Tuesday, December 2, 2008

List of Questions for Voddie Baucham about the FIC

Sent via email: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 6:36:26 AM

Dear Voddie,

Rather than sending me a simple email with a simple apology, I’m disappointed that you chose to respond to Don Veinot’s comments in the manner that you did. My husband kept laughing at me as I continued to check my email this past weekend. I hoped to find some kind of personal response from you (after receiving a Google Alert for my name that linked me to your blog post), even just a note of courtesy to say that you’d responded to me online. I was very hopeful that we could grow in trust and reconcile this matter far more amicably. I’ve posted a response to all of this online, and I followed that up with a related post concerning the topic of apologies.

When I last heard from you via email, you expressed a desire to communicate with me so as to clear up any questions I might have related to your beliefs concerning the FIC. Last week, I emailed you to say that I would think about things over the weekend. I’m still counting on your cooperation in clearing up some of these matters.

In previous emails to me you wrote:

“Moreover, I don't want you to have to 'wonder aloud' as to what I believe on these issues. As I said before, you and I have a few differences, but many of the things that bother you also bother me.”

~ and ~

“I have just known for a long time that we needed to talk. Not debate; not argue, but talk. As I've said several times, I recognize that we have differences (though not as many as previously supposed), and I respect those. My goal in this dialog is not to refute your theology, or to defend mine. I just want to make sure that the differences we address are real and not assumed or imagined. Having said all of that, just know that I am more than happy to answer any questions you have about the FIC to whatever degree I am able.”

Though we disagree, I still would like to take the opportunity to clarify your position on a number of issues pertaining to patriarchy, what I’ve observed in FICs, and what I've heard from the FIC minded. As you note in these emails, you also show concern that I’ve misrepresented or speculated about your own beliefs, and I would like the opportunity to clarify the truth concerning what I’ve written myself. I’m happy to post your responses to the following questions on my blog and website. If your own concept of family integration helps Christians live more effective, God-honoring, victorious Christian lives and better equips them to be effective and fruitful evangelists of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then it is in the best interest of all of us to understand how the FIC process can and does work to accomplish those ends. Anything that you can do to clarify these matters will be of great benefit to the Body of Christ. Regardless of whatever has transpired between us, I would like to follow through with this clarification of your specific beliefs.

Please find the attached list of questions, and I thank you for making the offer to clarify these your stance on these matters.




Please note that you’ve mentioned a few of these items in a few emails, and I know that some of these matters are mentioned in other media, but not everyone has reviewed those sources. For the benefit of all, I’ve addressed several matters of question and concern for many who are affected by these matters. Many of us would be grateful for a straight answer to some of these questions.

1. You’ve written much to me in a general sense about what you like and do not like about some groups and beliefs that fall under the broadest possible category of the Family Integrated Church.

A. What, in your opinion, should set the ideal standard for what is meant by the term “Family-Integrated Church” (FIC)?

B. How can this best standard be achieved?

C. Can you point to a time or a particular group that originated the FIC concept?

2. In a revision of the original “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy,” in 2003, Phillips extended the language of original document to say that anything other than homeschooling for Christians, any training of grown young women outside of the home and women working outside the home constituted sin. This revision soon disappeared because of the controversy that ensued as a result. Many homeschoolers are concerned about your beliefs because you’ve advocated similar ideals, though I am well aware that you have not defined sins in such a formal way. Note that none of these specific questions negate or challenge the idea that a woman’s responsibilities as both wife and mother rank as the most vitally important for those women who do marry (as there are many believing women who never are presented with the opportunity to marry, etc.).

A. Though it is well known that you are an advocate of homeschooling, do you consider other options for the academic training of children to be sinful? In other words, if a member of your congregation chose another alternative to homeschooling, would you be concerned about them? How would you address the matter with them personally and others within your church? (You’ve stated to me in email and in your book that you believe that there are other ways to accomplish Christian education, but that could be interpreted several different ways.)

