Thursday, November 27, 2008

Corresponding with Voddie Baucham

Earlier this week, I received a very brief and pleasant email from Voddie Baucham, stating that he realizes that I did not mention him in my workshop in March 2008, declaring his apology. See this previous post. For me at this point, it seems to be a blanket apology that is very nonspecific and does not actually repent of the primary aspect of his online statement that I found offensive. I am grateful that the correspondence has been cordial and that I’ve been honored as a sister in Christ and not Jezebel, I cannot help but to also consider the potential that some of what has been written thus far might be damage control. Let me walk you through my journey thus far. Though I continue to correspond with Dr. Baucham (I think?) who has graciously invited me to call him Voddie, I actually find myself more offended, and it’s odd because the initial apology was more offensive than his online statement was for me because it does seem quite broad.

EDIT:  The original post in question which first appeared on Baucham's site can be read HERE, as someone felt it was worth preserving.  I cannot find it on the internet archive anywhere.

He’s been very cordial and respectful, stating that he wants to talk with me about his beliefs and about the FIC movement so that I don’t need to speculate about his specific beliefs online, wrongly characterizing him with other groups (like Vision Forum?) with whom he participates (something that he implied in his emails was not accurate). In fact, I would likely not have any idea of who he was were it not for his appearance on the Vision Forum/Botkin video “The Return of the Daughters.” I’m grateful for the invitation to clear up some of the obscurities regarding his beliefs, and I invite any readers here to forward their questions to me so that I can bring them up with him. He noted to me in one of his emails that he’s known that we’ve needed to talk for some time, so I am looking forward to putting together some questions for him, the answers to which I intend to post here.

There are also a few elements related to his apology that I still do not understand because they have not yet been directly clarified. In our ongoing correspondence, my “rant” has been upgraded to a “presentation,” but that matter has not been entirely addressed directly either. It is all confusing because I am offended, not so much because my work was marginalized by Dr. Baucham online (“rant” implies illogic, and a loud, pretentious tone), but because what he stated about my workshop and a connection to the seminary has no basis in truth. So if he was indeed apologizing for the term “rant,” or only the imprecise language that he used to describe the chain of causality between the seminary and myself, I do not know. I’ve asked, but the matter has not been addressed specifically. But more on that in a moment or two.

If you are doing damage control, a simple measure that one can take is something ranging anywhere from a blanket apology that is non-specific or a legal threat. Both are pretty simple, completely free and non-labor intensive ways of quickly diffusing conflicts. Flattery, praise and “liking” as Cialdini describes, combined with the human trait of “consistency” can make a critic quite cooperative. And the offending party can claim that they made every effort to apologize, for most people will consider the offer alone to be adequate. Cialdini's "weapon of influence" called "reciprocity" predisposes people to reciprocate treatment in kind. ("If I apologized, you should apologize, too, and you must forgive.") Likewise, most people are not that invested in a conflict so as to find out if someone’s legal threat was indeed empty. Most people usually just cease and desist because it’s not worth the effort. Appeal to authority also makes the discernment process more complicated. I’m still in the process of weeding through things that I find quite contradictory.

Baucham writes in his first email:

My reference to your presentation at Midwestern was meant to point out their response to some of my teaching, not yours. You did not mention me there.
Though I am grateful that he has acknowledged that my workshop did not reference him, he continued to maintain a belief that Midwestern played a role in any of this. I’m perfectly willing to consider credible information, so I asked Baucham just why he had this impression that was strong enough to place on his blog as evidence that there is some conspiracy against him.

Here is his response:

As to your questions, allow me to attempt to connect the dots as to why I connect your presence at [said seminary] with their response to me. When I became aware of your presentation at [said seminary] (and the almost immediate response by Phil Roberts), I contacted friends from the 'inside' and made an inquiry as to why the seminary hosted the event in the first place. It was then that I was told that certain professors there had serious issues with my position on systematic age segregation, and that they were "worried" about the FIC movement. This, according to my source, was a key explanation as to why the presentation was allowed. This statement was not part of the public record, therefore, in my blog I clearly stated, that this 'connection' between your presentation (much better than 'rant' as I'm sure you'll agree) was the position of some. Not that you were an agent of [said seminary], or that they brought you there to bash me, but that there was a climate among some (that dated back to 2006 my presentation at the Texas Evangelism Conference) in the school that would explain why the presentation was even allowed.

I can tell you exactly why the presentation was allowed: The seminary had no authority to allow it or prohibit it. They were not a factor in this in any way, and what appeared on Voddie Baucham’s blog on November 12th is a confabulation. In his email, he failed to explain the mechanism that these unnamed professors would have used to manipulate another organization with whom they have no authority to either accept or reject my workshop. These mystery professors and his “source” had no recourse to affect any influence within the apologetics organization that coordinated and presented this conference. (If the apologetics group paid to rent classrooms at the local Hilton, this is the equivalent of believing that the hotel chain could dictate and approve the content of the presentations.)

