are sunday schools and youth groups not biblical?

I just finished watched Divided the Movie and have lots of thoughts racing around in my head. While I agree with so much of the identified problems, I don’t believe the solutions presented are broad enough for ministry within our culture today. Are Sunday schools and youth ministries “unbiblical?” Any thoughts?

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  1. says

    Ummm….no. The FIC movement is reactionary, & fraught with much illogic. God’s Word does not forbid Sunday schools or youth ministries, so those who claim it does need to either prove it, or they run the risk of becoming false teachers, misrepresenting the will of God. It’s primary errors are thoses:

    1. It equates a very particular policy on how to administrate Christian education with the Biblical commands to raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But this equation is never, ever made in Scripture. “Train up your children in the Lord’ doesn’t = “Never organize children into compatible age groups.” This is the non sequitur, meaning, it does not follow. It is not a sin to educationally organize children according to age groupings. How do I know this? Because the Bible doesn’t say that it’s a sin to do that, and the Bible is the only & final source for moral authority.

    2. It also is built on the fallacy of the false “either-or” dilemma. It is not true that we must pick only between either a Christian education administrative policy that age-segregates, or the FIC policy. There are many points between these two extremes. You could also say that this movement builds on a wildly exagerrated (and false) scenario.

    3. This includes deliberately using prejudicial language like “segregate” instead of “organize.” Segregation is bad. No one wants to segregate. So the FIC people never call it an administrative policy, or a way of organizing children. They use loaded words like “segregate”, because it skews the discussion in their favor.

    4. Why stop at “age” as the only objectionable category? What about the developmentally-delayed child? What about Downs Syndrome children and autistic children? We know they need special attention and distinct methods to help them learn, as well as to prevent them from making it too hard for the other children to learn. But if we “segregate” the Downs syndrome child (to whatever degree) for the purpose of doing a better job of teaching him or her God’s Word, are we guilty of “dividing”?

    4. Scripture says that the entire Body of Christ is needed for the mutual up-building of each member. The notion that no one knows what’s good for your child but the parent is wrong. The parents are responsible in God’s sight for what influences come to bear on their children, but the parents aren’t the only conduit. I have been a Christian since 1974, and I have met plenty of foolish, selfish, carnal, and immature Christian parents. Their kids’ lives were sometimes turned around for the better by a Christian coach, a beloved Sunday school teacher, or a dedicated couple volunteering with the youth.

    5. The system assumes there’s an intact Christian family to start with, and specifically assumes there’s a Christian dad around somewhere who’s willing and able to be discipled. That is such a groundless assumption in today’s society that it hardly needs to be said.

  2. danakx says

    I have a hard time watching agenda-driven movies (I don’t watch many movies anyway, but especially not ones trying to prove a point), so I couldn’t even get through the trailer. Right now, because of some abuse issues in my past, I have an especially hard time trusting people in leadership, and churches and agenda-driven pastors scare me silly (or make me feel kind of sick to my stomach.) So….obviously I’ve got issues influencing my views on this topic. With that disclaimer, here are a couple of my thoughts on the topic. Sunday School and Youth Group aren’t inherently any more biblical than, say, going to the grocery store to get our daily bread. So, no, you’re not going to find a definitive justification for either in the Bible. But neither can you, I don’t believe, find definitive justification for disdaining Sunday School. Making Sunday School a sacred cow is a bad thing. Making anti-Sunday School a sacred cow is a bad thing, too.

    The biggest thing Sunday School’s got going for it in my current personal experience is that it’s the one church thing I can stand doing, and every week I surprise myself when I find I’m enjoying it, being moved by the discussion (often to tears), connecting to others who love the Lord, however imperfectly, etc. Our class uses a standard quarterly curriculum (easily criticized, I’m sure, as weak, canned teaching), but every week we learn together, challenge each other and grow together. Our numbers go from 3 to close to 20, depending on the season of the year, and at 40 and 47, my husband and I are by far the youngest.

    Idon’t think my experience should stand as a “case” or “proof” for the greatness of Sunday School. But it does make me frustrated when I hear people campaigning actively and strongly against it. At the end of the day, I really don’t think Sunday School and youth groups are the cause of or the answer to why kids leave the church. Questions about attrition are worth asking, but I find most answers to be too simplistic and reactionary.

  3. says

    I think they are extra-biblical. There is a troubling trend amongst some Christians to attach the term “biblical” to everything that fits their interpretation of scripture, and the term “unbiblical” to everything that does not. If youth ministry and Sunday schools are un-biblical, so is the so-called concept of “biblical” courtship. Some things are truly Biblical. Some are truly unbiblical. Sunday School and youth ministry are not among them. In my opinion. 🙂

  4. KellyH says

    I haven’t watched the clip, so can’t comment on it. What this topic brings to mind is what is the purpose of these activities? Is Sunday school a dumping ground so I don’t have to actively disciple my own kids and leave it to other people, hoping they’ll pick up some “religious training” that 45 minutes a week? Is youth group for the building up of the faith of the believing kids of the church and community, discipling them and showing them ways to serve, or a fun zone for them to bring all their friends with a few Bible verses thrown in the mix? Should kids be encouraged by youth leaders to confide in them and not their parents? While the clip sounds like it must take a far swing one way, the answer is not the opposite direction either. I don’t think Sunday School and Youth Groups are unbiblical, but are they the best things for our kids, each of us in our own particular situations? They may be for some of us, maybe not for others. For me, purpose is key for these groups. Fun and socializing is fine, but there really needs to be meat to them for young believers. And that is where our role as parents comes in yet again.

  5. says

    Shelly, I would really like to hear what you all think about this, since you participate in youth ministry but also home disciple!

  6. says

    As accurate as I think some of the criticisms are, I thought this documentary contained far too much fear-mongering, bad hermeneutics, and self-righteousness to be relevant or useful.

  7. says

    Kelly, you are correct that purpose and content along with the attitude of the parents are the real issues. Our family had very little participation in youth stuff through the years. We saw some really dreadful things early on and mostly chose to not be involved.

  8. says

    And, Emily, it is hard to take it seriously when the majority of the players have another agenda and a track record of patriocentricity.

