Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The First Step Towards Understanding Jill and Jessa Duggar’s Fox Interview: Second Generation Adults in Cultic/High Demand Religion

Originally published 07Jun2015

A host of resources exist exploring the characteristics of the subculture of the Quiverfull Movement (which is often synonymous with Patriarchy within evangelical Christian homeschooling circles).  As the new generation that this movement produced finds their voice, there appears to be little information about the process of how this group in particular has affected the development of the now adult “arrows” of their parents’ quivers , especially for those who remain within their religious culture of origin.

Defining the Term:  Second Generation Adult

Simply defined, children who are raised in a high demand religion whose followers view themselves as special have been described as “Second Generation Adults,” (resulting in the acronym of “SGA”). Their parents, those of the “first generation,” who opted to follow a particular ideology obligated their children to its demands — demands which shape how their children grow into their adulthood.  

Parents’ choices burden their children with concerns and issues that people outside of their religious culture do not share.  Even into adulthood, this burden alters normal growth and development as well as identity in predictable, lasting, and often in profound ways. 

The Duggar daughters who appeared on the June 5, 2015 interview on Fox News represent the SGAs of the duplicitous Bill Gothard’s “Advanced Training Institute” homeschooling program.

A Very Complicated Subculture:  Duggar Children as SGAs

Defining this for the Quiverfull Movement becomes more complicated because of the odd nature of clustered interests followed by these homeschooling families.  It is by no means monolithic, Some local clusters of families focus on agrarian life and homesteading, but this is not universal.  Many who are part of the larger culture have no idea about individuals like Bill Gothard, Mary Pride, or Gary North who helped to shape what filters down to them through the unspoken rules and ideals conveyed by their peers.  They fail to recognize the profound influence that the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement fostered, just by noting that the [self proclaimed non-denomination] are the largest and longest-lived publishers of Christian homeschooling materials and textbooks. 

The average evangelical Christian homeschooler has likely heard of the Duggar Family because of their penchant for media attention but may have no idea about the homeschooling organization to which they are beholden.  Few know about the shaming and bizarre, abusive nature of the misogynous religious teachings demanded by their leader.  Those who know of their leader usually wish to minimize or deny his well documented history of nefarious behavior, both past and present.

I am former member of this Christian subculture, and I’m the same age as Michelle Duggar.   I’ve spent the entire length of my childbearing years in evangelical Christianity which expects all married couples to procreate and parent, perhaps as part of the zeitgeist of the whole generation.  And though I did not grow up in a rigid fundamentalist Christianity, I experienced the same type of melding of parenting style with high demand religion within the Word of Faith movement.  

From that experience, I believe that it is impossible to interpret the responses of the Duggar Family interviews this past week without consideration of the profound effect that their whole lifestyle has had on them, particularly on the daughters.  The media attention which the family’s parents willingly sought further intensified these effects on their children, if only by what Robert Cialdini describes as the “weapon of influence” that he terms commitment and consistency.

What It Feels Like to be an SGA

This more specific description of what it feels like to be an SGA within the Quiverfull Movement and similar types of Fundamentalist Christianity borrows heavily from Michael Martella’s depiction ( featured HERE in a panel discussion on the topic).  He speaks as both a licensed family therapist (non-nouthetic) and as an SGA who exited what many describe as a “pseudo-Christian” religious group.  Many groups separate child and family, but for the “child of the quiver,” the focus on the father as a demigod patriarch and mother as suffering servant become something of secondary, middle management gurus within the larger, loosely affiliated Christian homeschooling culture.  Thus, I’ve adapted his description specifically to the movement.  (SGAs from other religious groups can be separated from family, but the general patterns and effects differ little between high demand groups.)

The SGA’s whole existence becomes the proof of the validity of a mixed collection of belief systems, of your individual family’s ability to meet the culture’s demands, and of the family’s favored gurus.  While children are praised as the central focus of the culture, they also become the assets of that culture.  They are objectified (reduced to objects), despite the irony that the homeschooling strategy claimed to exist for the best interests of children.

