century Puritan colonies who persecuted and exiled anyone who did not fit their often cruel and intolerant religious paradigm. He has posted poetry online that makes racist statements, something that many have viewed as a serious error in judgement. This is all in addition to his views on women – views that were never openly communicated by his father and not included in any way in Constitution Party policy or function. Brad Phillips, Howard’s other son once stated that his favorite book was authored by Dabney (as opposed to C.S. Lewis or Tolkien or Schaeffer or Rutherford, etc.). As I stated in a previous post, I believe that the Christian Reconstruction efforts of Rushdoony influenced men like Howard Phillips who founded the CP. And Rushdoony who regretfully made some “racialist” statements in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s (though he did not live like a racist or racialist to my knowledge) did appeal to the writings of the Confederate Presbyterians to aid in the efforts of Christian Reconstruction.

Though I have not seen anything racist or racialist emerging from the Constitution Party itself, I find serious problems in the ideology of at least one of the sons of the party’s founder. In the last election, I found Peroutka’s message to be far more authoritarian than that of Howard Phillips’ message. There is a great deal of crossover between the leadership in the CP and the LoS, including many speakers like Peroutka. They may only be participating because of an opposition to a top-heavy and highly centralized federal government and shared Christian beliefs. But they are also responsible to answer for the professions of LoS founder and president Michael Hill who argues for the centrality of Christian white men in the South and for the ideology of kinism which calls for a separation of the races as a Biblical mandate. If they want to associate with an organization whose president espouses such beliefs, they will have to bear the weight of criticism and scrutiny for that association. Key leaders within the CP (just look at the plenary speakers of the recent annual conferences of the LoS) and the 2008 CP Presidential Candidate Chuck Baldwin boast membership and/or involvement with the LoS.

Here are some legitimate questions:

1. Did Howard Phillips’s sons acquire their deep love for if not worship of R.L. Dabney because Howard shared these same sentiments with them, training them as a dutiful father?

(Doug Phillips quotes from Dabney and others agrarian ideologues, writings that Rushdoony advised should be studied and republished for the benefit of Christian Reconstruction.)

2. If Dabney was a trustworthy and notable prophet, was Dabney only an accurate prophet concerning women, children, homeschooling and secession and an inaccurate prophet when advocating for slavery and white supremacy?

(What Dabney said of Native Americans was just as offensive as his statements about those brought from Africa, and it was racial and personal. He may have started out with an argument against them because of paganism, but the hatred he communicated was definitely racial.)

3. Can Dabney and the other pro-slavery Confederates be the only advocates for homeschooling, social order and responsible government?

(Are there other advocates for these things that did not boast openly racist sentiment? If there are, why are they not used and hailed as prophets? If there are none, why are there no strong disclaimers made against slavery and racism?)

4. Is the League of the South truly the only organization that advocates for decentralized federal government and strong Christian values?

(If their president and founder and many members have issues concerning race and racialism, why would anyone in the CP want to have such close ties with the LoS, if only for the sake of the CP? They may not share all the sentiments of the organization, but if so many prominent people in the LoS hold to pro-slavery and pro-“racialist” views, why would key leaders in the CP continue to have anything to do with this group?)

5. If Howard Phillips and the CP deny kinism and slavery, why do their most notable members and candidates continue participation with the LoS?

If Howard Phillips’ son preaches that Dabney was a prophet and the CP Presidential Candidates are all notable participants with the LoS (after publication of openly kinist and white supremacist statements), why would that not reflect poorly on the CP?

If someone like Billy Graham started speaking at Obama rallies, appearing at Islamic organization meetings and started advocating for stem cell research, wouldn’t people take notice? If Franklin, Billy Graham’s son, attended these functions to applaud his father’s speeches, would not and should not many people have legitimate concerns about the beliefs of the both of them? How likely would you be to give to the Samaritan’s Purse thereafter? In the reckoning the central message preached with everything else, the equation does not produce an answer that is remotely consistent with either of the Grahams’ primary and public professions. That’s not an informal fallacy of “guilt by association,” that’s reasonable discernment at work.

So, the answer to the question of whether the CP has formal racist roots is a definite “No.”

But do they give cause to question whether those who participate in the party have issues with racism or with slavery, an issue that the Southern Confederates attached to race and not religion? I believe the answer to that is “Definitely.” It has nothing to do with what has been formally stated by the party itself or even from what I’ve heard from Howard Phillips, but it has much to do with professions and activities of those close to Howard and those who are powerful in the party.

I was raised in Eastern Pennsylvania, and upon researching it a few years ago, I discovered that sixty of my relatives from just one branch of my family alone fought for the Union in what I was taught was called the Civil War. I knew that brother fought against brother and that it was one of the bloodiest wars in history, touting what may still stand as the highest death toll of any U.S. war. I believed, as the writings of Union soldiers attest, that the war was waged to liberate slaves that were held in the South. I knew that there were slaves held in the Northern States, but I also knew that many of our founding fathers and their wives advocated that all individuals be granted freedom, including slaves. I know that my husband admired Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, particularly the Gettysburg Address, and he kept a vellum print of the speech in Lincoln’s own handwriting among his precious, boyhood treasures.

I knew nothing of any kind of contemporary controversy regarding the cause of the South until after I married my Pennsylvania born husband and lived in Shreveport, LA for 18 months while he finished graduate school. During my first month there, on a rare Saturday that we were able to spend together, we drove down Kings Highway, accidently turning right into the middle of a huge KKK rally. I rolled down the window and tried to sit on the car door, screaming “Jesus was a Jew” (My only experience with contemporary racist groups involved skinheads that hated Jewish people.) My husband grabbed me and pulled me into the car, explaining that these men were not concerned about Jews. He also reminded me that we lived in the drive-by shooting capitol of the U.S., and he didn’t like the idea of taking me to the hospital or burying me. On a couple of other occasions thereafter, I did have to both drive through and drive to avoid rallies of these hooded men while on call for the “charity hospital’s” recovery room where I worked as a nurse. I remember on the way in one morning, I considered that I was likely going in to recover a patient who had been shot at the rally I was now trying to traverse. I had taken that job because I left a job at what I called “the rich, white people’s hospital” because, among other things, the staff there was more concerned about a new patient’s skin color than they were their medical diagnosis.

When I first moved to Louisiana (when David Duke was in office), my husband and I both changed denominations and started fresh at a new church together, attending a Southern Baptist church. (I didn’t last very long there, either.) It was huge, and I joined the choir, so I had a good view of the congregation which had not one “person of color,” except when a local newscaster came as a guest of the local sportscaster who was a church member. The pastor acknowledged her from the pulpit which surprised me as it drew attention to her. At the next choir practice, I asked an attorney and former minister in the choir just why our church was entirely Caucasian in a town with a Black majority? He told me that “they have their own churches.” I was then told that our church supported Black churches financially as missionary efforts which is where he understood the “Missionary Baptist” denomination came from. (That may well be an urban myth.) I then took note of the pastor’s mention of our church’s “missionary churches” in the area that very next Sunday. And not long after this, when a local TV station signed off for the day (back before 24 hour infomercials), the local Shreveport station played the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to the shock of my husband. I had no idea why he would find this provocative until he explained that Shreveport played an important role in the War and that people there still hated the North, not necessarily because they were from a different place with different traditions but because of the War itself. These experiences mark the beginning of my education in all things Southern. That was almost 20 years ago.

As previously stated, my husband studied under one of the most notable experts in the history of the War Between the States, James Robertson, where his fellow undergraduate classmates declared my husband to be an “officially domesticated Virginian.” He was taught that the War only concerned economics, something that had little or nothing to do with slavery according to that perspective. My husband was taught and believed that the most notable figures, devout Christians who argued the Southern Cause, did not make racist or racialist arguments. He was taught that the South fought against a greedy and manipulative North who had exploited the South for their own financial gain and to increase their political power in the process. The Southern States eventually withdrew from the union, one by one, a right that they believed was provided by the Constitution. The Constitution provided for recourse against a tyrannical ruler, and the Southern States believed that the Northern interests that dominated the federal government at the time induced a state of tyranny that exploited the South.

At this point in my understanding of the history and both perspectives of the North and the South, personally, I believe that the South had due cause to secede from the union based upon the Constitution which afforded men the right to resist tyranny. But, I deny that this was a holy war but one that was waged over money and was fueled by greed on the part of both North and South. And unfortunately for those who hold the Southern Perspective, I cannot find any writings and have not heard any arguments to date that can separate slavery from the economics of the Confederate South. I believe that America suffered serious detriment that resulted from the South’s defeat including broad expansion of the power of the federal government over individual states and the establishment of personal federal income tax. It established a detrimental sense of governmental paternalism that I believe that our founding fathers strongly opposed (including both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison). I also deeply appreciate the concerns that the Christians in the South felt in regard to non-orthodox religious movements that were far more prevalent in the North. I also appreciate that there were numerous slave owners in the North at the time of the War who shared both the religious, racial, and economic sentiments that typified the South. But none of those factors made the South’s efforts holy, Christian and virtuous. At the heart of it, I see only issues of autonomy and economics.

I offer this simplified synopsis as an overview of the Southern Perspective, the perspective that argues that the War had nothing to do with slavery. (Please bear in mind that I don’t claim to be any kind of historian. This is just an honest reiteration of what I’ve been told and what I’ve read in support the Southern Cause.)