  9. Stephanie says

    I also have concerns about many of the people in the video and their unbiblical views of the family. I do have to agree, though, that parents aren’t doing the job they are supposed to do in regards to discipling their own kids. One church we were at brought in an older man as the youth leader, and I think that’s a good place to start. It should be older, wiser men leading the youth, not young guys just out of college who want to play games and have fun. I also have a problem with the idea that so many youth groups have of being a place to share the gospel instead of a place to really teach the believing teens and disciple them. In essence, between the parents and the youth leaders, no one is discipling the teens.

    I don’t have such a problem with Sunday School, except that most Sunday Schools are useless in my experience. At least they’re not as harmful as youth groups, but not very useful.

    The real problem is that most believers aren’t really walking with the Lord daily, so how can they teach their kids to do so?

  10. Ruth James says

    I think that the issues being raised in the video are not so much stemming from age segregation in church – but rather from a large population of Christians in America handing small children over to the secular school system from day one. The homeschooling community takes child training very seriously, and this is a good thing – I wonder how many of the young people who LEAVE the church were LEFT in the hands of secular people for 35 hours every week? It seems to me that the problems would be more evidenced when you consider the day-to-day influence of the world, rather than an hour with fellow Christian peers on Sunday. I get a little nervous with the FIC crowd – I get the feeling that sometimes their emphasis on FAMILY can actually almost become IDOLATRY of the family!

  11. says

    We went back and forth on the Youth Group issue. And, our biggest concern was that the Youth Ministry was not able to manage a person with a cognitive and behavioral disability. We ended up, too late, choosing to refuse to let our daughter attend.

    [Why stop at “age” as the only objectionable category? What about the developmentally-delayed child? What about Downs Syndrome children and autistic children? We know they need special attention and distinct methods to help them learn, as well as to prevent them from making it too hard for the other children to learn. But if we “segregate” the Downs syndrome child (to whatever degree) for the purpose of doing a better job of teaching him or her God’s Word, are we guilty of “dividing”?]

    YES! According to statistics 53% of people with disability don’t attend a local church. Many of these people may not have a desire. But the truth is church is an awful place for families with children with disabilities. Less than 15% of churches have an intentional program to service people with disabilities. Yet, we know from demographics that 2 in 7 families have a disabled family member. If the family has a member with a disability and the church doesn’t meet the needs of the person with the disability… the family doesn’t go! We lose out on being able to minister to and being ministered through a part of the body. If we are to believe the words of Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” How do we make the weaker members of our congregation indispensable?

  12. Marya says

    Absolutely, Julie. the FIC church model does not minister to children with disabilities, many of whom can not sit still for whatever reason, may make noise during the teaching, or need simplicity and visuals to understand the teaching. Compliance, rather than compassion is what is valued in the FIC church model.

    Additionally, most parents of special needs kids need a well deserved break! The special needs community is the great untapped mission field right under our noses, in every community but most don’t see it.

  13. says

    I did watch the entire thing. A few random thoughts…

    Part of what makes Vision Forum/NCFIC so effective in their marketing is the extremely high quality materials they put out. This video was very well done, whether you agree with it or not. The design quality of the things they produce add a tremendous amount of credibility to what they say to the average person who watches it, especially someone who might not be well-grounded in Scripture or is more easily persuaded by a package. They really put so much of the rest of the church to shame in terms of the quality of what they produce.

    That said… I was about ready to throw something at the screen because of the total father-centeredness of this program. As a woman and a mother I found it so offensive that all of the focus was put on the father discipling his children. Yes, they threw in the word “parents” on a regular basis, but I don’t think the word “mother” was EVER used in the entire thing. I know this is the standard view of VF/NCFIC, but I find it so offensive that ALL of the focus is put on the father. They only spoke to one woman in the entire thing and that was the youth ministry specialist. If I’m a woman sitting there and viewing this as an introduction to this kind of thinking, I’m going to be left with the impression that I don’t matter AT ALL. It is ALL about the father and the mother apparently doesn’t matter in the least.

    I think a major flaw in all the thinking about the 80% of the children who leave the church is that the focus is on children who leave the CHURCH, not children who abandon their FAITH IN CHRIST. There is a HUGE difference. Since the vast majority of youth groups bring in large numbers of kids who never make a profession of faith, it really is not accurate to say those kinds have “left the church”. They were never part of the Church to begin with if the Church is the body of Christ. Yes, they showed up at the church building, but they were not a part of the Church. So Kevin Swanson’s lament about “which of my four children are going to leave the faith if we lose 80% of the kids” is rather disingenuous. I highly doubt 80% of kids who truly commit their life to Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit are walking away.

    And as often as I’ve commented on how I cannot listen to Kevin Swanson because of his over the top style, he was right in the fact that parents (not just fathers, ugh) who truly understand the work of Christ on the cross and understand the importance of the blood that was shed, WILL disciple their children. The problem is that the church buildings are full of people who don’t understand this and are not part of the Church and so they cannot communicate this to their own children.

  14. says

    Maybe it’s not the model but the message. I highly reccomend Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. In it she points out that many times kids are being fed a list of rules to emulate, as if that could make them a Christian, instead of being introduced to the amazing and overwhelming grace of God.

  15. Deborah says

    Additionally, most parents of special needs kids need a well deserved break! The special needs community is the great untapped mission field right under our noses, in every community but most don’t see it.

    This from Marya. In spades.

    I work with a special needs girl and I can tell you from experience on Sunday morning these parents, as much as they love their special-needs child, need. a. break. They need to be able to sit and enjoy a service and be refreshed physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually, from a very hard week without having to get up and go out every 2 minutes because their precious little child is not able to be quiet. I’m all for special needs being welcomed with open arms in the service, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes…….even just that one or two hour break is vital. And yes, there is such a mission field of ministry right under the church’s nose in this. Yet the FIC doesn’t seem to recognize that it IS a reality. They might say they do but–I don’t see too (read none) many special needs families at the FIC churches I’ve been around. Because there seems to be very little room for them there.

    I don’t believe the answer is throwing out ALL youth activities or classes. I think that’s the main thing I disagreed with. We can have churches that support and teach parents raising their kids, without throwing out ministry to those who don’t have parents to or who will raise them. And yes the families in the church should come alongside kids like that and take them in but…….so few do. Which is why sometimes church programs become necessary.

  16. Pressing On says

    We took our kids out of Sunday School years ago. Initially it was environmental (mold problems that were being ignored), but even after it was fixed, we decided to keep them with us because they were getting so much more out of the adult class. We were quiet aobut it, and didn’t trumpet that way as being the only way. Now at our church Sunday School is only for K-6th, so ours would be sitting with us anyway.