The SGA becomes the “dream come true” for not only Christians in general, the smaller subculture within Christianity, the effectiveness of homeschooling as an educational choice, and of the worth of the family.   Without realizing it, the SGA doesn’t even realize that the only dream that the process neglects is their own. Because of the “tight margins” in which they are raised, they quite often don’t even know how to dream.  Their needs are subjugated to so many in this hierarchical chain and their independent critical thinking so strongly punished that they may have no solid, viable core sense of self with which to dream.  Those who manage some semblance of one are fortunate.  The bounded choice imposed by their culture limits their ability to think beyond that which has always determined for them by others.

Martella's Masks:  Tools of Surviving the Christian Subculture

SGAs wear two masks, the first of which is the public one.  The constant pressure to present a glowingly positive public persona  (for the culture/parent/anointed visionary leader/homeschooling/Christian faith) dictates their public mask.  As a consequence, they become highly efficient at understanding the subtle cues in any situation in order to determine what is expected of them.  They also become amazingly successful at adapting to those expectations which constantly change because of the shifting dynamics of high demand religion.  One learns quickly that the cultures only reward the public mask, based performance and becomes one’s strongest sense of worth.  Achievement becomes a means of coping.

The mask of the private self cannot be worn, and it’s punished when it makes an appearance.  This mask rarely if ever receives reward or validation, for its neglect is the price that one must pay to earn admission to the culture.  Parents do not realize that they pass this burden on to their children, and it is generally very painful for the parent to even consider that their child pays any price at all.  From their perspective, it is the parent who has sacrificed all for the best interest of both family, culture, and faith — all for their children.  This difference in perspective accounts for great difficulties between SGAs and their parents (and the peers of their parents, too).

As we adapt in public situations, we also adapt ourselves to fit our masks.  We internalize the “lessons” that we’re taught through each one — and neither one is authentic or healthy.  I never managed either very well, myself.  The Duggar daughters seem to have mastered them, for now.  It’s easier to keep up when you’re younger.

An Untenable Life

What results for the SGA is the “endlessly untenable position where the self has no value.” Existence becomes an attempt to manage or to avoid personal disintegration.  (This feeling makes recovery from the emotional and psychological wounds of the personal and spiritual trauma feel overwhelming.  Letting go of the cult self to trust in the process of healing becomes a terror of what seems like complete personal annihilation.)   

For the SGA, life within the group becomes an attempt to juggle a “sufficiently credible performance” with avoidance of getting into even more trouble and greater pain that exceeds the trouble and pain that they constantly bear anyway.  The double bind of both pressures makes life a matter of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”  The cognitive dissonance produced by a double bind life of the SGA becomes part of the vicious cycle of helplessness and hopelessness that keeps them dependent on the group if not enslaved with invisible chains of fear and duty which they tell themselves is really an ideal kind of love.

The self-help and educational literature produced by the cult recovery movement describes this impossible pressure experienced by anyone in a high demand group or relationship as “bounded choice.”  The perfect storm of an inspiring religious ideology and a charismatic leader which then melds with systems of control and manipulation work to alienate the follower.  They must bury their own sense of self (if they even had the chance to develop a functional one), and they cannot access or embrace their inherent internal strengths because of the pervasive restriction of critical thought and imagination.  The situation created by such relationships also often deprives individuals of practical resources (e.g., a trade to earn an income, an adequate education, financial resources) that walking away from their group or family necessitate.

If the adult who is a “first generation” follower of a demanding, restrictive high demand religion struggles to find strength and resources to free themselves from their relationship to their religious communities, how much more difficult are the barriers that SGAs must face without any experience of life outside of their cloistered lives?

A Duggar of a Double Bind

Jill and Jessa who often looked at one another to make eye contact for validation, especially early on in the interview.  For me, I could only see their bounded choice of duty to their family, their culture, and especially the hobgoblin created by the extraordinary pressure of consistency and commitment.  Their parents bound them to that obligation of consistency when they poised and postured them before the world through reality TV.  It breaks my heart.  (This brings up the question as to whether reality TV poses a risk or harm to children.  Read more HERE and HERE.)

