Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baucham and the SBC: More Patriocentric Spin

It just came to my attention that Voddie Baucham, Vision Forum favorite, has associated me with a chain of causality in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that does not cast him in such a favorable light.

From Baucham's The SBC and Calvinism:  (original entry/link replaced).

This, coupled with the release of Family Driven Faith, and planting Grace Family Baptist Church, set off a chain of SBC events that would culminate in the SBTC Youth Ministry Forum, and (some would argue) the recent “Patriarchy” rant at xxxxxxxxx Seminary by Cynthia Kunsman. [Blog host note: Link to the complete video HERE.]

[Addendum Note 21Nov08: Someone asked me if I mention Baucham in my Patriarchy "rant" at all. I just checked the Powerpoint presentation and the bibliography. Baucham's book is not even listed as a reference there, and I never mention his name. I did not review his material at all for the presentation which was my own work. I'd not looked at or read "Family Driven Faith" until approximately 6 months after I delivered the workshop. In fact, there are blog posts here that mention when I did first start reading the book. Read more details HERE.]

What thought immediately popped into my head? If Baucham thinks my apologetics workshop at an SBC seminary in March was a rant, what does he call the work of Kevin Swanson, a fellow faculty member with Henry Reyenga's Christian Leaders Institute. (Take a look at the video that appears on the home page while you're there.) My second thought regarded who it is that argues that I am a part of that chain of causality in the SBC.

You can read the full discourse by Baucham for yourself (one soul's discourse is another's rant?), but I find it interesting that he identifies the SBC with a spirit that is anti-Calvinistic. He identifies the SBC's rejection of Calvinism as the true, core rationale behind all the criticism that he's received since he appeared on CNN rejecting Sarah Palin as a sound choice for the McCain ticket. And I find it interesting that he seems to identify me as an agent of the SBC.

What Do I Believe (for the record)?

I just wanted to clarify a bit about my own beliefs because there are so many different individuals with different convictions mentioned in Baucham's blog piece.

I wholeheartedly embrace the Doctrines of Grace. I actually hold beliefs that conform more closely to New Covenant Theology than anything else, but not entirely. I aspire to follow the Word and my honest comprehension of it with fear and trembling, not a theology, a construct of man. I'm a TULIP girl, though I wholeheartedly reject the increasingly popular practice of mere man's discerning who is elect and who is not, deeming those who disagree with them to be damned by God for eternity and therefore deserving of abuse in this life. I've written before about this HERE, as some seem to use TULIP like karma, a cruel task-master of works. But unlike Baucham, the only thing I breathe fire about perhaps would be Ephesians 2:8-9 and my opposition to the promotion of Hegemonic Patriarchy/patriocentricity as orthodox Biblical Christianity. I also believe that those who do not embrace the Doctrines of Grace are very much God's elect, as these are also intramural issues that fall within the pale of orthodoxy.

In wrestling with my own issues of the Word of Faith movement and all its inconsistencies, in the early '90s, I found the soothing writings and mostly all sound teachings of a man named R.C. Sproul. (I'm among the earliest contributors to "Tape of the Month," believe it or not.) My mentor also introduced these concepts to me in high school, having been influenced by the Reformed faculty at Lee College (now University). Under his tutelage and also influenced by faculty of Pinecrest Bible Training Center, I've rejected pre-millennial eschatology since high school. All these things contributed to my understanding of the Word of God, directing me on a path toward a Reformed view. And I read this little book called Ephesians in my early twenties for myself, without necessarily being told what it said or what it meant. It was hard work for a number of years to reckon the doctrine, but as a result and as a balm to my Arminian anxieties, I came to a new understanding of God's Sovereignty.