The South produced cotton which was shipped to the North and sold to Europe, transported to Europe on ships that were owned by wealthy Northerners, many of them bankers. Goods were primarily shipped to Europe through these Northern shipping routes and not through ports such as Charleston and New Orleans, presumably because the North had a great advantage by means of their larger ships. Because of this shipping advantage, the South could not compete against the North in Europe, an argument that I admittedly do not understand. The North reportedly gouged Europeans on the prices of the cotton by adding exorbitant shipping fees and taxes, revenues that benefited only the largely industrialized North and the infrastructure of the federal government within the North. The South produced the goods, but they felt that they saw very little return or only an inequitable return on those goods. When their secession threat started to crystalize into reality, the North blocked and fired upon the shipping port of Charleston, and South Carolina seceded from the union.

The War was then perceived to be an aggressive North who wanted to continue to exploit the South, while their own industrialized cities put children to work in factories. The primary industries were founded in the North, and this growing industrialization generated a great deal of money. New immigrants migrated to the cities where they could find work in industry, so their representative numbers grew along with the general wealth in the cities. The primary banks were located in the North, and as the Jewish Rothschilds would later earn the disdain of Europe for their wealth acquired in banking, so the Northern bankers would earn the disdain of the South. New states that were admitted to the Union were encouraged to align with Northern values and interests, adding to the power of the North and thus diminishing the political and financial power of the South. Our founding fathers stated that democracy was tyranny at the in of the majority who swayed governance with opinion, not necessarily governing by what was right or true. This democratic tyranny was ascribed to the actions of the North who worked to diminish Southern interests and the Southern way of life. They were losing their representative power in the federal government based on sheer numbers alone at the hands of a North, one that was believed to be largely godless, ruled by the Modernist ideals of the Unitarians and the Transcendentalists who believed that man was basically good and had only a little need for a god that they’d made in their own image.


I can relate to many aspects of this accounting of history, a perspective with an ideology that I was not raised to believe. Let me offer a simple analogy that occurred to me. I can imagine running a home-based business from my home where I made cakes. I can only sell a limited number of cakes in my neighborhood, so I can imagine contracting with a couple of local businesses who would sell my cakes for me, earning some profit from the transaction. I can imagine feeling some angst if I realized that they sold my cakes at a price that was 10 times what I had calculated to be a fair, retail price for the product. And at the end of the day, when I go to my modest home and the business owner goes home to a mansion, I can appreciate the disparagement on a personal level. And if I attempted to find a new market for my cakes, I would be very upset if that first local business owner came and barricaded my home to prevent me from taking my cakes elsewhere. When I offered a similar analogy to my husband he added that it was as if my own government came and barricaded my exit “because the didn’t like my ideas.” I can also imagine what it would be like to try to get out of a supply contract with this first business upon deciding that they were exploiting me for their profit and perhaps my own, personal loss in some circumstances. In some ways, this is a good analogy of the economic factors that the South perceived about their relationship to the North.

I believed this gentle version of the South and I still agree with aspects of it, primarily that the Southern States had the right to secede just as our colonies claimed the right to establish their independence from King George in 1776. For the South, the North was perceived as becoming altogether tyrannical, and I think that they had a Constitutional right to do secede. But I’ve searched and read and researched this topic, and though I believe that many of those who fought for the South were devout Christians, the cause was far from pure and holy. I have not read the writings of Lee or of Jackson who I understand did not express racist sentiments. I have spent some time studying the writings of both Dabney and Calhoon, and of Thornwell and Palmer to a lesser degree, hoping to prove that the claims that these men were white supremacists to be exploitive misrepresentations of what they really believed and lies meant to throw mud at the good men of the South. And I cannot. What I did discover is that the so-called "Biblical patriarchy" reads like the writings of these Confederates.

And I don’t think that those who draw arguments from these Christian men in order to support their doctrines of hierarchy of gender can rightfully argue against the racist and racialist statements made by these men without jeopardizing their contemporary arguments. I don’t think that they can avoid the related stigma of racism and racialism, either when they choose to draw from these writings. If racial hierarchy falls apart, then as Dabney aptly predicted, the authoritarian hierarchy of man over woman as an ontological argument also crumbles.

We don’t need man’s invented ontological arguments if the Word of God teaches Believing husbands to lay down their lives for their wives and wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord. Do we? I guess it depends on who you ask.

From Mark Noll's
"The Civil War as a Theological Crisis"

The University of North Carolina Press
Chapel Hill, 2006

Pg 50:

The country had a problem because of its most trusted religious authority, the Bible, was sounding an uncertain note. The evangelical Protestant churches had a problem because the mere fact of trusting implicitly in the Bible was not solving disagreements about what the Bible taught concerning slavery. The country and the churches were both in trouble because the remedy that finally solved the question of how to interpret the Bible was recourse to arms. The supreme crisis over the Bible was that there existed no apparent biblical resolution to the crisis. As I have written elsewhere, it was left to those consummate theologians, the Reverend Doctors Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman to decide what in fact the Bible actually meant.

Pgs 159 -160:

The theological crisis of the Civil War was that while voluntary reliance on the Bible had contributed greatly to the creation of American national culture, that same voluntary reliance on Scripture led only to deadlock over what should be done about slavery.

After the shooting stopped, two great problems in practical theology confronted the United States. One was the enduring reality of racism, which displayed its continuing force almost as virulently through the mob and the rope as it had in the chain and the lash. The other was the expansion of consumer captialism, in which unprecedented opportunities to create wealth were matched by large-scale alienation and considerable poverty in both urban and rural America...

But the Civil War was won and slavery was abolished not by theological orthodoxy but my military might and a hitherto unimaginable degree of industrial mobilization. Although the war freed the slaves and gave African Americans a constitutional claim to citizenship, it did not provide the moral energy required for rooting equal rights in the subsoil of American society or for planting equal opportunity throughout the land. Although the war showed what could be accomplished through massive industrial mobilization , it did not offer clear moral guidance as to how that mobilization could be put to use for the good of all citizens.

Pg 162:
From the historical record it is clear that the American Civil War generated a first-order theological crisis over how to interpret the Bible, how to understand the work of God in the world, and how to exercise the authority of theology in a democratic society.

Critics of Noll would say that the War was won by the North. (stop) The slaves were liberated. (stop) It is improper to say that "slavery ended because the North won the war." The two events did not result directly from cause-and-effect and it's wrong to reinterpret history to suggest that the freeing of slaves motivated the war. They would also assert that Lincoln realized that he could liberate the slaves, not so much because he opposed slavery itself, but he realized that it was an attainable way of finally crushing the South economically and ideologically. Emancipation was a war tactic, a war that was not fought over ideology but over economics and states rights.

It is also naive to suggest that the war was a theological war. All societies rally sentiment to inspire citizens from their religious pulpits during times of war which does not make those wars ideological. Some would insist that the war was about economics and economics only.

From Mark Noll's
"The Civil War as a Theological Crisis"

The University of North Carolina Press
Chapel Hill, 2006

pg 51 - 52:

“The negro question lies far deeper
than the slavery question.”
(Philip Schaff)

What Schaff saw when he defined “the negro question” and “the slavery question” as two distinct matters and what Schaff practiced in assuming that they could be treated as one problem constituted a theological crisis. The crisis created an inability to distinguish the Bible on race from the Bible on slavery meant that when the Civil War was over and slavery was abolished, systematic racism continued unchecked as the great moral anomaly in a supposedly Christian America. The crisis reflected a greater difficulty than when a large Protestant population drew incommensurate theological conclusions from a commonly exalted sacred text that it approached with common hermeneutical principles.

The crisis identified by Schaff involved two badly handled questions. The first concerned how to regard African Americans and their relationship to Caucasians. This issue pointed to foundational theological difficulties since most of American’s white Bible-believing Christians addressed the issue with commonsense solutions derived neither from the Bible nor from the historical storehouse of Christian moral reflection.

The second mishandled question was the issue of what the Bible had to say about the general economic organization of the United States and its practices, potential, and problems. This issue also betrayed the theological difficulties because, while oceans of ink were spilled in trying to decide whether the Bible legitimated slavery, far less biblical analysis was devoted to the broader American economy of which slavery was a part and to principles of economic justice.

David Brion Davis once highlighted the underpinnings of the confusion involved here:
In the Untied States...the problem of slavery...had become fatally intertwined with the problem of race. Race had become the favored idiom for interpreting the social effects of enslavement and emancipation and for concealing the economy’s parasitic dependence on an immensely profitable labor system– and for concealing as well the challenge posed to capitalist individualism by the patriarchal communalism of the slave South. Buying and selling slaves so monopolized theological attention that little energy remained for evaluating American systems of buying and selling in general.

Though I do not even remotely assign his writings to a level of importance as equal or necessarily within the same category as the Word of God, I do appreciate aspects of the writings of Henry David Thoreau. I enjoyed his style, his appreciation for nature, his encouragement to be good stewards of both land and government, social responsibility and stewardship, and particularly his love for solitude. He may have embraced evolution (a point that I would enjoy arguing with him as I have with many a professor and friend), but he alluded to all sorts of Scripture in the process, something I noted and greatly appreciated. (We share knowledge of the "borrowed capital" of a Christian society.) “Simplify, simplify, simplify” should also offer a strong appeal to those who follow agrarian idealism. Held in balance with the Word of God and as a general outworking of “the golden rule” (Christ’s second commandment of doing unto others as we would have them treat us), I find the social gospel principles to benefit American society. For those who do not hold to a Calvinistic or Reformed view, it offers a climate of cooperation and general Christian principle within which all Christians and even agnostics can find common ground. It is however, no replacement or rival to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the full counsel of the Word of God.