At the same age as Jill and Jessa, I was not able to voice my own choices to my parents.  I tried a few times, but the pain of their punishment made the efforts short lived.  I worked hard to live up to their expectations until I was in my late thirties — when I finally lost all hope of ever doing so.  I started in (non-nouthetic) therapy at age 19, did not view outcome based psychology as evil, worked consistently to heal, and I didn’t find the strength to defend my own boundaries with my parents until much later in life.  (Please note that the Duggar Family only embraces Biblical or “nouthetic” Counseling which is a type of non-clinical pastoral counseling that operates certification organizations that are completely independent and opposed to standard, clinical mental health care.)

They said what they had to say and what a lifetime of coaching already programmed them to say to defend their parents and their family.  They had no viable choices to do anything else.  They haven’t even had a chance to think about it yet.


More about SGAs:

In the Patriarchy Movement

In other Cults and High Demand Groups

Monday, December 13, 2021

Michelle Duggar's Thousand Yard Stare of Dissociation?

Photo from 1994
I remember showing someone a photo of my husband and me that was taken at the big Word of Faith church that I attended when I lived in the Bible Belt. It was the first Valentine's Day during our first year of marriage, and had a dinner at a nice restaurant. They hired Zig Ziggler to speak, and a professional photographer who attended the church took beautiful photos. I bought a bunch of wallet sized ones to send to relatives. A year or two later, I looked through my wallet for a certification card, and I pulled out the picture to show to a coworker. I would not realize what she meant for a number of years later, and I felt odd that she thought that I looked "scared."

When I started reading avidly about cults, I learned that this was actually a sign of dissociation, and I knew exactly what they were describing. I could feel myself doing it when I was under a tremendous amount of stress at church functions. It was horrible to admit, and I remember when the wife of a school teacher I had not seen since high school asked me if I "still had that wide-eyed look." I remember when a coworker who was a psychology major gave me a ride home from work when I was fourteen and asked me "what is with your eyes sometimes?” When I showed Suzanne Titkemeyer this picture (she's now on YouTube after retiring from writing No Longer Quivering for Patheos), she said, “Wow. You look like you're shocked."

That, dear readers, is the thousand-yard stare of trauma, and I feel a bit nauseated just thinking about it having walked around like this for so many years of my life.

1944 painting by Tom Lea

The term originated with a painting by artist and correspondent Tom Lea that he entitled Marines Call It That 2000 Yard Stare. He'd painted it a year earlier after observing a marine who had served 31 months in combat in the Pacific Corridor during WWII. The accompanying article in a 1945 issue of Life Magazine asked “How much can a human being endure?” Mental health professions eventually claimed the term to describe this physically observable sign of emotional detachment common among war veterans and those suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I really took note of thise phenomenon in 2007 when I lived in Michigan when people in the neighboring county searched for a missing mother of two. Her husband waited a few days before reporting her missing, believing that she went on a business trip. He claimed hearing her on the phone telling someone, "I'll meet you in the driveway" just before she left. The man appeared normal, save for being understandably distraught, but each time he appeared on local news, his eyes got bigger and bigger. It turns out that he killed his wife, cut her body into pieces at his place of employ in a tool and die shop, deposited the pieces, and was eventually apprehended. Below are photos of him with his wife and at the beginning of the investigation. As authorities found him out and at his arraignment, his eyes were as big as saucers. You can even see how bug-eyed he looks in profile. This is the thousand yard stare.

Trauma causes people to dissociate (a natural and healthy response to distance their consciousness from the psychological pain and stress) to help preserve their sense of self. Mild dissociation causes a feeling of derealization that make the world seem dreamlike.  Depersonalization can follow after derealization and causes a person to feel like they're watching events happening to them. A more intense experience of it will cause them to feel like they are outside of their body, and more severe dissociation causes amnesia. Active cult members and those who have recently exited a high demand group manifest high degrees of dissociation during psychological assessment, and people who exit cults also find themselves struggling with episodes of lost time and "floating," episodes of feeling "spaced out."

Cults require a person to suppress elements of their personality in order to merge with their group and remain safe from punishment for non-compliance. They must also suppress their emotions and critical thinking to be able to tolerate the problems, pressures, and other witness abuses that they observe or experience. This process of burying one's own sense of self creates a tremendously painful degree of psychological stress, and the thousand yard stare reflects that process.

