Monday, September 29, 2008

Language Used in Reference to Ministry to Families and Plans to Continue Examining the Many Interpretations of FIC Concept

I thought I would breeze over this book in one post, but I received some comments by email about it, some asking questions about the book itself and some that related to some real life situations that are addressed by the author in some very productive ways. So in some upcoming posts, I’d like to look at some of the “pros” and what I found to be “cons” in the book. When I ordered this book, I also ordered a copy of Voddie Baucham’s book entitled “Family Driven Faith.”

Though I’ve only read a handful of pages thus far, I hoped to prove to myself that Voddie was not as reactionary as his Vision Forum associates. I’m sad to say that thus far, Voddie’s book has been a disappointment. It is not anything like Steve Wright’s far more balanced approach to the problem of attrition among young Christian adults. I'm quite disappointed, for when I viewed the video "Return of the Daughters," I found Baucham to be far more credible and knowlegable than the other "experts" in the film. I now wonder if my standard of comparison was so poor (given the men in the film) or whether I just hoped to think better of Baucham because he was such a popular SBC minister and part of a culture that I so enjoy? Save for the comments that angered my husband because they cast the Baucham daughter as one who was owned until marriage, my husband and I found Voddie Baucham to be very likable. (Never underestimate the power of likability! Even I fall prey to it, even knowing all about the "Weapons of Influence.")

In subsequent posts, I’d like to discuss some of the issues that both books pose, more ideas presented in Steve Wright’s “reThink Conference” featured via audio on his site, and how these issues apply to the church today in relation to the FIC concept. I will be jumping back and forth between these sources, as I have not yet had an opportunity to get all the way through them all at this point. Watch for some additional posts and quotes the “reThink Conference,” and some more concepts posed in the “reThink” book. As I’ve already started reading Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith,” I may interject some discussion on his book before I get through all of the audio on Steve Wright’s website. So I appreciate your patience as I dig down deeper and extemporaneously to uncover these other FIC roots that are connected yet sometimes separate from those identified with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). From there, I would like to take a look into Henry Reyenga’s book “The Spontaneous Spread of Home-Discipleship Christianity.” From what I understand of the model employed by Reyenga, it’s not so much “spontaneous” as it is more akin to a multi-level marketing sales technique. I don’t deny that many other evangelists have used similar tactics, and I need to state that I did not yet start reading this book.

I would very much like to point out that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) adopted the term “Family Integrated Church” as a name for their programs and focus that seek to “rethink” ministry to young people. I also understand through a few readers of this blog that the book, “reThink,” best defines SBTS’s concept of what SBTS call the FIC. But the term becomes problematic for both the seminary and those who are in other versions of the FIC because it was developed by groups that I’ve been told by two persons that at least two professors at SBTS consider “fringe.” The confusion expands when SBTS participates with individuals like Voddie Baucham, considering that Voddie is strongly connected with Vision Forum as well as serving as faculty for Henry Reyenga’s Home Discipleship organization (along with other VF affiliates).

Confusion Concerning Language

The FIC term creates valid confusion that SBTS should have wisely anticipated, a subject that I’ve addressed before, but not quite in this manner. Two excellent examples of confusion over terminology and meaning can be dramatized through stories of my missionary friends (my former pastor and his wife) that went to language school in Costa Rica in preparation for the mission field in South America. In their language class, a woman said that she had a pain or a problem in what this pastor’s wife thought her fellow classmate’s “leg.” She became excited and said that her husband (my former pastor) was gifted in prayer for the sick, having witnessed many divine healings in his ministry. She asked her classmate if she would like to have him pray for her. The woman (who I assume was not a Christian) asked what this would entail, so my pastor’s wife explained that he would lay hands on her leg and pray. The woman became quite upset. Apparently the word that my former pastor’s wife had identified as “leg” was really “breast” So the classmate thought that this dear minister wanted to grope her. They figured out the issue and laughed about it later, but this exaggerated example illustrates an important point about the necessity for clear and accurate language as a basic and often essential element of accurate communication.

And I must relate this too, just because it’s so funny. The same couple advanced in their skills, and the local church in this denomination in Costa Rica opens up their pulpit to missionaries in training to practice their preaching in Spanish. For the first time preaching, the pastors are encouraged to write out the sermon and read it to the congregation rather than delivering it spontaneously or in an impromptu fashion. This pastor, a quite passionate and sanguine man, started to feel inspired as he neared the end of the sermon. He was overcome and set aside his notes, preaching passionately from his heart, rather than reading his prepared discourse. Apparently, it was one of the funniest scenes the church had ever experienced, sending the pastor of the church outside where my former pastor found him leaning against a tree, hysterical and unable to speak for laughter. My former pastor believed that he invited those who felt the call of the Spirit to come to the altar and kneel and pray. I can figure out where he went wrong on the word “prayer,” but the actual words for the rest still escape me. He actually called for all of the “buttheads” to come “urinate” on the altar in the front of the church, throwing the whole church into hysterics of amusement. And given the destination of this missionary, the population to whom he would eventually preach would have likely come forward and urinated, should he have called for them to do so

These two amusing anecdotes exaggerate the importance of our terminology, but not all of our language is quite so pleasant and amusing. Federal Vision (FV) for example redefined the time-honored definition of “imputation” as something different from what the traditional Protestant church identifies as the imputation of our sins to Jesus and the imputation of His righteousness to us when we believe in Him and confess Him as our resurrected Lord and Savior. Federal Vision defines imputation as that which states that Jesus’ earthy works are not of benefit to us in our lives. We don’t get credit for raising Jairus’ daughter and cannot claim that we raised the dead personally according to what FV identifies as “imputation,” because Christ’s works on earth are not imputed to us personally. But if one speaks to a Federal Vision follower about “imputation” and you have no knowledge that FV redefined the concept, you’re bound to eventually have much confusion. Such techniques play upon the connotative value and exploit the common understanding of a particular word, changing the thought about the term subtly over time. Eventually, if the lack of perspicacity is not addressed, this ambiguity results in a new definition of the term or in previous understandings of doctrine.

Again, it has been some work digging down to find exactly what is meant by the FIC and how different ministries accomplish their vision of this concept.

I would also like to point out that Karen Campbell has detailed her experience in more than one FIC, having participated with Henry Reyenga and his organization along the way. If this subject is of interest, I recommend reading her account and her convictions regarding this model. She found many blessings in the FIC concept and her family benefited from some of them, but her family also suffered as a result of the process as well.

Please continue to read both here and there as we both make our best attempt to put the FIC into perspective.

From Part 12 of "thatmom's" posts on the FIC:

It is a thorny topic to address because I fully understand how difficult is to be part of a traditional church that doesn’t appreciate the importance of parents discipling their own children. I also understand that there are times when a church can actually work against the efforts of the parents and once that line is crossed, it is difficult, if not outright unwise, to remain in that sort of environment.
At the same time, I also recognize the dangers that are lurking within a family integrated church, especially as they are related to the leaders within the patriocentric movement. Again, I see this model as a severe and unnecessary overreaction to the traditional church and, knowing what I know at this time, would only recommend this type of congregation IF no other Bible teaching church was available.