Saturday, March 2, 2013

What is Multigenerational Faithfulness? Code for Conformity

An Introduction and Review of Multigenerational Faithfulness

(Associated with patriarchy within Christian homeschooling)


(From a series of posts at Under Much Grace in 2008)

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

Even considering small sections of specific teachings became far more complicated that I anticipated, because of the subtlety of it all. That’s why the system works as well as it does. 

About 20 years ago, in a Minerth Meyer book that talked about manipulation in relationships, I recall how they pointed out the subtlety of the serpent. Snakes always avoid direct conflict unless making eye contact with prey or responding defensively to an immediate threat, and they do not knock on your door to announce their arrival when they want curl up on your living room couch. They find opportunistic ways to "sneak in" by concealing themselves in packages (Trojan horses) that you actually carry in yourself or they find breaks in the foundation of your home. I believe that concept of multigenerational faithfulness takes advantage of this same type of subtlety, offering easier answers to the uncertainty of life by playing on our best desires for our families. We tend not to see the subtle distinctions along the the periphery of the message, those subtleties that we would otherwise reject outright. We become distracted, enticed and engaged by the obvious message which offers an entire pleasant package, much like a salesman markets a product to us. Addressing the many subtleties I discovered throughout the course of the discussion amounted to quite a few blog posts.
Thinking that multigenerational faithfulness refers to only the wonderful idea of raising your children so that they will be faithful Christians that will likewise raise their children to be faithful Christians, you might not anticipate the other associated concepts. Some of the ideas like homeschooling are quite pleasant and desirable, but some of them are based upon very narrowly defined doctrines that a person does not readily identify from the term “multigenerational faithfulness” alone.
  • Gender Hierarchy and Roles
  • Unchallenged, Unquestioned Submission and Obedience
  • Obedience to Eldest Male in Husband’s Extended Family
  • Election Through the Covenant Community and Birth
  • Militant Fecundity
  • Law Keeping to Merit Grace
  • Replacement Theology and Dominionism
  • Homeschooling and Home Catechism

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

Blog Posts Addressing
Examining Multigenerational Faithfulness

  • Overview of the Web of Multigenerational Faithfulness (MGF)
    • Includes the Scripture references and proof texts for multigenerational faithfulness. Also refers to THIS POST quoting the FBFI 2006 Resolution criticizing the Family Integrated Church, offering some of the same criticisms of concern regarding multigenerational faithfulness
  • Origins of the Term 
  • The Spiritual Eugenics of MGF: More Social Darwinism 
    • Examines the reasoning behind why Vision Forum views childbearing as God’s primary means of advancing the kingdom of God and the gnostic “higher life” Christianity which promotes elitism and separatism within certain groups of Christian homeschoolers.
  • The Layers of Extra-biblical Belief: The 200 Year Plan 
    • A review of Geoff Botkin’s method for planning dominion for one’s family, extending to 200 years. Geoff Botkin worked for the Great Commission Ministries, one of the most well-documented Bible-based Shepherding-Discipleship cults and was business partners with it’s founder Jim McCotter. Review the history of Geoffrey Botkin’s activities HERE. The Great Commission Ministries followed the dominionist focus of reaching the world for Christ in one generation, with a particular interest in both communication media as well as recruiting young people on college campuses.
  • Is Wilson Pro-Abortion or Just Following MGF? 
    • Discussion of the elitist mentality that stems from the view that God’s elect should restrict love, Christian service and ministry, offering it only to those who are perceived to be God’s elect under the concept of multigenerational faithfulness. (Those who reject God and will be numbered among the non-elect hate God and should be treated accordingly, per the mindset.) Examines Doug Wilson’s imprecatory prayers, particularly the prayer that the unborn babies of the non-elect should die in utero.
  • Do New Testament Believers Become the New, Physical Seed of Abraham, Propagating the New Israel Nation of Christians Through the Womb? 
    • Review of “Protestant Exclusivism,” and the odd interpretation of Replacement Theology observed by Vision Forum under the guise of multigenerational faithfulness aimed at the fulfilling of the dominion mandate.
  • Lack of New Testament Support for MGF 
    • More discussion of the Old Covenant and works-based perspective of multigenerational faithfulness based upon the aberrant interpretation of the very few NT proof texts used, particularly those shared by the Shepherding/Discipleship/Submission doctrines.
  • Return of the Daughters (MGF's Model for daughters as property) 
    • A specific recap of Vision Forum’s teachings on the husband/father as the center of the home, wives and daughters as helpmeets that objects who exist to serve their patriarch’s “covenantal vision,” as well as the significance of submission to the oldest patriarch in the extended family system.
  • First Time Obedience (FTO)
    • Introduction to FTO:  The Selfish Sin of Shyness 
      • A review of the submission required under multigenerational faithfulness as Vision Forum’s carryover from Bill Gothard’s submission teachings with various examples of this demand for unquestioned obedience without credulity. First post specifically examining “First Time Obedience” in young children.
      • RESPONSE TO BAUCHAM'S CHARGES that he was taken out of context concerning statements he about corporal punishment in a 2007 sermon (2013 blog post).
    • FTO Part I: Parental Convenience 
      • A review of the principle of sacerdotalism and parental convenience (as a control issue in dysfunctional families) as rationales for requiring “First Time Obedience” and “leaps of faith” required under multigenerational faithfulness.
    • FTO Part II: Spiritualizing All Activities 
      • Review of the tendency to make every banal daily activity one of great eternal spiritual significance as a consequence of works-based salvation. Includes a discussion of viewing personality traits that do not fit the belief system’s paradigm as sinful as well as the building up of all gender related activities as sacramental for the impartation of inward sanctification.
    • FTO Part II Addendum (Spiritualizing all activities and unquestioned submission)
      • Blog host’s personal experience with inherent personality traits treated by parents as sin, the idolatry of seeking parental approval, and the consequences of requiring unquestioned submission with the use of guilt and shame that predisposes one to easy brainwashing and compliance with thought reform. Includes a section from Biderman’s Chart of Coercion addressing the powerful effects of devaluing individuals in religious settings.
    • FTO Part III: Poor Development of Analytical Thought and Problem Solving Skills 
      • Discussion of the development of how perfectionism, works-based salvation and First Time Obedience squelch problem-solving skill and prevent the development of critical thinking under the guise of multigenerational faithfulness.
    • FTO Part IV: Theological Concerns 
      • A specific review of the theological problems in Voddie Baucham’s defense of First Time Obedience as well as the refutation of the practice from Scripture. Echos concerns noted in this previous blog post concerning Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith” book.
  • RC Sproul, Jr’s Take on Multigenerational Faithfulness: “When You Rise Up” 
    • A brief review of RC, Sproul, Jr’s book about “covenantal homeschooling,” which notes a particularly disturbing passage that describes a nine year old girl who cannot yet read but is praised for “learning what God requires.”
  • Thoughts on Fear-Based Obedience: It is Hollow and not Holy 
    • Notable quotes and considerations from both Andrew and Richard Sandlin that help to put multigenerational faithfulness into perspective.

Additional Posts on Submission Doctrine and the Shepherding Discipleship Movement

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

The Ultimate Tragedy:

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

Deuteronomy Chapters 5 & 6

Moses issues these commandments to the physical nation of Israel, but they are set off with warnings and cautions. For multigenerational faithfulness to operate, one’s works must be pure in order to ensure that the consequences of our actions are not extended to the 3rd and 4th generations that follow us (Deut 5:8-9). But the goal is to work toward the dominion mandate (Gen 18:18-19) by heeding the Law in our lifetime, training our children and thus obtaining a blessing that extends to thousands of generations (Deut 5:10; 6:10-11).
  • Deut 6 The Shema (parallels Eph 6)
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generational Faithfulness Contingent Upon
Covenant Keeping Through Instructing Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spiritual Eugenics of Multigenerational Faithfulness: 

More Social Darwinism

On this blog and elsewhere in many venues, I’ve mentioned what I call the “Spiritual Eugenics” of patriocentricity, using this term to describe those who view the Calvinistic concepts of grace and limited atonement as a means to justify cruel behavior toward those whom they esteem to be error, assuming that those persons are non-elect and therefore hated by God. For example, men like Doug Wilson find this understanding to be cause for imprecatory prayer which calls for the demise and destruction of those whom he deems his enemies, though other groups treat both professing Christians and unbelievers in the same manner for the sin of rejecting their teachings. 

In his book, “Mother Kirk,” Wilson says that the pro-life movement should face facts and realize that they should not strive to save every unborn life. Christians should rather choose to pray to God to ask Him to grant that the unborn children of the heathen, the non-elect, die in utero because God hates them. When I applied “spiritual eugenics” to this area of patriocentricity, I recognized that those who call for militant fecundity also promote an aspect of this same idea in some respect. They assume that all of those who are born into their churches qualify as God’s guaranteed elect, so they rationalize that as the nation of Israel expanded their kingdom by growth in the nation’s population from their father Abraham, the church also advances God’s kingdom by means of church members having large numbers of children. Some of these groups also formally state that church membership in their covenant community serves as a more significant factor in salvation than an individual’s personal faith and confession in Christ as Savior.

Multigenerational Faithfulness

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

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

Within a section concerning the diligence to birth faithful, godly seed in the same manner that Abraham and the patriarchs of old did, Einwechter points out that “we need children . . . and wealth” to carry out multigenerational faithfulness and that a family without children “has noheritage.” Children are needful to carry our names and our work into the future. The seed of the righteous is not merely limited to sharing the Gospel through evangelism or through dutifully training up our children in the way that they should go, nurturing them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The group believes that the church today actually originates with the nation of Israel in some physical sense as well as the spiritual, so multigenerational faithfulness must include a sowing of our physical seed with the same zealous effort of evangelists who preach salvation to the lost. Because of this strong identification with the nation of Israel as found in the Old Covenant, this group believes that the Church remains subject to the Old Covenant in at least respect to expanding the church in order to take dominion. If believers in Christ today transgress these Old Covenant laws, they believe that the New Testament Church will pay the same consequences that Israel did before Christ presented Himself as the sufficient propitiation atoning for all sin and liberating us from the Old Covenant.

Daughters and Multigenerational Faithfulness

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

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

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

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

Social Darwinism

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

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

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

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

Extra-biblical Belief and the 200 Year Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Wilson Pro-Abortion 

or Just Following Multi-Generational Faithfulness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do New Testament Believers Become the New, Physical Seed of Abraham, Propagating the New Israel Nation of Christians Through the Womb?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 4:13 - 17:

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

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

The Shema
from Deuteronomy Chapter 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 1:14 -17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lack of New Testament Support for Multigenerational Faithfulness

In an earlier post, I listed all of the Scriptural “proof texts” that those from Vision Forum use to support their teachings on multigenerational faithfulness. As stated earlier, most of them pertain to the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, detailing how the Israelites were instructed to relate to God under the Old Covenant. According to the writings of Paul and the Book of Hebrews, those under the New Covenant, whether Jew or Gentile, received a Better Covenant than the Israelites did. They lived under the law and were subject to all its penalties. 