A similar thing happened to me when I began to study New Testament Greek. I took for granted that, though women were not given senior pastor positions in the Pentecostal church I grew up attending, I never had a problem with women teachers or ministers or elders. I really don't have a problem with others who believe this now, but upon studying and reconsidering the matter in my own right as an adult, I changed my mind on what I perceive as an intramural issue. I believe that a very conservative interpretation of the Word of God requires that women not hold the position of pastor or elder. Because the Scripture does not speak openly and clearly without doubt that women can be anointed elders and pastors, I am convicted that I should follow the conservative approach. Based upon the Greek texts and the Apostle Paul's grammar, I am persuaded and convicted that the Word provides for women to teach and speak. But again, because of the many ways of interpreting the Scripture, just based on the translation issues alone, I believe that this is an intramural issue and that it is not one that should divide believers. I believe that this classifies me as a "soft complementarian," a defining term that was created to soften the negative connotation of the term "patriarchy."

That said, I was once very Arminian, and I was very much a Child of God. I once believed that there was no problem with female elders and pastors, and I was very much a Child of God. I was also once very zealous about the Word of Faith movement, and I was very much a Child of God. At every point in my journey and life in Christ, I loved the Word and sought nothing other than to live faithfully to it, always desiring to live in submission to what the Word teaches. These are intramural issues, and I rejoice in the fellowship that I have in Christ with all who Love Jesus, our Messiah.

I Am an Agent of the SBC?

Definitely not. This is the element of all this that I find most amusing.

I must admit that I did attend an SBC church in the deep south for a few months in 1990, but I left it because it seemed to me to be what I call a "rich white people's church." I could stay there no longer after I asked why I'd only ever seen one minority in that church on only one occasion in a town with a Black majority. I was told that "they had their own churches" and that this is where the "missionary Baptist" denomination came from. And then I suddenly noticed the monthly Sunday night "report" from the pastor who mentioned their "missionary churches" in the area. I didn't last long there after that. That's the duration and extent of my affiliation with the SBC.

I was invited to speak by an apologetics organization (my infamous rant?), primarily because I was asked to write an article by a well known Calvinist theologian who published it in two of his monthly newsletters in 2004. The article came about because of Doug Phillips' polemic and aggressive response to criticism (circa 2003) of his bizarre teachings and statements that women working outside the home, training of women outside the home setting, and education of children by any means other than homeschooling were sins. And I also would like to point out that two Calvinist ministers and three Calvinists (not to mention the Dispensationalists) extensively reviewed my material before I made the presentation. Many Calvinists have commented on the soundness of the arguments that I presented at the SBC seminary.

And if I indeed was some indirect agent of the SBC by this invitation from someone who does not attend an SBC church, it was certainly undone within about 48 hours after I put the video of the Patriarchy Workshop online. I was asked to remove all mention of the seminary that hosted the apologetics conference as well as the name of the apologetics organization from my web and my blog. I showed such a willingness to comply with what I believed to be an inappropriate request because I was told over the phone that I'd put the employment of the president of the unnamed SBC seminary (which I have agreed no longer reference) in great jeopardy as a result of my criticisms of the patriarchal teachings of Bruce Ware and Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). (Please note that I contacted the apologetics group and offered to remove the name of the seminary and possibly the names of the teachers from the lecture before I printed my handout, one month prior to the presentation.)

So though I am no agent or representative of the SBC, I have no vendettas either. A little respect might have been nice, however, and I could do without the miserable comments that were made about me, some of which have been quite personal and unrelated to the content of the lecture. And as my friend Karen Campbell says (who coined the term "patriocentricity" to differentiate these bizarre teachings from true patriarchy which I would say we both embrace), the statement made by the apologetics group about my scholarship was quite far "over the top." They sought not to clarify my position or their organizations' position in comparison to the doctrines and positions of the SBC but to "poison the well" concerning the Patriarchy Workshop so as to discourage it's viewing and fair consideration. The SBC exercised milieu control, and in their anger, I think the tactic has ultimately backfired on them.

With that, I can say with certainty from my perspective, I am no agent or any kind of voice for the SBC.

