I’m still somewhat amazed that no one who supports the Vision Forum “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” has made a serious rebuttal to what I’ve written. Either VF supporters have not found my blog or they have chosen not to respond. Are my arguments so convincing that they are unable to refute them? I may be a bit egotistical – – but not that much.
Vision Forum appears to be shutting down everything in the wake of Doug Phillips’ resignation. Unfortunately, the damage inflicted by VF’s extreme positions on patriarchy, husband/wife relationships, father/children relationships, and their errant application of Old Testament theocratic civil law to society and Christian families will survive.
Theonomy and Christian Reconstructionism still remains and those advocating it will continue to be active. Eschewing meaningful dialogue with those who disagree with them, and too often resorting to misrepresentations of opposing viewpoint, is an unfortunate characteristic of those who embrace this theology.
Because so many churches that are patriocentric and teach a theonomic approach to scripture call themselves Calvinistic, Reformed, Covenantal, or Prebyterian I find that I must often explain how most Reformed churches reject the interpretation and application of the Old Testament advanced by Vision Forum and those within the CR camp.
I’ve completed my second essay on Vision Forum’s Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy. This paper deals primarily with Tenets 16 through 21 that detail VF’s position on education and a bit on family-integrated church. I also spend more time explaining how theonomy impacts the entire VF approach and show how Greg Bahnsen and R. J. Rushdoony have influenced VF.
Click on Part 2: Vision Forum’s... at the top of the page to see how to download the PDF.
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.
Tenets 16 – 18 cover the education and training of children. Tenet 16 specifically admonishes parents not to send their children to public schools since, according to VF, education is not a God-ordained function of civil government.
I am now working on a lengthy response to these three tenets building upon what I previously wrote on Tenets 22 & 23.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not opposed to home schooling. What I am opposed to is VF’s assertion that it is a sin to send children to a public school. (I am not certain of their opinion on Christian schools.)
In Part 1 I cited this quote by Voddie Baucham: “Why would He [God] give so much attention to the well-being of young women under the Old Covenant but abandon them to laissez-faire fathers under the New? This is inconceivable.” I commented on his reasoning which I found a bit unusual for a Baptist. I then said I felt he made logical errors; I want to explore one of those.
Let we take his statement apart piece-by-piece, changing it from a question to a series of propositions.
1. God gave much attention in the Old Testament to the well-being of daughters.
2. God did not abandon his concern for daughters in the New Testament.
3. Fathers who do not apply the same rules and restrictions as those described in the Old Testament are laissez-faire parents. (This is implied by the actual wording.)
Number 1: There is no question Yahweh was concerned with the well-being of young women. But, he’s was likewise concerned with the well-being of young men (see many chapters of Proverbs, for example). He was concerned with the treatment of slaves (see Ex. 21:20; Ex. 21:26-27; Deut. 23:15-16; Deut 5:14; Lev 24:22; Num 15:15-16); the treatment of farm animals (Deut 25:4; Ex 23:11; Deut 22:10).
Number 2: His argument takes the form: “God did X under the Old Covenent, therefore God does X under the New Covenant.” This is an appeal to tradition, which may or may not be correct. For example, could I make this assertion? “Yahweh commanded the Jubilee in the Old Testament (Lev 25), therefore we must observe the Jubilee today.” Or how about the Levirate marriage (Deut 25:5-6)? It also raises the question: “Has someone suggested God abandoned his concern in the New Testament?” (This is why I take so much space in my Essay on Tenets 22 & 23 on the proper understanding of the role of Old Testament narrative.)
Number 3: Laissez-faire means the noninterference in the affairs of others. No Christian father would adopt a laissez-faire position. To suggest that failure to conform to the father-daughter patterns found in the Old Testament demonstates that such a father is unconcerned about his daughter’s well-being is quite unwarranted. Dr. Baucham is beginning to erect a strawman in his argument and perhaps even appealing to ridicule. He seems to be suggesting that my objection to the Tenets 22 & 23 from Vision Forum means I have a “noninterference” view. And that, is pure balderdash.
End of Part 2
I am surprised that no one has made any comments in opposition to what I have written regarding Tenets 22 & 23. I know quite a few people have downloaded my essay.
One aspect of my essay on Vision Forum’s “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” was how VF, in my opinion, misapplies certain Old Testament narrative passage as regards daughters to our contemporary (i.e., post 19th century) society. A recent article by Steve Macias (see http://www.stevemacias.com/ladies-from-kings-daughters-to-queens) was brought to my attention because it elaborated on the VF position; I want to comment on that article here.
As I state in the About portion of my blog I think it is vitally important when reading articles, especially those on the Web, to be aware of the author’s theological presuppositions. That’s why I want to make a few comments about Steve Macias before I examine his paper. Steve is a member of a church that is affiliated with the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. Prominent men also associated with CREC include Doug Wilson, Peter Leithart, and Steve Wilkins. Since these three men espouse what has become known as the Federal Vision or Auburn Avenue Theology, in addition to Christian Reconstructionism or Theonomy, I am safe in assuming Mr. Macia holds the same views. I discuss the implications of Christian Reconstructionism in my Essay so I will not repeat them here. I do not address the Federal Vision; along with many others I regard this view as aberrant at best and heretical at worst.