Those who follow the New Covenant live under grace and are not subject to the condemnation and curses of the law, as Jesus paid all the penalties that sin demanded. The Old Covenant was the Gospel concealed, a foreshadowing of the Gospel, and the New Covenant was the Gospel revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Until we come to faith, the Law serves as our schoolmaster or teacher, but when we receive the Holy Spirit by faith and experience new birth in the Spirit through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, the Law becomes written on our hearts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Peter 5:1 - 11:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Core Concepts of Multigenerational Faithfulness:

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

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

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

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

Return of the Daughters and MGF's Model for Daughters as Property

I take for granted that those who have linked over to this website for the first time will be familiar with the Vision Forum teachings that support multigenerational faithfulness. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Vision Forum teachings regarding women and since I've referenced their importance in these most recent posts, I will offer this very brief overview of the teachings about following the family patriarch as well as the eldest male within one's extended family, a vital part of the multigenerational faithfulness concept. Please note that since criticism of the ideology, Vision Forum has re-written some of their history. They once prohibited voting for women, but apparently all of the advocates of this teaching have been voting all along. If you find that interesting, you can read more about it HERE and HERE. In the event that other documentation should disappear in the future, copy the links and go to the internet archive’s “Wayback Machine” to enter them in order to find them. Like the teachings on voting and engagements and courtships and such, things have a nasty habit of disappearing from the patriarchy websites.

Botkin’s Teachings on Daughters and Wives

I have not discussed the Botkin gender material here in some time, so for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the book “So Much More,” (or the "Return of the Daughters" video) I will review some of the concepts taught in this book by the then teen daughters of Geoff Botkin. (Link HERE to read about Geoff Botkin’s history in a Bible-based cult just prior to his appearance at Vision Forum.)One can also glean a great deal of these teachings from the Botkin Daughters website, but in a nutshell, the belief system maintains that young women remain the “helpmeets” of their fathers until they are given in marriage. Until responsibility is handed off to the new husband, the young woman must serve the vision of the father. All of her endeavors must further the father’s vision in some way by aiding him in his life’s work. All members serve the family patriarch (the husband/father), and their life purposes revolve around the father like planets resolve around the sun in our solar system. If a young woman has her own endeavors, those activities must still accommodate the father’s needs and must somehow serve to help him fulfill his “kingdom mandate.” Any activity that seemingly does not meet an obvious need of the patriarch must be pre-approved by the father.
Other resources concerning this view can be found via these links:
  • Thatmom online blog discussion and podcast downloads HERE and HERE. (Karen Campbell and “Spunky the Homeschool Mom” aka Karen Brawn)

Vision Forum’s Teachings About Wives and Daughters

I encourage you to read this entire article about Vision Forum, as it presents a good overview of the many problems with these teachings. I have pulled out several quotes from this 2007 article from Midwest Christian Outreach, a counter-cult apologetics organization.

From "Who Will Be First In the Kingdom?":
But according to the Vision Forum, women really cannot be trusted as decision makers but are at their best when micro-managed by their fathers or husbands: 

"The lies which tell us we should be independent from our parents and out from under their authority, training for a career or looking for our ministry outside of the context of our home and family. [sic] But Proverbs 14:12 says: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death…” There is liberty in submitting to your father. Don’t let your heart be taken captive by the independent spirit of feminism. We as daughters are not sufficient to guard our hearts—God has placed us under the authority of our fathers to protect our hearts… So I encourage you—give your heart fully to the Lord Jesus Christ and to your father (or if you are married, to your husband) and be under his authority." 
(From an article by Sarah Zes)

Unless a daughter marries, she functionally remains pretty much the property of the father until he dies:

"Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection." 
(From The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy)

Women should not go to college. Such a pursuit is a waste of time and money:

"And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?"
(From Brian Abshire’s article available HERE, though it no longer appears on Vision Forum Minsitries website.)

[. . .]

It is true the patriarchs were rulers. Not all males were patriarchs, nor did they have the opportunity to become patriarchs. Patriarchs were tribal chieftains. The patriarchal father would typically pass his position of patriarch to his firstborn son. We have instances in Scripture where the family headship was passed to the second born, but the effect was the same. All of the relatives became, in effect, his servants and property. We see an example of this in Genesis 27 when Jacob deceived Isaac into giving him the patriarchal blessing that naturally would have been passed on to his firstborn brother, Esau. The result and full import of what this meant is spelled out by Isaac in Genesis 27:37:

"But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” (NASB)

Sorrowfully, Isaac let Esau know that his hands were tied. The mantle of rulership had been passed on and now all of Jacob’s relatives, aunts, uncles, brother’s sisters, cousins, etc., including Esau, are to be Jacob’s slaves, Jacob’s property. The point is Vision Forum isn’t going far enough if their objective is to embrace Old Testament patriarchy! If they want patriarchy, they cannot simply pick and choose which elements they wish to leave out. Are tribal fiefdoms really supposed to be the pattern for the Church? Forget about wives submitting to husbands—all our relatives have to submit to Uncle Ned!
Link HERE to read the full article by Don and Joy Veinot, well worth the effort.
Life Micromanagement by the Eldest Male in Multigenerational Faithfulness

Click to enlarge.
Well, there you have it: a brief overview of the Vision Forum ideal that guides the unwritten rules that Vision Forum followers observe. Some of these practices never get documented, so the concept of submitting to the eldest family patriarch may or may not get documented. (Spiritually abusive systems thrive on the unwritten rules and unbreakable codes of conduct that are enforced through positive and negative reinforcement, etc.) Many families follow this“eldest resident patriarch” concept, and it presents some interesting dilemmas and practical problems for young married couples. Because of gender, a new bride should submit to her husband, but per the recycled teachings of Shepherding and Bill Gothard, the groom (an adult, mind you) must observe and submit to his own parents. (A more current example of this practice can be found by reading Scott Brown's NCFIC Internship Application -- formerly John Thompson's and Doug Phillips' NCFIC -- wherein a young man may only participate with the full approval and blessing of his parents.) A young bride’s parents have no real say in the matter which can and does create some dilemmas, for as Bill Einwechter puts it in his sermon on multigenerational faithfulness, marriage advances the groom’s family:
Sons and daughters differ according to Einwechter and the "continuity of history" of name and family extends only through sons. Einwechter states that multigenerational faithfulness works differently for daughters because a daughter no longer carries on her own family’s heritage or work within her new marriage. She serves her new husband’s family name and “his covenant,” so their marriage allows the husband to “extend his influence into other families.” Daughters are the “dynamic means”whereby men extend their name and heritage “into other covenantal family units,” or more specifically as Einwechter implies, into her own family of origin. The man “extends the covenant” of his own fathers through marriage. “Daughters are not dead ends . . . Faithful families must work together to give their sons and daughters to one another in marriage.” He also explains that multigenerational faithfulness cannot be limited to simply training our children but should include “the goal of giving them in marriage to other well-trained children from godly homes.” 
(From my previous post quoting the lecture.)

And don’t forget Geoff Botkin’s focus in the 200 Year Plan which seems to place priority in men:
Each one of my children has roughly 156,000 MALE descendants. And that’s a lot of people to be applied to the works of righteousness we have laid out today.
(emphasis mine)
I could pull out more information, but frankly, it’s just too depressing. You need not look very far to find such examples.... But I had not specifically pointed out this particular aspect of multigenerational faithfulness in this recent discussion. The topic called for a fresh overview.

Introduction to First Time Obedience:  

The Selfish Sin of Shyness

undefinedBecause of the Gothard influence of ecclesiocentricity within Vision Forum’s theology and practice (more in practice in participating churches than in documented theory), multigenerational faithfulness also revolves around submission to elders among adults of all ages, but it is also extended to children under their idolatry of family. Vision Forum essentially just takes Bill Gothard’s teachingsto greater extremes, but very little of it offers something new. The only new aspects of these “new ideas” are the loaded language phrases and “wonder word” concepts that the masters of spin wrap around the same old concepts of the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement in order to sell it via a new packaging. The manipulators merely took multigenerational faithfulness and wrapped it around the old submission doctrine product like a clever new design on colorful paper packaging that boasts “new and improved” or “50% more.” The practice of old-fashioned submission doctrine is alive and well, even within the emergent church movement, evidenced in the error of “sinning through questioning.” This unquestioned submission to authority dulls critical thinking and is an highly desirable trait in followers of authoritarian and spiritually abusive groups (at least, according to the leaders of those groups).

I’ve been contacted by several people who have asked many questions about my thoughts on Voddie Baucham’s teachings
regarding “First Time Obedience” (FTO). Technically, “First or Single Time Discipline” describes a more accurate concept since FTO would require omniscience. There is a “First Time Transgression” wherein a child learns obedience and is given grace only once. As an essential component of multigenerational faithfulness, I would like to examine these concepts again.

(Read a response to Baucham's charges that he's been taken out of context HERE.)

I believe that multigenerational faithfulness requires a high degree of “equal opportunity submission” (all age groups) under a preferred authoritarian leadership style, well noted and typified in Dr. Voddie Baucham’s book entitled “Family Driven Faith.” Though I agree with some isolated elements and find some of what he has to say quite valuable, I take issue with very many aspects of it. I also don’t come to the same conclusions that he does because I do not share all of his presuppositions. I’m going to quote some of the things that I find more problematic, though there are many points and conclusions with which I agree in the text. For me, that makes the whole work and message far more troubling ideologically and theologically.

In context, Baucham breaks “Discipline and Training” down into components to be expected of children (and training is so directed) that I have also heard discussed in audio sermons: 1) Do What They Are Told; 2) Do It When They Are Told; 3) Do It With a Respectful Attitude. His numerous audio sermons cover this same basic content as outlined in his book. There is some variation however, wherein Baucham (between these different venues) changes examples of behavior of a two year old sticking out one’s tongue at an adult to an example used interchangeably with shy, avoidant behaviorsuggestive of fearfulness in a two year old.  (Read more HERE.)   Baucham handles both examples as morally similar if not identical, both stemming from the same core sin issues – that which ultimately qualifies as willful rebellion over which a two year old should have mastery.

 Voddie Baucham on Corporal Punishment and Shyness in a Young Child from Under Much Grace on Vimeo.

From "Family Driven Faith," Pages 109 - 110: 
What this means is the degree to which children properly respond to the authority of their parents is indicative of the degree to which they are filled with the Spirit. In other words, obedience is a spiritual issue...

You tell your two-year-old to do something in front of the pastor’s wife and she sticks out her tongue yells “no,” and takes off running in the other direction... Eventually you learn that everyone is willing to accept this behavior, or at least to make comments that suggest their acceptance.

The only problem with this scenario is that it clearly violates the principles laid out in God’s Word. It is not OK for our toddlers to be characterized by rank disobedience. Moreover, if we do not deal with this when they are toddlers, our children will grow up to be disobedient, disrespectful, obnoxious teens whom no one wants to be around. More importantly, they will have established a behavior pattern that mitigates against the Spirit-filled life. Remember, a young man or woman who is filled with the Spirit will be marked by obedience to his or her parents...