As someone within the SBC did mention to me, I "innocently wandered over fault lines" of controversy in the SBC (since most of the material I presented concerned and was drawn from Vision Forum). The workshop I gave voiced what many within the SBC have known for some time but did not have a voice to speak freely about these issues within their own denomination. I did not realize any of this when I prepared and gave the workshop. Since then however, I have been contacted by many SBC survivors of these teachings. SBC seminary graduates and pastors that have been chewed up and spit out by the Family Integrated Church movement account for the highest percentage of people who have written to me, thanking me for so succinctly describing their experience and for directing them to the literature concerning spiritual abuse.

Criticism of Baucham Comes Not Because of Calvinism But Because of PATRIOCENTRICITY

I would disagree with Baucham concerning the central issue of criticism against him stemming primarily from his bold embrace of Calvinism, TULIP, the five solas, the Doctrines of Grace or any other means one can find to describe what I most often describe as a Reformed view of Scripture. I believe that, without any doubt, Baucham has received criticism because of the extreme doctrines that he shares with Vision Forum. Those odd beliefs transcend the divisions between Calvinism and Dispensationalism/Arminianism/Pelagianism, affecting both groups alike. Baucham accepts Numbers 30 as a rational supporting the idea that a woman cannot live outside of the authority and protection of a patriarch (male governance) and be true to Scripture, and he speaks openly about this in the Vision Forum video, "Return of the Daughters." He believes that Sunday School is Communistic, not just an option that he no longer believes serves the best interest of the church. I'm unclear about whether he permits declining participation in a home catechism for believers or whether he also believes that private Christian school for children is Biblical. I wonder if he also advocates Vision Forum tradition that requires the payment of a "bride's price" (from the groom to the father of the bride) during wedding ceremonies, or the bride's washing of the groom's feet? As many in Vision Forum believe that men govern the sanctification process of their wives (and daughters, too) and thus finding sanctification through the intercession of their male patriarch, I also wonder about Baucham's specific interpretation Ephesians chapter 5.

Now that Vision Forum no longer seems to prohibit women from voting as it once staunchly insisted (voting would amount to participation in the sphere outside the home and is thus limited to men, violating "kingdom architecture"), I don't know Baucham's position on this particular issue. I do know that he believes that college is not in a young person's best interest and is not an option for young adult women. They are open to harm because they sleep at dormitories without a patriarch's protection under their roof and because there is no one to protect their daughters from the Communist in every lecture hall and behind every bush. Baucham also discussed this in "Return of the Daughters" and his associate Kevin Swanson states that the father that sends his daughter to college hates his daughter. I would assume that this also applies to the wife who also falls under his patriarchal authority and protection. Women lack discernment necessary to safely navigate life without a patriarch. For more information on Vision Forum's beliefs and those of their following, please listen to these podcasts.

We do know that Baucham stood with Vision Forum in opposition to Sarah Palin's nomination as the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate. Baucham stood before the world and voiced his patriocentric views about Sarah Palin, someone who Vision Forum claimed was essentially committing adultery by working for another man. And he did this while the world watched intently and could get online and watch again ad nauseum, opposing the candidate that his fellow Calvinist, Albert Mohler, and even CBMW advocated. Baucham's associate Kevin Swanson says this is selling one's flesh to a man other than one's husband. The Botkins of Vision Forum compare women working outside the home to the harlotry, as the harlots feet always wander away from home. I wonder if he agrees with Brett McAtee who was cited by Vision Forum, along with his own statements, saying "While Christians must continue to insist that it is against Scripture to vote for a female magistrate as our political covenant head, we must at the same time insist that Palin is right about many of the issues on which she has taken stands"? I guess that would have made her our "federal federal head," had McCain been elected?