    When the movement really picked up to end Sunday School, we still didn’t really jump on. For us, it was the right thing at the right time to keep them with us. In a different situation, we might feel differently. Isn’t there room for flexibility and the Lord’s leading?

    I was also struck by the father-focus. My husband struggles with chronic health issues and cannot attend church at times. His health problems sometimes require that I make decisions alone. I always feel “left out” and frustrated when speakers imply that having a strong father leader is the only way to be “spiritual.” Doesn’t the Lord lead women like me who have to “make do?” Isn’t it possible for me to make solid choices on my own when necessity dictates?

  17. Adam says


    It depends on what is meant by the term “Biblical.” To illustrate what I am saying, I found this humerous anecdote online the other day while I was working on an article dealing with this very issue:

    Top 10 Biblical Ways to Acquire a Wife:

    10. Find a Prostitute and marry her. (Hosea 1:1-3)

    9. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. (Ruth 4:5-10)

    8. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)

    7. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. (Judges 21:19-25)

    6. Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife. (1 Samuel 18:27)

    5. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. (Esther 2:3-4)

    4. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. (Exodus 2:16-21)

    3. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” (Judges 14:1-3)

    2. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a woman. (Genesis 29:15-30)

    1. Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you a rib. (Genesis 2:19-24)

    Obviously, all of these ways are “Biblical,” but are they the only ways to acquire a wife, or are all of them even Godly ways to find a wife? As I also mentioned the other day, in one of my blog posts:

    there was recently a death down in Dallas Texas at a Texas Rangers baseball game. It was due to the fact that the railings between the bleachers and the floor behind the scoreboard were not sufficiently high to prevent him from falling. I also mentioned that, about a year ago, when my favorite baseball team the Cleveland Indians were there, a man fell out of the upper deck into the lower deck. Now, you will look all over the Bible, and never once will you find anything about high railings around the upper decks of baseball stadiums. Therefore, using the same logic, one would have to say that there was no problem with what happened at that Rangers game, because there is nothing in scripture about railings and upper decks of baseball stadiums. In fact, given Scott Brown’s discussion with Todd Friel, he should say that he doesn’t even know what railings around the upper decks of baseball stadiums are, since they are not mentioned in the Bible.

    However, what I did point out was that the law in Deuteronomy 22:8 certainly *does* apply in this situation, because, although it doesn’t mention the upper deck of a baseball stadium, the whole purpose of the law [and other laws like it] is to protect human life from accidental death. Thus, high railings around the upper decks of baseball stadiums are not mentioned in the Bible [and hence, are unbiblical in that sense], they are Biblical in another sense, and that is that they are an application of the command to protect human life from accidental death.

    It is the same thing with sunday schools and youth groups. Yes, if you look at the actual text of the Bible, you will not find sunday schools or youth groups mentioned, just as you will not find railings around the upper decks of baseball stadiums. However, the church is commanded to teach, and that is all that is necessary for there to be youth groups and sunday school, since these are simply forms of teaching.

    In fact, the real problem with youth groups like the ones they showed in that video is that there *is* no teaching of the word; it is totally geared towards the desires of the flesh, and if the Bible is even mentioned, the level of the information is so surface level so as to be virtually nonexistent.

    The problem is that this is an issue, not necessarily of semantics [the study of meaning in language], but of pragmatics [the study of meaning in language use]. They are not the same thing. Very clearly, you can find all of the semantics of the “top ten Biblical ways to find a wife” in the Bible. However, you will be hard pressed to argue that what the author actually intended was to say that those ways or Godly, or to limit the finding of a wife to those particular ways.

    In the same way, although they argue that the burden of proof is on me in that video, the burden of proof is actually on them to either show that 1. Even if there are only age integrated groups taught in the Bible [an odd thing since sometimes the ages of the participants aren’t even mentioned], the text is intending to limit the teaching of children to age integration, or is even making the age of the participants crucial to the teaching, or 2. The practice is contradictory to something found in scripture. If neither 1 nor 2 can be proven, then their is nothing wrong with sunday schools and youth groups.

    The issue is one of hermeneutics; the view of language found in the participants of that video is very simplistic. My concern is that this kind of hermeneutic leads to syncretism. Why? Because, if we can’t find baseball stadiums in the Bible, we must get rid of them altogether, not just the railings around the upper deck. All things that are not part of the culture in which the Biblical text was found must be gotten rid of, and hence, you end up with syncretism. Eventually, if you are consistent with this hermeneutic, you will have to go out into the middle of the wilderness, and implement Ancient Near Eastern culture-you will have to speak in the pronounciation of ancient Hebrew, wear robes of animal skin, make houses of fired brick, eat only foods that you would find in the Bible, etc. Other things are “unbiblical,” and simply a result of our modern culture, and must be rejected, right? That is how this position leads, logically, to syncretism.

    God Bless,

  18. Lenora says

    I did not watch the video(mainly b/c our internet is really slow!).

    Hubby grew up in a strong Bible centered, saturated church that did have age segregated Sunday Schools and youth groups. From what he saw in the youth groups he was in he was all for steering away from them when our children grew up. So we found a church. Mainly homeschooling, no “youth group” etc. Our oldest was just entering her teen years. This was good…so we thought. Unfortunately what happened with the youth in that church was far worse than anything he had seen in his “youth group” church. One young man charged with sexual molestation of his sister and other young girls in the church and extended family, another charged with felony theft, many of the girls are/were anorexic or bulimic, one put on church discipline for having sex w/ her boyfriend and not repenting, other girls living with their boyfriends but claiming there was no sex involved, some of the young men drinking/drugs but hiding it enough so their parents don’t know…..some of the parents know but are in a massive coverup b/c they are leaders kids.

    I apologize for being so graphic, but I’m trying to make a point…neither is better or worse or biblical or unbiblical….and people need to wake up to that fact. We are all sinners and left to ourselves in whatever system we are in…we will continue to sin….our kids need JESUS…we need JESUS….and GRACE…and LOVE…and parents willing to do whatever to show the love of Jesus to them. And in the end if we’ve done that with our kids and they still don’t see Jesus, then we as parents will never give up hoping for those kids….because love always hopes…..just as the father waited for his prodigal son to come back….and when he did the father threw a party.

