Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting Your Ticket Stamped

From "Cooking Sacred Cows with Voddie Baucham":
Who certifies Christian colleges and universities? Who accredits them?

You know, who put that system together that says you leave your home for years, and you know, you sit there under the tutelage of those individuals you get your ticket punched and now you’re – whatever?

So that was the next part of the journey that ultimately lead us to just a commitment to Jasmine’s education. Ah, again, not schooling, but her education just being something that we oversaw and superintended all the way through.

A lot of people mistake it to mean “We’re against education for women.” Nothing could be further from the truth. She’s more educated now than I was when I graduated from college, easily (laughs). You know, she now serves as my research assistant, and she is gaining a tremendous education through that process.

And we’re preparing her for something bigger than getting her ticket punched at the university. She has grasped this multigenerational vision and wants to be a faithful daughter to her father, and a faithful wife and mother to her husband and to her children, and to her children’s children. That’s what we’re preparing for.

And a quote from a blog post, taken from a subtitle within a rather polemic post on Doug Phillips’ Blog on the Vision Forum website:

Dr. Baucham on Why His Daughter Will Not Be Going To College, and Why She is Far Better Educated Because of It

In the clip that appears on the Visionary Daughters website, Voddie Baucham asks who certifies and accredits colleges and universities? Who put that system together to facilitate "getting your ticket punched?" If all the emails and questions I’ve been receiving are true, it seems that his daughter reportedly attends a college that is accredited by Middle States (a very reputable accrediting body that happens to accredit my own alma mater). The founder of the College Plus! organization apparently put together the system his daughter now reportedly gleans from by using a secular state college’s curriculum, melding it with their core curriculum in Christian Worldview. And it seems to have received a “Christian certification” of sorts from the leaders in the patriocentric movement. It allows a female to expand her knowledge without interfering with her kingdom mandate of being a keeper at home, and thus it strengthens the family infrastructure per Doug Phillips.

Let me note that I think that distance learning presents an excellent option, and I have utilized distance learning programs myself. I’ve actually developed and written distance learning curriculum for a seminary many years ago, allowing them to offer distance learning to others. Though it is not necessary for homeschooling mothers to have advanced degrees, I believe that any education they obtain dramatically enhances what they are able to offer to their own children. The option is quite cost effective as well. Personally, I think that it’s terrific that Voddie Baucham’s daughter will be learning and challenging herself in this way.

I’m a bit confused, as are some concerned readers of this blog who apparently know the Bauchams and report that their daughter attends Thomas Edison State College (TESC) in Trenton, NJ through this secular state school’s distance learning program. I do not doubt in any way that this young woman is well educated and that the education obtained under the direction of her parents proves superior to many of those educated in traditional undergraduate college settings. But I’ve reviewed this aforementioned video clip as have other readers of this blog, and we had the impression that the Bauchams felt that college was not needful for their daughter. If I’m not mistaken, in the “Return of the Daughters” video, Baucham stated at least 18 months ago that his daughter had the equivalent of a PhD level education. Why then has his daughter decided to sign up to “get her ticket punched” if she has already exceeded these standards, something not needful for her in her role as daughter and for the anticipated role of wife and mother at God’s appointed time in the future?

In response to questions I’ve received, I would like to address the specific statements that Baucham made in this video, though many other related standards have been taught by Vision Forum and affiliates in the past. First, we heard that women are only to remain in the sphere of the home, and those duties should be limited to those feminine chores within the home. Phillips states quite directly and clearly that Dr. Baucham’s daughter will not be going to college. We have heard the pragmatic arguments that it is not cost effective, so daughters should not be sent to college because they will never recoup the investment (unless employed in a workplace under the direct supervision of her husband or father). We have been told at various times that it is dangerous for a woman to be out from under the physical protection of her patriarch by sleeping in a dormitory with no assigned male protector (So Much More, pp 171-2). Those who do will suffer the fate of Dinah. We know well the argument that secular education will corrupt the minds of both young men and women alike. But in addition to these different arguments that build a case prohibiting women from attending college, Baucham makes a concerted effort to state that his daughter not only does not need to attend college in order to be credentialed, her abilities far supercede a college level education, something that would seem to make most undergraduate level training (unless highly specialized) fairly obsolete. Yet he apparently thought it was either advantageous and/or needful to enroll his daughter in one of these distant learning bachelor of arts programs at a state college through College Plus!, noting that some of that course work will definitely include secular curriculum.