B. You’ve stated quite passionately that you believed that college was not an option for your own daughter, but do you believe that college should not be an option for any Christian young women? How would you address this issue with parents in your congregation who chose another option?

C. Would you consider allowing any young woman or even your wife to attend a Christian college that follows sound doctrine (in an on-campus setting), particularly for training in a “helping profession”? (Is this an option that is open to a Christian of good conscience? Would it be a sin to choose such an option?) For example, I had the option to go to a Christian college on a music scholarship where my piano teacher taught and where my other role models taught. I chose another option because I did not believe that this was God’s will for my life, but it did encourage my natural gifts and talents. It was actually a much safer option than the one my parents chose for me (the one that I joyfully followed in the choosing). Would choosing to follow training such as this at a Christian college for the life work of church ministry be considered poorly advised or sinful?

D. Under what circumstances, if any, is it allowable for a woman to work outside the home? May she volunteer only (prohibiting the payment of wages directly to her for work performed) and must she be under the direction of her father while she does so? Can she be assigned to the care of another in order to work in a particular area of need? Is it merely inadvisable for a Christian woman to be employed, or does it classify as a sin?

E. If any of these choices (options other than homeschooling or perhaps public school, college for women or working for women) are against the preferred model held as an ideal within your congregation, would non-compliance with this norm affect that family’s church life and participation with the church in any way? Would there be formal or only informal consequences? What would you anticipate as those specific consequences a family might encounter for following a “non-normative” path?

3. I understand that we are all slaves to something, just as a person receiving welfare is very much a slave of a system that I find troublesome, and that is not the question or issue that I would like to open here. My questions regard the practical aspects of what this would mean if an agrarian model of servitude and slavery were re-instituted in our contemporary society. Doug Phillips is known to tell of his views on agrarian economics, believing that slavery or some form of indentured servitude provides one of the vital solutions that America needs to cure its economic problems. It is confusing to those of us who see you profess some of the same views as Phillips that derive from the agrarian model which also promoted slavery based upon race, not just society or religion/worldview.

(To preface these related questions, let me refer to something Karen Campbell has written:

“There is concern among some homeschoolers that there is a class distinction agenda being promoted by Doug Phillips because of his affinity for the pre-Civil War South and the lifestyle of that day. Combined with the message that anything outside of this paradigm is ‘socialism,’ the message is sent that there is a certain elitism to home education. R. C. Sproul Jr.’s observations seem to substantiate that and were affirmed by James McDonald.”)

A. Does anything about the view that slavery is an essential way for America to respond properly to our economic woes give you pause?

B. If you agree with servitude as a viable, contemporary option for America, can you give some kind of idea how that servitude could be exacted?

C. Do you think that a revival in servitude would pose any risk to minorities, recalling that the writings that the modern day Christian agrarians embrace identify race as well as religion/worldview as a means of identifying those candidates for servitude?

4. I am not knowledgeable as to whether you are aware of Doug Phillips’ depth of appreciation for the writings of the agrarians. It is well known that Phillips holds Robert Lewis Dabney in very high regard. (Friends of mine who attended many of Vision Forum’s “Faith and Freedom” tours, and not knowing anything of Dabney prior to the tour, felt like they needed to remove their shoes before they exited the bus to tread on any holy area that had anything to do with Dabney because of Phillips very high esteem of him.) That said, I wondered how you put the writings of R.L. Dabney into perspective.

A. Though I realize and readily acknowledge his fine work as a theologian with a great many wise things to say about a wide variety of topics, how do you esteem his statements about hierarchical society, slavery and racism?

B. Do you believe that Dabney’s rationales regarding hierarchy apply to both race and gender as God’s distinctions for determining social order? (For those using his arguments, I’m not sure how one can counter or deny his arguments concerning race distinctions without threatening many of his gender arguments.)

C. Does Phillips’ fascination with the writings of Dabney affect the quality and/or depth of the fellowship that you share with him or your relationship with him? How, why or why not?