First, I agree that parents do tolerate far too much unacceptable behavior (sticking out one’s tongue or other rude and disrespectful displays). I wholeheartedly agree that letting children (or encouraging children) to engage in rude, disrespectful behavior as a toddler encourages “rank disobedience” later in life. Yet how appropriate is it for an adult to put a small child into a situation wherein the adult expects the child to behave like a rational adult, capable of demonstrating the emotional control of an adult? I think that reasonable tears of fear/hiding one’s face in shy behavior demonstrates an appropriate response under certain circumstances, and the intolerable sticking out one’s tongue are two very separate issues. These indicate (or can indicate) two very different emotional states within a child. Children’s honest, non-pretentious and unbridled emotion become both their great fault and their great charm, and I believe that the delightful lack of pretense explains exactly why Jesus delighted in children. As they learn self-discipline, appropriate behavior, and boundaries from adults, children should also learn that their God-given emotions serve them as most precious gifts of childhood to proclaim strength and perfect praise in order to defeat threats and silence enemies (or to counter provoked anger).Emotions should be heeded by adults as they are valuable information when felt or expressed by children and adults alike. In a discussion of this passage from Baucham’s book, a wise mother reminded me of the conventional wisdom that children often “instinctively know who to fear and who to trust” precisely because they remain largely unaffected by pretense. Fear is not a sin in a two year old, and fear can sometimes manifest as anger or as shyness. Even adults run to the Rock of our Salvation and hide in the clefts as the adult and valiant warrior Psalmist often did. We trust under the feathers of God and find solace in His shield and buckler when we are afraid, even crying out to our Heavenly Father. Why would this similar behavior be inappropriate for a two year old? Does God greet us with love, comfort and protection when we run to Him, or does He punish us for our overwhelming emotions of fear, woundedness and helplessness? Any adult who puts a child into a position where the child is expected to demonstrate the mastery of an adult or beyond that of the Psalmist of Old behaves inappropriately. The parent manifests far more fault than the child in such a circumstance.

Considerations about Normal Growth and Development

I am also confused about what Baucham argues here regarding the apparent the virtues of a two year old, wondering how a totally depraved creature who has not yet come to faith in Christ with understanding and credulity can also be filled with the Spirit as evidenced by desirable behavior as a manifestation of willful choice. Does Dr. Baucham believe that good behavior always indicates the manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit? Can’t an unbeliever who has been conditioned with behavioral consistency and techniques of “child training” manifest good behavior, or can’t good behavior be feigned apart from the work of the Spirit? Cannot and do not unbelievers, consummate examples of “the good person,” raise respectful, polite and obedient children? How does one differentiate this “deceitful feigning” of good behavior from the miraculous manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit, all prior to the child’s mature and willful faith in Christ with understanding of the atonement?

This touches on some tension between the Dispensational “age of accountability” typically understood in Baptist circles, the Total Depravity of the Reformed faith, hints of innocence in covenant children by virtue of their election as found in the Westminster Confession, and for some more modern/aberrant patriocentrists, something akin to paedobaptismal regeneration. I’m unclear as to what exactly he means to communicate. Baucham seems to draw elements from a model of “Child Training” (versus child raising) akin to the Pearls and the Ezzos which actually argues a very Darwinian view of eliciting good behavior (like training mules according to Michael Pearl). Baucham seems to want to borrow from both Total Depravity and a divine manifestation of spiritual virtue at the same time without conflict. In so doing, Baucham argues a works-based and salvation evidenced by comparison and perfectionism. The question remains: How does one differentiate between good works in an elect two year old, deceitfully manipulative good behavior in a two year old whopretends to manifest the Holy Spirit, a well-trained two year old who is non-elect, a two year old with a delightful disposition, and a child who has been raised to be sensitive to the Lordthorough loving, “one-anothering” parenting (the true covenant child). A two year old knows well the difference between attrition and contrition, and all this apart from election. In fact, they may be more sensitive to it than an adult.

From Page 110:

Bridget and I learned the hard way with our firstborn. We were inconsistent with her as a toddler, and we had a mess on our hands. By the time she was ten we had to go back and completely retrain her. We simply didn’t know there was a better way. No one had ever taught us the importance of this biblical mandate.

No one enjoys the frustration of a child’s active bad behavior or making unsuccessful attempts to stop a child from behaving inappropriately. And I agree that behavioral problems manifest as a result of training a toddler inconsistently. But we also run the risk of provoking children to anger with authoritarian perfectionism when they are incapable of performing, either due to immaturity, parental factors, or their own inherent shortcomings of personality. Sometimes, some acting out results directly from being provoked to anger. Negative reinforcement and authoritarianism consistentlyyield erratic behavior in countless controlled, anecdotal and historical studies of adults, children and even in animals. Such provocation can lead to what has been coined as the “Botkin Syndrome” or results in the outcomes described by the “Quivering Daughters,” those young women who have been pushed too far by perfectionistic, authoritarian demands. It can also create “learned helplessness,” a pervasive, almost nihilistic hopelessness as a character trait that hinders rather than facilitates spiritual maturity in the Word of God.

Dare I ask online again as I have in a previous blog post: “How does one ‘completely retrain’ a ten year old?” COMPLETELY? This differs dramatically from “I was wrong – a very imperfect parent – but by the grace of God, I rejoice in the goodness that I do see in my daughter’s life... And by God’s grace, rather than doing the wrong thing for 10 years, I will not do the wrong thing for 10 years plus one more day.”

When asking friends who have no idea about the source of the reference, in response to my question of “How do you completely retrain a ten year old?” most people (when done chuckling) have immediately responded with either “You cannot,” or they only partially-in-jest suggest some type of torture, often involving depravation of food and water. (And I am reminded of Robin Phillips' book wherein he cites an example of how Jonathan Lindvall recommends just such a course of action regarding someone else's adult daughter who will not do as the parent pleases.) I am disturbed by the absolute, all-or-nothing certainty with which Baucham can go back into the past to erase his own error, laying blame on his child as “completely” flawed in a manner that seems to admit his fault but actually diverts it to his daughter. He’s not only so confident about assurance of the past concerning his own children, he is also quite zealous to share his authoritarian (albeit yet unproven) techniques with thousands upon thousands of others?

I must also ask why Baucham’s technique of first time obedience represents not only the better way but seemingly the only acceptable way offered for dutifully raising all children under all conditions? Baucham’s way is THE Biblical mandate. His comment reflects the other sentiments in the book such as his statement that the Family Integrated Church (FIC) is THE Biblical mandate and that alternatives to the FIC are “less Biblical,” whatever “less Biblical” hopes to imply through connotation. Is “less Biblical” like being “less pregnant” or “less moral?”

In the next post, I will look more closely and specifically at Voddie Baucham’s twist on “First Time Obedience.”

First Time Obedience Part I: 

Parental Convenience

In this previous post, I alluded to Mark Driscoll’s quote in the New York Times which spoke of his “impatience for dissent” (as the article’s author noted), drawing particular attention to this comment: “They are sinning through questioning.” His comment marks a trend in the church, and one that has always been an element as long as men have been overseeing groups of people. I would like to blame it all on somewhat recent trends within the church as there have certainly been many where believers have focused on one aspect of the Gospel or another to a fault. Like stinking swamps that feed off of a river that flows with life and is teeming with life, there have always been pockets of the church that become isolated in unbalanced focus of irrelevance and stagnation. The leaders seek to preserve what was likely a singularly ideal moment in time in what God was doing in the past. These attempts to preserve what promises to be an utopian oasis of the past always seem to degrade into a system of sacerdotalism, the collectivistic manifestation of the works of the flesh.

Along with sarcedotalism, part of maintaining the utopian vision of the past involves submission as an act of humility which requires the suspension of credulity. If a required task involves doubt, all expression of that doubt must be sacrificed and yielded to God on the altar of humility, as any expression or indulgence of reasonable, rational incredulity becomes an expression of rebellious sin. One must follow the system of sacerdotalism, crucifying all rational doubts by putting unquestioned faith in one’s overseer or personal priest. On the Bill Gothard Discussion List (Yahoo Group),someone once described the test of devotion required by young men at what is known as Gothard’s “Northwoods Coumpound” that I believe is located in Wisconsin. The facility required young men to go outdoors in intense summer heat to sweep the paved roadway with brooms, all while wearing their regulation Gothard blue blazers and red ties. For one of these young men to suggest that their service might be better spent doing something more productive with a more pragmatic value (even weeding a garden, for example which would still subject them to the trial of the summer heat) would be seen as rebellion against God Himself which thwarts one’s efforts to accumulate grace. Effectively, based upon Gothard’s bizarre redefinition of grace, the game of life requires that Christians earn and accumulate grace (favor and a type of power to resist sin merited by good works), especially through acts of humility that require the suspension of reason as a leap of faith.

Following from the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement, since patriocentrics espouse this sacerdotalism, it gives to reason that they would dutifully train their children in this same mindset. Their patriarchal system depends upon it, particularly in the home. Ephesians 5:21, the submitting to one another out of reference for Jesus must be understood through an hierarchical grid that preserves the perceived priestly role of the father who rules and reigns over his personal mini-fiefdom. This also translates all the way down to the bottom level of the chain of command, and unquestioned obedience as a meritorious act of humility must be required of even the smallest child. (The Gothard Discusssion Yahoo Group also contains archives of mothers talking about loving spanking babies and the dubious practice of "Blanket Training," baiting them off of a blanket and then punishing them in order to teach them to remain on the blanket, "a playpen in your purse.") And so, we have the advent of what is now called “First Time Obedience” (FTO). And I have observed, when Voddie Baucham in particular discusses multigenerational faithfulness or discipline, he rarely mentions one concept without bringing up the other at some point.

From Pages 110 - 111 of Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith”
An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]

This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...

We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.

Some instructions from parents must be obeyed immediately and without question, and I am not advocating rebellion. I learned to reserve certain words (“Stop!”), tones and body language for the non-negotiable safety concerns so as to help the child identify and differentiate these non-negotiable directives from those that are not critical. In that sense, and only in that sense, I think what is known as FTO or something like it is absolutely appropriate, primarily to avert injury. As noted in the previous blog post, behavioral displays of rudeness (particularly those involving tongues and teeth as “acting out” or “feeling one’s oats” for example), should not be tolerated as willful behavior (though I think these are things learned through experience and do not put a child in danger.) One mother shared with me how her grown daughter taught her children sign language before they could speak, and one of the first signs she taught them was the sign for “Stop!” for just this purpose. A child must learn, without any experience, never to put their hand on a hot stove, never to run out into any street, never put anything other than toilet tissue into the commode, perform particular restroom activities in restrooms only and in proper receptacles, etc., to name just a few choice and more serious activities. Those things, particularly obvious safety concerns and shows of blatant disrespect or disregard, are never “open to negotiation” and should be matters of what some might term“FTO.”  (These might be the time that a parent that ascribes to spanking might consider spanking with young children, exchanging the lesser pain of a spanking for actual injury or harm to the child or to others.)

