Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The fine line between critique and slander

I was recently handed a blog in which the writer critiqued the Family Integrated Church (FIC) model. After reading through it I decided to do a little more digging before writing a critique of it myself. You can read the blogs yourself by following this link www.thatmom.com/articles/pros-and-cons-of-the-family-integrated-church

I directly quote her in this blog and cite pages. Some of my comments are interspersed throughout.

Before I continue let me first say everyone is entitled to their own opinion and biblically informed convictions. What follows is in no way intended to question her conviction but is simply a critique of what she has publically published. Read it with as much discernment as anything else. In all things, may God be glorified!

Understand her background

1) Her blog’s focus is supposed to be on homeschooling but:
a) 33 blogs addressing FIC’s
b) 23 addressing Doug Phillips
c) 18 addressing Voddie Baucham

2) She was raised Baptist (American) but the two FIC’s she was a member of were Presbyterian.
a) AB’s similar to SB’s except they believe:
>Baptisms outside their Baptist churches were invalid (known as Landmarkism)
>Non-Baptists should not be allowed to participate in Lord’s Supper
>Non-Baptist ministers should not be allowed to preach in Baptist pulpit
>Mission groups not sponsored by a local church should not be recognized
b) Presbyterian largest areas of tertiary difference are:
>Belief in paedobaptism (baptism infants into their families covenant of grace)
>Elder-rule style of church government

She was raised in a congregational style of church government but her FIC experience was in a elder-rule government. This would account for her misrepresentation of all FIC’s since the church government style she experienced is denominational and not applicable to all FIC’s.

Keep this in mind as you read through the blogs and you will see this bias come out as she strikes out against things such as patriocentricity and how the Pastor of the first FIC was so deceptive and ruling.

3) She reviewed a book called “Quiverfull” by Kathryn Joyce. The blogger says "… it gave me to understand how a secular feminist assimilates the teachings and lifestyles within the patriarchy movement and, more importantly, how an outsider perceives the nonessential lifestyles that are being passed off as essentials of the faith within the homeschooling culture.”

Seeking the opinion of a secular feminist on conservative teachings of the roles of men and women is liking asking a Darwinian evolutionist their opinion on how we should teach Creation during a Sunday night service.

I have only highlighted the particular parts of her background that would have influenced her focus in these blogs.

It is always good to know someone’s biases when reading. I only found this information out AFTER I read the articles.

Good portions of this blog:

1) She admits to worshipping and with those who do not hold similar views and being able to remain in unity with them.
Part 5
“Both of us had grown up in American Baptist churches and had gone to an American Baptist college…We both embraced the doctrines of grace and had been members of a Presbyterian congregation but neither of us was convinced of the necessity of infant baptism although we didn't have an issue with babies being baptized."

2) She admits to the need for churches allowing freedom of conscience (conviction) among its members.
Part 5
“In retrospect, we probably should have had many questions than we did about the direction the other families thought the church would be taking but we had been under the assumption that there would be freedom of conscience in these areas as well as others."

“…there was no pressure to conform to a certain paradigm or a specific agenda that made everyone feel like they all had to do everything in the same way.”

Part 11
“The paradigm that they have established leaves no room for personal convictions of young people in the areas of courtship, dating, college, etc. and many are forced to conform to ideals they don’t believe in.”

3) She also agrees with having children welcomed into the worship service.
Part 10
“We loved the fact that children were welcomed into worship and their participation wasn’t considered unusual or a distraction to the adults present.”

Part 12
“Please realize that most homeschoolers have very strong convictions about raising their children and they want the freedom to have their children worship with them."

Very bad portions of this blog

1) She has only experienced 2 family-integrated churches.

a) The first was considerably not run biblically at first.
Part 3
“…flier had been published by one of the elders who was hoping to turn the church into a family integrated one by filling it with homeschoolers…”

“…the elder informed us, in no uncertain terms, that we were not to ever mention homeschooling in church..”

Both of these examples show deception in the part of the church’s leaders.

Part 5
“…relationships has disintegrated to the point that the pastor told people that his problems would all be gone if all the homeschoolers left.”

b) The second was not a complete failure but they became upset when the husband was not elected to the leadership.
Part 10
“Clay was not chosen to be one of those men and the pastor approached him to tell him why he had been passed up."