    Basically… are lost in both organizational systems….God’s word doesn’t clarify either structure….so lets get back to the main things!! Jesus, Grace, Love, Relationships…..”The main thing in life…is keeping the main things the main thing!!”:)

  19. Laura says

    These are excellent points. There is no inherent virtue in the “good old days” whether one hundred or two thousand years ago. Emulating traditions still practiced in some Middle Eastern cultural groups today hardly makes one “Biblical”.If we limit our activities to only those things specifically spelled out in the Bible we would make the Amish look high tech. It is interesting how we Christians always select isolated rules and behaviors that we wish to promote while leaving the rest to Old Testament history. This type of oversimplification seems to sell a lot of books and videos, though.

    There are good arguments on both sides. Having spent time in both camps during different seasons as parents , we find that the anti youth group crowd can be legalistic, cheerless and judgemental. The 100 percent gung-ho youth group people sometime seem to think that even older teens have to be constantly entertained with high decible hysteria and pizza buffets. It IS important for our kids to understand that life is important and profound, and that “even a child is known by his actions”. But I think it is fine for them to also have good times of recreation and fellowship through church association.Though I believe in the benefit of people of all ages doing life together- that is, after all, how the real world is- it is ridiculous to think that through all of human history, kids haven’t formed play groups, teens haven’t giggled together, moms haven’t supported one another.

    If I hear one more homeschool mom speak with dewey eyed nostalgia about her wonderful romance with her husband while they were high school sweethearts and then impose strict courtship rules on her 19 year old daughter, or see a crowd of Christian “Moms of many” organize a retreat from their husbands and kids to relax and have fun, while opining that it is “un-Biblical” for their teen aged kids to also have similar times of recreation, I think I will tear my hair out !

    Why do we as adults have so much trouble extending grace to our children? We have less trouble cutting slack for ourselves. It seems to me a very UNorthodox position to say that our children should never learn anything from anyone but their mom or dad or pastor, or that it is some 20th century invention to let groups of children or teens have class or fellowship with those close to their age. We sometimes burden our children with expectations of behavior and perfection that we are still missing in our own walk.

  20. Lynnea says

    I don’t have time to watch this now, but I want to thank-you for opening our eyes to what is out there and being propigated in the homeschool realm. We all need to seriously evaluate everything being taught and I know for years I assumed that if this stuff is being promoted it MUST be biblical…it sounds so right. But unfortunately the devil is a master at disguising falsehood in what sounds right and good. Thanks again Karen!

  21. says

    Lynnea, Lenora,

    If you cannot watch the movie then please read my review as I summarize the salient points:

    The movie wants to deal with the messed up youth groups out there. The solution is family discipleship and the total removal age-segregated ministries. (youth groups, sunday schools, etc.).

    Instead of simply urging families to take their duty seriously they go further and assert that age-segregation is “unbiblical” (wrong). That is the rub.

  22. says

    Stephanie, I agree so much with your thoughts, especially the practice of having youth leaders that are barely older than the youth. I would love to see parents and grandparents involved in meaningful ways with the junior and senior highers in churches.

    I also think that the emphasis in youth ministries ought to be on Christian service and missions, having the kids participate in outreach rather than entertainment. One thing I have noticed on blogs and websites where young people from family integrated churches write and participate, the only outreach or mission work I see is older daughters helping with the small children of other homeschooling families. There are lots of teas and lots of pictures of themselves(and I mean lots). There is so many meaningful things that could be done and often even good churches miss the boat.

  23. says

    Adam,thanks for your great analogies…..they are right on. “Biblical” is such a convenient word to attach to whatever one is trying to promote and sell. {{{cringe}}}

  24. says

    One more thing I don’t get….the family integrated churches DO have their own “youth groups” that do fun things, even though they do not have missions activities or Bible studies. The big thing right now in these circles in having dances. They also seem to participate in many other youth only activities but don’t call them youth groups. I don’t understand how they can teach these things without seeing the hypocrisy.

  25. says

    “If I hear one more homeschool mom speak with dewey eyed nostalgia about her wonderful romance with her husband while they were high school sweethearts and then impose strict courtship rules on her 19 year old daughter, or see a crowd of Christian “Moms of many” organize a retreat from their husbands and kids to relax and have fun, while opining that it is “un-Biblical” for their teen aged kids to also have similar times of recreation, I think I will tear my hair out ! ”

    Amen! We have been told by this crowd that to want these things is “meology” and then those same teachers participate in and promote and provide them for moms anyway!

  26. says

    And let’s not forget that Scott Brown gathers young men into his life and home to mentor them. How is that different than youth ministry?

  27. says

    In case someone is reading here and hasn’t yet listened to these, the August 15 and 21st, 2010 podcasts discuss the patriocentric agenda that states that one of their goals is to see that ALL homeschooling families are in family integrated churches. As outrageous and audacious as that sounds, it is absolutely true. Here is a link:

    We cannot ignore the fact that most of those interviewed in this film have agendas that most Christian homeschooling families would take issue with.

  28. Lois says

    Because of the length, I did not watch this, but I am familiar with its content. One thing the FIC people never mention is that Hannah, after begging God for a son, turned Samuel over at a very young age to Eli, a priest who couldn’t even mentor his own sons, for training and schooling! She had almost zero influence in his life, except for prayer, and Samuel’s father is only known for his whining, “Aren’t I better than 10 sons?” Elkanah played favorites with his two wives, so their homelife would today be deemed disfunctional.

    Other people on here have summarized my views more eloquently than I could, so I’ll let those stand. I appreciate everyone’s input in this topic.

  29. says

    DannyKX: “At the end of the day, I really don’t think Sunday School and youth groups are the cause of or the answer to why kids leave the church. Questions about attrition are worth asking, but I find most answers to be too simplistic and reactionary.”


    If the opinion and goals of the leadership of the NCFIC are taken into consideration, it is more a move to push for homeschooling (as it is a “revival”):

    “Home educators, almost by definition, have turned their heart to their children [Mal. 4] . . . So there’s been a revival that’s taking place in the heart of these homeschool families. And this revival works itself out to the local church . . . our prayer: every Christian in the world is in a family integrated church. And there should be nothing but that, but you know what that is going to lead to? That’s going to lead to people homeschooling!”
    Phillips, quoted from “The Family-Integrated Church Movement,” interview, Generations Radio,, June 12, 2006. This broadcast is favorably referenced by the NCFIC blog, January 21, 2009.

