Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Critique of the "Tenets": Calling Things That Are Not As Though They Were?

Jennifer Epstein is a highly controvertial figure who has challenged Doug Phillips and Vision Forum in a variety of ways. She is much maligned, but whatever she has or has not done, she and those who comment on her website make many cogent arguments against patriarchy as the most informed and ethical interpretation of Scripture pertaining to 21st Century Christian living and family. I encourage anyone interested in this topic to give these reviews serious consideration. She presents a thorough review of Vision Forum's defining document of patriarchy in a three-part series of articles on her blog.

Please note some selected excerpts from Ms. Epstein’s blog articles:

“This is NOT a debate about personal beliefs, but only how these tenets can be supported biblically.” (from Part II)
In this article, what I’d like to do is examine a document prepared by Doug Phillips, Phil Lancaster and R.C. Sproul, Jr. entitled The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy. In the Editor’s Note to The Tenets it states, “We view this as an accurate working document, and invite feedback from anyone as we attempt to improve this statement over time.” I’m grateful that Doug Phillips has extended the offer to provide feedback. Apparently this offer is open to anyone. However, no one should believe that such an offer is a sincere solicitation for constructive criticism. When Doug asks for feedback, what he really means is that he only wants to hear from those who already agree with him. (from Part I)Doug Phillips and other Patriarchy leaders have pawned off Patriarchy as not merely being “biblical,” which even that is very debatable. Doug Phillips has pawned off Patriarchy as being a “Gospel centered doctrine....”

"For a long time, I treated Patriarchy as though it was “Gospel centered” — that it was an essential and indispensable aspect of my walk with Christ. Now I recognize that it’s not “Gospel centered” and may even in some ways be contrary to the Gospel message, especially when it comes to the Gospel message of grace. I’m starting to see that many elements of Patriarchy are legalistic and, therefore, contrary to grace. Elevating any doctrine to a level of being “Gospel centered,” when the doctrine may, in fact, just be legalism, is Pharisaical. " (from Part II)
After posting Part One in this series, I came to recognize the centrality of Patriarchy to Doug Phillips’ entire “vision,” or what he calls his “vision casting.” Doug Phillips refers to Patriarchy as a “Gospel centered doctrine,” when it is nothing of the sort. Much of patriarchy is just extra-biblical legalism, and legalism is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Christ is about grace, not legalism. Why then
does Doug Phillips claim that Patriarchy is “Gospel centered”? Certainly, Patriarchy is “centered” to something, but not to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Did Jesus or any of the Apostles ever teach Patriarchy? Did they ever command Patriarchy? No, in fact,
the Apostle Paul explicitly warned the Corinthians that they should beware of anyone who came and preached “another Gospel.” (from Part III)

Are Vision Forum’s Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy Biblical?
Part I:
  • God as Masculine
  • Image of God and Gender Roles
  • Authority of Fathers
Part II:
  • Family Church and State
  • Men and Women: Spheres of Dominion
  • Procreation
Part III:
  • Education and Training of Children
  • A Father and His Older Children
  • Sufficiency and Appliation of Scripture