I also find that the social gospel does hold it’s own concepts of moral and social superiority. It promotes its own type of caste system that results in its own variety of paternalistic arrogance. The “bleeding heart liberal” can feel the same type of superiority and paternalism that the “Patriarchal Servitude” of the South promoted, but out of a sense of self-salvation. It is a man-centered view, it’s own special variety of Christian existentialism. Ultimately it’s up to man to carry out God’s will, and it has a very high degree of confidence in man’s own ability apart from God. Again, it is a gospel with Christian elements, but it is no substitute for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I offer here another perspective that challenges the views of Transcendentalism that were held in the South, views that many still carry today in one manner or form or other. I’m not a big fan of Mark Twain, not necessarily because I disagree with him so much as I don’t find his writing style easy and natural for me to read. Maybe I was dropped on my head when I was young, but I find the writings of the Russian Moralists much more easy to digest. I’ve plugged through Twain out of necessity but did not click with his style and therefore really developed no opinions about his work from a philosophical or theological standpoint. I became interested in the subject however, following a discussion of the topic on Mars Hill Audio. I do find his work to be quite essential to the American landscape, both from a religious perspective and an historical one. We do live in a pluralistic society, one with which our founding fathers entrusted us.

From the Book Jacket of Harold K. Bush, Jr.’s
“Mark Twain and the Spiritual Crisis of His Age”:

Mark Twain is often pictured as a severe critic of religious piety, shaking his fist at God and mocking the devout. Such a view, however, is only partially correct. It ignores the social realities of Twain’s major period as a writer and his own spiritual interests: his participation in church activities, his socially progressive agenda, his reliance on religious themes in his major works, and his friendships with clergymen, especially his pastor and best friend, Joe Twichell. It also betrays a conception of religion that is more contemporary than that of the period in which he lived.

Harold K. Bush, Jr. highlights Twain’s attractions to and engagements with the wide variety of religious phenomena of America in his lifetime, and how these matters affected his writings. Though Twain lived in an era of tremendous religious vigor, it was also a time of spiritual upheaval and crisis. The rise of biological and psychological sciences, the criticism of biblical texts as literary documents, the influx of world religions and immigrant communities, and the trauma of the Civil War all had dramatic effects on America’s religious life. At the same time mass urban revivalism, the ecumenical movement, Social Christianity, and occultic phenomena, like spiritualism and mind sciences, all rushed in to fill the voids. The rapid growth of agnosticism in the 1870s and 1880s is also clearly reflected in Twain’s life and writings. Thus Twain’s career reflects in an unusually resonant way the vast changes in American belief during his lifetime.

This reminds me of discussions of men like Kierkegaard who were criticized as miserable modernists and existentialists who rebelled against God. I’ve heard R.C. Sproul, Sr. defend Kierkegaard as one who earnestly wrestled with the problems and thinking of his day, writing honestly about the religious challenges that these dilemmas posed. Many are quick to label these men who write honestly and with the logic that Galileo once esteemed as God’s gift and not a curse. Those who lived in the Antebellum Period also confronted the challenges of their own day and were just as subject to the influences of their generation. Twain was no different, and we miss a significant perspective of American life if we dismiss him and cover our eyes and ears as he took on the dilemmas of his time.

In defense of faith in God’s providential work that is ongoing over the course of the life of a believer, I often remind people that Martin Luther was once a willing and zealous participant of the Catholic church. We’re all on a learning curve, and if we dare be brave and honest, we all traverse serious tensions in our times. Many of these tensions will not be resolvable – one such example of this is the poor that the Word tells us we will always have with us. To wholeheartedly discredit the Transcendentalists with a broad brush in their earnest struggle to make sense of God, themselves, and the world is not Christian and is far from American. A wholesale denouncement of any group proves fallacious and demonstrates the arrogance and the insecurity of man’s carnal nature something to which we are all subject. Though the North may have wrongly been caught in the sensational trappings of the slavery issue and thus exploited by those with the greedy interests of economics, the South was certainly guilty of stereotyping and dehumanizing their brethren in the North.

We all have a starting point, and I believe we should rejoice if that starting point includes godly principle. We should be ever mindful that our hearts, beliefs and our very societies are also sovereignly governed by the Holy Spirit’s guiding Hand and under the care of our providential God. We must start somewhere, showing tolerance and God’s love and grace to those who believe differently, remembering that our nation requires that of us. We must also yield to God’s providence, something that may not make sense to us or yield to our expectations.

As in all times of war, particularly in the United States, religious pulpits become ideological rallies for the cause. Though our nation was very Christian at its inception, though there was no established state religion, prior to the “War of Northern Aggression,” even the Unitarian pulpits reflected our nation’s Christian nature. Thomas Jefferson who drew heavily from the writings of John Locke in his works concerning our independence from England had a deep and thoughtful prayer life which openly acknowledged God and drew our inalienable rights from God and not from the State. How did the Calvinistic Puritans cope with the religious tensions posed by the differing views of the theistic Unitarians? They did so under a natural and unavoidable tension, but one that our founding fathers provided for through representative government.

Young America comprised a group of different people with different beliefs, yet our common respect for one another and our liberties that were granted by God (and not man or the state) and observed by the government afforded a milieu of religious freedom and protected private convictions in matters of faith. Here, too, the significance of states rights plays a role, because each local state could determine their own laws and inject their unique religious beliefs into their states and local governments as they saw fit. I was raised in Pennsylvania’s Quaker country and within a community of Moravians, both evangelical Christian groups that are classified as pietisic groups. Massachusetts contained many Puritan communities as well as Unitarian groups. The Puritans often exiled those they found to be in violation of their Calvinistic based beliefs to Rhode Island where many Anabaptists dwelled, giving Rhode Island a negative connotation for some. Religious interpretations were delegated to local governments, and the federal government possessed only a limited role and limited power.

From the many diverse peoples and groups, we relied upon respect for one another’s rights, avoiding the tyranny of the state in specific matters touching on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (Jefferson’s reiteration of enlightenment thinker John Locke’s “life, liberty and property” statement). In so doing, our founding fathers did advocate some degree of faith in the goodness of man, an ideal of the Enlightenment that many Christians believe was an outgrowth of and was fostered by the ideals of the Protestant Reformation. The Constitution delegated all these matters to the discretion of the individual states, attesting that majority rule resulted in a type of tyranny that is unavoidable in purely democratic systems. For this reason, our founding fathers gave us a system of representative government – a republic – by which to govern our affairs, though this process worked by means of the principles of a democracy on a local level. By this unique process of representative government that was utilized both house and senate that voiced both the concerns of each state and balanced by representation by population also, through a system of checks and balances, one nation that truly represented the people could emerge from many diverse beliefs and peoples. E pluribus unum – "from or out of the many, one." Representative government then held back the tendency for tyranny of the mob based on sheer numbers, fleeting popular opinion and other such trappings of collectivism.

Religious creatures by nature, man creates religion out of any system of belief that helps him transcend the problematic factors of the human condition. For this reason, nationalism or a love and devotion to one’s homeland and country proves a type of religion for those who strongly identify with their peoples and nations. God created us in this manner, and when we displace Him, we easily find ourselves making religion of our nationalism. In America before the Civil War, our religious Protestantism mixed fairly well with our nationalism, though this created tensions because of our political system that counted upon man’s higher reason and capacity to respect one another. From this perspective, men like John C. Calhoun wrote extensively about privileges that were afforded to men, not arbitrarily (based only on an assumption of the inherent goodness of mankind) but based upon that which each man merited. When studying some of his writings (with the League of the South), the phrase “If a man does not work, neither shall he eat” crossed my mind, something I offer here to give the reader a general flavor of a portion of his arguments. I’m also reminded of a quote from Harold O. J. Brown from “Heresies” wherein he says that our pietisitc religions aided our national efforts in America’s early history, but in some sense, America may not survive because of our religious beliefs. America will then always suffer an unavoidable degree of perpetual tension and conflict because we afford citizens this right to diversity. We are human after all, and our system was not perfect, and our greatest strengths also create reciprocal weaknesses – an unavoidable aspect of the human condition.

In very general terms, the Southern States based their economy on agrarian means, a system that relied upon slavery as an integral element in a way that the Northern States did not. Though the North utilized as many or more slaves as the South did, their economy was more diverse, drawing increasingly more revenue from industrial sources in their growing cities. For many Southerners, this industrialization and the growing cities were an outgrowth of the religious idealism of Unitarianism, Transcendentalism and even the increasingly popular Spiritism. I would like to briefly mention that transcendentalism has nothing to do with the unrelated “meditation” but refers to an idealistic movement that developed in response to rationalism that stressed social responsibility (eventually birthing the social gospel). The transcendentalist viewed man’s degree of inherent goodness by virtue of the imago dei and by virtue of man’s ability to reason as sufficient for reasonable conduct within government. In contrast, the higher numbers of Confederate Presbyterians in the South held a far more pessimistic view of man based on the principles of Calvinism, eventually stereotyping the North as a group of religious individuals who followed an heterodox Christianity that they found highly offensive if not outright heretical.

