Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Rightful Reaction to the Stealth and Deceptive Doctrines of the FIC

It seems that my email correspondence with Voddie Baucham has completely ceased, even though he expressed what seemed like great interest in discussing his beliefs and what he believes about the Family Integrated Church (FIC) with me. I have not heard any response from Baucham in over a week now, and it’s been a week since I sent him the list of questions that he said he would make some effort to answer. He's not even acknowledged them. I can only draw his originally stated good intention toward me as stated in his emails into question, in consideration of his online response which showed his accountability to the truth (quite admirable) but in a manner that was unkind to me (negating his statement that he intended to cause me no harm, offering a confusing apology which he never attempted to qualify and explain to me).

But as I’ve stated before, I would like to show myself accountable in these matters, stating what Baucham communicated to me in his emails. I believe that I can address these matters in this post and just two additional posts here, though I still have not yet managed to get through Baucham’s book. When I do, I would be happy to comment on it. I find it frustrating, mostly because he speaks with an attitude of absolute authority and full assurance on many matters that I find to be anything but certain using either no arguments or logical fallacy techniques. I find what he writes to be consistent with the very same major mistakes of other FIC advocates, defining social practices or personal preferences to be “Biblical” while authoritatively redefining and even vilifying many of the practices that fall outside of his paradigm as unbiblical. These frustrating aspects of the book (something with which I did not struggle when I read Steve Wright’s “reThink”) have impeded my ability to get through the book, even after engaging in this correspondence with Baucham. In other words, I’m struggling with all the “window dressing” in the book, and it impedes my efforts to evaluate the actual content of the book.

One topic that I would like to discuss, the first question that I pose to Baucham on my list of many concerns Baucham’s statements that suggest that his understanding of the FIC is superior to most everyone else’s approach to the paradigm, almost expressing a desire to be a type of reformer in defense of both the church and the family. Though he’s advocated within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for reform and for support of homeschooling, he actually comes late to the FIC concept himself, well over 10 years after others Presbyterian groups had coined the term and defined the concept. But then he makes this statement:

Believe it or not, few FIC pastors have ever met another FIC pastor, let alone one of the so-called leaders of the movement (I'm still trying to figure out what I did to get on that list).
I think he’s on the list because he put himself on the list. How exactly does one become associated with the FIC movement? He advocated for these principles within the SBC with individuals like Bruce Shortt, and he wrote his 2007 book. He also worked his way into the homeschooling convention circuit so that he is now one of the more desired speakers at state conventions. I don’t believe any of those endeavors came about by chance. He worked very, very hard to “get on that list.”

Baucham defined what he calls “FIC Reaction Syndrome” as I noted in a previous post. He mentions that within the widely varied practices associated with the FIC, the movement itself tends to be associated only with the lowest common denominator of those beliefs in the FIC movement. He stated in another email that there is “a great deal of tension and animosity toward and from FIC pastors” which complicates their relationships with others in the Body of Christ. Most of what he wrote about in his emails focused on the painful rejection FIC pastors experience, referring to pastoring these churches as quite lonely and a “desperate need” for fellowship with the like-minded “to be reminded that we are not completely insane!” He says that all of this rejection alienates them, but it also serves to make fellowship with other FIC pastors so much more precious. The FIC belief system has allowed this group of people with diverse beliefs (such as paedocommunion), offering opportunities for these FIC pastors to connect with one another in a special way that would have never afforded them contact with one another. The description seems to paint the FIC connection as a transcendent one, in that respect, bringing a precious unity in Christ that seems to transcend the love that we are supposed to have for one another in Christ, regardless of our differing views on the non-essentials of the faith.

As much as I tend to be supportive of groups that suffer rejection, unwarranted abuse, or callous disregard, I was not all that moved with compassion by Baucham’s sad laments about the plight of the FIC pastor, considering my own, often offensive, experiences with them and the sad experiences and problems that others have encountered within the FIC. An apt phrase comes to my mind: “People in glass houses should not throw stones.” And having read quite widely on this topic as well, I’ve yet to see a convincing argument for the claims that the paradigm represents the best and only responsible Biblical model for Christian living. I suppose that if I didn’t observe and recognize the elements of thought reform at work in their circles (observing my peers at both ends of the spectrum in terms of the lenient and the rigid), I would also have more sympathy for their plight.

I must also ask why mature, earnest Christians would have cause to show animosity anyone who seeks to follow that which is clearly biblical.

Maybe it’s because people are quite reluctant to view the concepts as Biblical when they are actually extra-biblical, and they discern this well. The dogma and intolerance of those who do not see things in the same manner as the FIC minded offends other believers and is likely the true cause of this animosity, not unwarranted or vague suspicion. As mentioned in this previous post, those who churches and their pastors who offer Sunday School and Youth Ministries have been vilified and defined as “Social Darwinists” who reject the true Biblical model for worship. That’s plenty of reason for a silver haired pastor to hold the young, inexperienced men who make these accusations against them at arms length, viewing them through mustard-colored lenses. It’s particularly offensive to those who have homeschooled their own children through to adulthood, yet they are told by those whose youngest child is 10 years old that they do not know how to properly, responsibly and dutifully parent their own children. Many informed believers also discern well that the FIC teachings prove more consistent with the pagan Roman paterfamilias and are more extreme and restrictive than the legalism of the oral traditions of Judaism. In addition, when other Berean believers rightfully test all things related to the FIC, most of those who are affiliated with the FIC resort to ad hominem attacks and prejudice against their fellow believers, claiming that they are negligent in their study, understanding and application of the Word of God rather than giving an answer for their FIC-related hopes and beliefs with meekness and patience.

(I’m so weary of hearing that I am an antinomian, and I wish some of these folks would talk to my husband first before making their accusations that I am a strident, unsubmissive Jezebel!)

Perhaps when the whole movement has been known for such offensive things -- however unintended -- as condemning and abusing women and believers that are critical of their bitter fruit, the FIC movement deserves criticism, that criticism and scrutiny should come. It shows me that people out there are still discerning which is an encouraging thought. And I’m glad these concepts are being scrutinized, as I’ve yet to see good fruit and only abundant and bitter water from their fountains of FIC wisdom. All I’ve seen has been legalism, cultic manipulation and many brutally wounded sheep.