Parental Convenience

When talking to a number of mothers who do not practice FTO and object to it, one of the most common observations they all make surrounds how the parents demand more from their own children than they require of themselves. Most of the adults who expect FTO often seem to have problems rendering the same behavior to others in their lives, as they enjoy the freedom of questioning, but those who are subordinate to them do not have the privilege. It also requires more of children who are immature than God expects of most adults, sending prophets and messengers to men to instruct them in righteousness, bidding them to change prior to punishment. Often the parents who enjoy new mercies every morning from the Lord do not extend that same level of mercy and forgiveness to their children. FTO also makes practical considerations of everyday life much easier for parents, but is that the chief end of parenting? For adults who have problems with control, their children merely become objects in their world rather than those to whom they have a duty to serve and raise. One mom also resented the repeated use of the term “servant leadership” by those who sing the virtues of FTO, because the parents do very little serving of their children, and children effectively end up serving them. For this reason, I’ve created the Overcoming Botkin Syndrome blog, investigating the problems created when parents use children to meet their emotional, psychological and physical needs.

I believe this quote from “Adult Children: The Secret of Dysfunctional Families” by John and and Linda Friel describes quite well the illusion that such kind of perfectionism produces:

“Our symptoms are born out of emotional denial and they serve to maintain that denial. They are ways that we allow ourselves to live one kind of life while convincing ourselves that we have a very different kind of life.

And while they serve to give us the illusion
that we are in control, they are in fact clear indicators that what we have really done is to give up healthy control of our lives to something outside of ourselves.”   (p. 23)

I would also like to note that something quite interesting happens when one studies these types of highly authoritarian systems, something I mentioned in a previous post. Authoritarian systems can produce a great deal of productivity and high performance, but something interesting happens.When not directly observed, the subordinates within authoritarian systems stop performing when the leader steps away from the system, and productivity ceases. Performance resumes, but only when the authoritarian supervision resumes, demonstrating that authoritarianism on a chronic basis squelches problem-solving as well as autonomous, self-directed behavior. Those within an authoritarian system remain dependent upon the authoritarianism itself, so it actually begets more negative reinforcement. On the other hand, systems that demonstrate a more mutually trusting, democratic approach that more closely resembles “one anothering” and mutual cooperation shows, consistently and overall, to be the most productive environment, balanced with discernment, self-direction and non-coerced productivity. Participants share the outcomes, and thus feel invested in the activities personally, thus they are more motivated to particpate spontaneously, taking a healthy sense of personal pride in the outcome as well.

What is unfortunate and what seems to necessitate this multigenerational faithfulness is not really “faithfulness” at all but the ongoing necessity for control. When you create a system that relies so heavily upon authoritarian rule that does not create an environment that encourages autonomy, one must compensate by always providing that authoritarian presence. But it is not natural and healthy for human beings to perform at this level of high performance and pressure on a chronic basis. Voddie Baucham has stated that if the US Marine Corps can produce soldiers that behave with immediate and unquestioned obedience, we should be able to achieve the same outcomes with our children. But what is notable about the Marine Corps is that they do have down time when they are off duty. Children who are raised in an environment where they are expected to conduct themselves like little soldiers have no down time. They don’t get passes for rest and relaxation. Families should not operate under anarchy, but is it necessary to operate a family like a military facility as some suggest and practice?

From Don and Joy Veinot’s “Who Will Be First In the Kingdom?”
Christian authority is not merely a circumstance of birth order or gender, which bestows a position of power in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ, who as God, is the only rightful heir of all “authority” (Matt.28:18) demonstrated by His sacrificial life on how Christian authority is to be attained and wielded. Authority is earned by sacrificial living. All of us are to focus on serving those around us. It also means that the higher one ascends to a position of leadership in the church, the more accountable they become to a larger number of people. Those who are truly leaders in a biblical sense live in glass houses, and everyone around them has Windex! It also means that those who follow do so because they are able to observe and trust those who lead (1 Thess. 1:5).

Hebrews 13:17 says:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (NASB)

The word rendered obey literally means to be persuaded. It does not mean to hear and unquestioningly comply. The word submit literally means yield. All of this is preceded by something said 10 verses earlier:
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, NASB)

All of this flows perfectly from what Jesus said in Mark 10:45. Remember or call to mind those servants who are leading you. Think about how they live and the way they “wear” their faith. You will know they are trustworthy when you observe the selfless lives they live. They have earned and continue earning that trust daily as they serve. Moreover, because of that, we are “persuaded” as persons who also are serving as we yield to their wisdom and not throwing unnecessary roadblocks in their path. This is admittedly a difficult concept. The world around us is still mostly ordered in a top-down structure. We in the Western world enjoy more political equality and freedom than most, but authoritarian leadership as a concept is not dead. Our political leaders may claim it is their desire to “serve the people,” but we mostly see them jockeying for positions of good-old-fashioned power. The Church has some of these same problems. Many people seem to desire to be freed from responsibility by being simply “told what to do.” It eliminates the need to have a personal relationship with God and to diligently practice biblical discernment. And although we are aware of the many true servant/leaders in the Church, there seems also to be no shortage of “leaders” who are more than happy to rule like little kings. This type of leader becomes the mediator for his followers, and the followers simply have to hear and obey. God becomes merely the “big stick” the leader uses to keep everyone in line.

First Time Obedience Part II: 

Unquestioned Obedience and Spiritualizing All Activities

Continuing on the topic of First Time Obedience
please make sure to read these previous posts HERE and HERE.

From Pages 110 - 111 of Voddie Baucham’s "Family Driven Faith”:

An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]

This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...

We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.

Because of the intense focus on perfectionism in many patriocentric homes, I’ve seen every issue of life treated with the same magnitude of a critical safety issue, another concern related to First Time Obedience (FTO). One mother shared with me how Gothard once talked about the importance of the color of a toothbrush that supposedly resulted in a whole family becoming ill. The person who bought the toothbrush was said to be in error because they didn’t stop to pray about what color to purchase, as somehow, this would have averted the illness by avoiding confusion of toothbrushes, thus transmitting some illness to a whole family. Some things in life are just banal and insignificant, and some unfortunate situations in life cannot be circumvented. Yet, with painstaking conviction, Bill Gothard shared this story of the critical significance of the right toothbrush to purchase. I can completely relate to this pressure, as there is a great deal of this kind of pressure in the Arminian leanings of the Word of Faith movement.

Though these types of messages mean to stress personal responsibility, for many, they do little more than foster fear. For example, I once believed that if I arrived at 5th and Main at 10:15 AM instead of 10 AM and missed witnessing to someone, they might not have heard the Gospel, would never have received Jesus as their Savior, and they as well as all of the lives they would have touched would somehow go to hell. (I don’t believe that bondage anymore. I’m just not that important, for one thing... A topic for another day) For me, “Gothard’s wisdom” about the significance of the color of the toothbrush that I pull off of the display at the dollar store fosters that same type of fear. It turns every activity into a sacramental one, so that everything has eternal and weighty significance. Nothing proves to be temporal, and it seems to rule out the power and working of the Holy Spirit, putting all of the burden, a burden of shame, on man.

Some parents respond to every event and task of the day as though it was as significant as a critical safety concern (though I do know some children who have a particular talent for putting themselves in jeopardy, though they are not the norm!). These children receive no room for error, and all matters of life become matters of weighty moral significance wherein absolute obedience must be demonstrated. For example, I know of one home where teenage girls must ask to use the restroom to relieve themselves in the middle of the day. And note that they have no physical ailments or problematic behavioral concerns, but their routine behaviors are so restricted that they are not even given that much personal autonomy. In that home, using the powder room without permission first becomes tantamount to lying, stealing or some other primary and obvious sin of deep moral concern.

I also know several mothers who viewed certain inherent personality traits in their children as sin, when in fact, they were just traits in personality and not moral issues. (Some were actually strengths and not even weaknesses, but they were traits that did not fit the desired paradigm.) Some families treated these traits as though they were moral shortcomings, using various types of punishment in order to reform the characters of their children. Some families decided not to treat them as moral failings, and those families are now grateful that they did not follow the advice of “experts” like Richard Fugatewho recommended physical correction for traits like inattention and forgetfulness. All those (known to me) who tried to “standardize” these God-given personality traits in order to eradicate them as sinful have all suffered serious and heartbreaking relationship problems with their now adult children. One now 20 year old left her home as soon as she finished her high school credits (at 18) through their homeschooling organization. Actually, getting out of the home has helped heal this young woman’s relationship with her family, but the whole situation is still far from ideal.

Another mother pointed out to me that many homeschooling experts do not differentiate between that which is a true Biblical mandate and that which is a matter of preference, and though this issue has been discussed here on this blog often, it does bear repeating. Even though we live in a world that would like to declare all things morally neutral does not mean that the answer to this tension requires that we reciprocate by raising ALL activities to a level of the utmost moral significance. Sacraments are set apart from other activities because they are holy and of greater importance than the rest. But some activities, in my opinion, are just insignificant and banal. (Sometimes a toothbrush is nothing more than a toothbrush that is merely a tool that serves a pragmatic purpose.) The skill of discernment does not develop by placing utmost significance upon every activity but it is learned through trial and error in concert with instruction. The Word tells us to add wisdom to our knowledge, and by requiring only obedience in all things, we deny children the opportunity to learn wisdom in a safe environment while under our care and supervision.

Rather than placing our attention on every banal activity like buying a toothbrush, we should rather be discerning about what things are important to God in the eternal sense. But patriocentricity and much of the patriarchal homeschooling movement has focused only on outward and temporal manifestations as a guaranteed indicator of spirituality and godliness because it becomes a works-based endeavor that thwarts the development of wisdom, replacing it with mimicking behavior and parroting sound bytes observed in model examples of what has been set up as a model example of holiness. We do not learn that type of skill and wisdom through first time perfection but rather through trial and error where we are given grace to practice and develop mastery. By requiring FTO and what appears to be the virtue of obedience, we are actually reducing all activity to bureaucratic insignificance. In a world where all matters prove to be of grave significance, we reduce everything to the lowest common denominator. When those things that are temporal and banal are raised to the level of a holy sacrament, we bring disgrace upon that which is truly eternal and holy.

I don’t think that this practice of making everything into some type of sacrament can be seen more clearly than in those matters that have some significance of gender. Every reference to gender seems to be given some kind of eternal spiritual significance, complete with sacramental descriptive modifiers of Biblical, virtuous, and the like. Marriage is said to be normative, and the modifier is written on car windows where “Just Married” would have been written.

External factors, marketed products and other outward shows of piety seem to impart some gender related holiness. Compliance with these sacraments of gender are not only used as outward measures of comparison and worthiness, they also seem to be marketed and promoted as a way of putting on holiness in such a way that they affect change on the inward man. I find it ironic that this becomes much like the purchase of indulgences that prompted Luther to hang his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenburg in 1517, protesting the buying and selling of holiness

First Time Obedience PART II Addendum: 

Spiritualizing All Activities (A personal perspective)

undefinedI am a little amused this week, as I did not even intend to post anything about First Time Obedience in reference to multigenerational faithfulness, the code word for conformity within patriocentricity. Then, a few people asked me questions about Voddie Baucham’s online audio teachings about this issue of expectations from small children, all along the lines of “the breaking” of children through discipline. When I went to listen to a new audio of Baucham that I hadn’t yet heard, I noted that the message in this discipline oriented presentation differed little in content from his multigenerational faithfulness messages, and all of these issues were also addressed in his book. And I intended to pull out and comment on sections that I had already marked in his book when I read it about two months ago or so. I figured one blog post would take care of this aspect of multigenerational faithfulness...