Slavery advocates like Robert Lewis Dabney railed against Enlightenment thought while arguing against the North, though he seemed to ascribe to a view of the Enlightement as a monolithic movement rather than a general category used to describe a vast variety of convictions and beliefs. I find this ironic, for without the Enlightenment thinkers, Dabney and Virginia would not have their rights to state sovereignty and autonomy. It was the Enlightenment concepts – the best of the Enlightenment that avoided the pitfalls of other nations by deriving rights from God and not from man’s goodness – that gave Dabney the very platform from which he spoke, the idealistic foundations of which he railed against quite vehemently. Dabney then characterized the North as a group of collective Jacobins, a group of godless, self-determined zealot Arminians who rejected God and God’s ordained order. Other minsters also stereotyped the whole of the North in this same manner. . J.W. Tucker, a Methodist minister said in 1862 that “your cause is the cause of God, the cause of Christ, of humanity. It is conflict of truth with error – of Bible with Northern infidelity – of pure Christianity with Northern fanaticism” ( cited in Mark Noll, pg 39).

Within the South, not all but many believed that slavery was both a religious and economic matter over which the federal government should have no control. In Benjamin Palmer’s autobiography of James Thornwell, he points out that the tensions and arguments regarding slavery were most notable as early as two years after the first U.S. Constitution was ratified. Mark Noll cites James Henley Thornwell as not only the South’s most effective defender of slavery on the basis of the Bible but also one of the South’s most powerful defenders of secession as a strictly constitutional step (pg 23). In general, the advocates of slavery in the South argued that slavery was advocated in the Bible and was not condemned as an institution. It was seen as a type of “Christian philanthropy” that the whole counsel of the Bible taught as a very natural institution and a means of controlling poverty when carried out benevolently. The Presbyterian advocates also relied heavily upon the arguments that God sovereignly placed slaves in their station, the place that divine providence chose for the slave for justice and reasons beyond our understanding but for the overall benefit of man.

The whole of the country and the activities in the war were believed to be God’s sovereign plan on part of both North and South, though the South held that God also sovereignly ordained slavery and social hierarchy as well. Though Heman Humphrey spoke strongly against the errors of his cousin John Brown, he also advocated agrarianism and believed that the hierarchical system of slavery was God’s providential care of those whom God ordained to their social station, an institution that should not be challenged or transcended as to do so would amount to rebellion against God’s natural order. The slavery system demonstrated a high degree of paternalism for those within the lower ranks of hierarchy based on race (and upon gender).

In contrast, the North held that the full counsel of the New Testament worked toward freedom for all men in a general and overriding sense in great opposition to “Patriarchal Servitude.” Many founding fathers believed that slavery was not God’s ideal and that all men should be free, all based upon a broad American ideal supported by self-evident truth and common sense. In 1776, Samuel Hopkins, one whom Noll describes as a close friend of Calvinist Jonathan Edwards, argued that the “whole divine relvelation argued against slavery,” and that tyranny and slavery were both moral evils that “the Gospel thoroughly opposed” (pg 40). Noll also includes a very telling argument offered by Rabbi Raphall in 1861, one strongly influenced by a Catholic commentary on the subject that maintained that the American system of slavery dehumanzied the slave. “The slave is a person in whom the dignity of human nature is to be respected; he has rights. Whereas, the heathen view of slavery which prevailed at Rome, and which, I am sorry to say, is adopted in the South, reduces the slave to a thing, and a thing can have no rights” (pg 47). This also adds to the weight of the argument that the modern so called “Biblical patriarchy” movement draws more of it’s ideals from the pagan Roman paterfamilias than it does from Scripture. It also reflects the testimony of Stan Gundry who observes that the arguments made in today’s gender debate do not differ from those once made in defense of slavery, arguments that do not derive purely from the Word of God.

Sadly, these same arguments and a similar war still rages today, mostly played out in the arena of the ongoing evangelical gender debate. Noll states that though the Northern and Southern theologians of the past largely agreed on God’s providence, “they were in almost all cases powerless to convince others that they were correct, unless the others already shared the partisan perspective on events” (Noll, pgs 92 -93). I believe that part of this rings true today, and certain camps and cadres within evangelical Christianity are very much engaged in this very same argument. Full or partial Arminian-oriented Christians still deeply offend some Calvinists, though now it seems as though the Calvinists have become more like “Southern fanatics” who argue for the old hierarchies that characterized the Confederate South. Many groups of evangelical Christians rage against individualism, argue for paternalistic views of salvation and sanctification by means of hierarchy and seek to establish these ideals as the only acceptable interpretations reflective of proper Biblical Authority. These same ideologies also play out in paternalistic politics, both in those who desire the state to assume the social gospel concept of serving as one’s “brother’s keeper” (as in Obama's campaign) and in those who oppose Sarah Palin, advocating servitude and their family religious issues as just another, different type of social gospel. Both amount to a type of an American national folk religion with zealous goals for saving mankind.

Doug Phillips quotes Heman Humphrey’s mention of the first U.S. Census, noting large families and their benefit to the agrarian family. This same census data also strongly influenced growing concerns about population and wealth at that time and provides some interesting glimpses into the "aggravated" mind of the South in the years leading up to the War Between the States. The first census near the turn of the century in 1800 revealed that the residents of the country outnumbered city dwellers by a factor of ten to one, but near the end of the 19th Century, the agrarian population accounted for only one-third of the U.S. population. Rural wealth increased four-fold during the latter half of the 19th Century, but urban wealth increased by a sixteen-fold factor. Farmers also watched their children depart for the cities where they could earn more wealth by working shorter hours under better conditions. In addition to the aforementioned price gouging of Southern goods shipped to Europe, the Southerner paid a higher percentage of tax than did those who worked in industrialized cities.

As Solon J. Buck notes,

It was easy to demonstrate that the farmer...paid taxes higher in proportion to his ability to pay than did the business man or the corporation... The revenue of the Federal Government was raised wholly by indirect taxes levied principally upon articles of common consumption; and the farmer and other people of small means paid an undue share of the burden in the form of higher prices demanded for commodities.”
This steady proportionate decrease in wealth and population added to the troublesome ongoing efforts to eradicate slavery, a conflict and struggle that developed shortly following the ratification of the first U.S. Constitution according to Palmer.

My original 1875 edition of Thornwell’s biography (penned by Palmer) paints the scene of the political landscape and the federal government’s efforts to marginalize and limit slavery in the new states admitted to the union. In 1790, when “Dr. Franklin headed a petition” to abolish slavery in the States, Congress resolved at that time that slavery was a States rights issue (pg 471). Palmer then goes on to describe that the Louisiana Purchase, the ceded territory, would enjoy the same liberties that the existing states were afforded. But this was not true of Missouri, eventually resulting in the adoption of the Missouri Compromise, contributing to the South’s minority voice in the defense and free exercise of slavery.
When, however, in 1818, Missouri knocked at the door of Congress for admission upon these terms [Louisiana Purchase], the attempt was made to fasten upon her the restriction of slavery, in the provision “that the further introduction of slavery, or of involuntary servitude, be prohibited, except for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been fully convicted; and that all children born within the Union shall be free at the age of twenty-five years” (pg 472).

When California presents for Admittance as a State of the Union, the subject of slavery produces much discussion ultimately resulting in the Compromise of 1850, and California is admitted as a free state. By this time, Former Vice President, Constitutional Attorney, now Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina has grown ill with tuberculosis, so Virginia Senator James A. Mason reads his speech for him, arguing for the constitutional rights of the South. Calhoun not only argues the disparagement in the growth of the population and the wealth outside of the Southern States, he also argues that only 25% of the land mass of the new territories added to the Union classified as Southern States, those that provide for the free exercise of the practice of slavery by definition. He argues also that the North has essentially strategically “stacked the deck” so that the North grew in power and financial gain.

The result of the whole is to give the Northern section a predominance in every department of the government, and thereby concentrate in it the two elements which constitute the federal government: a majority of States, and a majority of their population, estimated in federal numbers. Whatever section concentrates the two in itself possesses the control of the entire government... [T]here is not a single Territory in progress in the Southern section, and no certainty that any additional State will be added to it during the decade... There is a question of vital importance to the Southern section, in reference to which the views and feelings of the two sections are as opposite and hostile as they can possibly be. I refer to the relation between the two races in the Southern section, which constitutes a vital portion of her social organization. Every portion of the North entertains views and feelings more or less hostile to it. Those most opposed and hostile regard it as a sin, and consider themselves under the most sacred obligation to use every effort to destroy it.

Indeed, to the extent that they conceive that they have power, they regard themselves as implicated in the sin, and responsible for not suppressing it by the use of all and every means. Those less opposed and hostile regard it as a crime--an offense against humanity, as they call it and, altho not so fanatical, feel themselves bound to use all efforts to effect the same object; while those who are least opposed and hostile regard it as a blot and a stain on the character of what they call the "nation," and feel themselves accordingly bound to give it no countenance or support. On the contrary, the Southern section regards the relation as one which can not be destroyed without subjecting the two races to the greatest calamity, and the section to poverty, desolation, and wretchedness; and accordingly they feel bound by every consideration of interest and safety to defend it.

So even in Calhoun’s well reasoned argument, he acknowledges the issue of slavery and the nature of the practice as an integral element of the South’s economy and structure. To abolish it will further impoverish the already suffering South who cannot begin to compete with the growth in both numbers and in wealth of the Northern States and Territories. California became what Calhoun therein calls the “test question” and asserts that the real issues are “power and aggrandizement.” Certainly, the South did suffer after the approaching war under Reconstruction which was not only impoverishing but emasculating.