In regard to the opposition to the issues raised in "Family Driven Faith" and similar sentiments that prohibit age-appropriate training or youth ministries as a cause for criticism, let me say that I find this to be partially true, but not for the reason that Baucham identifies. People oppose and react to these teachings, not because they're opposed to viable options that will help young people and old alike live effective Christian lives that are committed to Christ. Christians inside and outside the SBC oppose them because Baucham abrasively and arrogantly denounces any options other than his own related preferences as unbiblical and far less than orthodox. Believers' equally valid methods of communicating the Gospel to their families and the world have been maligned with a host of pejorative labels in the process, with the Baucham methods and personal convictions defined as their only Biblical option. That may not be Communistic, but I would say that Baucham's views classify as a fine example of totalism (spiritual abuse). He calls not for unity in Christ but for uniformity among men and within man's construct, as Vision Forum's brand of patriarchy is consistent with the pagan practices of Roman culture, not Biblical Christianity. The criticism Baucham experiences derives not from his methods themselves (no age-appropriate groups, courtship and home catechism for his children). It derives from the elitist and exclusive tactics he and his associates use to create gnostic categories of "better Christians" and his cruel and arrogant denouncement of faithful believers who reject his paradigm.

Calvinists Who Oppose Patriocentricity

The other reason that I find Baucham's claims of anti-Calvinist prejudice to be weak stems from the many Calvinists who reject patriocentricity, both inside and outside the SBC.

I think Pastor Wade Burleson's example completely discounts Baucham's claims regarding Calvinism, because like me, he is a Calvinist. Burleson did suffer a great deal of opposition, prejudice and what I would describe as harassment because he also opposed the patriarchal trends within the SBC. The main source of opposition to him while he served on the International Missions Board came from a group of Calvinists associated with CBMW because he opposed the dismissal of women from the mission field and from seminaries. The Calvinism cancels itself out in this case. The crowd that embraces Baucham was responsible for much of the opposition that Wade Burleson still faces because of what I term patriocentricity/"hard complementarianism." Wade's example, to me, makes Baucham's argument moot.

Andrew Sandlin who wrote the aforementioned article, Hegemonic Patriarchy, is another Calvinist who is quite outspoken in his opposition to Vision Forum doctrines. And I also offer the writings of the late John Robbins and the Trinity Foundation as another example of Calvinists who find pagan patriarchy and patriocentritcity repugnant. (The apologetics group classified my presentation with worshops concerning paganism.) These men are also controvercial among certain sets of Baptists because they oppose the Vision Forumesque paradigm and not because they are Calvinists. Note this quote from Robbins concerning "Christians and the Civil War"
Organizations such as American Vision in Atlanta (Gary DeMar) and Vision Forum in San Antonio (Douglas Phillips) are promoting Confederate propaganda. (Oddly, these groups all have "vision in their names, yet they are blind to both soteriological and historical truth.) Wannabe Romanists themselves, their efforts are applauded by genuine papists like Thomas DeLorenzo.

And I'd like to mention that I personally do not think that terms like "hyper-patriarchy" or "hyper-Calvinist" make much sense, since either you are or you are not. Actually, I think that most of those whom most people label with these terms actually fall into the category coined by John Robbins: that of ersatz evangelicals, neither truly Calvinist nor truly patriarchal in the legitimate and traditional understanding of the terms. I would also like to note that I happen to love many of James White's writings, do not consider him a "hyper" anything, and I think several of the professed Calvinists at SBTS could learn a thing or two from his writings on the Trinity.

For all these reasons, I find the claims that Baucham makes about Calvinism and even his own preference for raising his own family at the source of his own controversy to be nothing more than damage control and more spin, so consistent with his fellow patriocentrists. He stood before the world while the world watched and voiced an opinion about Sarah Palin that was contrary to that of his denomination. Please don't blame the arrogance of patriocentricity on Calvinism.

And please do not classify me as someone who stands opposed in any way to the Doctrines of Grace. I'm also not anything remotely like an agent of the SBC. I'd be happy and proud to admit it if it were remotely true.