5. Some Christians maintain that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are co-equal in essence, but in terms of ETERNAL authority, it is the Father who orders the Son by virtue of a separate will, and it is both the Father and Son who order the activity of the Holy Spirit. This extends beyond the “economic” considerations of the Trinity wherein each Divine Person serves a particular act or operation, but actually maintains that God the Father holds a higher degree of authority than do the other Divine Persons. (Some conclude this based upon distortions of Covenant Theology’s concept of the Covenant of Redemption.) This relationship is said to be the standard of and model for relationships between husband and wife. The husband is like unto the hierarchical role of God the Father, and the wife is like unto the Eternally submitted son in terms of role and authority.

A. Do you hold a social or an anti-social perception of the Trinity?

B. Does your understanding of the Trinity best conform to functional, group mind, or some variety of trinity monotheism?

C. Do you embrace the doctrine of what is now referred to as the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) as is advocated by Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware and other individuals affiliated with CBMW, teaching that the Persons of the Godhead exist in hierarchy in an authority-submission structure/relationship?

D. Do you believe that the hierarchical “power and authority structure” within the Trinity, if you believe that there is an hierarchical one, dictates a corresponding argument supporting social hierarchy in both human relations and within marriage? (Disbelief in this concept does not in any way negate Scripture’s admonition of wives submission to her husband and a husband’s love and care of his wife.

E. Do you believe that gender roles and the behaviors of men and women correlate directly with God’s Image and a respect for God and His Lordship over all creation?

F. In other words, by rejecting a “hard complementarian” view (if I think women should be permitted to teach a Bible study to both men and women), am I rejecting God’s Lordship over His creation by default (as is stated by Russell Moore)?

G. In an email, you insinuated that you opposed a concept related to these teachings concerning the Trinity, mentioning the term “image bearer.” You seemed to deny the idea that women are created only in God’s Image “indirectly” and are only a “derivative” of the Image of God in an email to me. Do you believe that women are ontological different from men in regard to spiritual matters? Do you consider that women are the “derivative” or the “indirect” Image of God?

6. Because of your participation with leaders at Vision Forum who claim that Numbers Chapter 30 supports a view of the father as central to the mission of the home, I wondered if you also shared the interpretation that they put forth in the “Return of the Daughters” video? It is widely perceived that you do approve of this teaching and that you share these teachings promoted by both Vision Forum and by the Botkin family because of the part you played in that video. If you do embrace this Scripture in the same manner as those mentioned, could you explain your rationale for this Scripture’s use to promote these concepts as something other than a clarification of fiduciary responsibilities within that agrarian-type society?

7. Vision Forum and many others within the FIC promote the view that only a father within a family has a calling from the Lord, and all young men who have not yet come of age and all women in the family must serve the calling and mission of their father. No other alternatives to this paradigm are tolerated within that culture.

A. Do you share this view?

B. If you do, how do you substantiate this using Scriptures to support the view?

C. Upon what Scriptures do you base the concept that a father is the prophet, priest and king of the home, aside from Ephesians 5? In a private email, you stated that you subtly changed some of the language that George Whitefield used in a sermon, but I am interested in what Scripture references support this teaching. There are people who live by this teaching and concept as if it is tantamount with Scripture (like some would likely maintain that Sunday School appears in a verse in the Bible). Protector and provider are specifically noted by Paul in his epistles, and I like your redefinition of protector and provider far better than “king” which makes marriage into a type of aristocracy. But what Scripture supports the concept that a husband/father is the priest (one who offers sacrifices/administers sacraments) or the prophet (one who speaks for God) for his family, as in the New Testament, these terms only refer to spiritual roles? That connotes and is understood by many as an intercessory role for man in a spiritual sense on behalf of his family. Many who teach it do not relate this only in terms of practical function within the home only, using vague implications that are understood as having spiritual implications. (Add this to some of these practices concerning the Eucharist, and this takes on a whole new twist of doctrine.)