I know that for me, it was always more intense during church functions. The picture of myself that I've included here was snapped about twenty minutes after my pastor's wife expressed disdain that I used my maiden name as my middle name on my seminary diploma. I'd just returned to my seat after collecting it, and she leaned back to whisper that it was tantamount to a hyphenated name and unacceptable. I explained that it was the tradition of the women in my family to use one's maiden name as a middle name after marriage. I tried to lighten the very inappropriate discussion that was being sternly whispered to me during the commencement ceremony that my mother who was seated bedside me told people that her middle name was Henrietta when they asked about it. I put my hand on my forehead so many times after that my mortarboard looked as shocked as I did.

I'd sent the copy of my photo to Suzanne to ask whether it seemed too cruel to bring up the discussion the thousand yard stare that people notice in Michelle Duggar. It's been a topic of discussion for many years, even before the press obtained the police report about Josh molesting his sisters. Having manifested this while in Word of Faith and in a very abusive Gothard-loving church, my educated opinion is that Michelle has that look of dissociation of the thousand yard stare in these photos. As this video depicts, it's quite common within this fringe subculture and I wonder if Michelle's will get worse now.  (No one has seen her since before Josh's trial and conviction.)

Look at the faces of veterans of war. You will see the same looks on the faces of people in the back row of a cult gathering that's not going well for them. And you'll see those looks on the faces of former cult members at gatherings that discuss the process of recovery.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Why Anna Duggar Stays: The Bounded Choice of a Second Generation Adult in a Cultic Sect

This excellent, real-world description of the Bounded Choice of a Second Generation Adult (SGA) in a spiritually abusive or cultic church (what some call sects or cults) by LJ  (Melissa) Stewart on Tik-Tok may help me write my shortest definitions of these terms ever.  I find only one tiny flaw in her presentation.  (Read more about it HERE.)

She rightly states that Bill Gothard's Independent Baptist (IFB) derived-system teaches that Anna's sins are no worse than Josh's crimes.  

She neglects to note that the Duggars are also very personally connected to IFB family and marriage experts Ron Williams and SM Davis. Those men teach that Anna's marital sex with Josh and her submission to him as a wife held the power to cure and fix Josh, so any sexual sins or crimes he committed after their wedding night fall entirely on her shoulders

One Tiny Thing that I Think Stewart Got Wrong: The Theology Says Anna Duggar's to Blame

In a previous post, I note that Lisa J.(Melissa) Stewart did an excellent job via TikTok of explaining the issues of Bounded Choice faced by Second Generation Adults in Cultic Religious Sects like the one followed by the Duggars.  The discussion has arisen because people outside of this fringe subculture do not understand why Anna Duggar does not just leave her husband Josh after so many successive problems with disturbing sexual exploits which have now culminated in his conviction this week for possession of child pornography.

As previously noted, she rightly states that Bill Gothard's Independent Baptist (IFB) derived-system teaches that Anna's sins are no worse than Josh's crimesbut she neglects to note that the Duggars are also very personally and directly connected to IFB family and marriage experts Ron Williams and SM Davis. Those men teach that Anna's marital sex with Josh and her submission to him as a wife held the power to cure and fix Josh, so any sexual sins or crimes he committed after their wedding night fall entirely on her shoulders.   Luckily, tabloids currently claim that Josh's parents are pledging their support to Anna, but I know that IFB pastors have blamed innocent wives for acts far worse than Josh's crimes and held the wife as the primary cause and fault for their husband's behaviors.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Religious Sects Often Oppose Extended Family Adoptions to Save the Souls of Surviving Minors

David Henke identified that Spiritually Abusive Christian groups believe that their particular sect is far more special to God than all other Christians. They have a special corner on truth that makes them better or more holy than other people, and their group alone ensures the best future. Hand in hand with this, groups retain members with the flipside of their elite status by fostering the belief that life outside of their group is evil, and those who exit will be in danger of eternal damnation.

As the recent documentary about Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship church points out so well, commitment to the group overshadows and overrides any commitment that their non-member family members have with their group. If families urge their loved ones to leave, in order to maintain good standing with the group, they are expected by the church (and bullied by them) to shun these critical family members.

