Ordinarily I don’t like to fill up too much blog space in a single week with the energy-sucking topic of patriocentricity. I much prefer sharing the wonderful testimonies of real homeschooling moms whose messages inspire and motivate me. I also prefer to cut and paste recipes from my file, yummy treats that will guarantee smiles when served by moms to their adoring fans around the dinner table. But, again today, I find myself needing to address the latest goofiness coming out of the patriocentricity camp and I hope the readers here won’t be too frustrated with me.
Voddie Baucham is currently the most sought-after homeschooling conference speaker around the country. Author, pastor, instructor at Henry Reyenga’s Christian Leaders Institute, and outspoken proponent for the Family Integrated Church movement, Voddie has many messages that the modern church and parents need to hear. We ARE a daycare society and moms and dads would do well to reconsider their participation in it. The church DOES often seek to disciple young people in lieu of encouraging and training parents to do the job that God gave to them. Fathers ARE often absent when it comes to raising children when they should be partnering with their wives in this most sacred of callings. These issues, among others, have a strong voice in Voddie and I wholeheartedly agree with him in addressing them.
A few years ago, Voddie took on his entire denomination when he challenged Christian parents to provide a Christian education for their children. I remember reading about Voddie’s attempts to persuade the Southern Baptist Convention of the need for training our children in all areas of education from a Biblical worldview perspective and I cheered for him from afar. I couldn’t agree more that today’s church is ambivalent about the dangers that lurk within public education and that they are wrong to treat all choices as equal.
I also applaud Voddie’s choices for his own family as he is providing what I am certain is an excellent education for his own young adult daughter. Articulate and intelligent, Jasmine appears to be a great example of the success of home education. But I do not believe that the Baucham family choices are the only Biblical way of approaching young adulthood, especially as it relates to daughters.
And that brings us to the whining coming from Mr. Baucham. In a blog article he wrote on Wednesday, he claims that he is being marginalized within the SBC because he is a 5-point Calvinist. Though he recognizes that he has ruffled feathers with his peers in his support for the FIC movement and home education, now he believes that embracing the Doctrines of Grace has caused those within his own denomination to reject him, a theory that I find hard to agree with, especially given events of the past few months.
Though I am an outsider with the SBC, I would like to offer what I think might cause Voddie’s peers to reconsider their alliances with him. I believe there are three reasons and they are big ones.
First of all, Voddie’s position at the far, far end of the patriocentric scale place him outside of the mainstream of even those within the SBC who have are drifting that direction themselves. A few weeks ago, Voddie went on national TV and equated the Gospel message of Jesus with his personal views of women. Calling on evangelicals to avoid voting for Sarah Palin, Voddie’s perspectives and interpretations of Scripture, I would imagine, did not set well with SBC leadership, including CBMW president Randy Stinson, who encouraged voting for Palin. Though I don’t know where all SBC leadership stands when it comes to Voddie’s assertions that the father serves as a type of mediator between God and his family, a “priest” to use Voddie’s own words, I do know that it is a long-time tenet of the Baptist faith that all men AND women are a royal priesthood, the priesthood of ALL believers, and I would believe that this doctrine has not been revoked by the SBC.
Secondly, Voddie’s concerns about home discipleship have not fallen on deaf ears. It is significant that Stinson, also the Dean of the School of Leadership and Church Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, has promoted and enacted a family-centered approach for training seminary students for the past two years with the full support of seminary president Al Mohler Jr. In announcing the direction the school was taking in October of 2006, Mohler stated, “I don’t think we realize how revolutionary this kind of vision is. No other school on the planet is trying to do quite what we have just described here. There is something very unique that God has given us the opportunity to do here… when we were looking to the future of this school, to set its future in terms of direction, it was just really clear that the issue of family ministry was at the very heart of what we wanted to see take place in our local churches through this school.”
I believe Voddie’s influence had a tremendous impact on the school’s decision. But now, 2 years later, Voddie has associated himself with those who are not seeking to work within the traditional church system, but rather, are promoting the planting of FIC churches, Voddie himself training young men through the Christian Leaders Institute to pastor these churches. I cannot help but wonder if this week’s article is really a straw man so that Voddie can “honorably” disassociate himself with the SBC so he can further push the FIC agenda.
And finally, his association with questionable fanatics has also not gone unnoticed. Voddie has aligned himself with radicals like Doug Phillips in advancing the FIC and homeschooling cause. At a time when other Baptists in the south are realizing the folly of their racist history and are repenting, being associated with a man who hales Confederate theologian and racist R.L. Dabney might not sit well, especially with those African-American families who are attracted to the FIC and homeschooling lifestyles through Voddie’s ministry. Voddie references Dr. Cindy Kunsman’s patriocentricity presentation at an SBC seminary as a contributing factor in his plummeting popularity, perhaps a valid observation since she so bravely connected the dots between Phillips, many within the FIC movement, and the pro-south agenda.
I pray that Voddie reconsiders his extrabiblical views and his radical alliances so that the good and necessary message of home schooling and home discipleship can continue to be advanced without unnecessary offense.