D. There was some controversy in the SBC regarding the priesthood of believers and a redefinition of the concept within the Baptist Faith and Message statement. Do you believe that a woman holds the same status as a man under this concept? Do laymen hold the same status as the clergy in this regard, something that may or may not infer ecclesiocentricity.

E. Do you embrace the concept of “multi-generational faithfulness” with the understanding that a grown adult child must submit to and follow their parent’s choice for their lives, forsaking their own best judgment in favor of the parent’s choices whenever there is any conflict? When do adult children become their own agents with freedom to follow their own discernment and choices, if you ascribe to such an understanding of the concept? Do you embrace Bill Gothard’s concept of chain of command or the umbrella of protection concept?

F. If you do ascribe to this concept of “multi-generational faithfulness” or a view that only a father’s calling from the Lord should be followed by family members (and others as approved by the father) in these terms as lived out/understood in these terms within many FICs, how would you respond to a criticism that this constitutes idolatry of one’s family, parents and/or patriarch?

8. Concerning courtship, which authors do you find insightful on this subject, noting whether you appreciate one particular work on this subject more than any other?

9. Several places, I’ve heard you discuss the father’s role in protecting a daughter’s purity. For me, this brings to mind the Old Testament laws concerning the payments due to a father if a man defiled his daughter sexually outside of the covenant of marriage, or if he defamed her by wrongly claiming that she’d been defiled. I have always understood that since a woman in this agrarian-type society had no opportunity to generate her own wealth, the father required payment from the one who defiled her because the financial responsibility for the daughter returns to the father. She has essentially be robbed of her means to make a living, so the father is compensated. But I don’t see that these laws speak directly to the father’s role in assuming responsibility for the critical thinking and decision-making of his daughters. The family should certainly instill daughters with good discernment and their own critical thinking ability, so the “bride’s price” payment for defilement does not speak to a family replacing of her own good discernment. A parent actually provides a safe environment and training to give a daughter good discernment, but the parent does not own the virtue of the daughter, in my understanding of things.

What Scriptures, if any do you use to support the idea, once a daughter comes of age (becomes old enough to marry), that her purity still falls to the responsibility of her father, and how does that apply in a society that is not agrarian where a young woman can acquire her own wealth?

This introduces a host of other questions:
A. Do any purity-protecting responsibilities also fall to other family members? Does the mother play a role? Do other siblings play a role?

B. Can you assign a quantitative value (percentage) to how much responsibility for purity falls to the daughter and how much falls to the father or others?

C. Is there an age at which a daughter becomes fully responsible for protecting or defending her own purity, and is she capable of protecting or defending it? When and why?

D. If there is a sin wherein a daughter does knowingly and willfully surrender her purity outside of marriage, since a father bears moral responsibility for the purity by way of protection, does the father bear the sin of the daughter’s act of commission in any way?

E. Do other virtues of the daughter also fall to the responsibility of the father, and what Scriptures support this?

F. Do you believe that a woman today is permitted to acquire her own wealth (separate from the family), in light of the Scriptures written for an agrarian society, though we now live in a non-agrarian one?

G. In our email correspondence, you implied that you rejected the idea that a woman finds sanctification, the process of being made spiritually holy, at the hands of her husband and that this process is directed by her husband (or father). It implies that there is mediation required by a male representative and intercessor for a woman to experience proper sanctification. This view that some within the FIC embrace also suggests that a husband presents his wife to God as holy and blameless, because of the language that is used describing Christ’s relationship to the church. Could you briefly explain your own understanding and explanation of Ephesians 5 in regard to this belief, noting whether or not you support this stated understanding that is very popular within many areas of the FIC?