From what I gather, the College Plus! program recruits students who are then guided to enroll in a limited number of programs offered by TESC. There seem to be two distinct differences for those who enroll through College Plus!:

1.) College Plus assigns a core curriculum in Biblical Worldview to their students, core curriculum suggesting that a set of courses must be completed as a part of the completion of the TESC degree program. If TESC does not grant college credit for these courses directly, I assume that they either handle them like transfer credits or they are processed much like “life experience” credits which are also honored by TESC. I assume they are then inserted into a pre-existing secular curriculum that TESC offers. And, naturally, the core curriculum includes material “from leaders in the Christian movement” including Doug Phillips, first and foremost.

Note again that for those courses that one must complete directly with TESC, this curriculum is not taught from a Christian perspective but are secular state college courses. There is a degree program for a BA in Psychology listed on the College Plus website. I wonder if College Plus substitutes their own psychology courses for the TESC ones? Though my knowledge about this program is limited, I don’t see how they possibly could, yet this is a most troublesome subject for those who are concerned about a Christian worldview. People choose to study these subjects at Christian colleges so that Christian instructors will present that potentially “worldview sensitive” material within a Christian context. I don’t see how this can possibly be true of this TESC program, particularly in the area of psychology. (I know that my own choice of studying these subjects at a religious school played a major role in my own process of selecting a college. I declined attendance at a secular school so that I would learn nursing from the perspective of Christian ministry. A nun taught me how to minister a bed bath to a patient rather than learning the art and skill at the unmanned lab competency station at the state college I once considered attending.)

2.) You pay for the additional coaching option so that you have access to an array of individuals who I assume monitor progress but who do not actually provide any academic help. Starting at the top of the list and looking through many of the short biographies of the coaching team on the website (a list that has expanded pretty dramatically since Vision Forum announced College Plus! on their blog), there are a great number of music majors, business majors, TESC graduates, and Gothard-affiliated youth counselors that are available to help you stay on track.

So, there are some possibilities of what might actually be going on here regarding the professions and teachings of the patriocentrists and what they actually end up living. We saw the same thing happen recently on this past election day. Vision Forum and its affiliates taught that women should not vote and that voting divided the household and challenged the authority of the husband. Voting would be considered a woman’s taking an active roll in the civil sphere, and a woman’s role is limited only to the sphere and domain of the home. Much controversy ensued. Yet on election day in 2008, we all learned that Beall Phillips, wife of Vision Forum’s founder, Doug Phillips, voted. We were told that she and her husband enjoy a tradition of going to the polls together and always have done so. What do they have to say to those women who might have liked to have voted but stayed home instead, all because Phillips taught them that their voting was tantamount to sin? What do they have to say to their followers who would have liked to have sent their daughters to college a few years back, but they were taught that sending a daughter to college was also sinful. Yet now, it seems that a notable patriocentrist has enrolled his daughters in a secular college program’s distance learning program.

What could possibly be the explanation? I would like to add this question to the list that I’ve already posed to Voddie Baucham a few weeks ago, questions that remain unanswered.

  • They might not practice what they preach, and they don’t really believe the doctrine. They just come up with whatever doctrine suits their purposes at the moment, but they are not serious about it. Just say whatever sells.
  • They might believe that, because they are part of the elite leadership, the general rules that apply to most people don’t really apply to them. They, along with their families, have liberty to violate the general rules.
  • The stance became unpopular, so they just changed their doctrine and didn’t tell anyone, hoping that no one will notice.
  • Or maybe we are all simpletons who cannot discern statements like “Dr. Baucham on Why His Daughter Will Not Be Going to College, and Why She is Far Better Educated Because of It”? We just don’t understand. When they all said that they shouldn’t go to college they didn’t really mean that they couldn’t enroll in college through distance learning. When they said that daughters needed no college because homeschooling is actually superior and provided PhD level education, they really were not saying that their daughters had nothing to learn from college.

People that represent their preferences to people, representing these matters as the best and highest way to follow God enter into a holy trust with their following. Those who hear them and trust them in earnest believe that they are following God by obeying their teachings. They interpret rejection of these teachings as sin before God and a rejection of the Word of God. They’ve made life altering decisions based upon this information – sure doctrine that can apparently change with the direction of the wind with no repentance required of the teacher.