How can men make 200 year plans, when I cannot manage to plan a blog post and make it work out as I intend? ;-)

And though I have worked through so much of these emotions and made peace with these aspects of my past, I am still amazed at how deeply this material still pierces into my own personal experiences. In yesterday’s blog post, I noted many families that I observed and those I know well who treated personality traits in their children as faults of sin. One particular young lady who I once carted around on my hip in whose personality I delight represents only one of many of these homeschooled kids. My friend, a mother of 7, says that I get to claim 2 of her children as my own if anyone asks, and I proudly claim this one daughter who I dearly love, lip ring and all. And there is good reason for this – that being that I am also one of those whose bore certain character traits that were treated as sin and error. My dear friend's daughter is much like me (sans lip ring).

I shrink back from certain topics sometimes because I do not want my efforts to communicate information about spiritual abuse to be all about my own experience. That tendency can be a particular problem for only children like me, as we “only-s” (sp?) tend to see the world from only our limited perspective sometimes, just as a consequence of our own development. Things are more personal, intense and we CAN TEND to assume that our own perspective is more universal than it actually is. One consequence of that can be that we project what we feel and know on others, assuming that our own perspective can be the only perspective or the most valuable. So I guard against this projection, as I do not want efforts of educating others about spiritual abuse to become some kind of use of others, a type of exploitation. I don’t want people to become pawns in my own quest to find healing. But at this point, I think it is important to note my own experience, as it relates well to this topic, and I know of no better way to communicate it here.

I did not grow up in a patriocentric home. I was raised by parents who were products of the 1950s, and like the religious groups like Gothard and Vision Forum and the “Passionate Housewives,” there is a common denominator or “moral standard” there. There was a great deal of push to make my life fit that kind of mold as I grew up, coming of age in the early ‘80s. I would not say that my parents would be thrilled if I became Donna Reed, but I believe they desired my life to conform to the ideal standard of the fantasy that they held for themselves, circa 1958. They want me to look like them and be like them and love the same things that they do, and I can’t really fault them much for that at all. I wish I could have made this entirely true, as it would have made life so much easier for all of us. Unfortunately, after spending a great deal of my life pursuing that end, I have been painfully unsuccessful, but not for lack of desperately trying.

Without delving into a great amount of detail, we had some unfortunate experiences that put that ideal fantasy of what life should be like for me well out of reach. And what I find most significant is that I have a very uncommon temperament. Every personality test (like the Meyers-Briggs and Tim La Haye’s writings), spiritual gifting test (like were popular in the ‘80s and one like Willow Creek offered once) and vocational test (Strongs and Campbell) that I have taken put me in anywhere from 2% to 5% of the population. Every single one of these tests lists me as very uncommon. As a comparison, looking at vocational job-satisfaction scores, everyone in my family including my husband falls into a category that accounts for 40% of the population. And my childhood development really brought these obvious traits to bear for my parents. I presented with unique concerns that most other parents did not have with their children. And though my personal history is far more complicated, for our purposes, lets just say that unlike most kids who are like a peg that fits into 40% of the holes that a parent tries to nest them in (be that activities or social situations), I am like a square peg that will slide easily into only about 2 holes out of every 100.

Perhaps one of the most painful difficulties I’ve struggled with has been my penchant for speaking the truth. My parents taught me to be truthful, honest and wholehearted above all things, yet it is their natural tendency to be phlegmatic and to "not make waves." But this is their identity and how their personality manifests devotion to truth, not my own. So when I acted faithfully to the values that they gave me, how I manifest that tends to be their worst nightmare, a matter of their preference which they perceive as error on my behalf. Their tendency is to silently support the truth through actions that are not notable. My tendency in the service of the truth involves speaking that truth, defending that truth and advocating for those who have no voice. And rather than spending my energy while developing into an adult by “playing to my strengths,” all attention was spent punishing many of those strengths to eliminate them while requiring me to perform with perfection in those areas where my natural and inherent abilities were quite weak. My parents loved me and did much good, and they never intended to do harm. Yet some harm was done, mostly, I believe, out of ignorance and some of their own issues of shame that God had not yet healed in their own hearts.

Where does that leave me today? Well, at this stage in my life, I believe that God knew and chose with all perfection just whose womb to put me in and just the perfect parents to whom to entrust me. And all of the experiences that I have had, painful as they were, have been to serve His purpose in my life and for the benefit and blessing of others. Maybe it is just for such a time as this, that I can say that I know well what it is like to have demands placed upon me that I could not meet in any way, save to go through the motions in order to meet my parents expectations to avoid punishment and rejection of my true self. Maybe all of this was for such a time as this moment so that I could plead with parents to stop to consider that perhaps a character trait that you see in your child that troubles you might very well be God’s instrument of righteousness in your child’s life to be used and wielded as His weapon of righteousness, far above and beyond anything that you’ve ever imagined.

With the imagery of children as arrows in the hand of the Lord, consider that they are in His hand and not in your hand. The Lord of Hosts aims and shoots those arrows, perhaps at targets that you would protest or perhaps ones that may even bring you great shame in your own flesh. But He is their maker and He is the archer that sends your children to the place and calling that He intends for them. Though children are arrows in the hand of the Lord and He blesses the man whose quiver is indeed full, what is the chief purpose of an arrow? Is it to remain in the quiver only? Is it only an ornament for the man who bears the quiver on his back? Or is the chief purpose and end of an arrow to be at the ready in the quiver for only a time? And should that arrow not be designed well, not to accommodate the convenience of the quiver but to be fit as a most effective weapon, designed to accomplish His intended purpose with expert precision as its Sovereign Designer intended? And it so breaks my heart to realize that I had to leave my parents’ quiver in order to find the warriors who found me to be a most desirable and celebrated instrument, uniquely designed for uncommon targets to do good service in the hand of the Lord. My husband is chief among them who celebrates me as his wife, and I am grateful to him and those like him who celebrated the very things so many others despised.

My parents wanted to give God the best and to do the best job by preparing me, though they didn’t have all of the resources that they needed to avoid some of these pains, spending much energy trying to conform me into what they expected and what they preferred. That was all part of God’s sovereign plan to put me here in this moment to declare this message. I hope that for those who have an uncommon arrow and for the uncommon arrows themselves, that they would learn from my experience. Think about whether the quiver was made for the arrow or the arrow for the quiver or for the intended target. And consider celebrating your uncommon arrows as God’s precious, albeit frustrating, gifts to you. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man’s benefit. Systems to help you become a more effective parent should serve the goal of preparing your children to be dynamic, power-house Christians on fire for Jesus, hopefully above and beyond anything you could ask or think.

Consider that rather than desiring one day to look back to say “This child did precisely as I intended and I did well” that you might be better to say “Look what the Lord has done with this child. He has done exceedingly abundantly above all I could have ever asked or thought for His glory in a way that I never dreamed.”

In closing this post, I would also like to state that as a consequence of trying to conform to my parents standards and eventually abandoning what was a fantasy of idolatry for me, I did suffer something I deeply regret. I learned to be easily brainwashed by anyone who was like my parents or by anyone who occupied a position that seemed parental to me. I learned to sell out my mind for the greater good to any authority that I trusted, and particularly any authority that reminded me of my parents. If I could identify the worst and most terrible consequences of my all the experiences of my life related to what I learned by trying to conform by basically denying and even attempting to destroy who God created me to be, it would be this core of idolatrous self-hatred for identifying my identity in Christ as sinful.

Learning this process and wrongfully defining it as obedience to my parents has predisposed me to errors in judgement that have resulted in being molested and raped as a child (by one whom I identified as a trusted authority figure to whom I should submit) against whom I had no recourse. As an adult, it predisposed me to submitting myself to the unjust spiritual abusers and religious authorities in a very damaging, cultic Evangelical church that preached the Gospel and laid hands on the sick and operated in the gifts of the Spirit that I believed qualified them as trustworthy. For this reason, I believe that the costs of unquestioned submission and ideals like “First Time Obedience” do far more damage than good. It is convenient for parents who believe that they are acting in the best interest of their children, but I believe that trusting and naive young girls and women very much like me have reaped terrible consequences of this type of unqualified and demanded obedience.

Please consider this following technique of self-deprecation used as a tried, tested and true technique of thought reform. I believe that just as adults who are subjected to spiritual abuse suffer these consequences, I believe that these are very similar dynamics that I learned in my own home because I did not fit the expected norm. And I believe that this made the process of religious conversion in a Bible-based cult all the easier and more familiar for me, almost seeming to offer a solution to my primary problem: my perpetual failure to earn my parents acceptance. If I have lusted after anything in my life, surely nothing has compared to the idolatrous lust I’ve followed in seeking after my parents’ approval. And the quest to satisfy that lust has hurt me far more than any other factor in my life. My parents never intended this to be so, but they didn't understand that they were fostering idolatry in my heart. Surely they never would have done so if they had known. None of us knew.

Son of David, have mercy on me for having served them, my own lust for their acceptance and the wounds of my own heart. All I ever really desired was You and wholeness in You through your Atoning Blood. And I didn’t know any better. Please spare Your people this same pain. My heart is ever contrite before You, my Creator. Ever let Your strength be made perfect in my – Oh so many – weaknesses. Search me, know me, see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

From Biderman’s Chart of Coercion on the reFocus website:
Devaluing the Individual
  • Creates fear of freedom
  • Creates dependence upon captors
  • Creates feelings of helplessness
  • Develops lack of faith in individual capabilities

Abusive leaders are frequently uncannily able to pick out traits church members are proud of and to use those very traits against the members. Those with natural gifts in the areas of music may be told they are proud or puffed up or "anxious to be up front" if they want to use their talents and denied that opportunity. Those with discernment are called judgmental or critical, the merciful are lacking in holiness or good judgment, the peacemakers are reminded the Lord came to bring a sword, not peace. Sometimes efforts are made to convince members that they really are not gifted teachers or musically talented or prophetically inclined as they believed they were. When members begin to doubt the one or two special gifts they possess which they have always been sure were God-given, they begin to doubt everything else they have ever believed about themselves, to feel dependent upon church leaders and afraid to leave the group. ("If I've been wrong about even *that*, how can I ever trust myself to make right decisions ever again?").