10. What kind of rules concerning men and women prevailed in your own family as you were growing up? You state in your book that you came from a less than ideal home because there were a great number of divorces in your family. (Both my husband and I grew up in traditional homes with both mothers and fathers who are still married, yet my family has half as many divorces as you mention and my husband’s family has suffered just as many in theirs as you note about your own. So I didn’t find that your description elucidated much about the parenting that both you and your wife received, as what you’ve actually stated could mean a whole host of things because the parameters and scope of your statement were not clearly delineated in your book.)

A. What were the specifics about whether you each had a mother and father at home growing up?

B. What where those family rules (were they patriarchal)?

C. How do your own experiences and those you observed in your wife’s upbringing correlate to your current ideal for the family?

11. This comment of Karen Campbell’s was noted on her “thatmom” blog in response to Bill Roach of the CHEC:
“A few months ago, Doug Phillips made a declaration that a woman who faces an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening situation, and has surgery is considered to be a “murderer,” one who practices “child sacrifice” or “infanticide,” and is not 100% pro-life. In researching Doug’s position and asking pro-life leaders around the country to comment on his writings, I could not find a single person who could agree with his perspective and many were concerned that homeschooling mothers who are being influenced by Doug could have their very lives placed in danger. He also stated that he would not support any organization that didn’t agree with him so I can only conclude that his is also the position of CHEC, lending credibility to this dangerous view.”

Do you share Doug Phillips’ views (since your ministry does interact and participate with his, or is perceived that way), agreeing that a surgery performed to save the life of a woman with a tubal or otherwise life-threatening (non-tubal) ectopic pregnancy constitutes abortion and murder, reckoning the life of the unborn baby that cannot survive as more valuable than that of the mother, when it is sure that the unborn baby will not be able to survive? Why or why not?

12. There has been a shift over the past 10 years or so wherein the management and coordination of homeschooling within the home which once fell to both husband and wife (as the wife bears most of the day-to-day responsibilities for executing the “hands on” duties of homeschooling because most men work full-time jobs) now falls to fathers first and foremost. For instance, when Doug Phillips first started speaking in these circles, women were honored and were not excluded from decision-making but were encouraged as the primary vessels through whom God worked to educate their children (or it was a duty that was delegated to mothers). But in recent years, Phillips shifted to a “men only” and “men first” message. Many mothers feel that homeschooling leaders that once viewed them as most vitally important in the process of planning are being pushed out of the process, as this duty is now directed at husbands only or to husbands first and foremost.

The CHEC has slated you as a plenary speaker at their upcoming “Men’s Leadership Summit” in March of ‘08 where women are not welcome to attend in order to participate in the planning of the direction of Christian homeschooling, presumably for all Christian homeschoolers. You are noted to be one of those who will “cast a vision” for the future of homeschooling for Christians.

A. What is your understanding of this catch-phrase of “vision casting” anyway, and does the term have any odd connotations for you? (Prior to its self-help popularity via Willow Creek Community Church and Andy Stanley, a Christian would use the terminology of “seeking God’s will.” ) Many find this “vision casting” terminology to be quite troublesome. It may be used for epicurean appeal and a sense of novelty, but for many, it does sound akin to “spell casting” and something like a new age term. Are you completely comfortable with this term on a personal level, and do you use the term in your own vernacular? (For instance when I was at that seminary a few months ago, when talking to students about their plans for ministry, many used this terminology when stating that they’d either “cast vision” for God’s will or had not done so, giving this impression to me that it was like a process of casting lots which I was taught was not followed under the New Covenant. We are guided by the Spirit and the Word, as well as sage advice from trusted counselors and the circumstances that we encounter. I must admit that the terminology did not sit well with me, and I found it disturbing.) How do you put “vision casting” into perspective, and do you see any potential for this language leading others into doctrinal error?

B. Why is this conference limited to men, and do you have an opinion about why women have not been included in the group of those who will plan the future? Is there some Scriptural foundation for excluding women from this process? Can you elaborate on your rationale?