The “gentle view” of slavery then seems to hold up until the very difficult problems of racism present themselves. Some claim that advocacy for one’s own race constitutes “racialism” and differs from “racism,” though by today’s standards, most of my contemporaries would agree that their position amounts to bigotry. And I fancied Calhoun as someone who did not capitulate to this view, basing his arguments purely on the integrity demonstrated by individuals, the rights of individual States based upon Constitutional arguments alone and the North’s exploitation of power and circumstance. In this discourse, I realize that Calhoun does argue that there is a disparagement between peoples based upon their race and admits to this paternalism. It is somewhat reassuring that he does not argue this as a central factor or with the vitriol that his other contemporaries did. He seems to justify the good of slavery by comparing it to the free societies with poorer conditions.

Slavery a Positive Good, (6 February 1837)
To maintain the existing relations between the two races, inhabiting that section of the Union, is indispensable to the peace and happiness of both. It cannot be subverted without drenching the country or the other of the races...I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually...In the meantime, the white or European race, has not degenerated...This is not the proper occasion, but, if it were, it would not be difficult to trace the various devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has been allotted to those by whose labor it was produced, and so large a share given to the non-producing classes...I might well challenge a comparison between them and the more direct, simple, and patriarchal mode by which the labor of the African race is, among us, commanded by the European. I may say with truth, that in few countries so much is left to the share of the laborer, and so little exacted from him, or where there is more kind attention paid to him in sickness or infirmities of age...

I have yet to read any writer so miserable on this point as the great Robert Lewis Dabney. He did advocate kind and fair treatment of slaves and wrote in support of humane treatment of those entrusted to a person, but they were “heritable property” and “mere chattels,” not truly human like those of greater races and sons of Noah. And though he may have been noted for his wisdom on other matters of theology as I have observed myself in his Systematic Theology, he did not hold non-European races in high esteem. I was shocked to see that he actually did have a modicum of respect for the African race, but only when he compared them to the Native American. Blacks would at least work and could be subdued, but the miserable Native American could not be broken. They would not work and made too many attempts to escape from their captors, so they were not as valuable of a commodity. They were not described as people in need of Christ but as some lowly type of farm animal.

There are also the miserable comments that he made claiming how futile it was to educate any Negro because among other scandalous things, it was not only impractical, it was also “dishonest.” This rhetoric was quite offensive, perhaps just as offensive as the denigration based on pagan religious belief but upon race. The Negro was an inferior race, “constitutionally prone to improvidence” that could not transcend their condition and the European was divinely superior by God’s providence.

From the Conclusion of
A Defense of Virginia and the South”:
The black race is an alien one on our soil; and nothing except his amalgamation with ours, or his subordination to ours, can prevent the rise of that instinctive antipathy of race, which, history shows, always arises between opposite races in proximity...But while we believe that “God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell under the whole heavens,” we know that the African has become, according to a well-known law of natural history, by the manifold influences of the ages, a different, fixed species of the race, separated from the white man by traits bodily, mental and moral, almost as rigid and permanent as those of genus. Hence the offspring of an amalgamation must be a hybrid race, stamped with all the feebleness of the hybrid, and incapable of the career of civilization and glory as an independent race. And this apparently is the destiny which our conquerors have in view. If indeed they can mix the blood of the heroes of Manassas with this vile stream from the fens of Africa, then they will never again have occasion to tremble before the righteous resistance of Virginia freemen; but will have a race supple and vile enough to fill that position of political subjugation, which they desire to fix on the South.

In Alexander Stevens' “Cornerstone Speech,” Presbyterian and Vice President of the Confederacy, we also see the same element of the Canaan curse that Dabney details in his “Defense of Virginia.”
Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's laws. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so... Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery--subordination to the superior race--is his natural and normal condition.

I expected to believe, according to the gentle view of the Southern Perspective, that slavery in the South was actually short lived and would have been gradually and eventually abandoned. It was supposedly a dying institution, and slavery had nothing to do with the instigation or the waging of the War. Yet the Christians who argued for the right to enslave others for their economic gain also did so based on the superiority of their race and their views that slavery actually solved problems of poverty and anarchy. Why is it then that those who argue states rights also argued for white supremacy, the white man’s duty to assume their paternalistic care of their lessers, that the Africans could not be taught anything, that it was evil to mix the blood of the races and that it was actually God’s will to maintain a slavery system? And why then am I supposed to believe that not only was the South on course to relinquish their slavery system in due time without resorting to extreme measures, but I am also to believe that the war was not waged over the issue of slavery? States rights certainly played a major role, and the precedents set as a consequence have been detrimental to the U. S. The source of the difference between the North and South was indistinguishable from slavery and the economics of it, though the Confederate also fought for Southern chivalry, their homeland, tradition and a Christianly way of life.

And I can’t help noting that the attention paid to the changing demographics of the country as revealed by both the census data and as cited in the works of those who advocated for the Southern Cause noted the disparagement in economic growth and political power. Did the government system really fail, or was the world changing in response to many other forces? Were there truly no other alternatives? And if God’s divine providence provided for the system of slavery, why did providence see to it that the South lost the war? And though reconstruction was horrific, why did people not heed the admonishments of Lee after the war who called for unity and healing under God’s providence? Perhaps agnosticism skyrocketed after the war because these issues of secession were wrongly presented as providential and people became disillusioned when they realized the that providence would have them loose the war? And these were men of their day, reflecting the contemporary views, contending for truth and liberty and faith just as I do my writing here. God has mercy on us and shows patience beyond my ability to fathom. But why then to men of this day still make these old, tired, bigoted arguments?

Lincoln, Lee and Jackson all stated that God may have intentions that are higher than ours, and that He was sovereignly guiding us all. I don’t doubt any of that. I wish Jackson had survived to encourage the South to accept God's providence with patience like Lee did. But why resurrect all this and hang on to anger, strife and hatred for generations? And why preach hateful racial superiority from pulpits today? Are the gender arguments so weak that we do need to resurrect ideals that center around racial superiority in order to prop up those gender arguments? This does not mean that all those who make gender arguments based on hierarchy are racists, but why dredge up the writings of the past when we have the all-sufficient Word? That's not enough?

“The fact that one man, or race of men, may have more intellectual capacity than another man, or race of me, gives no just ground for enslaving the inferior; otherwise the most intellectual man that exists may have a right to enslave every other man – white man and black...

Otherwise, he who has a fairer skin...than you or I, may have a right to enslave us;
and the fairest man in the world may enslave every other man.”

John G. Fee,
The Sinfulness of Slaveholding Shown by Appeals to Reason and Scripture

List of Questions for Voddie Baucham about the FIC, Kinism and the Neoconfederate Element in Patriarchy

Sent via email: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 6:36:26 AM

Dear Voddie,

Rather than sending me a simple email with a simple apology, I’m disappointed that you chose to respond to Don Veinot’s comments in the manner that you did. My husband kept laughing at me as I continued to check my email this past weekend. I hoped to find some kind of personal response from you (after receiving a Google Alert for my name that linked me to your blog post), even just a note of courtesy to say that you’d responded to me online. I was very hopeful that we could grow in trust and reconcile this matter far more amicably. I’ve posted a response to all of this online, and I followed that up with a related post concerning the topic of apologies.

When I last heard from you via email, you expressed a desire to communicate with me so as to clear up any questions I might have related to your beliefs concerning the FIC. Last week, I emailed you to say that I would think about things over the weekend. I’m still counting on your cooperation in clearing up some of these matters.

In previous emails to me you wrote:

“Moreover, I don't want you to have to 'wonder aloud' as to what I believe on these issues. As I said before, you and I have a few differences, but many of the things that bother you also bother me.”

~ and ~

“I have just known for a long time that we needed to talk. Not debate; not argue, but talk. As I've said several times, I recognize that we have differences (though not as many as previously supposed), and I respect those. My goal in this dialog is not to refute your theology, or to defend mine. I just want to make sure that the differences we address are real and not assumed or imagined. Having said all of that, just know that I am more than happy to answer any questions you have about the FIC to whatever degree I am able.”

Though we disagree, I still would like to take the opportunity to clarify your position on a number of issues pertaining to patriarchy, what I’ve observed in FICs, and what I've heard from the FIC minded. As you note in these emails, you also show concern that I’ve misrepresented or speculated about your own beliefs, and I would like the opportunity to clarify the truth concerning what I’ve written myself. I’m happy to post your responses to the following questions on my blog and website. If your own concept of family integration helps Christians live more effective, God-honoring, victorious Christian lives and better equips them to be effective and fruitful evangelists of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then it is in the best interest of all of us to understand how the FIC process can and does work to accomplish those ends. Anything that you can do to clarify these matters will be of great benefit to the Body of Christ. Regardless of whatever has transpired between us, I would like to follow through with this clarification of your specific beliefs.

Please find the attached list of questions, and I thank you for making the offer to clarify these your stance on these matters.




Please note that you’ve mentioned a few of these items in a few emails, and I know that some of these matters are mentioned in other media, but not everyone has reviewed those sources. For the benefit of all, I’ve addressed several matters of question and concern for many who are affected by these matters. Many of us would be grateful for a straight answer to some of these questions.