Contemplating Josh Duggar's Guilty Verdict

I cried for the better part of an hour today after someone phoned and told me about the guilty verdict in the Josh Duggar case. (He will be sentenced in four weeks.) Since that friend and I talked it through, it's been a slow, irregular leaking of tears ever since. I'm ready to put my head on my pillow to get much-needed rest.

Some of my tears were a release, knowing that for those who have suffered harm because of this religious system or even just abuse and loss that is similar to each of the players in the events concerning the Duggars, it is a vindication for them. We all need that, I think. Justice is healing for us all.

But it struck me that, to put it concisely when horrible things happen and when people do horrible things, the consequences are lousy and sad if not horrible all around. The collateral damage has been so high for so long. The ramifications of this range from sad for some to tragic for others. So I feel quite melancholy this evening but satisfied at the same time.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Strange Bedfellows in the Duggar Family's Spread-Your-Legs Theology

This post started out as a new introduction that was meant to be an addendum intro to a post I wrote ages ago about Gothard's novel teaching of "taking up offenses."  I didn't get there yet.

Currently, it is December 8th, 2021, and a verdict in the Josh Duggar Trial for is expected tomorrow. When I started this blog in 2007, I knew only of Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, evangelists for the Quiverfull Movement. I thought of Phillips as the next generation of Bill Gothard followers who took things to the next logical extreme concerning gender. I'd never heard his views until I joined a spiritually abusive church in the early '90s that embraced Gothard and the Shepherding Movement, and my church kept their views on gender largely concealed from me until my third year of membership. I exited four years after joining, was exit counseled, and I eventually became an outspoken critic of them all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Will Anna Duggar be offered as the next live sacrifice to save the Duggar Family Brand? Scapegoating, Spread Your Legs Theology, and the Modern Molech

Originally Published 22Aug2015

(Please take note of embedded links 
                 for background information.)

I’ve tried for more than 48 hours to write this, but having watched this scenario play out with other followers of Bill Gothard, it brings up so many disturbing emotions for me, I found myself too caught up in them.  As the media begins to report, Anna Duggar will share in the blame for her husband’s sins and divorce will be strongly discouraged if not demonized.  I’ve watched it happen with other people who follow this belief system, over and over again. 

I don’t know how the family will make her the scapegoat for his behavior prior to their courtship, but they will scapegoat her for his infidelity.  The wife’s exemplary performance allegedly and magically prevents a husband from indulging in sin.  We see elements of this same mindset in the blaming behavior of Tullian Tchividjian.  Such magical thinking rests at the core of all of the beliefs within the Duggars’ cultic excuse for sanitized and superior Christianity.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Jim Bob Duggar Pees On Our Shoes and Tells Us It's Raining: What most people outside of Gothard's system will misunderstand about the Duggar's testimony concerning the Josh Duggar Child Porn Trial

TRIGGER WARNING concerning sex abuse.

I write this blog post in the wee hours of the morning before the second week of Josh Duggar's Child Pornography Trial ensues.

I am not that shocked by new knowledge about the rabbit hole of Josh Duggar's long history of deplorable behavior. I am sickened by the specifics. Most notably, I find myself struggling with a new feeling of anger at Jim Bob and Michelle, the parents of the Bill Gothard-following mega-family. Most of us knew that we'd never get the whole story, but it's a whole other experience to hear the details in court after listening to so many of their lies. And they think that we're all just a bunch of chumps.

As their spiritual leader Gothard taught them, the Duggars believed their own press that they were all higher versions of regular Christians -- just a bit more special than everyone else. They were also the royal elite within their own Quiverfull group, and once their TV show took off, they walked on a higher level than the other regular folks around them. They believed that God would grant them prosperity if they followed the formulas that Gothard parsed out for them. The Kingdom of God is like a Coke machine: When you put in the right amount, you get what you ordered. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Language of Cults. Duggars and Quiverfull: How to Communicate with People Outside of the Subculture

First published on 6Sep15

How do we define a cult in respect to the Duggars and Quiverfull?