    They don’t make this view well known. Instead they point out what every Evangelical can see and present themselves as the new leaders that can fix this problem. But their history and theology are askew and poorly researched. Their concern for parental involvement is commendable though.

  30. says

    And speaking of agendas here is part of Mr. Phillips of the NCFIC:

    “Vision Forum’s mission statement (on the about page) states,

    ‘Most men are gripped by fear. They fear the loss of job security. They fear the unknown. They fear the opinions of others. This fear prevents many fathers from beginning home education — the educational approach most consistent with both the methodology and goals of education as articulated in Scripture. This fear prevents other fathers from making lifestyle changes which will allow them to spend more time walking beside their children, as God commands.’

    “In other words, Mr. Phillip’s organization believes homeschooling is the “educational approach most consistent” with the Scriptures. Presumably fathers who do not homeschool (but perhaps use a Christian school) are “gripped with fear.” And, apparently, it must be a type of homeschooling in which fathers can “spend more time” nurturing their children.

    “What is his view about Christian schools then? In one blog posting he wrote:

    ‘The growth of the home education movement is in the hands of the Lord, but reasonable projections based on available data indicate that the home education movement has at least another ten years of rapid growth as more and more parents not only seek to avoid the spiritual, moral, and practical evils of government school education, but desire a better path than that found in the age-segregated, peer-driven education models which often define private school education of every stripe…And don’t kid yourself: Both government and Christian school advocates vigorously make the case for the superiority of their own systems and methods. They actively attempt to evangelize Christians into sending children to their institutions. And let them do so. Bring on the debate.’

    “In fact, in one post he decried mothers working at Christian day schools:

    ‘Christian pastors embraced birth control, working wives and career oriented daughters. Often they would build their private fiefdoms around economically self-destructive Christian day schools fueled by the ultimate cheap labor force: young working moms.’ ”

    Continue reading on : “Christian homeschooling conference: who is Doug Phillips?” – Denver Christian Perspectives |

  31. says

    Doug Phillips is all about condemning Christians who exercise their God-given, Romans 14 freedom. This branch of the home-schooling movement is divisive and needs to come under church discipline.

  32. says

    I agree with so many of the comments. VF & associates do have a talent for beautiful productions…a spoonful of sugar to make their medicine go down!

    I watched most of the movie. My connection gave out about 3/4 way through. My first reaction is that this movie only shows extremes–you’ve got the teenagers at the beginning with mohawks and such (the product of age segregation of course) and for the opposite extreme you’ve got the clean-cut Philip Leclerc (who’s never been segregated in his life). This all just plays on FEAR. There’s no middle ground shown in this film…either you get your family into a FIC church NOW or your teenagers will end up like the world, which this film seems to define as crazy hairdo’s and head-banging rock concerts.

    I see age segregation as based on efficiency and organization, not on evolution. I think Doug Phillips’ reasoning on this was very weak.

    One reason they gave for giving up youth ministry/Sunday school was that it was rooted in paganism. Even if this is true (I did not do research to see if their statements were accurate), do we give up everything that may have pagan roots? Christmas?

    And Voddie B. went so far as to compare youth ministry/SS with Uzzah reaching out to steady the ark! He said age segregation is “worshiping in ways that God has not told us to worship.” He also said that the Bible teaches that the rod is the primary tool in disciplining children. Really? The *primary* tool?!

    And it’s not even good enough for them that we disciple at home AND send our kids to SS/youth group. The movie says that’s like mixing oil and water and will produce bad fruit because Sunday School is foreign to scripture. “Age segregation goes against Scripture.” That’s quite a statement to make. That means I am going against scripture every Sunday when my kids skip off to children’s church.

    I believe parents have so much more influence over their children than the church. Why do they keep harping on church programs when the real problem is watered-down Christianity (one extreme) and legalistic Christianity (the other extreme)? Kids are seeing through the hypocrisy and legalism of these extremes and don’t want it. I don’t blame them!

  33. Adam says

    Karen, Laura,

    That is the maddening thing about listening to folks like Scott Brown, and really, all of the patriarchalists. Their hermeneutics are entirely arbitrary. They will point to background material when it helps their position, but they will ignore it when it hurts their position. They will, very astutely, observe certain phenomenon of language when it comes to interpreting the Torah, but they will ignore that same principle when it comes to age specific education. It is really hard to come up with any kind of consistent view of language from these folks.

    Voddie Baucham is probably the best I have seen of this bunch [he seems to at least be familiar with some of the principles of hermeneutics], but I have seen several exegetical blunders in him as well [i.e., his interpretation of Psalm 127:5, Genesis 1:28, etc.]. When you have an arbitrary hermeneutic, you simply cannot let the text speak for itself. Thus, not only be bearing false witness against your creator, but you will be nullifying the word of God for the sake of your traditions.

    That is why I really do believe these folks mean well. I think they do believe they are following the Bible. The problem is that, without a proper understanding of hermeneutics, you will not be able to let the text speak for itself, and thus, will be following traditions of men that are made to look like the word of God. It is especially dangerous when these interpretations become popular, not because they are hermeneutically sound, but because they are pushed by something popular like a movie. If you have the ability to popularize certain interpretations of scripture, and especially if you can do so by presenting these interpretations as sociologically beneficial, you can, in essence, put yourself over the authority of the Bible.

    That is why it is so important for people to learn hermeneutics. That is why I have dedicated my life to, not just learning as many languages as I can, but also studying how language works. If we don’t recover a zeal for proper hermeneutics in the church, we are headed for authoritarianism, not Biblical authority.

    God Bless,

  34. says

    Dear readers,

    The origin of this movement (as far as the NCFIC is concerned, the co-producers of the movie) stem from a perceived problem: we are losing our youth.

    A number of them got excited about a solution to the problem: eliminate methods and environments (youth groups, etc.) and promote family discipleship (amen). They gathered and created the National Center for Family-integrated churches. They create a public confession. Then they gather their money and propagate this view for the next ten years with little to no substantial interaction with opposing views.

    They run into substantial opposition about two years ago and change their public confession somewhat (without notifying all the churches that signed). Now there are at least two other well-informed detractors: Prof. Sam Waldron and myself. We’ve done our homework. But they will not interact with us. Mr. Brown is aware of both Mr. Waldron’s and my own essays. Voddie did interact with Mr. Waldron last year (for inaccuracies).