1. You’ve written much to me in a general sense about what you like and do not like about some groups and beliefs that fall under the broadest possible category of the Family Integrated Church.
A. What, in your opinion, should set the ideal standard for what is meant by the term “Family-Integrated Church” (FIC)?

B. How can this best standard be achieved?

C. Can you point to a time or a particular group that originated the FIC concept?

2. In a revision of the original “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy,” in 2003, Phillips extended the language of original document to say that anything other than homeschooling for Christians, any training of grown young women outside of the home and women working outside the home constituted sin. This revision soon disappeared because of the controversy that ensued as a result. Many homeschoolers are concerned about your beliefs because you’ve advocated similar ideals, though I am well aware that you have not defined sins in such a formal way. Note that none of these specific questions negate or challenge the idea that a woman’s responsibilities as both wife and mother rank as the most vitally important for those women who do marry (as there are many believing women who never are presented with the opportunity to marry, etc.).
A. Though it is well known that you are an advocate of homeschooling, do you consider other options for the academic training of children to be sinful? In other words, if a member of your congregation chose another alternative to homeschooling, would you be concerned about them? How would you address the matter with them personally and others within your church? (You’ve stated to me in email and in your book that you believe that there are other ways to accomplish Christian education, but that could be interpreted several different ways.)

B. You’ve stated quite passionately that you believed that college was not an option for your own daughter, but do you believe that college should not be an option for any Christian young women? How would you address this issue with parents in your congregation who chose another option?

C. Would you consider allowing any young woman or even your wife to attend a Christian college that follows sound doctrine (in an on-campus setting), particularly for training in a “helping profession”? (Is this an option that is open to a Christian of good conscience? Would it be a sin to choose such an option?) For example, I had the option to go to a Christian college on a music scholarship where my piano teacher taught and where my other role models taught. I chose another option because I did not believe that this was God’s will for my life, but it did encourage my natural gifts and talents. It was actually a much safer option than the one my parents chose for me (the one that I joyfully followed in the choosing). Would choosing to follow training such as this at a Christian college for the life work of church ministry be considered poorly advised or sinful?

D. Under what circumstances, if any, is it allowable for a woman to work outside the home? May she volunteer only (prohibiting the payment of wages directly to her for work performed) and must she be under the direction of her father while she does so? Can she be assigned to the care of another in order to work in a particular area of need? Is it merely inadvisable for a Christian woman to be employed, or does it classify as a sin?

E. If any of these choices (options other than homeschooling or perhaps public school, college for women or working for women) are against the preferred model held as an ideal within your congregation, would non-compliance with this norm affect that family’s church life and participation with the church in any way? Would there be formal or only informal consequences? What would you anticipate as those specific consequences a family might encounter for following a “non-normative” path?

3. I understand that we are all slaves to something, just as a person receiving welfare is very much a slave of a system that I find troublesome, and that is not the question or issue that I would like to open here. My questions regard the practical aspects of what this would mean if an agrarian model of servitude and slavery were re-instituted in our contemporary society. Doug Phillips is known to tell of his views on agrarian economics, believing that slavery or some form of indentured servitude provides one of the vital solutions that America needs to cure its economic problems. It is confusing to those of us who see you profess some of the same views as Phillips that derive from the agrarian model which also promoted slavery based upon race, not just society or religion/worldview.

(To preface these related questions, let me refer to something Karen Campbell has written:
“There is concern among some homeschoolers that there is a class distinction agenda being promoted by Doug Phillips because of his affinity for the pre-Civil War South and the lifestyle of that day. Combined with the message that anything outside of this paradigm is ‘socialism,’ the message is sent that there is a certain elitism to home education. R. C. Sproul Jr.’s observations seem to substantiate that and were affirmed by James McDonald.”)

A. Does anything about the view that slavery is an essential way for America to respond properly to our economic woes give you pause?

B. If you agree with servitude as a viable, contemporary option for America, can you give some kind of idea how that servitude could be exacted?

C. Do you think that a revival in servitude would pose any risk to minorities, recalling that the writings that the modern day Christian agrarians embrace identify race as well as religion/worldview as a means of identifying those candidates for servitude?

4. I am not knowledgeable as to whether you are aware of Doug Phillips’ depth of appreciation for the writings of the agrarians. It is well known that Phillips holds Robert Lewis Dabney in very high regard. (Friends of mine who attended many of Vision Forum’s “Faith and Freedom” tours, and not knowing anything of Dabney prior to the tour, felt like they needed to remove their shoes before they exited the bus to tread on any holy area that had anything to do with Dabney because of Phillips very high esteem of him.) That said, I wondered how you put the writings of R.L. Dabney into perspective.
A. Though I realize and readily acknowledge his fine work as a theologian with a great many wise things to say about a wide variety of topics, how do you esteem his statements about hierarchical society, slavery and racism?

B. Do you believe that Dabney’s rationales regarding hierarchy apply to both race and gender as God’s distinctions for determining social order? (For those using his arguments, I’m not sure how one can counter or deny his arguments concerning race distinctions without threatening many of his gender arguments.)

C. Does Phillips’ fascination with the writings of Dabney affect the quality and/or depth of the fellowship that you share with him or your relationship with him? How, why or why not?

5. Some Christians maintain that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are co-equal in essence, but in terms of ETERNAL authority, it is the Father who orders the Son by virtue of a separate will, and it is both the Father and Son who order the activity of the Holy Spirit. This extends beyond the “economic” considerations of the Trinity wherein each Divine Person serves a particular act or operation, but actually maintains that God the Father holds a higher degree of authority than do the other Divine Persons. (Some conclude this based upon distortions of Covenant Theology’s concept of the Covenant of Redemption.) This relationship is said to be the standard of and model for relationships between husband and wife. The husband is like unto the hierarchical role of God the Father, and the wife is like unto the Eternally submitted son in terms of role and authority.
A. Do you hold a social or an anti-social perception of the Trinity?

B. Does your understanding of the Trinity best conform to functional, group mind, or some variety of trinity monotheism?

C. Do you embrace the doctrine of what is now referred to as the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) as is advocated by Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware and other individuals affiliated with CBMW, teaching that the Persons of the Godhead exist in hierarchy in an authority-submission structure/relationship?

D. Do you believe that the hierarchical “power and authority structure” within the Trinity, if you believe that there is an hierarchical one, dictates a corresponding argument supporting social hierarchy in both human relations and within marriage? (Disbelief in this concept does not in any way negate Scripture’s admonition of wives submission to her husband and a husband’s love and care of his wife.

E. Do you believe that gender roles and the behaviors of men and women correlate directly with God’s Image and a respect for God and His Lordship over all creation?

F. In other words, by rejecting a “hard complementarian” view (if I think women should be permitted to teach a Bible study to both men and women), am I rejecting God’s Lordship over His creation by default (as is stated by Russell Moore)?

G. In an email, you insinuated that you opposed a concept related to these teachings concerning the Trinity, mentioning the term “image bearer.” You seemed to deny the idea that women are created only in God’s Image “indirectly” and are only a “derivative” of the Image of God in an email to me. Do you believe that women are ontological different from men in regard to spiritual matters? Do you consider that women are the “derivative” or the “indirect” Image of God?

6. Because of your participation with leaders at Vision Forum who claim that Numbers Chapter 30 supports a view of the father as central to the mission of the home, I wondered if you also shared the interpretation that they put forth in the “Return of the Daughters” video? It is widely perceived that you do approve of this teaching and that you share these teachings promoted by both Vision Forum and by the Botkin family because of the part you played in that video. If you do embrace this Scripture in the same manner as those mentioned, could you explain your rationale for this Scripture’s use to promote these concepts as something other than a clarification of fiduciary responsibilities within that agrarian-type society?

7. Vision Forum and many others within the FIC promote the view that only a father within a family has a calling from the Lord, and all young men who have not yet come of age and all women in the family must serve the calling and mission of their father. No other alternatives to this paradigm are tolerated within that culture.

A. Do you share this view?

B. If you do, how do you substantiate this using Scriptures to support the view?

C. Upon what Scriptures do you base the concept that a father is the prophet, priest and king of the home, aside from Ephesians 5? In a private email, you stated that you subtly changed some of the language that George Whitefield used in a sermon, but I am interested in what Scripture references support this teaching. There are people who live by this teaching and concept as if it is tantamount with Scripture (like some would likely maintain that Sunday School appears in a verse in the Bible). Protector and provider are specifically noted by Paul in his epistles, and I like your redefinition of protector and provider far better than “king” which makes marriage into a type of aristocracy. But what Scripture supports the concept that a husband/father is the priest (one who offers sacrifices/administers sacraments) or the prophet (one who speaks for God) for his family, as in the New Testament, these terms only refer to spiritual roles? That connotes and is understood by many as an intercessory role for man in a spiritual sense on behalf of his family. Many who teach it do not relate this only in terms of practical function within the home only, using vague implications that are understood as having spiritual implications. (Add this to some of these practices concerning the Eucharist, and this takes on a whole new twist of doctrine.)

D. There was some controversy in the SBC regarding the priesthood of believers and a redefinition of the concept within the Baptist Faith and Message statement. Do you believe that a woman holds the same status as a man under this concept? Do laymen hold the same status as the clergy in this regard, something that may or may not infer ecclesiocentricity.