I wrote all kinds of material that never made it into Hillary McFarland's Quivering Daughters book, but I was grateful to many people who peer reviewed my contributions to it.  Along with concerns about technical accuracy, I also wanted to see how people without intimate knowledge of religion or homeschooling would respond to the material.

I began to more deeply appreciate two primary lessons regarding the discussion of the issues involved with the Patriarchy/Quiverfull Movement.

Lesson One

Though I knew this in theory, the experience of reading the feedback impressed upon me so strongly that people outside of a closed subculture with specialized language need information and terminology that they can process.  People in the secular culture understand patriarchy already, so that gives people a frame of reference.

The term 'quiverfull' presents enough of a novel hook which helps people remember it.  A 'quiver' conjures images of Robin Hood and his mastery with bow and arrow, and the association between his image and that of a family creates enough of a memorable hook for those who've never heard of the Bible verse from which the term was borrowed.  Both terms "sell" the information and create a reason for people to listen and/or care.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Lighting Candles for True Believers


Subtitle:  I'm not converting to Mormonism.  I'm arguing that we should  love and respect those who are in sects and groups when they need help and kindness.

Imagine that you are a young, married woman with a budding family, and you're a Second Generation Adult who grew up in Quiverfull. Your husband gets arrested and convicted of a crime that sickens people. Both inside and outside of your religious sect, and you become a reminder of all of your husband's deeds -- and you haven't even had time to consider whether you believe if he's guilty of anything. He's your husband who has been good to you. Imagine that you have a different story to tell, because from your perspective, your husband never did one thing to hurt you or your children. Your church folk abandon you and your children, and you'd never imagine that this would happen. Never in your wildest dreams could you have dreamt this.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Glimpses of Beauty

I have shared little contact with my parents for twenty years, and I've had no contact with them at all for the past eight. We agreed to part because I did not become who they hoped I would be, and my life that my husband built together differs from theirs. They believe that I have the power to change who I am, though I don't know that my life is wrong or evil. Another part boils down to my rejection of televangelists along with some of what they teach. My parents also question whether I'm fit for heaven, but I suspect that they allowed fear to borrow their voice to speak its torments. I know that we love one another deeply, and that makes the situation that much more sad

.From time to time, unexpected ideas catch my attention and set me thinking about my parents. I'm not sure what reminded me about an engineer that my surveyor father worked with before I was born, but I'd always heard about how remarkable my parents thought he was. It seemed that there was nothing that this mythical man could not do, and he devoted much of his free time to creating works of art. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Study of Galatians for Those Who Have Exited Cults


One of the wisest men I know finally finished his book on Galatians.  I've read sections of the Bible Study a few years ago, and it was brilliant.  I just downloaded the very affordably priced Kindle copy from, and I look forward to delving into it.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Seneca Falls II and the Demand for an Apology: Looking Back Ten Years

I look with a great deal of suspicion on such declarations now, but I've been called a pioneer many times in my life. When I first heard it 40 years ago, I had no understanding, though it would grow. Looking back on the hard stand that I took with the Freedom for Christian Women Coalition that was established ten years ago today, I understand the concept far better. 

Pioneers go into new territories with some wisdom, lots of preparation, and a great deal of faith to tread where no one from their tribe has ventured before. Splashes of appreciation come now and then, but in between, a pioneer pays a price that even they don't yet fully grasp as they do what many don't understand. Many people end up heaping criticism upon resistance, adding to it myths and lies and misconceptions and all sorts of levies out of their own fear. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Gothard's Game of Grace: An Exemplar of Externally-Pursued Sanctification

The discussion of the external works as a saving power presents an excellent opportunity to review
 Bill Gothard's redefinition of grace, as he ends up remerging justification and sanctification to turn the Christian life into salvation by works. 

We've already established that justification as an external and alien declaration defines Protestant belief, and sanctification that follows in a Believer comes about by God's work in them from the inside out. 

Luther resisted the idea of participation in sanctification altogether, and Calvin defined it as cultivating obedience. Both men stated emphatically that all holiness arises from union with Christ which begins in the inner spiritual life of a Believer which eventually results in good works. "Not of works lest any man should boast.”