Warning Signs:

Unwillingness to allow members to use their gifts. Establishing rigid boot camp-like requirements for the sake of proving commitment to the group before gifts may be exercised. Repeatedly criticizing natural giftedness by reminding members they must die to their natural gifts, that Paul, after all, said, "When I'm weak, I'm strong," and that they should expect God to use them in areas other than their areas of giftedness. Emphasizing helps or service to the group as a prerequisite to church ministry. This might take the form of requiring that anyone wanting to serve in any way first have the responsibility of cleaning toilets or cleaning the church for a specified time, that anyone wanting to sing in the worship band must first sing to the children in Sunday School, or that before exercising any gifts at all, members must demonstrate loyalty to the group by faithful attendance at all functions and such things as tithing. No consideration is given to the length of time a new member has been a Christian or to his age or station in life or his unique talents or abilities. The rules apply to everyone alike. This has the effect of reducing everyone to some kind of lowest common denominator where no one's gifts or natural abilities are valued or appreciated, where the individual is not cherished for the unique blessing he or she is to the body of Christ, where what is most highly valued is service, obedience, submission to authority, and performance without regard to gifts or abilities or, for that matter, individual limitations.
Consider that this is what you are doing to your children when you demand your way and your desires for their lives, even from the time they are small and seek only to run to you and hide themselves in the comfort under the shadow of your wings. No parent desires to reduce their children into automatons or two dimensional beings with no depth of character to leave them wounded and confused. But that it what happens to many of us. We were not made for the Sabbath rest but the Sabbath rest was made for us. Yet for many of us there is only striving to meet demands of perfection wherein there is no rest for the people of God. So many of these parenting paradigms are millstones, hung around the necks of little ones. And we weep.

A Different Perspective

We gave much cause for great hope. Today, within an hour, I read two new similar blog posts that describe aspects of this problem with multigenerational faithfulness from a different perspective. Please read these two posts for this broader perspective:

From "The Unconventional Approach" by Richard Sandlin:
You choose what you’re comfortable with. That’s the way to decapitate the foe that faces you. Never let anyone force you to go in their armor; you were not fitted for it, and it certainly does not fit you.

From "Giving our Children the Freedom to be Different ~ Grace in Parenting, Part 3" by Karen Campbell:
As I read these words, I realize how often I have been loath to extend grace to my children and have allowed my own tastes and opinions to be presented to them as a holy standard, when the truth is that God’s Word is the standard we ought to be pointing toward. How often I have even been tempted to put my own spin on Scripture in order to “prove” that my preference is the “right” one. And I have remembered the times when my first thought was “what would other people think about me, especially as a homeschooling mom, if my kid does x, y, or z.” It has caused me to repent of my own sin of loving myself more than I have loved God or my children.

First Time Obedience Part III: 

Poor Development of Analytical Thought and Problem-Solving Skills

Continuing the discussion of problems inherent in unquestioned obedience and "First Time Obedience" as a component of multigenerational faithfulness. Please refer to previous blog posts on the topic if you've not already read them.

From Page 110 - 111 of Voddie Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith”:
An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]
This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...
We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.

Understanding Critical Thinking

Critical thinking describes the ability to think and make good choices with maturity and purpose. It requires anticipating outcomes based upon the information that is automatically absorbed or sought out from one's environment, coordinating that information with experience, wrote knowledge, and one’s own emotions. Critical thinking (analytical problem-solving) exceeds merely knowing information, the ability to perform certain tasks or regurgitating information. It culminates in the demonstration of wisdom that draws on the whole host of these factors to produce sound and reliable judgement.

I believe very strongly that when people are placed in environments that are highly authoritarian and they are not afforded any opportunity for trial and error because of high demands of perfection, the development of critical thinking suffers profoundly. One in such an environment must always be dependent on another to tell them what to do and how to do things. God created us as creatures who are quite capable of mimicking and repeating things, but this is not the pinnacle of what He desires from us. The Word tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, that which we should pursue and desire. The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and we are to walk in wisdom of the Word, therefore we should be expected to know it. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds with the wisdom of the Word, being ever more transformed into the image of Jesus, the Mind of the Ages. We are instructed to have the mind of Christ. So the idea of being dependent upon another stands in stark contrast to the message of the “just do what you are told and do not ask any questions” mentality that is required of both children and of adults who find themselves on lower hierarchical levels as required by the concept of proper submission under multigenerational faithfulness.

Critical thinking is quite interesting. If you ever “got wise” about something , the expression usually references some process of failure. Critical thinking cannot be learned through observation only but must be practiced personally, just as watching a champion figure skater does not make one proficient at skating. Building the mind's muscle of wisdom comes about through exercise, not through observation. One must be engaged in critical thought to develop the skill of problem–solving. Skills do not improve without practice, and we all know that “practice makes perfect.” 

This is very true of critical thinking, as one must be engaged and deliberate about pursuing wisdom. It is not something easily found on one simple search like picking up a gallon of milk at the market. Practice to make perfect implies learning as a result of failures that build into a body of experience, a commodity that cannot be feigned or obtained in any other manner save by what many call “the school of hard knocks.” Perfection comes at a price, paid in hard knocks and “getting wise” through trial “by error” and, sometimes, “by fire.” All these terms suggest struggle and testing, bereft with suggestion of outcomes that are not sure to be positive.

Barbara at Mommy Life had this to say in her post entitled “Critical Thinking - Teaching Your Kids to Think for Themselves”:

During my homeschooling years, I found teaching critical thinking skills to be of utmost importance so that my kids could learn to question prevailing wisdom and think for themselves. I have no fear that thinking for themselves would cause them to leave their faith - and it's okay with me if they question it. What good is their faith if it's just my brainwashing? They must be able to take in other points of view and come to their own conclusions. If their faith is strong, it will survive.

Sage advice indeed.

A Nurse's Perspective

In my professional training and especially teaching critical thinking and problem-solving to nurses in the clinical setting, some considerations are far more important than others. Some basic skills which seem insignificant in isolation can be critical because they become foundational to other learning and become components of other, more advanced skills. These skills build upon others, with building being the operative concept. And other aspects of care prove essential and absolutely critical because error can immediately put the life of a patient in jeopardy. Certain practices and all standards of care are non-negotiable, but other practices can be matters of preference when they increase efficiency of the nurse and do not affect outcomes of the patient. Some of the little things don't really matter, so long as care is safe and proficient. Happy employees perform better, and their patients have faster healing and better outcomes when the nurses who care for them do not operate under chronic stress and frustration, too. The real skill that the good instructor and preceptor imparts is not necessarily the review of basic skills or even by demonstrating correct technique but a demonstration of what rules to drop low on the list of priorities in favor of others that are more critical. Sometimes following the obvious cut and dry standards can result in a bad outcome for your patient. Critical care nursing is anything but a black and white world.

Also, when demands run high (as they always do in healthcare), and when resources become limited, one must sacrifice perfection. The system forces you to prioritize, because clinical situations are volatile and unpredictable. I was taught how to make a bed so that the seams never rub against a patient’s skin which can actually lead to a bedsore in a debilitated client. A bedsore, particularly an infected one, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the harm to a patient, so this is not anything to ignore. I was also taught how to remove sheets from a bed with minimal agitation of the air so as to limit distribution of germs through the air. In an age of “superbugs” like MRSA, this is no trivial concern, either. However, when you have three patients, one is arresting, one has symptoms of decompensation and needs your attention, your highest priority cannot and definitely should not be the third patient's bed linen.

Mastery of proper priority setting does not come “first time,” even though the “stakes are high” in healthcare, often resulting in dramatic life or death consequences. But mastery comes only with experience and through actually working through complex clinical situations, and that takes time. To qualify as a good critical care nurse, that nurse really needs a bare minimum of at least 2 years of full-time experience in a challenging setting, and most hospitals require that nurses have a full year of experience in a non-critical setting before they will train them in critical care. You do not want an automaton nurse who cannot prioritize, knowing what important consideration to temporarily abandon in order to avert or attend to a more serious and volatile crisis. You need a nurse that can "seemingly disobey” one directive or delay following that directive when another more 'serious consideration threatens life and limb.

Examples of the Importance of Critical Thinking

I could also offer many examples where delaying orders or failing to follow orders as written could have resulted in more harm to a patient, another consideration that give me cause to protest the "do it and do it now" mentality. Sometimes this can be the worst advice. Sometimes waiting on test results before following through on a medical order can result in avoiding harm or providing benefit to a patient (like holding a dose of Gentamycin for an hour or two, an antibiotic toxic to the kidneys to wait to check on kidney function results when this is a matter of concern). But I also have freedom to do things like this in a clinical setting, often because I've established a relationship of trust with the physicians who rely on my problem-solving to helpthem achieve the best outcome for the patient.

This also makes me think of a scene in one of my favorite films, "It's a Wonderful Life." Young George Bailey notes that old Mr. Gower the druggist has accidentally put poison in capsules that he has been asked to deliver to a family of sick children. He delays delivery of the capsules, attempting to get some advice from his father first who he cannot get to talk with to help him with advice. George ends up returning to the drug store, but by then, he has the confidence to bring the error to old Mr. Gower's attention. George's delay saved a family full of children from accidental poisoning and we learn later in the film that it also saves Mr. Gower's career. Critical thinking thrives in an atmosphere of trust.

Both of these examples of critical thought within a relationship of trust bring attention to another important component of First Time Obedience (FTO): a pervasive assumption of pessimism and anticipation of failure. When there is no atmosphere of trust in those with whom you interact, or when there is no trust or confidence in your children, that outlook may very well necessitate an authoritarian approach. You do not trust the judgement of a "tool" that you use to fulfill a perfunctory purpose, and patriocentricity does objectify women and children who are viewed as tools who serve the patriarch's vision.

If a husband lacks respect for his wife and does not view her as capable of making sound decisions and exercising sound judgement, can he really tolerate disobedience from her? For the sake of the family, if he has no trust in her, he will feel compelled to issue orders to be followed without question. Autonomy without trust would be highly inappropriate. There will also be no opportunity for the building of trust there if the wife is given no opportunity to demonstrate worthiness of that trust. The same is true of children.


A well-trained child with the ability to think analytically will not require a parent to micro-manage them, and a relationship that grows in trust will not even assume the need for FTO. The distinction here is quite subtle. FTO assumes and anticipates a focus and an expectation of failure, seeming to say “They better get this right,” implying that they will likely get it wrong. It comes from a place of pessimism, a place of viewing others as “one rung down on the ladder” in ability. Quite often, people will live up to your expectations of them, and this approach destroys trust and confidence on a deeper level. But when there is a high view of respect and trust of someone, seeking to encourage them and coaching them from a presumption of their success and an overarching confidence in their ability to grow and prosper, there is no need for FTO. 

There is no failure presumed beforehand. Failures become a part of learning and are handled with loving grace. That does not mean to imply that failures are desirable outcomes, but that kid who meets with FTO realized that expectations of them are low enough that they must be reminded of consequences if not threatened with them. For some kids that may be necessary, but for many, this fosters fear. Kids pick up on that, particularly the younger ones. How can a kid learn to problem solve if there is no opportunity to solve anything themselves and if all the outcomes as well as the
processes have been predetermined?

I also found another interesting quote about critical thinking and fostering this in children, though it is from a source that is secular. I think it’s well worth considering.