C. How much of a role does the promotion of the FIC principles play in the shaping of the future of homeschooling – in the “vision casting?” (Given the speakers, many speculate that the conference seeks to not necessarily “cast vision” but disseminate the FIC vision.)

D. If the vision of the FIC and its role in governing homeschooling is so sound and clear clear, why is there cause to “cast vision” or what I understand as a seeking of God’s will for the future of homeschooling? Can you give any information about the more specific objectives of the conference?

E. Do you see the stated mission of this conference as insulting to those others who have pioneered homeschooling? Can you explain why their vision was insufficient, as the language used on the website for the conference suggests that those homeschoolers who preceded those who are identified as the current leadership who speak for the entire movement was not quite so Biblical as their own, somewhat ill-guided, and/or somewhat nebulous?

13. Though I know as an advocate for the FIC, you believe that the FIC presents the most efficacious way of conducting worship and reforming the church and family so that both are more effective. Unfortunately, many of us who have been involved in the FIC movement and the very similar principles that govern groups like Vision Forum have had quite disappointing if not devastating experiences. Though there are many very good aspects of the movement (thinking of Henry Reyenga’s and your own advocacy of home catechism, hymn sings and Bible memory as examples), there are inherent problems in the movement as well, many with which you may actually be unfamiliar. Some of us, not being leaders in this movement, have been affected by the movement in a very different way than you have. Perhaps you have not considered the problems to which the approach predisposes believers.

A. Though not all groups are authoritarian, as I am told that Henry Reyenga’s group is not exclusive or inclusive of families only, far more FIC churches operate under a very authoritarian style of leadership which often gives way to patterns of sacerdotalism and spiritual abuse. How can these problems be addressed? (Please note that many people who both are and were affiliated with Henry Reyenga expressed their concerns to me regarding CLI’s announcement of both you and Kevin Swanson as faculty, because they see you both as agents of Vision Forum. They’ve drawn Reyenga into doubt because, though they are comfortable with his model, they see the Vision Forum connection as a serious threat, a sign of Reyenga taking a legalistic turn for the worse. People are quite distressed about it. You may believe this to be unwarranted, but I want you to know that it is a serious concern.)

B. Within your own FIC church, if a family declines to follow home catechism, will that affect their full participation in the life of the church? In other words, can a family decline participation and not suffer prejudice (formal or informal)? What would be the consequences for declining home catechism in a formal sense? I get the impression from those who have attended your fellowship and left (having read their comments online) that you lean towards an authoritarian style now that you’ve connected with Vision Forum. I’ve also heard you state, in a video, something akin to a “military approach” to the training of children. If the USMC can whip young, undisciplined men into shape, we should likewise do so with our families. I fear that this style is not natural. I don’t believe it works for many families who do not have personality styles for which an authoritarian approach comes naturally, and this limits their ability to participate. It will not be effective for children who do not respond well to this style either. I’m not stating that this is not an approach from which many can benefit, but I know that many personalities (both parents and children) will not respond well to this approach.

C. This may seem like a simple question to ask, given some of the things that you’ve written and preached elsewhere, but for the sake of clarification, would you say that churches who offer Sunday School or youth groups follow an unbiblical model which is more consistent with “Social Darwinism”?

D. Do you believe that many FIC’s promote exclusivity and a type of spiritual class distinction both within the Church and within homeschooling, fostering the idea that there are not necessarily different ways of conducting worship services and homeschooling but that there are BETTER ways of conducting corporate worship as well as education within the home? How would you respond to this comment from R.C. Sproul, Jr as he describes committed Christians who do homeschool with great spiritual conviction to do so but marks them because they reject patriarchy as he and other associates have defined it?

“There is, in evangelical homeschooling circles, a growing divide. On the one side there are those of us who might be called movement homeschoolers. We homeschool because we believe it to be the Biblical choice, not because we merely prefer it. We tend to adopt many of the secondary lifestyle issues related to homeschooling, lots of children, modest dress, husbands as the heads of their homes, courtship, denim jumpers. On the other side are a different bunch of folks. These typically are homes where moms see homeschooling as a choice, an arena wherein they can excel by helping their children excel. The former are driven by issues of conviction, the latter by more practical matters.”

