Recently someone sent me an e-mail taking exception to the first page of my essay on Tenets 22 & 23, particularly to what I wrote about the Editor’s Note that appears on the VF Web page. Here is my response to that person.
Let’s take the editors note apart sentence-by-sentence.
1. Central to the crisis of this era is the systematic attack on the timeless truths of biblical patriarchy.
It appears that Vision Forum considers any disagreement with their position an attack. What about honest and sincere disagreement? For example, [Baptist pastors, X & Y] disagree with me regarding baptism (who, how, and why). When we discuss this topic are we attacking each other? Are we assailing each other with unfriendly or bitter words? Certainly not. So right from the outset VF assumes an adversarial and somewhat hostile position against all those who disagree with them.
The authors have not yet proven that their definition of patriarchy is true much less that it is biblical. This is begging the question. In addition, who has determined that their view of patriarchy is “timeless”? They have not shown that the Old Testament narratives which describe the patriarchal society of the ancient Near East are prescriptive for all times and cultures. In my essay I spend quite a bit of time presenting the case that narrative portions of the Old Testament, particularly those in the Pentateuch, must be very carefully studied before they can be considered as presenting a pattern of conduct for New Testament believers.
2. We emphasize the importance of biblical patriarchy. . .because it is being actively attacked by unbelievers and professing Christians alike.
What do they mean when they say “professing Christians”? Are these actual individuals who have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? If so then VF continues their assault on those who disagree with them by labeling such disagreement as an attack. For the second time they make it clear there is no room for disagreement.
3. Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.
All persons who hold to the egalitarian view of the role of women, particularly in the church, are NOT feminists. For example, conservative theologian Roger Nicole, a Baptist considered an expert in Calvinism and regarded as one of the preeminent theologians in America, is a Christian Egalitarian and also a Biblical Inerrantist. He recognizes that biblical egalitarianism is still viewed by many as inconsistent with biblical inerrancy, although he disagrees. He writes that “the matter of the place of women in the home, in society, and in the church is not an issue that can be conclusively determined by a few apparently restrictive passages that are often advanced by those who think that subordination represents God’s will for women.
Are militant feminists also egalitarian? Yes. But not all egalitarians are militant feminist. The authors are making the logical error called fallacy of composition. And the placement of this sentence immediately after #2 subtly connects egalitarian feminism with those Christians who dispute VF’s position. The implication is being made that if a professed believer rejects “biblical patriarchy” they must have been seduced by egalitarian feminism.
4. …the church should proclaim the Gospel-centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy …
So then, if a local church does not endorse and teach “biblical patriarchy” does that mean it is not part of the church universal, the Bride of Christ? If I don’t affirm and proclaim VF’s “biblical patriarchy” does that mean I am not part of the church?
We need to very clear what the gospel is. It is not biblical patriarchy. The Apostle Paul gives us the simplest definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1 - 4:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Even assuming VF’s assertion that their definition of patriarchy is correct and that it is a biblical principle, that does not make it part of the gospel. Denying the gospel as stated by Paul is to bring God’s eternal, judgmental, wrath upon me. Denying the Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy will not incur God’s eternal judgment. VF would appear to be making the very mistake the Galatian Christians were — adding conduct (law!) to grace.
5. …as an essential element of God’s ordained pattern ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions.
The first sentence in part 1.B of my paper reads: “The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy” cannot be examined apart from a basic understanding of the underlying hermeneutical system known as theonomy or Christian Reconstructionism as employed by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum.
The first sentence in part 1.B.i is: “Theonomy is the view that the Old Testament Law of Moses is binding upon all people, Christians and non-Christians, individuals, institutions, and nations, in its general principles and in all of its details, because it is a perfect expression of the moral will of God.”
Reference #5 quite clearly establishes VF’s hermeneutical system: Christian Reconstructionism.
You are quite correct that the editors did not explicitly say “disagreeing with us makes you an egalitarian feminist.” But they unmistakably maintain that if a professing Christian “attacks” patriarchy as they define it (i.e., disagrees with them) that Christian must have been seduced by egalitarian feminism and believes false doctrine.
I cannot stress this point strong enough: believing in the importance of the family structure as carefully laid out in the New Testament is not synonymous with VF’s view as they detail it.
Yes, I believe my understanding of much of scripture is correct. I certainly wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t. But I am quite willing to change that belief if I am clearly shown from Scripture that I was mistaken. But here is the difference between Vision Forum and me. I do not make the rather grandiose claims that VF does as to the absolute certainly of their position. Earlier I said Jonathan and I disagree about baptism. We have had numerous discussions about it and we both maintain that our positions are correct. But neither of us says the other has been seduced by false doctrine. I certainly do not say that Jonathan, because he does not agree with me, is systematically attacking a timeless biblical truth.
Vision Forum gives no quarter to those who disagree with them.
Now, as to your last comment about my statement, “VF is particularly active in the home schooling movement, although it must be stressed that only a minority of families who home school would support or actively endorse the often extreme positions of VF.”
You said: “Unless you took a survey, it seems to simply be a slanderous assumption.”
The statement is most certainly not slanderous. It could be wrong, but it is no more slanderous than me saying, “Only a minority of families in Wilson speak fluent German.” However, I have talked to families who currently home school, who home schooled in the past, and who intend to home school. Some had never heard of Vision Forum, others had and rejected their views. In addition, I have personally communicated with well-known individuals throughout the country — people who have written books about families and home schooling and who speak at national conferences — and they have agreed with my statement. Vision Forum, and those who actively support them such as James and Stacy McDonald do not represent the majority of Christian homeschoolers
I see well the value of home schooling, although I do not believe scripture anywhere commands it as the only option. The views of Vision Forum, not just as regards sons and daughters, but the role of Old Testament law in the lives of believers today, is extreme and quite frankly worrisome.