What can we do? 
I don’t know of any specific research on the subject. So what follows is just my best guess... 
If we spot errors, we need to discuss them with our kids. We need to teach our kids that books and other media—even adult authorities—can make mistakes.  
And most of all, our kids need positive reinforcement for thinking critically, for being logical, and for offering unconventional solutions to problems. Before we correct a child’s wrong answer, we should reflect on whether or not it really is wrong.
But as we can infer from this advice, the adult who hopes to foster critical thinking must have a degree of trust in the child, but they must also be willing to demonstrate a certain degree of transparency and some willingness to admit fault to the child. And I don't know that the patriocentrists find that to be acceptable behavior. The grid of hierarchy does not readily allow for such transparency.

First Time Obedience Part IV: 

Theological Concerns

Examining a few of the theological concerns of First Time Obedience and unquestioned submission, a necessary and essential component of multigenerational faithfulness.

From Pages 110 - 111 of Voddie Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith”:
An even tougher lesson to learn is the principle of first-time obedience... [Baucham offers an example of counting to three for compliance, suspending punishment until the counting concludes at three as inappropriate permissiveness.]

This is a difficult principle to understand because we overlook the punishment our sins deserve and ultimately received in the cross of Christ (or will receive during an eternity separated from God in hell). However, whether God smites us immediately as He did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) or appears to let it slide, we can rest assured that every sin receives just recompense (Romans 3:21-26). Thus, in the economy of God every act of disobedience is ultimately punished whether we see it immediately or not. That is why it is important to teach our children that every instruction is to be obeyed right away. As they get older, they may be allowed to enter into discussion about our instructions, but that discussion should follow an act of obedience, not determine whether or not they are convinced of our position...

We do not want our children to do what we say with conditions attached. We want them to obey, period. Learning not to repeat ourselves, not to yell, not to call the offending child by all three of his or her names, but to speak in clear, level tones and follow through... No, our children are not perfect, but they understand what obedience is and fully expect a consequence if they fall short of doing what they are told when they are told to do it.
 Voddie Baucham on Corporal Punishment and Shyness in a Young Child from Under Much Grace on Vimeo.

Dr. Baucham goes to some length to tell us that God does not necessarily punish us right away for all sins, pointing out that the Absolute and Perfect Judge of the universe sometimes finds what we can only assume to be perfect reasoning for delaying punishment. Might that be for training us in discernment and adding to our knowledge, wisdom? Might He delay punishment in order to teach us of His faithfulness regardless of our performance so that we might know on a personal level that when we are forgiven much, we love much?

Maybe the chief purpose and end of living is much greater than mindless or coerced obedience, with love and trust as the focus from which joyful obedience flows without any concerns about fear of failure. Maybe the chief purpose and end of living is not even perfection. There’s an old cliche about life being about the journey and not necessarily about the destination. Though I think Baucham would agree that building and developing of our character serves as a paramount destination in life, for a great deal of our living and the circumstances of our lives focus not so much in accomplishment but in God’s using of those circumstances to change us. And sometimes this process reveals to us that our measures of accomplishment don’t ever match God’s measures and purposes at all. Is the grand measure of our success as parents weighed by obedience alone? One might raise creation’s most obedient child, yet they may be grossly lacking in character, ability, tenacity, confidence, etc... We may have a raised a perpetual child and not a man or woman. Yet so much patriocentric stock is placed in the obedience of the submission doctrines because of the overt focus on themes of authority, and children are oft raised to be little more than grown and undiscerning children.

I also do not understand this aspect of Baucham’s statement. He rightly explains that God very often chooses to withhold immediate consequences and the ramifications of our actions from us. And though Baucham does not point this out, we know that along with the negative, God also withholds some of the rewards and benefits of our successes. Baucham establishes that God’s world does not operate as an instant, “add water and stir” kind of world for anyone. Yet due to some logical leap that I do not understand and for reasons that he does not detail, Baucham uses God’s example of delaying consequences to declare that we should not conform to our Heavenly Father’s example. We should seek to be unlike Him in this respect. I don’t understand his reasoning or lack thereof. Should we not as parents seek to be like our perfect heavenly Father? The only reason that I can identify that Baucham offers in support of his preference for First Time Obedience (FTO) is his own personal preference. The examples that he draws from Scripture and the arguments that he presents in support of his premise actually speak against FTO. Unlike the perfect King of the Universe, Baucham expects the fallible parent to demand and obtain immediate obedience, at the risk of immediate punishment.

I find this whole passage as illogical as it can be and a completely unsupported argument, like some kind of emperor’s new clothes. I can imagine that Baucham would argue his complete departure from logic as my missing his point. But to be honest and clear, his justification demonstrates some huge flaws and holes that a couple of my friends would say could accommodate a dump truck. There is no argument about how we need to count the cost so as to not tread carelessly upon the Precious Blood of Jesus in our worldliness and flesh. There is no stressing of us to be holy because Jesus called us to be holy like Him. There is no sermon of how God surrendered to us His very best, even to the point of delivering His own Son up unto death, even the death of the Cross, so we should be ever more cognizant of the Price paid for us. Our living should then reflect our reverence and we should live with the ever present honor for exactly what Christ did for us by laying down His own life in our stead. That is markedly absent from Baucham’s directive. The only argument offered states that because God is gracious, holy and tolerant, we should be perfectionists with very low tolerance for failure, demanding of our children what God does not even demand of us. We should require even higher demands than God requires of us, and it is true because Baucham says so.

His argument makes no logical sense, but it certainly reveals his personal preferences and those things about himself which he apparently disdains: imperfection. And he unknowingly gives us a window into the source of his own, unresolved shame through the heavy degree of personal, emotional and inappropriate projection of his own issues onto every Christian. This is not a Gospel message but one of works-based salvation, completely missing the whole point of unmerited favor offered to us precisely BECAUSE we cannot attain perfection.Through his own projection, he demonstrates the primary faults in patriocentricity: gross lack of grace, brittle intolerance for personal failure due to rigid legalistic standards of performance (a works-based salvation), miserable perfectionism as a measure of piety, and the self-centeredness of the system for those who find themselves in the privileged position at the top of the hierarchy.

Molly Aley points this out in her blog entry concerning FTO, and I encourage you to read her entry on the subject. She also comes to many of these same conclusions about the discrepancies that I find in this section of Baucham’s book: 
God did not require physical punishment before receiving their repentance. Instead, he pleaded with them to change their ways so as to avoid the consequences that He did not want them to experience. He did not demand first-time obedience. In fact, when Yahweh pleaded with Israel above to reform, they were already pretty far gone (see Isaiah 1:2-4, 21-23 for a few details).So even under the pale of the demanding performance-oriented Old Covenant Law, God still did not always parent the way the first-time-obedience-or-get-spanked teachers say is God’s way. It is wise to seek ways to teach our children to follow God’s good paths. But in so doing, it’s not wise to make authoritative statements about how God wants us to do that, when God Himself did not do it that way with His own children.
I addressed some of this in the previous post concerning Dr. Baucham’s statement about shyness and fear in a two year old, describing in audio sermons how he will stand and wait until parents compel their children to greet him in a manner he deems appropriate. He does not make the case in his book, but he does so in several audio offerings on child discipline and multigenerational faithfulness available online. I find this behavior to be an inappropriate expectation to set for most small children of 2 years of age. In fact, I know many adults that would be quite intimidated to greet Dr. Baucham in such a manner.

In summary, I would like to reiterate that in a previous blog post discussing “Family Driven Faith,” I noted the very narrow scope of Dr. Baucham’s standard of tolerance. I find his style far too authoritarian and too manipulative to be appropriate for that of a pastor. In reviewing these passages of Baucham’s book again with my husband and with several mothers who I respect and trust, they all commented on the brazen assurance with which he speaks, offering no grace or respect for any perspective that differs from his own. This is particularly notable to me in the last paragraph in the above quote wherein Baucham seems to me to reflect his own personal shortcomings and struggles with anger and intolerance, wrongly projecting them as universal problems of parenting. Everyone I spoke with found this quite offensive. Baucham defines his opinions as THE Biblical models, the most notable example being how his Family Integrated Church model serves as the “most Biblical” model, a thinly veiled condemnation of those who do not share his preferences and convictions. But this is quite typical of how those in patriocentricity relate to all those outside of their system, a practice of idolatry where the father within the home serves as the center of all activity. This is a practice of the pagan Roman paterfamilias and not a depiction of the Gospel.

From "Putting Voddie Baucham's Family Driven Faith Into Perspective": 
Because the authoritative approach and the numerous fallacies Baucham uses to support his views frustrate me, they impeded my progress through the material...

I recognize this and see Baucham playing out this dilemma and its consequences in his book, sometimes projecting his perspective onto others using a misleading and authoritative approach...

Voddie Baucham, like Doug Phillips, has a great deal to offer the church, but his personal and extra-biblical preferences work like potent poison in practice for a great many people who found the full scope of these teachings to be devastating. Baucham’s book misleads, and though it contains many good elements, it uses bad logic and manipulation to force mere opinions and preferences as indisputable facts with either absent or unsatisfying “proven evidence.”

If groups like Gothard require such a high level of submission and the rejection of reasonable, rational credulity as a “leap of faith” as a demonstration of one’s virtue and as a means of accumulating grace as some meritorious benefit that one earns and accumulates for spiritual potency, is it all that unreasonable to understand multigenerational faithfulness any differently when addressing obedience in children? This gnostic view of higher living through works-based performance can only be paternalistic, and it necessitates authoritarian control across the lifespan. How could we expect otherwise from a group of people who believe that it is necessary not only to teach one’s children how to plan strategically with wisdom but to extend that into some type of ordering the events of life of one’s grown children through a 200 year plan? 

So much depends upon the appeal of the largely nebulous phrase of “multigenerational faithfulness,” because what it actually represents is a collectivistic system that systematically robs the soul of transcendence in Christ. It is a semi-Pelagian working of one’s way back to Adam through the catalyst of Jesus Christ by merely looking obedient based upon external and temporal factors. The system and those in it measure one’s heart by outward performance and appearance which can easily be feigned for the gaining of status, displacing the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer with works-based performance. Followers learn to chase the outward signs of holiness through a system of positive and negative reinforcement, and true holiness through the grace of Christ Jesus stands condemned as antinomianism.

The promoters of this doctrine of multigenerational faithfulness (who borrowed the term from someone else) hope that you will pay no attention to the men behind the curtain marked as “Biblical” so as to not pull it back to find the mechanistic workings of an authoritarian system. It is yet just another of man’s attempts to pull himself up by his bootstraps through yet another a works-based religion that claims “all things Biblical” as a disclaimer. Even the name of and reference to Jesus Christ often proves to be notably absent.
. .

RC Sproul, Jr’s Take on Multigenerational Faithfulness:

 “When You Rise Up”

Before closing this discussion of multigenerational faithfulness, I would like to comment on RC, Jr’s book -- what he calls his “covenantal approach to homeschooling.” When searching online for the term, this book figures high on the list.

From a book excerpt on 

"While almost all Christian parents would agree with that statement, when the chalk meets the chalkboard, they live as if they care more about their children chalking up achievements and getting into a good college than cultivating humble obedience to God and encouraging a long-term vision of multi-generational faithfulness in their future families."