    But once an organization has been around for 10 years and wrapped in commercialized rhetoric it becomes hard to back down. They claim FIC and homeschooling are revivals of God(!) and those who practice systematic age-segregation are following secular and evolutionary thought. But given their poor historical research and equally poor (or at least unclear) approach to Scripture they should turn the rhetoric down and reconsider their whole philosophy.

    As for the many starving families willingly eating this stuff up, please pass on Mr. Waldron’s or my work (see links below). We do not “attack” them; our rhetoric is reserved but our ability to make fancy propaganda movies is zero. But the truth is greater.

    The Family Integrated Church)


  35. says

    Adam you are so right. God used 2 things to open my eyes to the deception/legalism I was living under:

    1, He led me into a friendship with a cult member and as I began to research cults and spiritual abuse I began to see many of the same dynamics in my own life! (tho’ I was never following a particular leader…just the patriarchal mindset).

    2, I was invited to join a local Precepts Bible study class and for the first time I learned how to interpret Scripture for myself. This was huge. I had read and memorized the Bible all my life but I’d never learned how to interpret it for myself. The books I was reading would influence how I read the Bible instead of the other way around.

  36. says

    Becky, I really appreciate your comments on inductive Bible study. I can never remember, ever, ever, hearing or reading a patriocentric leaders encourage inductive Bible study. In fact, I don’t ever remember seeing any Bible study tools in their online or homeschool convention stores. They are heavily dependent on particular bible commentaries and believe that fathers and church leaders are necessary for proper interpretation. Thank you for sharing this!

  37. Adam says


    Yes, I understand where you are coming from. I am currently getting ready to teach a class in hermeneutics, and this is something that has been heavily on my mind as far as the importance of hermeneutics in the church today. When you do not let God speak for himself, you destroy the authority of scripture. When this happens, the society tends to be put in its place. Although it was found in a different context, I love this quote from Francis Schaeffer:

    Francis Schaeffer-“If there is no absolute by which to judge society, society is absolute.”

    In other words, once the Bible is no longer allowed to speak for itself, it is the community that takes over, and it is absoute as far as all truth, including the “truth” about what the Bible says. In fact, what is ironic is that this is exactly what deconstructionists and reader response critics have argued. Take, for example, Stanley Fish:

    Stanley Fish-What I finally came to see was that the identification of what was real and normative occurred within interpretive communities.

    Kevin Vanhoozer, in his book Is There a Meaning in this Text? makes the point that postmodernity does not mean the end of all authority, just the end of all *ultimate* authority.

    Why do I say this? Because a person with an arbitrary hermeneutic has no answer to Stanley Fish and Jacques Derrida. They say that what a person believes to be the “correct” interpretation is always relative to the person and their communal context, and, when you have an arbitrary hermeneutic that will not allow the text to test your agenda, you are proving them absolutely correct. That is why you can say that you were following the patriarchal “mindset,” because your ultimate authority as to what the Bible said was not the Bible itself, but the patriarchal community.

    My hermeneutics teacher always says that traditions, communities, agendas, etc. are both a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing because they force you to keep the whole picture in perspective. They are a curse if you refuse to put them to the refining fire of the word of God.

    The problem is that you cannot treat human language in the way this film presupposes. We are created in the image of God, and thus, we are linguistic beings just as God is. When you are arbitrary with language like this, you completely destroy human language. It will lead to foolish conclusions such as syncretism, or [more commonly] a virtual distruction of human language. You can see both of these in the hermeneutics presented in this film, as, not only is syncretism absurd, but no one thinks in terms of syncretism when we use our language in the real world.

    God Bless,

  38. Adam says


    Now there are at least two other well-informed detractors: Prof. Sam Waldron and myself. We’ve done our homework. But they will not interact with us. Mr. Brown is aware of both Mr. Waldron’s and my own essays.

    I know what you mean. While I am not as familiar with the history and character of the movement as you are, I have listened to several interviews these guys have done, and I have also seen this movie. I have responded to particular claims made in all of these, and, even though I know that some of those who hold this view are listening [reading], they don’t speak up. Either what I am saying is really bad [although, I find it hard to believe that it is too bad, since I have already had confirmation from Becky that I am on the right track], or they just choose not to respond. Now, if it is the latter, that is fine, as I am not demanding a response, but this silence is something I have seen others report as well, and it is interesting to observe.

    God Bless,

  39. Adam says

    Karen, Shawn, Everyone,

    I just had a thought. I am almost wondering if it might be possible to do a video in response to Divided. If there are that many detractors, such as Sam Waldron, Shawn, Karen, then it wouldn’t be too hard to do a video response to this, where each detractor is interviewed, similar to what happened in Divided, and a rebuttal is given to the main errors in the film.

    The biggest thing would be getting everyone together to shoot it, and then, having someone do the editing and final production. We could promote it on our blogs, and at home schooling groups just like the makers of Divided did. If anyone knows anything about video cameras, and film production, I think it would be well worth the time to make something like this and promote it.

    God Bless,

  40. says

    Karen, I should add that the internet, mostly blogs like this one, were also key in opening my eyes! So thank you for all the information you provide!

  41. Carmen says

    Is it Biblical or not Biblical?

    When looking at we need to ask is it Sin, a Custom or a tradition.
    It is definitely not a Sin to have Youth Groups and Sunday School. God list sin specifically. (Adultery, Murder, etc)

    Is it a Custom? A Custom is something that is mandated by the government and laws over many years. (Ex. paying taxes. We may not like this custom but the Bible says in a lose wording form from me: Pay to God what is God’s and Give to the Government what is the Governments.)

    A Tradition is something that we have adopted as a Group of People over many years. It is normally our Nations’ regular actions from day to day or a yearly ritual such as our Holidays, etc. Some of these traditions can be celebrated or done and they are either Biblical (bring glory to God) or Unbiblical (not bring Glory to God)

    It is not a Sin to have Youth Groups and Sunday School.
    It is not a Custom to have Youth Groups and Sunday School.
    It is a recent tradition to have Youth Groups and Sunday School. (recent meaning a few hundred years)

    Is it Biblical or Unbiblical? The answer to this is individual!!! Is it accomplishing the goal to teach GOd’s Word. Is it accomplishing Bibical Principals? Is your Youth Groups and Sunday Schools studying the WORD of GOD ? Out of an hour meeting evaluate the amount of time they are in the word and how much time they are playing with silly activities! Evaluate the material as well. Is the material they are using mostly the Bible or some little book or movie off the local Christian Book store shelf?