E. How would you respond to the comment that there are those within the FIC who use their standards of legalism and the idea that only their preferences are acceptable, using those standards as a measuring rod for judging the spirituality (or motives, etc.) of others within the Body of Christ? How would you respond to those who are disappointed in the outcomes that the FIC and patriarchal models produced with their children, considering that these models were promoted to them as THE Biblical model and plan that would nearly guarantee a positive outcome with their children? How would you respond to those disillusioned parents who followed the model but realized very negative outcomes? Is it a flaw in the model itself, the parents, children, or in the execution of the plan? (Have you read the October 2008 installment on “Cloistered Homeschooler Syndrome” by Michael Pearl, noting the numbers of letters he received regarding the negative outcomes stemming from the concepts promoted by the FIC?)

F. Do you believe that many speakers who frequent homeschooling venues use logical fallacy and sensationalism to capitalize on the fears of homeschooling parents to promote their agendas rather than edifying and encouraging parents? Kevin Swanson and Doug Phillips are probably two of the most colorful and polemic of this group. How would you respond to this statement by Karen Campbell?

“I would also ask them to hold their own spokesmen accountable. A year ago I talked about the over-the-top rhetoric used by FIC promoter Kevin Swanson on his Generations program. The lack of grace and wisdom has disappointed me but even worse is the fact that broadcast after broadcast keeps getting worse and I only see more people giving him accolades, promoting him, participating in interviews with him, and even filling in for him when he is unavailable. Why is no one challenging his harsh and arrogant discourse? And adding to my disappointment is that Kevin, himself, is a homeschooling graduate.”

G. Many FICs follow a model of ecclesiocentricity where affairs within the home are also subject to scrutiny in the church as well. Do you follow such a system in your own church? Do you believe that the church is a family of families, following a similar chain of command and procedure? Were you aware that Vision Forum changed their NCFIC mission statement this year regarding their language related to this position? I’m curious to know if those who participate (as does your own church) were notified of the change.

H. Many groups have discussed the issue of “normativity.” Please note this passage written by Karen Campbell in a blog article that she wrote concerning her problems with the FIC concept, having attended several FICs, one affiliated with Henry Reyenga:

“I would ask FIC churches why there is such a great emphasis on what they call “multi-generational faithfulness,” but there are typically only two generations represented in these churches, parents and their children. There are few if any elderly couples and single people – they are basically nonexistent. And probably the saddest aspect of the FIC church is that families who are really struggling with even basic issues of faith, let alone those who desperately need help in building relationships within their marriages or with their children, high maintenance families, as it were, would never darken the door of these churches. Sadly, even if they did, many of them would never come to understand what grace even looks like.

I would ask how welcome orphans (those without families) and widows might feel in an FIC church. James 1:27 says “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Are they welcomed as part of the royal priesthood, joint heirs with Christ, or are they seen as projects needing to be fixed, added on to someone else’s family in order to be “normative,” which is defined in the FIC movement as married with children? It seems to me that the true “normative,” according to Scripture, is to welcome all believers, to minister to one another, and the assumption is that these things can and should be done without defiling any of God’s true standards for righteousness. The practice of father-served communion, as is common in FIC churches, is just one example of the loud and clear message that anyone outside of a human family within that congregation is not normal and needs reforming.

I would ask “what about evangelism?” I would love to take a poll of those FIC churches that move into neighborhoods and find out how many of them have taken steps to reach out to those in their local community. How many have knocked on doors and presented the good news of Jesus Christ? My guess is that few if any have done that. Perhaps many of them are willing to financially support both foreign and local mission organizations, but what would they do with desperately needy folks who might walk in to their churches? Or would they ever consider allowing their children to go to the mission field? And if so, how are they preparing them to do that? You see, the Gospel within the FIC church is family reformation through homeschooling and lifestyle changes for man’s (the father’s) glory rather than the work of the Holy Spirit to transform lives for the glory of our Heavenly Father.”