For many years, and for what I understand to pre-date the Bristol Virginia/Tennessee compound days, my husband and I read RC, Jr’s materials. From time to time, I would read encouraging things RC had written to my homeschooling mom friends to encourage them, but since my husband and I were busy battling illness and waiting on providence for the opportunity to homeschool our own kids, we glossed over most of RC’s homeschooling content. But we did read quite a bit of his material and listened to tapes and such. We were certainly not strangers to RC, Jr’s writings at all.

When I started reading “When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling,” RC, Jr’s contribution to multigenerational faithfulness, I was shocked to discover that he now sounds to me like a "brave new ersatz theonomist," the type of theonomist that I don’t think that RJ Rushdoonywould agree was an actual theonomist. After Rousas Rushdoony’s passing, it seems that all sorts of people popped up with all sorts of new beliefs that I’d never associated or read in the writings of theonomy before. (Some people tell me that he spent a great deal of time before he died correcting those who made theonomy into something like a new religion of the Judaizers.) A brand new legalistic theonomist have appeared over the past 10 years or so, people that John Robbins named “ersatz Evangelicals,” I think because he didn’t even want to call some of these folks Calvinists. 

This type of "schtick" caught me by surprise, as RC seems to be reading right out of the Doug Phillips' playbook. Prior to 2000 or so, I did not note that type of aberrancy in RC, Jr.'s work, but then, I was not reading the homeschooling content closely at all and saw what I wanted to see. I ask the same question about RC that I have about many theonomists and the patriocentrists: “Were they proclaiming this same message of works all along, were they this far off the mark, or was I just oblivious to it prior to circa 1998 - 2001 (when I first noticed these leaders becoming increasingly aberrant)?” The answer seems to be that these matters were a unique mix of all of these factors, partly owing to my own ignorance or avoidance, but partly due to a change among these men after Rushdoony’s journey to his eternal reward.

Live, learn and get wise.

One thing that I did appreciate at a few points in the book and something I’ve loved in RC, Jr’s writings has been his appreciation for embracing the Cross and embracing one’s own cross with joy and peace. I did rejoice to read this quote: “They need to know that the Jesus they serve is already sovereign, so that if bad guys come, it is only because the one Good Guy ordained it for our good and for his glory” (pg 104). He always had a good grasp of this concept, I thought, and he has a very poetic way of communicating this concept in a way that has always been edifying for me. It never had the “submit, suffer, and die if you have to” quality that the Shepherding and Submission Doctrines do in a way that produces shame.

But I was terribly disappointed to read what I would call standard Vision Forum fare throughout the rest of the book. It has the RC, Jr. rambling quality which my husband thinks is a part of his charm. I only wish that the content were more charming. RC builds strawman after strawman to perpetuate the idea of separatism and elitism throughout the book, poorly characterizing anyone who falls outside of his increasingly narrowing group of acceptable Christians. I’m also very disappointed in his fear mongering, and I wonder if that was also something always present in his writings that I failed to notice because I either identified with it too much or because I didn’t want to recognize it. 

He has a penchant for drama, dread and controversy. He says that “homeschoolers lack a fitting dread that they might be conformed to this world" (pg 100). Why dread something over which we should have dominion? I’m to hate the world and fear God. Voddie Baucham did say something that made my heart sing in a sermon on multigenerational faithfulness that counters this idea of RC’s . Voddie said that he wants the kind of kids that, when his kids get awake in the morning, it makes the devil tremble because they are such effective Christians. That’s real dominion and a point where I agree with Baucham. I think that the whole point of homeschooling is living so that we should have no need to have any dread of the world at all, because it is the world that should dread the Living God in us. (Maybe RC and Voddie can have chat about that issue sometime?)

But what I found most disturbing about this book was a vignette of a family of eight that RC discusses who has a nine year old daughter that cannot read. When I first learned of homeschooling in the late 70s, I thought it was amazing how much better the academic training a child could receive from a mother with a vested interest in the outcome. And I have had friends who struggled with children with learning disabilities. I have helped these friends work with their children, and I’ve worked with kids in the Christian school where I volunteered, helping with these very issues. So I am not terribly stressed about a 9 year old that cannot read. 

These families I know worked and sought out every resource, screening their kids for problems and trying different alternatives such as trying private school for a year, considering that their child might do better with a different teacher in a different setting. Vision problems and physical problems were ruled out as a deterrent factor. And I don’t know that this was not the case with the family that RC describes in his book, but he certainly made no effort to point out what the family did one way or the other. That could be an oversight (that RC did not make a point to explain that the family had worked hard and done all they could do to rule out an organic problem which explains why their nine year old can't read), but one that I find a bit disturbing, setting a standard that this is acceptable (that a 9 year old homeschooled girl can't read). But this I find even more troubling:

From Pages 110 - 112:

The mother made a confession to me. She told me, “You know, my nine-year-old daughter doesn’t know how to read.” Now here is a good test to see how much baggage you are carrying around. Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you thinking, “Mercy, what would the school superintendent say if he knew?” My response was a cautious, “Really?” But my friend went on to explain, “She doesn’t know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to the potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds.” Now I saw her rightly, as an overachiever. If she didn’t know how to read, but did know all the Looney Tunes characters, that would be a problem. But here is a young girl being trained to be a keeper at home. Do I want her to read? Of course I do, as does her mother. I want her to read to equip her to learn the Three Gs. [From earlier in the book, he notes the "Three Gs": Who is God? What has God done? What does God require?]But this little girl was learning what God requires, to be a help in the family business, with a focus on tending the garden.

I’m not suggesting that the goal is to have ignorant daughters. I am, however, arguing that we are to train them to be keepers at home. These two are not equivalent. Though we aren’t given many details we know that both Priscilla and Aquila had a part in the education of Apollos. I’m impressed with Priscilla, as I am with my own wife. She is rather theologically astute... My point is that that brilliance isn’t what validates her as a person. It’s a good thing, a glorious thing, and an appropriate thing. But it’s like the general principle we’ve already covered. Would I rather be married to a godly woman who was comparatively ignorant, or a wicked person who was terribly bright? Who would make a better wife and mother, someone who doesn’t know infra- from supralapsarianism, but does know which side is up on a diaper, or a woman about to defend her dissertation on the eschatology of John Gill at Cambridge but one who thinks children are unpleasant? It’s no contest, is it? Naturally we want everything. We want all the virtues to the highest degree. But virtues come in different shades and colors in different circumstances.

I don’t understand why the patriocentrists work so hard at making reading and caring for a home and children a life long and an either-or dichotomy. RC tells us that it doesn’t matter if your kid can read, so long as they meet the requirements of a good wife and mother. It isn't called home-keeping-schooling. It's called homeschooling. Sproul and his soulmates suggest over and over that if a young woman knows the meaning of fifty cent words that she may not have enough room in her brain to adequately put a diaper on a baby or will be unable to be a proficient and loving mother to her children. And God forbid that she not be able to make a pie! What makes academic excellence and being proficient at keeping the home mutually exclusive? This I don’t understand.

The laws of our land require that children receive adequate basic schooling, and when the Christian school and homeschooling movements came about, it was a concerted goal as a Christian virtue to show the world that we could do what they could do – and do it better. And I don't think it's any kind of good Christian witness at all to say "Well, they wouldn't get any better of an education in public school, and I want my children to have good character." But this is not an excuse for a permissive attitude when our kids can't read, and certainly not when it is written about in a book that sets a standard for a "covenantal vision." As Christians, we used to seek to set a higher standard of academic excellence, because that’s what I thought taking dominion was all about. That’s what I heard John Holt and Raymond and Dorothy Moore speak about, and I even heard it from Kevin Leman. But I find less and less of this spirit of dominion in homeschooling with the advent of the"movement homeschooling gender sacraments." And I suppose it’s a great blessing that Rushdoony and the Moores are no longer with us, because I believe they would be (more) heartsick. (Addendum note: HERE is the blog post wherein RC calls himself a "Movement Homeschooler," and thatmom Karen Campbell's response can be found HERE.)

So concludes my review of multigenerational faithfulness, and I just felt that I would be remiss if I did not bring attention to this disturbing passage and growing trend among far too many groups of homeschoolers. This is the kind of example that threatens to ruin homeschooling for everyone.


"Charis" offered this additional perspective in response to this quote from RC Sproul, Jr.s book, and I wanted to include it here as well.

From "Emotional Incest" on the blog entitled "A Wife's Submission":

This little 9 year old child was having the weight of the household put upon her shoulders. She’s a child. How is this any different than what alcoholic parents do to their children? shifting way too much adult responsibility onto their children and robbing them of their childhood? Its emotional incest. 
The most disturbing thing to me about the quote is the apparent blindness to the “problem in paradise”. This situation is PRAISED rather than recognized as a serious chronic boundary violation against this little girl.
Read the entire post HERE.

This is precisely one of my greatest concerns about the Vision Forum paradigm and theShepherding/Discipleship/Submission Doctrines that prompted me to create the blog entitled"Overcoming Botkin Syndrome." I believe that these folks have just slapped a snappy, new title on serious family dysfunction that harms children and bitterly breaks hearts, making something very evil out to be God's ideal and "Biblical."

Thoughts on Fear-Based Obedience:

It is Hollow and not Holy

I love these Sandlins... And as I wind up the discussion of multigenerational faithfulness, I wanted to bring attention to what Pastor Andrew Sandlin wrote to me about this discussion as well as a new entry that his father, Pastor Richard Sandlin, just posted on his blog today.

Regarding following the New Covenant by virtue of living under the legalism of the Old Covenant standards:
"Historically the church has seen Jesus as the True Seed of Abraham, and all those united to Him in faith are heirs of the Abrahamic promises (Gal. 3). While those promises include, in general, glorious pledges to our children, one of the errors of the modern patriarchy movement is to turn those promises into a technique of works-righteousness in which parental law-keeping (defined as rule adherence) secures multi-generational blessings. But for Moses, at the heart of the law is the Gospel, and it is this Gospel that seems tragically absent from much patriarchal ideology."
personal communication, 2Feb09

And from 
"False Fear"on the "Sandlin Says" blog :

“They feared the Lord, and served their own gods.” This record is as old as the Bible, but it is as new as today. These ancient people have kin among us in our age. There is at this present time, a generation of professing Christians who say they fear the one true God, but serve another.

Something is tragically wrong when a person can divorce their fear of God from their obedience to God. We are told in the Scriptures to “...fear the Lord...and obey his voice...” It is plain to see, these ancients, along with their modern day contemporaries, have a counterfeit fear. Notice that all the wrong lies in the fear itself. If you’re wrong on the fear, then you’re wrong on everything else.

You can always spot a person with a false fear of God. Yes, they pay Him outward respect, and give Him formal recognition, but that is as far as it goes. This kind of fear is skin courtesy. There is no beating heart behind it. It’s hollow—not holy. These kinds of people give God a passing nod on their way to do something they feel is better.

The Irish have a good saying for a person when they speak without their heart being in it, “He speaks from the teeth out.”

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