    The problem with this movie is that once a Parent evaluates their Youth Group and Sunday Schools and they come up short, they do not explain how to transition their Children into a regular service! It just says, “pull your kids out”. It does not address the issues of how to handle transitioning! How do you handle Church Members who do not understand your new vision? How to answer your Children’s questions on why they are being separated on a level that will allow them to also catch a vision? (The list of annoy) ~ Not all of us agree with the NCIF doctorine and so to pull our Children out or a traditional service may or may not be supported. It really leaves us in a community with no support and if we live in a isolated community where there are not any family integrated Churches than it makes it even more difficult.

    *saying all this, no support or not, my Children are in service with us, it is the hardest road to be on, but for us it is well worth it.

  42. says

    I spent probably around ten years, many years ago, very actively involved in youth ministry at former churches. S.S. teacher to Jr. High girls, AWANA leader, music ministry with teen girls, accompanied youth on retreats and mission trips, etc.

    Was my heart (and those of the other youth leaders) in the right place? Absolutely. Fond memories? Beyond a doubt. Was it a good experience for me? Indeed. Did it produce any fruit in the teens? Maybe some. Can I point to any mature, lasting fruit in these teens who are now adults, some with families of their own? Ummm….not so much.

    Generally speaking I can look back to that involvement of those years all the way up to today’s culture and conclude that professional youth ministry isn’t getting the job done. What with all the formally trained youth pastors/leaders, Christian radio stations, conferences, retreats, events, activities, blah, blah, blah, you’d think we’d have the highest percentage ever of discipled Christian teens! Instead we see teens/young adults abandoning the Christian faith in heartbreaking numbers.

    I would say they are truly not abandoning the faith…they’ve never had it in the first place. This ‘Christian teen culture’ has produced such a herd mentality that individual responsibility is too often ignored. To me the battle takes place first in the heart of the parent and other concerned adults in our churches to pray for hearts of children, teens, and young adults to be brought face to face with the truth of the Gospel confronting their own sin and offering redemption and a life of fulfilling purpose, beginning now and lasting through all eternity.

    Anyone who comes to salvation in Christ must then be brought to a mature faith through studying the Scriptures. I don’t think that S.S. and youth groups can’t play a part in that. My own teen children have been involved in some very good Bible Studies through these venues. In fact my son was once involved in teen Bible Study group that just ended up being a handful of boys…led by a mid-sixties grandmother in our church! My son loved it. He commented how Mrs. J. read the Bible like she really knew it! That study impacted my son. Also, the high school S.S. class has had some very good class studies on worldview, which my daughter has really loved.

    My own viewpoint with our church’s youth activities is that just because it’s on the church calendar doesn’t necessarily mean my teen will attend. And, I generally always want to know ahead of time who is the teacher?, what topic are they teaching?, what material are they using?, etc. The youth leaders at our church generally know I might ask. But they’ve always been great about sharing that, too. and, I’ve occasionally sat in on some gatherings, too, though not regularly. However, if I perceive that a parent isn’t welcome to sit in on a class, that sends up a red flag in my mind.

    Those are just a few random thoughts that have crossed my mind.


  43. emr says

    After watching “Divided” I came away with several impressions.

    First, the idea that having Sunday School is equivalent to the church saying, “We can do a better job of raising your children than you can” seems way out of proportion to me. That is assigning a whole lot of power to one hour a week. Having a youth ministry or Sunday School program is equated with a total usurpation of parental authority, and I don’t see that at all.

    The claim that in youth ministry, “the church looks just like the world” is presented with footage of a concert where there is loud music and kids with Mohawks. But what was said, and sung, at that event? It may have been Biblical words that were honoring to God and lifting Him up in praise and worship. How it looks seems to be more important than what was actually happening there.

    Finally, I found it very interesting that all the interviews with youth were at the beginning of the film, talking to teens who are involved in typical church youth ministry. There were no interviews with teens in family-integrated churches about how they are being taught and discipled. What do youth in those churches think? Or is that important?

  44. says

    emr, I hadn’t noticed the fact that they didn’t interview any young people in FIC churches until you pointed it out. I also think they ignored any of the real concerns that families have about them and I know they are fully aware of them.

  45. says

    Adam, I love your idea of a documentary. I think that this is such a new movement and has so many tentacles that connect it to unsavory belief systems that what turned up could be very interesting. I would like to see someone interview a guy like Henry Reyenga who eschews the phrase “family integrated church” but who promotes home discipleship.

  46. says

    I would also like to see a national movement/push for evangelical churches to encourage home discipleship/family worship amongst their families via providing devotional guides, family Scripture memory initiatives, and even some age-integrated Sunday school classes and outreach/missions efforts. Do any of you attend churches that do this? How does that look in practical terms?

  47. says

    One more thought this am…..we really don’t have any statistics to go on regarding the long term perspective on the FIC movement. I have even contacted George Barna and he says that there really isn’t anything yet. I would recommend Revolutionary Parenting, however. Some good stuff there.

  48. says

    Susie, I agree that we need to examine each opportunity as it comes along….even the adult ones….and decide if this is something we want to be involved with or if it is a good use of our time. Busy churches offer so many opportunities for ministry/fellowship/service, that most families could never do all of it. When we first began homeschooling, our family had been involved in AWANA and Bible studies, etc., and we were involved as leaders/teachers in a variety of things. We had to decided which was a better use of our time and as we took on more and more of the home discipleship of our children, those things had to go. It is a matter of time management and a continual process of weighing your priorities from year to year in each family.

  49. Laura says

    Karen- with regard to the “dances” that you mentioned the other day that are so trendy with the vision forum type home school crowd- I think those need to be watched carefully for shades of the whole “South shall rise again” mentality. Around here, there is one of those Civil War Balls planned for this winter. The vast majority of families I know, even those whose kids are participating, are viewing it as strictly a fun, educational experience. Alas, I felt the need to delve further into the suject and lo and behold!- the family sponsoring the event subscribes to the notion that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery.Thus transpired a rather heated debate where the other mom tried to paint me as either historically illiterate or the world’s greatest party pooper- or both.

    Further checking on some national type websites for Civil War Balls only turned up more disturbing information. Though stated repeatedly that these events are just for fun and education, there is a decided spin toward characterizing the Southerners as cantankerous old gentlemen and the Northerners as virtual terrorists. We are to feel sympathy for the poor Southerners who had no source of amusement save for these balls.( I wonder what amusement was provided for the slaves during these events?)