My first objection to Macias’ paper occurs in the very first sentence: resorting to emotional extremes by calling the feminist movement a “child-and-family-hating worldview.” Please understand, I am in no fashion suggesting that feminism is a benign movement, although I would draw distinctions between the militant feminism of the 1960’s and those women who are simply advocating for the rights and equality of women within the general society. (I am, however, opposed to the ordination of women as pastors or elders within the church.) To say that a female campaigning for equal-pay-for-equal-work, or that an unmarried young woman working as nurse hates children is an absurd statement. It does nothing to advance his argument.
According to Mr. Macias the Bride of Christ, i.e., the Church, began at Calvary. Here’s what he wrote: “…Just as Adam was put to ‘sleep’ and had Eve taken from his side, Christ is put to death and from the wound of blood and water in His side is born his Bride.” I find his statement curious because the historic Reformed view has been that the Church has existed through all ages, including the Old Testament period, and consists of all of the elect. Dispensationalists, on the other hand, assert that the Church began at Pentecost.
Several times throughout his paper Macias makes comparisons between the Trinity and the earthly father-daughter-groom relationship. Drawing such comparisons is very risky. The danger exists because one could easily develop an incorrect view of the Trinity. Each of the members of the Trinity are of the same essence (homoousios is the Greek term) though they are distinct persons. Although the father, daughter, and husband are distinct persons they are not of the same essence but of similar essence ( homoiousios ). Some comparisons can be made as regards the relationship between the members of the Trinity and the relationship between a husband and wife, but I’m dubious of including the daughter’s father in this mix.
Macias next references material either written or spoken by Dr. Voddie Baucham (Steve does not give the actual reference) which will form the basis for the remainder of his paper. Let me say at the onset I agree with much of what Dr. Baucham has to say on such subjects as sin, salvation, sanctification, and the like. What I do find disturbing are his patriarchal views regarding daughters, his extreme views on the education of children (suggesting parents are sinning if they don’t home school), and his position on the FIC movement.
Most of what Steve writes from this point on I have already responded to in my Essay on Tenets 22 & 23, so I will not repeat what I’ve written. There are, though, a few things he’s written that I want to specifically comment on now.
Voddie Baucham is quoted as saying, “Why would He [God] give so much attention to the well-being of young women under the Old Covenant but abandon them to laissez-faire fathers under the New? This is inconceivable.” I actually had to chuckle when I read this the first time. Baucham, a Baptist, used the very form of argument that Presbyterians (and other Reformed folks) use to support infant baptism. Here’s what Dr. Michael Horton wrote in Modern Reformation (Mar/Apr 1995): “Why should we withhold from the children of believers the sacrament ordained by God in the New Testament if they received the corresponding sacrament in the Old.” My point here is not to argue for or against paedobaptism; it’s just to point out that Dr. Baucham apparently will use the “Old Covenant/New Covenant” argument when it suits him but forget when it doesn’t. (There are other logical errors Dr. Baucham makes in his statement that I will not elaborate on here.)
A common logical fallacy is the false dichotomy or false dilemma. Here’s an example: Cats and dogs have four legs. This animal has four legs. Therefore, it is either a dog or a cat. The fallacy presumes there are only two options. But obviously, in the example above, the animal could have been a horse, pig, or cow. This is the kind of error Macias makes when he states: “Implicit in the responsibility to protect his daughter from predators is a necessary proximity condition.” Is it possible for the daughter to be living a great distance from her father and still be protected from danger? Of course. She could be living with trusted friends or relatives, or in a cloistered community. There are more than two alternatives.
I find some of Macias’ statements outlandish and without a single bit of solid Scriptural support. Take this statement, for example: “In a very real way, daughters represent to the world Christ’s act of redemption.” Is he really saying that the world can look at my daughter and see a representation of Christ’s propitiatory, substitionary, vicarious death that brought redemption to fallen mankind? He must be kidding!
Marcias writes: “Fathers are to be actice in their daughter’s route to marriage, filtering out men who fail to fear God and scaring away potential predators.” While this sounds noble on the surface, I fear it may degenerate into the father approving only those suitors who are in full agreement with his theology. For example: Father A is a postmillennial, Reconstructionist, who is an elder in a Baptist church. Daughter A meets Suitor A at her church and Suitor B who attends another church. Suitor B is a solid believer. He attends a Presbyterian church and is amillennial and not a Reconstructionist. I suggest Father A would reject Suitor B only because he is a paedobaptist and does not share is eschatology. I reject the notion that the father is acting Biblically in doing so.
End of Part 1.