Monday, June 29, 2020

Bill Gothard's Novel Redefinition of Grace

View the original video in its entirety HERE.

Luther and Calvin on the Three Uses of the Law

Luther and Calvin differed on little, but as previously stated, Luther's different experiences and circumstances gave him a different perspective. To avoid a return to the ideas of Rome's synergistic works and faith, he focused on the daily reckoning of the Law and Gospel. Finding union with Christ came through a full comprehension of justification, and he saw that union as the source of obedience and good works.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Hirelings and Their Deceptive Theology of Glory

Another way to understand Luther's view of the Law comes by considering what it is not. 

He sees the Law as nothing but the source of condemnation and death for the Christian, and it is not something that humans can harness for their use. Luther shares with Calvin the view of the total depravity of human beings who are unable to sanctify themselves (Gen 6:5, Jer 17:9, Rom 3:10)

The Cause of Luther's Sober View of the Law

Sanctification: from Luther's Cross to Calvin's Union

Luther's Theology of the Cross and Calvin's Union with Christ motifs are different exegetical or theological tools to use as a key to studying the Bible. For both Luther and Calvin, the Epistle to the Romans serves as the basis for understanding what salvation entails. Both men's concepts depend upon an intimate experience of reconciliation. They also emphasize the critical understanding of justification, sanctification's absolute dependence on it, and the Holy Spirit's sovereign work in our inner being to transform us in holiness as we grow in Christ.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

RC Sproul, Sr: A Brief Description of Justification

I think that RC had a firmly developed concept of Justification and Sanctification
long before the New Calvinists came around.  I've never heard him teach anything questionable on this subject.  ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Luther on the Righteousness of Faith

Late Edit: [I don't know how well it conveys, but I chose the statue of Hamlet at Stratford on Avon to illustrate how I think of Luther's contemplation of the Law. Because our efforts to keep it prove futile, I had it drilled into me at a young age that “all we get from the law is sin and death.” My mind locked it into auditory memory so clearly because I spent so much time and effort thinking about the paradox of Paul's writing in Romans that we do nothing to merit or receive salvation that becomes an admonishment to go forward and walk into the future with our weapons of righteousness.

We are amazing creatures, and I think twice of Hamlet. First, comes the soliloquy of “what a piece of work is man!” How noble in reason; infinite in faculty; in form, in action, in apprehension, in beauty, the paragon of animals, yet a quintessence of dust. And in contemplating sin, death and dust do follow. And so I chose the image of Hamlet holding Yorick's skull as he realizes all too painfully that life is so short. I imagine that Luther held that same kind of expression as did so many thespians in their portrayal of the sweet prince.]

Monday, June 22, 2020

How Martin Luther Understood Justification

We noted that Martin Luther began to understand the writings of the Apostle Paul differently that he had in the past. He held a very pessimistic view about his own ability to grow in his faithfulness to keep the law, and while studying Romans 1:17 realizes that only faith could justify the believer in God's sight. But why did he find that distinction so significant?

I see my issue with the Young, Restless and Reformed as quite similar to how Martin Luther felt about how the Catholic Church relied upon good works and upon a mediator to obtain sanctification. (We hear the language of marriage as a sanctifying element in the life of the Christian in the Complementarian View of gender hierarchy where husbands claim that they can make their wives and children holy.) 

I pose the same question that Calvin did: If we are sinful, how can we go about making ourselves holy if it is something that we do not possess? How can sinful flesh cleanse and purify their own sinful flesh? Today, I question how a Christian who still strives to mortify their own sin daily has the ability to do it for someone else, too? Only a Holy God can purify an individual of their sin. Why is this even an issue for Protestants today, especially those who claim the name “Reformed” to describe their faith?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Understanding the History of the Priesthood in Justification and Sanctification

The terms of Justification (right-standing with God) and Sanctification (to be free from sin) emerge as primary themes in the Protestant Reformation from the Roman Catholic Church as separate components of forgiveness from sin. Today, we hear them used by Presbyterians, Reformed Baptists, and others who argue for Calvinism as the true way to comprehend how God confers forgiveness as an act which depends on God's sovereign act alone (monergism).