E. Do you embrace the concept of “multi-generational faithfulness” with the understanding that a grown adult child must submit to and follow their parent’s choice for their lives, forsaking their own best judgment in favor of the parent’s choices whenever there is any conflict? When do adult children become their own agents with freedom to follow their own discernment and choices, if you ascribe to such an understanding of the concept? Do you embrace Bill Gothard’s concept of chain of command or the umbrella of protection concept?

F. If you do ascribe to this concept of “multi-generational faithfulness” or a view that only a father’s calling from the Lord should be followed by family members (and others as approved by the father) in these terms as lived out/understood in these terms within many FICs, how would you respond to a criticism that this constitutes idolatry of one’s family, parents and/or patriarch?

8. Concerning courtship, which authors do you find insightful on this subject, noting whether you appreciate one particular work on this subject more than any other?

9. Several places, I’ve heard you discuss the father’s role in protecting a daughter’s purity. For me, this brings to mind the Old Testament laws concerning the payments due to a father if a man defiled his daughter sexually outside of the covenant of marriage, or if he defamed her by wrongly claiming that she’d been defiled. I have always understood that since a woman in this agrarian-type society had no opportunity to generate her own wealth, the father required payment from the one who defiled her because the financial responsibility for the daughter returns to the father. She has essentially be robbed of her means to make a living, so the father is compensated. But I don’t see that these laws speak directly to the father’s role in assuming responsibility for the critical thinking and decision-making of his daughters. The family should certainly instill daughters with good discernment and their own critical thinking ability, so the “bride’s price” payment for defilement does not speak to a family replacing of her own good discernment. A parent actually provides a safe environment and training to give a daughter good discernment, but the parent does not own the virtue of the daughter, in my understanding of things.

What Scriptures, if any do you use to support the idea, once a daughter comes of age (becomes old enough to marry), that her purity still falls to the responsibility of her father, and how does that apply in a society that is not agrarian where a young woman can acquire her own wealth?

This introduces a host of other questions:
A. Do any purity-protecting responsibilities also fall to other family members? Does the mother play a role? Do other siblings play a role?

B. Can you assign a quantitative value (percentage) to how much responsibility for purity falls to the daughter and how much falls to the father or others?

C. Is there an age at which a daughter becomes fully responsible for protecting or defending her own purity, and is she capable of protecting or defending it? When and why?

D. If there is a sin wherein a daughter does knowingly and willfully surrender her purity outside of marriage, since a father bears moral responsibility for the purity by way of protection, does the father bear the sin of the daughter’s act of commission in any way?

E. Do other virtues of the daughter also fall to the responsibility of the father, and what Scriptures support this?

F. Do you believe that a woman today is permitted to acquire her own wealth (separate from the family), in light of the Scriptures written for an agrarian society, though we now live in a non-agrarian one?

G. In our email correspondence, you implied that you rejected the idea that a woman finds sanctification, the process of being made spiritually holy, at the hands of her husband and that this process is directed by her husband (or father). It implies that there is mediation required by a male representative and intercessor for a woman to experience proper sanctification. This view that some within the FIC embrace also suggests that a husband presents his wife to God as holy and blameless, because of the language that is used describing Christ’s relationship to the church. Could you briefly explain your own understanding and explanation of Ephesians 5 in regard to this belief, noting whether or not you support this stated understanding that is very popular within many areas of the FIC?

10. What kind of rules concerning men and women prevailed in your own family as you were growing up? You state in your book that you came from a less than ideal home because there were a great number of divorces in your family. (Both my husband and I grew up in traditional homes with both mothers and fathers who are still married, yet my family has half as many divorces as you mention and my husband’s family has suffered just as many in theirs as you note about your own. So I didn’t find that your description elucidated much about the parenting that both you and your wife received, as what you’ve actually stated could mean a whole host of things because the parameters and scope of your statement were not clearly delineated in your book.)
A. What were the specifics about whether you each had a mother and father at home growing up?

B. What where those family rules (were they patriarchal)?

C. How do your own experiences and those you observed in your wife’s upbringing correlate to your current ideal for the family?

11. This comment of Karen Campbell’s was noted on her “thatmom” blog in response to Bill Roach of the CHEC:
“A few months ago, Doug Phillips made a declaration that a woman who faces an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening situation, and has surgery is considered to be a “murderer,” one who practices “child sacrifice” or “infanticide,” and is not 100% pro-life. In researching Doug’s position and asking pro-life leaders around the country to comment on his writings, I could not find a single person who could agree with his perspective and many were concerned that homeschooling mothers who are being influenced by Doug could have their very lives placed in danger. He also stated that he would not support any organization that didn’t agree with him so I can only conclude that his is also the position of CHEC, lending credibility to this dangerous view.”

Do you share Doug Phillips’ views (since your ministry does interact and participate with his, or is perceived that way), agreeing that a surgery performed to save the life of a woman with a tubal or otherwise life-threatening (non-tubal) ectopic pregnancy constitutes abortion and murder, reckoning the life of the unborn baby that cannot survive as more valuable than that of the mother, when it is sure that the unborn baby will not be able to survive? Why or why not?

12. There has been a shift over the past 10 years or so wherein the management and coordination of homeschooling within the home which once fell to both husband and wife (as the wife bears most of the day-to-day responsibilities for executing the “hands on” duties of homeschooling because most men work full-time jobs) now falls to fathers first and foremost. For instance, when Doug Phillips first started speaking in these circles, women were honored and were not excluded from decision-making but were encouraged as the primary vessels through whom God worked to educate their children (or it was a duty that was delegated to mothers). But in recent years, Phillips shifted to a “men only” and “men first” message. Many mothers feel that homeschooling leaders that once viewed them as most vitally important in the process of planning are being pushed out of the process, as this duty is now directed at husbands only or to husbands first and foremost.

The CHEC has slated you as a plenary speaker at their upcoming “Men’s Leadership Summit” in March of ‘08 where women are not welcome to attend in order to participate in the planning of the direction of Christian homeschooling, presumably for all Christian homeschoolers. You are noted to be one of those who will “cast a vision” for the future of homeschooling for Christians.
A. What is your understanding of this catch-phrase of “vision casting” anyway, and does the term have any odd connotations for you? (Prior to its self-help popularity via Willow Creek Community Church and Andy Stanley, a Christian would use the terminology of “seeking God’s will.” ) Many find this “vision casting” terminology to be quite troublesome. It may be used for epicurean appeal and a sense of novelty, but for many, it does sound akin to “spell casting” and something like a new age term. Are you completely comfortable with this term on a personal level, and do you use the term in your own vernacular? (For instance when I was at that seminary a few months ago, when talking to students about their plans for ministry, many used this terminology when stating that they’d either “cast vision” for God’s will or had not done so, giving this impression to me that it was like a process of casting lots which I was taught was not followed under the New Covenant. We are guided by the Spirit and the Word, as well as sage advice from trusted counselors and the circumstances that we encounter. I must admit that the terminology did not sit well with me, and I found it disturbing.) How do you put “vision casting” into perspective, and do you see any potential for this language leading others into doctrinal error?

B. Why is this conference limited to men, and do you have an opinion about why women have not been included in the group of those who will plan the future? Is there some Scriptural foundation for excluding women from this process? Can you elaborate on your rationale?

C. How much of a role does the promotion of the FIC principles play in the shaping of the future of homeschooling – in the “vision casting?” (Given the speakers, many speculate that the conference seeks to not necessarily “cast vision” but disseminate the FIC vision.)

D. If the vision of the FIC and its role in governing homeschooling is so sound and clear clear, why is there cause to “cast vision” or what I understand as a seeking of God’s will for the future of homeschooling? Can you give any information about the more specific objectives of the conference?

E. Do you see the stated mission of this conference as insulting to those others who have pioneered homeschooling? Can you explain why their vision was insufficient, as the language used on the website for the conference suggests that those homeschoolers who preceded those who are identified as the current leadership who speak for the entire movement was not quite so Biblical as their own, somewhat ill-guided, and/or somewhat nebulous?
13. Though I know as an advocate for the FIC, you believe that the FIC presents the most efficacious way of conducting worship and reforming the church and family so that both are more effective. Unfortunately, many of us who have been involved in the FIC movement and the very similar principles that govern groups like Vision Forum have had quite disappointing if not devastating experiences. Though there are many very good aspects of the movement (thinking of Henry Reyenga’s and your own advocacy of home catechism, hymn sings and Bible memory as examples), there are inherent problems in the movement as well, many with which you may actually be unfamiliar. Some of us, not being leaders in this movement, have been affected by the movement in a very different way than you have. Perhaps you have not considered the problems to which the approach predisposes believers.
A. Though not all groups are authoritarian, as I am told that Henry Reyenga’s group is not exclusive or inclusive of families only, far more FIC churches operate under a very authoritarian style of leadership which often gives way to patterns of sacerdotalism and spiritual abuse. How can these problems be addressed? (Please note that many people who both are and were affiliated with Henry Reyenga expressed their concerns to me regarding CLI’s announcement of both you and Kevin Swanson as faculty, because they see you both as agents of Vision Forum. They’ve drawn Reyenga into doubt because, though they are comfortable with his model, they see the Vision Forum connection as a serious threat, a sign of Reyenga taking a legalistic turn for the worse. People are quite distressed about it. You may believe this to be unwarranted, but I want you to know that it is a serious concern.)

