Parenthood, Reformed Theology

Authoritarianism, isolationism, and their theonomic roots

I’ve come across an article from CRI about the authoritarianism and isolationism of the Pearls and the entire movement of which they are just one arm. Author Rachel D. Ramer traces it back to the theonomy of R.J. Rushdoony:

Considered the father of Christian Reconstructionism, Rushdoony has stated, “All the basic governmental powers in society, save one, the death penalty, have been given [by God] to the family, not to the state nor to the church….A mark of anti-Christianity is the move to strip the family of these powers.” In response to this idea, voices such as Patriarch magazine promote “home education, home business, home church, home birth, family ministry, family health, family worship…courtship and betrothal, family-based welfare.” This view of the family may also include rejection of organized sports, church youth and singles’ groups, and neighborhood playmates.

(If you didn’t know, theonomy is bad. We’re talking like taking sinners out and stoning them in the streets like the Pharisees did. Bad. How come so many people who claim to be Christians skip the New Testament entirely? “He who is without sin cast the first stone!”)

Ramer continues:

Patriarch further suggests that youth groups and Sunday school programs demonstrate a “failure of the church to teach the principles of parental responsibility for child training and to reinforce it in the church’s programs,” and that the use of these programs in a church “may well be a reason to leave.”

I have a problem with youth groups that coincide with normal Lord’s Day worship services, because they create a “church within a church”, and the young people don’t receive the benefits of being influenced by older Christian brothers and sisters. They grow up and form “college/young adult” churches with the same kind of music they’re used to, and church for them becomes an affinity club rather than the diverse, cross-cultural, multi-generational legacy with historical roots that it’s supposed to be. But I do not at all think that the presence of a youth group or Sunday school justify leaving a church.

In the Reformed understanding of ecclesiology, the two functions of the local church are the preaching of the Word and the officiating of the Sacraments. For the Reformed, the only valid means for leaving a church are over 1) improper handling of the Word, and 2) improper handling of the Sacraments. Al Mohler writes,

Church shopping violates the integrity of the church and the meaning of church membership. When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed. Tragically, a superficial understanding of church membership undermines our witness to the gospel of Christ.

There is no excuse for this phenomenon. We have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations. These controversies or concerns should prompt the faithful Christian to consider how he might be of assistance in finding and forging a better way, rather than working to find an excuse to leave.

Christians cannot look to this question as merely a matter of consumerism. We are called to love the church and to pray for its peace and unity, not to look for an opportunity to move to another congregation.

There are times, however, when it is right to separate from a congregation or denomination. But in such a case, the issue is not taste but theology.

We have the Reformed confessions as our standards, whether they be the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westmister Confession and Catechisms, or the 1689 London Baptist Confession, as excellent summaries of the system of doctrine taught in God’s Word. If what you’re teaching about a given text differs substantially from what’s taught in those documents, then you might want to reconsider your interpretation, because people have been thinking about these things for a couple thousand years now.

Ramer quotes my hero, Michael Horton, with his view of the doctrine of the “two kingdoms”:

Fourth, Christ and culture in paradox sees the kingdom of God and the kingdom of humankind as “different spheres with different purposes….Culture can never be an avenue of finding God….But neither can culture be an object of disgust, since culture never promises to save or redeem.” In this view, while not all pleasurable aspects of life are spiritual in the salvific or godly sense, God is still present in them.

Horton says elsewhere:

This view says that every Christian is a citizen of two cities—the City of God and the City of Man. Each of these spheres is separate, and they have different purposes. Luther expressed this idea in his doctrine of the ‘two kingdoms’. On this model, one cannot coerce faith, nor can one accommodate faith to secular modes of thought. However, it’s possible to live out one’s faith in the light of special revelation so that the wider culture can experience the influence of Christianity. Calvin and Augustine also expressed similar ideas.

This is reflected in the Westminster Confessions’ admission of the distinct spheres of the civil magistrate and the church government, and it coincides with Romans 13, which says that the civil magistrate is not your enemy, but your guardian—unless, of course, you’re behaving wickedly, in which case he becomes the rod of God (used figuratively, as I believe it is usually is in Scripture, except Exodus 21:20, of course) to chasten you.

So all those “Christians” who tell you not to watch good movies, or to listen to good music, and instead they advocate watching Kirk Cameron movies and listening to K-Love… Yeah, that stuff sucks. And the “Christian” rock stars are up to just as much no-good backstage as the “worldly” counterparts who they’re trying to sound like. Luther said to the Christian shoemaker, make a good shoe and sell it at a fair price. He didn’t say, put a cross on it, charge 10% more, and market it as a Christian shoe, if you can’t make it in the “secular” marketplace. Gah!

(In summary: if you’re going to listen to rock, listen to the good stuff.)

We’ve already seen examples of the dispensationalist fear-mongering by the Pearls, telling people if they don’t beat their children, they’re going to line up to get the Mark of the Beast tattooed on. Or they’re going to be lulled into a drug-induced slumber by the New World Order.

The Pearls also tell parents, “Fail to use the rod on [a disobedient, bullying child] and you are creating a ‘Nazi.’” Fear of producing a Nazi may compel parents to use a “rod” even when their intuition tells them there is a better option in a particular situation.

Did anybody else read The Wave in high school?

This whole regimented thing is much more like the Hitler Youth than anything else. Conformity. Do what you’re told or you’ll get a beating. No questions, etc. But wait, there’s more:

“You must look for opportunities to demonstrate that you have the last word, that your authority is to be obeyed without question….If, during the course of a day, no contest arises naturally, you should arrange one. Seek opportunity to thwart the child’s will, to cause him to submit to your command.”

Are you seriously going to pick a fight with your little kid? Come on people, use some discernment! Throw those crappy books away!

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3:21, ESV).

You know how every single time a pastor comes to a text about God as Father, he has to apologize because he knows that most people probably don’t have good fathers. And it’s because of people like Rushdoony and Pearl, and all those who advocate their teachings. If it weren’t for those who twist scripture in order to justify their own abuse, we wouldn’t have to have caveats when we teach on the Fatherhood of God.

HT: Parenting Freedom

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