Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gary Demar, My Confirmation Bias, and the Learning Curve

People still call and write to me to ask for information about Voddie Baucham. Some time ago, someone even wrote to me and asked for “all I had on him.” Apart from the actual email exchange that I had with Voddie, everything that “I have” appears here online. Oddly, I’ve received two inquiries this week concerning Voddie Baucham and his connection to American Vision who apparently featured him as a speaker in one of their conferences, something that at least a couple of people found to be problematic. I found it quite validating that I am not the only person who is offended that 

American Vision offers their platform to so many Vision Forum affiliates and features so many of their products, though I still get melancholy about it. In another post, I'll discuss Voddie more specifically. 
Concerning Gary DeMar
I used to support a number of Christian Reconstructionist organizations and have written about the topic in the past. Life became complicated, and for a few years, reading the latest copy of some of the publications of these groups did not have a great priority in my home. When I did pick up these publications again in the early 2000s, I didn’t like what I found in many of them. One of the questions I still ask myself was whether the organizations themselves changed into something different over time or whether confirmation bias allowed me to only see what I wanted to see in these groups. In retrospect and with some disappointment in my past idealistic naïveté, I still think that it was a mix of both.

For example, American Vision’s website once declared this about their mission, a mission that I also support:
American Vision is dedicated to the restoration of America's biblical foundation. Our goal is to help Christians think biblically. Right thinking precedes right action. Our mission therefore is to supply Christians of all denominations the spiritual and educational tools they need to become comprehensive, biblical thinkers. As individual lives are transformed by the power of Jesus Christ, society will also be changed to reflect Christ's Lordship over all of life.

All Christians should think Biblically, and I agree that action and emotion follow thought. My husband and I took great joy in supporting a ministry that supplied resources to Christians of ALL denominations that countered the anti-intellectualism that I found dissatisfying in much of Evangelicalism. I believe that those with secular interests undermined information concerning the Christian influences on America’s foundation in government, and American Vision published and promoted excellent materials that preserved the Christian perspective of American History.

I also understood ideologies like theonomy to advocate a “grass roots” approach to good Christian stewardship in the arena of civil government that worked toward Christian representation in politics that flowed first from individual evangelism. I understood that it did not advocate for a “trickle down” approach that sought to establish any kind of theocracy, something that would be like evangelism through government. As Christians behaved as better stewards, the government would change by way of the process that our founding fathers gave us. 

As the quotable quote that many attribute to Alexis de Tocqueville declares, America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” (Though Democracy in America does imply this principle and may be a summary or paraphrase of Tocqueville, some controversy exists about the source of the statement.) As Christians become better thinkers, it follows that they will become most effective agents in the objective of making America both good and great.

If one looks at the American Vision website as it appears today, they have adopted a motto of “Exercising Servanthood Dominion.”
“American Vision provides Bible-based training for families and churches to expand Christ’s Kingdom to every corner of life for generations to come. Providing a coherent curriculum across the disciplines, while at the same time addressing key issues as they arise, American Vision reaches beyond traditional ministry and points to 1,000 generations of service and hope. Deuteronomy 6:6-7”

-mouse over pop-up window defining "Biblical Education"
on American Vision website's 1000 Year Strategy/Introduction diagram

I’m not entirely sure what on earth this means. It has a flavor that smacks of Botkin’s “200 Year Plan” and sounds like Vision Forum’s “multigenerational faithfulness.” According to their aberrant theology and interpretation of Deuteronomy chapter 5, Bill Einwecter claims that as the good works of Christians today create blessings for 1,000 generations, but that the consequences of the sins of the Redeemed today still visit their children to the 3rd and 4th generations.
Could one consider this American Vision statement as putting the positive twist on the double-edged “multigenerational faithfulness” concept of the Old Law as applicable to Christians under the New Covenant? It sounds to me like an odd Protestant version of the Roman Catholic concept of accumulated meritorious works as intercessory supererogation for the dead. I also wonder whether their “1000 Year Plan” is a typo or whether the generations comment is a typo? Are they pointing to an approximation of a figurative 1000 generations that history has witnessed since Moses penned Deuteronomy 6 (I figure that only approx. 75 generations elapsed in 3400 years) or are they planning for an approximate 50,000 years of American Vision’s future fruitfulness?
Since the Vice President of American Vision once asked me just “what my husband thought” when offended at my opinion of Boerne Christian Assembly, I thought I would offer his recent thought on the new “Introduction” page for American Vision. This was my husband’s response to the above quote from AV’s Information page:
“It [American Vision and their mission statement] went from a clear cut ministry in support of the church into some nebulous nothing market strategy that sounds like it came from an MBA, denoting and connoting nothing. It’s all image and no substance. That’s what they’ve done. They’ve transmuted into the prototype of image over substance.

It is so sad. I almost feel like I’ve invested in a Ponzi scheme. At least the first people who invest in a Ponzi scheme get a return, and the latter contributors get fleeced. As early contributors [to American Vision], I feel like we didn’t even get a good return. We were duped. It is so disappointing. It is difficult to put into words the sense of loss I feel...”

I'll write a summary about my interaction with
Voddie Baucham in an upcoming post.