How does your church deal with the “non-normative” family and individuals who are not homeschooling if the church is geared toward families? Are the non-normative assigned to someone as a resource person for them? Are elderly believers also included in the life of the church? What appeal would your church have for those who have no children or those who have raised their children? Are you aware of how others who fall into these groups perceive the FIC, and that many of these “non-normatives” are treated as outsiders? How does your church respond to adult young women who are not married and have no children? Not to downplay the needs of families who are busy about raising children, but in many cases, people who fall outside of this population within the FIC find difficulty participating . How can this best be addressed in FICs where this proves to be a major problem? Why or why is this not a problem in your own congregation? (What is the rough percentage of elderly who attend your church?)

I. What is your response to those churches who only offer the Lord’s Supper to fathers to distribute to their families because the father is seen as someone who intercedes before the Lord on his family’s behalf?

J. A member of an FIC wrote to me some time ago to ask my opinion on their new church charter, and it was the opinion of that fellowship of elders that the Bible does not indicate that any of the apostles attended school for training in the Word, so they now reject any formal education in the Word of God, claiming that it is unbiblical. How would you respond to this group?

K. Many FIC churches neglect evangelism of the lost (one commentary already noted above), focusing instead on proselytizing those who are already Christian from within homeschooling circles and from within other churches. Related to this is an encouragement to strive to birth large families for both economic reasons and for God’s purposes of redemption of our secular culture. I’ve heard fathers express concern when no one comes to court their daughters because they are fertile yet have no opportunity to conceive because they have not yet married. What would you say to such a parent who has concerns that they are limiting God’s harvest and His Kingdom by not finding a suitable spouse for his daughter? Because of the focus on the covenant community in many FICs, there is a perception that those born to Christian parents have a higher status as the “elect.” Because of the focus on election with a concurrent focus on the importance of Christian families, many FIC’s almost discourage evangelism of the lost. What do you see as the root of this problem and how the FIC be redirected to a healthy appreciation of the Great Commission? How do you teach and incorporate evangelism into your own congregation?

L. Some FIC’s now promote a teaching in the development of a “family catechism” or a Christian version of the Jewish “toledoth” that incorporates testimony from the history of their family. Most families pass these types of personal history down organically, not attaching them to any religious practice. Do you have an opinion about this practice?

M. I am disturbed by what many FICs call “domestic discipline” which refers to the punishment and physical discipline of wives by their husbands (links to these groups used to be displayed on the “Patriarch’s Path” website), though this is a practice not limited to the FIC. After addressing this on my blog, I now find that I get a consistent two hits per day from people linking in from Google searches on the subject. On Sundays, presumably after people return home from church, I generally get at least a half dozen hits, and I wonder if it is because parishioners have heard this topic preached (from either an affirming or a disapproving position)? Someone affiliated with Federal Vision once argued with me that husbands were called to discipline wives in a manner much like a father disciplines children,. And a dear friend of mine was moderated/censored on an evangelical Christian Yahoo group for stating that Hebrews Chapter 11 does not support this practice which is very much associated with some groups within the FIC. What is your response to the practice of “domestic discipline”?

N. I also recommend reading Karen Campbell’s article that discusses her personal experience in the FIC and the culture of patriarchy from which I drew some of the quotes that appear here in this list. She’s homeschooled six children, the youngest of which is 17 years of age, so she is quite familiar with the experience and the sub-culture of Christian homeschooling within the evangelical Christian Church. http://www.thatmom.com/articles/article-fic.htm

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

* I declare that these questions are subject to full copyright, December 2008 under both my name, Cynthia Mullen Kunsman and as Under Much Grace. They cannot be reprinted or published publicly in any form without securing permission to do so.