Saturday, November 21, 2009

Indefinite Internet Sabbatical

I’ve recently received many emails from a number of different people inquiring about why I have not been active online for some months. I never actually intended to spend that much time on the internet to start with, planning only to devote about 3 months in 2007 to communicating the anti-cult message to the population of people who were working through their issues with the so-called “Biblical patriarchy” movement. A few months proved to be an insufficient amount of time for me to adequately meet my original objectives. Very soon after I became outspoken online about these matters, someone asked me when I anticipated arriving at a sense of satisfaction with my efforts to “mark” what I consider to be an aberrant movement so that others would know to avoid it, after the admonishment of the Apostle Paul. In hindsight and in response to this individual’s question, it appears to have taken me two years. On that two year anniversary date this past May, I decided to take a break in order to get back to my other vocations, interests and responsibilities. As opportunity and conviction allow, I may return to offer more regular posts at some point in the future.

But about this time last year, I found that my conviction about my role in the online discussion of patriarchy began to shift. Of all of the patriarchalists, I believed that Voddie Baucham demonstrated a higher level of integrity until my disappointing email exchange with him. A list of very honest questions that I posed to him still remains unaddressed, so far as I am aware. Prior to this time, I believed that most of the leaders in this movement genuinely wanted to serve God in the best way that they understood, though I disagree with their position. As I have been misguided on matters of the Christian faith in the past while earnestly endeavoring to honor God myself, I considered that these men were very much like me. They were misguided but had virtuous intentions, even though many of them operated in a system wherein the end justifies the means. But after this exchange with Voddie who I viewed as a newcomer and subsequently less tainted by the system, my willingness to extend so much benefit of the doubt to these leaders in my own mind began to degrade. I did not find Voddie’s actions befitting of a man of good integrity based upon and within our exchange. I found his behavior quite disingenuous when it concluded, and I had thought much better of him.

I then reviewed materials from a number of Vision Forum affiliates concerning the collection of ideas that comprise their concept of “multigenerational faithfulness.” In general, I find that patriarchy's leaders tend to prescribe their social preferences as non-optional moral imperatives that are promoted as expressly orthodox and Biblical. They also tend to take the writings of venerated men and mingle them with these moral imperatives. They then take their presuppositions about their preferences for certain behaviors and social mores to the Word of God to find proof texts that will bear them up. But, I found that multigenerational faithfulness as a concept was quite different from these other tendencies of bad hermeneutics. They claim to arrive at multigenerational faithfulness from key Scriptures, interpreting the Word of God directly, then working to the social aspects of what I find to be little more than social engineering and social Darwinism.

For me, there is little in patriarchy that I more distasteful than the information I found in the “deeper layers” of the multigenerational faithfulness material. The disturbing teachings that fall under this concept caused me to realize the cruel elitism of the ideology on an entirely new and deeper level. Misinterpreting the Scripture in such a way, by men who should know better, strikes me as a more serious error than merely trying to rationalize and justify a preference. As a consequence, viewing the leaders of patriarchy as merely misguided became even more difficult for me on a personal level because I believe that the deeper layers of the multigenerational faithfulness concept lack the True Spirit of the New Covenant.

In late December of last year, I learned that Geoff Botkin was not merely a zealous, misguided individual who followed Vision Forum’s brand of patriarchy but was an early member of Jim McCotter’s cultic Great Commission. Again, something in my heart that thought better of these men as misguided Christians with good intentions in pursuit of good ends via questionable means fell away. Botkin was quite literally in this cult and former members remembered him well. If that did not raise red flags for Vision Forum’s following, then there is little more than I can do but pray. I’ve done all that I can do, and the Holy Spirit is responsible for the rest.

All these things reminded me that high demand groups employing thought reform always generate new material, controversy, and standards in order to perpetuate their system of ideology. Based upon what Robert Lifton outlined, such groups must use new propaganda, new demands of compliance and behavior, and ongoing fear and shame to drive their following and simultaneously to maintain milieu control. They must keep their followers off balance with these measures, motivating them toward the group’s endpoint. They must always dangle the carrot before the horse, inspiring their followers with the promise of lofty and desirable outcomes. But they also create new standards and controversies and rules and directives, like motivating a horse with snakes that snap at their feet, spurs that goad them with shame, and barking dogs that threaten them from behind. Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us, and with cultic religious systems or any such systems of ideology, patriarchy will have its new fear fostering crises and new campaigns. The system requires them all for survival.

So I had to ask myself whether, after two years of work, did I plan to continue reviewing each new crisis and twist? I’d decided that I’d done enough, because I know well that they will never cease. Early in 2009 and in anticipation of my two year mark in May, I began the tying up of the loose ends of any unmet objectives that remained. Since that time, I’ve enjoyed the rest and the renewed perspective.

I may continue to post here in the future, but I have no immediate plans. (There are a few very good books I would like to review here, perhaps in 2010. And I have a few more things that I’d like to add to the posts on the emergent movement. All in good time, as time allows.) I hope to eventually get caught up answering the many emails that I’ve already received, and I endeavor to answer inquiries as I get them. Thanks to all who have expressed so much kindness, concern, and encouragement. You have been and continue to be a great blessing to me.

Until we all come together in the knowledge of the truth…