I am very grateful to that apologetics organization for so promptly addressing my concerns yesterday, giving me permission to post this statement online, though the response to my inquiry which I copied to Dr. Baucham and the response that we received contained a few more specifics:

From the L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr., President of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions:

You are correct, the EMNR program committee (myself and two other Board members) chose the submitted workshops. You are also correct that I would have done a workshop on this topic (having just done the article on Vision Forum) which I believe I had even mentioned to you at the time. I have no idea if any professors there have, as Voddie Baucham writes, serious issues with my position on systematic age segregation, and that they were worried about the FIC movement. EMNR chooses the workshops which are presented at its conferences. Until the workshops were listed on the EMNR website I am not sure how much the hosting seminary's leadership knew about the workshops prior to the conference. If Voddie Baucham publicly claims that someone at the seminary influenced for the workshop to be done he is misrepresenting the situation. I am glad you contacted me about this and gave me the opportunity to clear this up.
Evangelical Ministries to New Religions
L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr., President

When all of this controversy started with the criticism of my workshop by the inclusion of the aberrant teachings concerning the Trinity and women from both the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), I entered a Google alert for my name. I just sat down to check my email, and I found that I had no new email this evening, but I did discover that I had a Google alert. It seems that Dr. Baucham has noted a correction concerning my rantings on his blog. (There appears to be no “rant” recant, so I guess when he apologized for imprecise language, it was not “rant” to which he referred.)

There is still an error in the new statement that Voddie Baucham posted however, and it fails to mention the most important aspect about my workshop that pertains directly to his teachings. First, Baucham’s blog now states that the apologetics organization’s statement about my work was that of Phil Roberts himself. Does he have a vested interest in painting that said seminary as part of some plot against him, since that seemed to be his initial premise? He’s improperly attributed the statement to Dr. Roberts alone. I happen to know that the statement took more than two weeks to prepare and that it was very much a collaborative effort of the whole board of the apologetics group.

Baucham’s done a great disservice to those board members, some of whom were former students of Bruce Ware who were offended by the workshop and sought to preserve Ware’s name. My first great sin, I am told, was the listing of SBTS professors’ beliefs -- both their shared beliefs along with the more extreme beliefs of Vision Forum and the Federal Visionists. My contact with the apologetics group and even a member of the press who spoke with them personally told me that Ware and Moore consider many of the Vision Forum beliefs and practices repugnant, and this accounted for a great deal of their offense. I also quoted unfavorable statements about the well-publicized belief in the Doctrine of Eternal Subordinationism of the Son (ESS) made by Ware and those affiliated with CBMW. I spoke at length to one of these board members who was once Ware’s student and even prayed with him for the truth to be revealed concerning these matters related to the Trinity which he insisted I misrepresented. He denied that Bruce Ware could possibly be teaching anything like ESS, and a representative of board told me that they were too busy to investigate matters further. The group took the easy way out and cast me off to insulate themselves from political pressure from those who promote these doctrines at SBTS. (And if I've misrepresented the Trinity issue, I consider myself to be in very good company with Kevin Giles, Curtis Freeman, Wade Burleson, those interested in the ESS debate at TEDS, MM Outreach, etc., etc., etc.)

The statement that Baucham now displays on his site still misrepresents the facts. It still draws attention to [said seminary], and it ignores the main impetus for the denouncement of my workshop: The SBC does not want to be affiliated with groups like Vision Forum and their extreme extra-Biblical doctrines (as they felt I implied was also true of them in my workshop).

But frankly, most people strongly associate Voddie Baucham with Vision Forum because of a host of things including by his appearance in and advocacy of the principles promoted in the “Return of the Daughters” video, appearing in multiple venues with Vision Forum affiliates like Kevin Swanson, regular photos of him on Vision Forum's blog such as the one with his arm resting affirmingly on Doug Phillips shoulders, and for expressing his Vision Forumesque views about Sarah Palin on CNN to name a few. What I find interesting is that Baucham’s blog entry seems to me to distance himself from Vision Forum. I wonder how, exactly? I get the impression that Baucham would like to set the tone for the FIC, reforming it if you will. If he was interested in bringing a positive influence, why was he not as concerned about the offensive practices of FICs that I mentioned in my workshop. He didn't even ask me about which groups I was speaking of specifically or where I aquired my information. If I saw myself as a reformer and knew of some of the physical abuse taking place in these circles, I would be zealous to ask about them. Yet most of all of the abuses I detailed in the workshop take place in Vision Forum FICs.

I received this Google alert about his blog correction several hours ago, and I still have yet to hear from Voddie Baucham via email. I guess it's assumed that I read his blog daily and would find this reference myself? I have yet to receive a personal apology from him for wrongly characterizing me as a pawn of the SBC seminary he names online, unless the online statement is supposed to be an apology? It seemed that a few days ago, he was only interested in apologizing to me, purporting to be concerned about any offense he may have provoked.


I am still hoping, since he did state that he wanted to talk and clarify things for me so that I could stop “wondering” about his beliefs on my blog that he will still be willing to answer the many questions that I have for him on these topics. Please continue to send me any questions you would like to ask of him so that I can add them to my own. So many people claim that Voddie Baucham is a good man of his word, so I am hopeful that he will still be as cooperative as he claimed to be a few days ago.