2) Only quotes NCFIC once.
a) The only quote she gave was in reference to their mission statement.
Part 1
"the NCFIC mission statement says that they ‘deny/reject two unbiblical extremes of our day, authoritarian, one-man leadership/one-man ministry that impedes biblical functioning of the body, and leaderless house churches that disregard the biblical necessity of elders."

This is a great quote to show that much of what she argues against FIC’s is not what the NCFIC promotes.

3) Only directly quotes a person once.
a) The only quote here is that of R.C. Sproul, Jr. and he is only talking about Homeschooling with NOTHING to concerning FIC’s.
Part 13
“There is, in evangelical 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 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 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”.

4) Makes numerous generic accusations against FIC’s and individuals with absolutely no references or quotes.

5) Claims FIC’s to be teaching HERESY but does not quote specifics as why she biblically deems them heresy.
a) Part 13
“…inside there is a battalion of false doctrine the pushes families further and further away from Biblical truth and healthy Christ life towards heresy.”

She notes two: patriocentricity and ecclesiocentricity. Neither are adequately defined and would seem that the latter is only what she experienced in the two FIC’s she was involved in.

6) Claims FIC’s promote racism and bigotry but provides no supporting evidence.

a) Part 5
“It wasn’t until some of the members had participated in wearing black faces for a homeschool co-op production and we also began to see all of the racist teachings in books recommended by Vision Forum…”

b) Part 12
“..some of the worst influences we would like to protect our children from are most often found in the family integrated church model…misogyny (hatred, mistrust, or dislike of women) and racism…”

7) Other false accusations against FIC’s (these may have been her experience at these churches but you will not find them anywhere on the NCFIC website).
a) Infers that FIC’s teach the family as the center of the church
Part 10
“…we soon began to see more clearly the mission of the church and the role that families have as a part of that church, not as the center of the church.”

b) Infers that FIC’s are established just for homeschoolers
Part 1
“…these churches have been established to meet the particular needs of homeschooling families.”

c) Infers that NCFIC only seeks to train men…except that there website contains some non-gender specific material and material geared towards women as well as conferences designed to bring husbands and wives together.
Part 1
“…the NCFIC seeks to provide tools for men training their own families and believes this is the means for seeing future generations of Christians.”

d) Infers that every FIC is not involved in evangelism.
Part 13
“…they do not see the FIC-led message as one of compassion, grace, wisdom, or sound doctrine…forgetting the Great Commission.”

“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.”

e) Says only fathers serve communion.
Part 13
“…practice of father-served communion, as is common in FIC churches…”

In summary

The writer of these blogs has been hurt by those who say they were FIC’s in her past and she writes out of her contempt for them. Her bias is evident and her critique is just a rant against her own misconceptions. I am truly sorry for how she says those churches were run and how they seem to have neglected some of the fundamental biblical elements of leadership. I only pray that her contempt for FIC’s can be cleared up so that she understands these instances do not represent what FIC’s are trying to do.

With that said though, her calling a group heretics, women-haters, and racists without even quoting them is slanderous (Proverbs 10:18). She asserts many things about the NCFIC and other FIC’s just because she was hurt in two Presbyterian FIC-themed churches even though the first one was not an FIC while she was there. This is one of the problems with blogs: anyone can write them and say anything they want with no accountability to those they write against.

I have personally spoken with Scott T. Brown from the National Center for Family Integrated Church. He told me that many people misquote them and speak lies of the fundamentals of the FIC’s. Unfortunately, this woman is among those who have done this. As she quotes at the end of her blog, “be a Berean”. Search the Scripture and do the research. Be cautious not to come to superficial conclusions just because you’ve read a review and perused through a website. Don’t pass judgment on a certain group simply because of your experience with a small number of those who claim to associate themselves with them.

If, in the end, you still do not agree then simply leave it at that…disagreement on a tertiary issue. Do not be the “fool” who is caught in slander. Be the humble brother or sister who lovingly and respectfully disagrees. May the love of Christ and the desire to glorify Him be the sole purpose of our lives.

Thanks for stopping by!

In Christ,
Pastor Adam (and family)

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