B. Within your own FIC church, if a family declines to follow home catechism, will that affect their full participation in the life of the church? In other words, can a family decline participation and not suffer prejudice (formal or informal)? What would be the consequences for declining home catechism in a formal sense? I get the impression from those who have attended your fellowship and left (having read their comments online) that you lean towards an authoritarian style now that you’ve connected with Vision Forum. I’ve also heard you state, in a video, something akin to a “military approach” to the training of children. If the USMC can whip young, undisciplined men into shape, we should likewise do so with our families. I fear that this style is not natural. I don’t believe it works for many families who do not have personality styles for which an authoritarian approach comes naturally, and this limits their ability to participate. It will not be effective for children who do not respond well to this style either. I’m not stating that this is not an approach from which many can benefit, but I know that many personalities (both parents and children) will not respond well to this approach.

C. This may seem like a simple question to ask, given some of the things that you’ve written and preached elsewhere, but for the sake of clarification, would you say that churches who offer Sunday School or youth groups follow an unbiblical model which is more consistent with “Social Darwinism”?

D. Do you believe that many FIC’s promote exclusivity and a type of spiritual class distinction both within the Church and within homeschooling, fostering the idea that there are not necessarily different ways of conducting worship services and homeschooling but that there are BETTER ways of conducting corporate worship as well as education within the home? How would you respond to this comment from R.C. Sproul, Jr as he describes committed Christians who do homeschool with great spiritual conviction to do so but marks them because they reject patriarchy as he and other associates have defined it?

“There is, in evangelical homeschooling circles, a growing divide. On the one side there are those of us who might be called movement homeschoolers. We homeschool because we believe it to be the Biblical choice, not because we merely prefer it. We tend to adopt many of the secondary lifestyle issues related to homeschooling, lots of children, modest dress, husbands as the heads of their homes, courtship, denim jumpers. On the other side are a different bunch of folks. These typically are homes where moms see homeschooling as a choice, an arena wherein they can excel by helping their children excel. The former are driven by issues of conviction, the latter by more practical matters.”

E. How would you respond to the comment that there are those within the FIC who use their standards of legalism and the idea that only their preferences are acceptable, using those standards as a measuring rod for judging the spirituality (or motives, etc.) of others within the Body of Christ? How would you respond to those who are disappointed in the outcomes that the FIC and patriarchal models produced with their children, considering that these models were promoted to them as THE Biblical model and plan that would nearly guarantee a positive outcome with their children? How would you respond to those disillusioned parents who followed the model but realized very negative outcomes? Is it a flaw in the model itself, the parents, children, or in the execution of the plan? (Have you read the October 2008 installment on “Cloistered Homeschooler Syndrome” by Michael Pearl, noting the numbers of letters he received regarding the negative outcomes stemming from the concepts promoted by the FIC?)

F. Do you believe that many speakers who frequent homeschooling venues use logical fallacy and sensationalism to capitalize on the fears of homeschooling parents to promote their agendas rather than edifying and encouraging parents? Kevin Swanson and Doug Phillips are probably two of the most colorful and polemic of this group. How would you respond to this statement by Karen Campbell?

“I would also ask them to hold their own spokesmen accountable. A year ago I talked about the over-the-top rhetoric used by FIC promoter Kevin Swanson on his Generations program. The lack of grace and wisdom has disappointed me but even worse is the fact that broadcast after broadcast keeps getting worse and I only see more people giving him accolades, promoting him, participating in interviews with him, and even filling in for him when he is unavailable. Why is no one challenging his harsh and arrogant discourse? And adding to my disappointment is that Kevin, himself, is a homeschooling graduate.”

G. Many FICs follow a model of ecclesiocentricity where affairs within the home are also subject to scrutiny in the church as well. Do you follow such a system in your own church? Do you believe that the church is a family of families, following a similar chain of command and procedure? Were you aware that Vision Forum changed their NCFIC mission statement this year regarding their language related to this position? I’m curious to know if those who participate (as does your own church) were notified of the change.

H. Many groups have discussed the issue of “normativity.” Please note this passage written by Karen Campbell in a blog article that she wrote concerning her problems with the FIC concept, having attended several FICs, one affiliated with Henry Reyenga:

“I would ask FIC churches why there is such a great emphasis on what they call “multi-generational faithfulness,” but there are typically only two generations represented in these churches, parents and their children. There are few if any elderly couples and single people – they are basically nonexistent. And probably the saddest aspect of the FIC church is that families who are really struggling with even basic issues of faith, let alone those who desperately need help in building relationships within their marriages or with their children, high maintenance families, as it were, would never darken the door of these churches. Sadly, even if they did, many of them would never come to understand what grace even looks like.

I would ask how welcome orphans (those without families) and widows might feel in an FIC church. James 1:27 says “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Are they welcomed as part of the royal priesthood, joint heirs with Christ, or are they seen as projects needing to be fixed, added on to someone else’s family in order to be “normative,” which is defined in the FIC movement as married with children? It seems to me that the true “normative,” according to Scripture, is to welcome all believers, to minister to one another, and the assumption is that these things can and should be done without defiling any of God’s true standards for righteousness. The practice of father-served communion, as is common in FIC churches, is just one example of the loud and clear message that anyone outside of a human family within that congregation is not normal and needs reforming.

I would ask “what about evangelism?” I would love to take a poll of those FIC churches that move into neighborhoods and find out how many of them have taken steps to reach out to those in their local community. How many have knocked on doors and presented the good news of Jesus Christ? My guess is that few if any have done that. Perhaps many of them are willing to financially support both foreign and local mission organizations, but what would they do with desperately needy folks who might walk in to their churches? Or would they ever consider allowing their children to go to the mission field? And if so, how are they preparing them to do that? You see, the Gospel within the FIC church is family reformation through homeschooling and lifestyle changes for man’s (the father’s) glory rather than the work of the Holy Spirit to transform lives for the glory of our Heavenly Father.”

How does your church deal with the “non-normative” family and individuals who are not homeschooling if the church is geared toward families? Are the non-normative assigned to someone as a resource person for them? Are elderly believers also included in the life of the church? What appeal would your church have for those who have no children or those who have raised their children? Are you aware of how others who fall into these groups perceive the FIC, and that many of these “non-normatives” are treated as outsiders? How does your church respond to adult young women who are not married and have no children? Not to downplay the needs of families who are busy about raising children, but in many cases, people who fall outside of this population within the FIC find difficulty participating . How can this best be addressed in FICs where this proves to be a major problem? Why or why is this not a problem in your own congregation? (What is the rough percentage of elderly who attend your church?)
I. What is your response to those churches who only offer the Lord’s Supper to fathers to distribute to their families because the father is seen as someone who intercedes before the Lord on his family’s behalf?

J. A member of an FIC wrote to me some time ago to ask my opinion on their new church charter, and it was the opinion of that fellowship of elders that the Bible does not indicate that any of the apostles attended school for training in the Word, so they now reject any formal education in the Word of God, claiming that it is unbiblical. How would you respond to this group?

K. Many FIC churches neglect evangelism of the lost (one commentary already noted above), focusing instead on proselytizing those who are already Christian from within homeschooling circles and from within other churches. Related to this is an encouragement to strive to birth large families for both economic reasons and for God’s purposes of redemption of our secular culture. I’ve heard fathers express concern when no one comes to court their daughters because they are fertile yet have no opportunity to conceive because they have not yet married. What would you say to such a parent who has concerns that they are limiting God’s harvest and His Kingdom by not finding a suitable spouse for his daughter? Because of the focus on the covenant community in many FICs, there is a perception that those born to Christian parents have a higher status as the “elect.” Because of the focus on election with a concurrent focus on the importance of Christian families, many FIC’s almost discourage evangelism of the lost. What do you see as the root of this problem and how the FIC be redirected to a healthy appreciation of the Great Commission? How do you teach and incorporate evangelism into your own congregation?

L. Some FIC’s now promote a teaching in the development of a “family catechism” or a Christian version of the Jewish “toledoth” that incorporates testimony from the history of their family. Most families pass these types of personal history down organically, not attaching them to any religious practice. Do you have an opinion about this practice?

M. I am disturbed by what many FICs call “domestic discipline” which refers to the punishment and physical discipline of wives by their husbands (links to these groups used to be displayed on the “Patriarch’s Path” website), though this is a practice not limited to the FIC. After addressing this on my blog, I now find that I get a consistent two hits per day from people linking in from Google searches on the subject. On Sundays, presumably after people return home from church, I generally get at least a half dozen hits, and I wonder if it is because parishioners have heard this topic preached (from either an affirming or a disapproving position)? Someone affiliated with Federal Vision once argued with me that husbands were called to discipline wives in a manner much like a father disciplines children,. And a dear friend of mine was moderated/censored on an evangelical Christian Yahoo group for stating that Hebrews Chapter 11 does not support this practice which is very much associated with some groups within the FIC. What is your response to the practice of “domestic discipline”?

N. I also recommend reading Karen Campbell’s article that discusses her personal experience in the FIC and the culture of patriarchy from which I drew some of the quotes that appear here in this list. She’s homeschooled six children, the youngest of which is 17 years of age, so she is quite familiar with the experience and the sub-culture of Christian homeschooling within the evangelical Christian Church.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

* I declare that these questions are subject to full copyright, December 2008 under both my name, Cynthia Mullen Kunsman and as Under Much Grace. They cannot be reprinted or published publicly in any form without securing permission to do so.


All Rights Reserved

Please feel free to use original material presented here on this blog, attributing the site.

Copyrighted works are made available here under the 'fair use' exception of U.S. copyright law, for research and educational purposes only.