    We are told on one website that in order to be very authentic, the ladies could wear very low cut dresses. It is explained that this was in no way immodest but was simply the fashion of the times. Couldn’t the same be said today about many of the fashions that these people would condemn?

    Our family loves history and approves whole heartedly in reenactments, drama, costume, etc. But as I said to my kids, there is a difference between reenactment and theatre and desiring to actually return to and emulate a particular point in history- particularly one that is so entangled with the enslavement and misery of many thousands of human beings.

    I wish this whole topic could be discussed more openly. I really think that there is a sizable minority of home schoolers that are Southern sympathizers and I, for one, don’t want to be identified as part of that!

    How are you guys handling this? Has it come up in any of your home school circles?

  50. Dave A says

    Adam, In my observation the silence from most of the major individuals who advocate the FIC church program is due to the apparent fact that they are able to get their message out through their own channels with very little if any cross dialogue. When someone from the NCFIC starts dialoging on a blog, such as recently between Ryan Glick and Shawn Mathis, there are things that are said that may be used as bad PR for them.

  51. Laura says

    Anyway, as a P.S.- it is strange that the same people who frown on “Youth” activities and coed events in general promote so many dances!

  52. says


    “providing devotional guides, family Scripture memory initiatives, and even some age-integrated Sunday school classes and outreach/missions efforts.”

    For my church, denomination and sister denominations of the same tradition, we have many books, pamphlets and curriculum to draw from. One of the larger groups, Great Commission Publications (cooperation between the Presbyterian Church in American and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church). Here is a link to the family worship books!FW/Family-Worship.aspx

    Another publishing house with a large selection is Heritage Books,

    My church and many of my sister churches are small compared to the typical Evangelical church, I think. So, our Sunday School is not cut into small slices of age-groups. Age-integration is thus practiced by virtue of having a small church. The children learn about missionaries through special reports given to the church at large (taped to the book shelf) and through the public prayer in worship. I know individual families put up missionary maps offered from our denominational efforts.

    Home-discipleship has always been (theoretically!) the mainstay of Reformed churches at their best. And of historical Protestantism in general. I make a point of covering the importance of parental involvement in a sermon or Sunday school or bible study over the years.

    Right now I am going over Jay Adams’ book on how to listen and profit from sermons for the glory of God–something all families and children need to re-learn every few years (even me!).

    I also point out how other families and singles can be helpful for families with children (ala Titus 2:3ff.). Our church (and many sister churches) do not major on “ministries” that can take up too much of parental time (as noted above). It’s about slow, steady spiritual growth in grace–not the hype of the next new method.

  53. says

    Laura, you have brought up an issue that we have witnessed up close and personal. We were part of an FIC plant where the pro-south, Lincoln-was-an-evil-man mindset was always part of any discussion. I never once felt that I was ignorant; I had read the original documents of secession from each of the confederate states and knew that the war was absolutely about slavery. I said little at the time because I didn’t truly understand how deeply ingrained these teachings were and how they affected the whole system around us. Initially I thought it was part of the obsession with Doug Phillips’ macho man stuff, weaponry, and militia nuttiness. It wasn’t until one of the church elders told my husband and son and son-in-law that “the Klan has done some good things” that we realized how scary this group was. It is interesting to me how well-hidden the “slavery is biblical” teachings are until you probe deeper. We watched a documentary on the modern KKK that talked about the undercover approach that supremacists now use and what we saw certainly could have been part of that. We didn’t stick around long enough to find out!

    I also know of two particular FIC pastors who have openly displayed the stars and bars flag in their homes. I know one FIC that has openly welcomed and defended one of the original founders of the Kinist movement into their church membership. If blatantly promoting white supremacy isn’t worthy of church discipline what is? If you have never done so, google “kinist movement.” Phillips is a huge fan of both Rushdooney and Dabney, both who were racists. Rushdooney, by the way, didn’t believe that the Jewish holocaust ever occurred. In spite of some of the things these men believed that were right and good, their racist beliefs have also influenced their writings, the same writings many patriocentrists embrace today with gusto. And the same writings given to their children to study while they complain about what youth leaders might teach to kids. Just think about that one for a while. They welcome “teachers” like these to influence their children and eschew the influence of Sunday school teachers etc. What is wrong with this picture?

    This whole subject of FIC dances is kind of amusing to me;I do think it is one way they can pair off their kids with other “like-minded” ones! I do see a lot of revisionist history occurring at these reenactment events, too. Just once I would love to see a reenactment of Uncle Tom’s Cabin! 😉

  54. says

    Shawn, I am so grateful for pastors and churches where these sorts of materials are made readily available and where parents are encouraged in daily times of Bible study and worship in their homes.

    I saw something really neat one time that I would love to see more churches do to promote family Scripture reading. On a large wall in the back of the church, someone had constructed a HUGE tree. There was a small table next to it with a basket full of leaves. As a family (or single individual) had completed reading a book of the Bible, they were to write the name of that book on a leaf and sign their name on the back. That week, someone would attach that leaf to the growing number on the tree. It was awesome to see how many leaves were added each week and to know they represented families studying the Word of God together! It was such an encouragement to the whole body and reminded me of how many times God’s people in the OT would construct a visible marker of God’s faithfulness to His children!

  55. says

    Oh, I just wanted to add this, too. I think the encouragement of family discipleship has been to closely associated with the FIC movement and has left such a sour taste in the mouths of many through their weird affiliations that even this sort of gesture might be received as “oh, no, now we are going FIC!” Isn’t it tragic that this has happened? “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it” often comes in the form of a swinging pendulum does it not?

  56. says


    I do not know many FICs and have not run into the Southern racism. What you describe I can only call appalling.

    I am also glad for your balanced critique of Rushdooney. His racism is bad as well as his weak view of the church. Perhaps I have missed it in my own readings, but I was not aware of Rushdooney denying the holocaust as much as believing the numbers were hyped up (which I do not believe).

    My interest is not in defending the patriocentrists or racism but in finding the true origin of their beliefs. Rushdooney was very positive on the abilities of wives. To use one quote: “This is no small responsibility, nor is it a picture of a patient Griselda…Men as sinners often dream of a patient Griselda who never speaks unless spoken to, but no other wife would please them less or bore them more…A Biblical faith will not regard woman as any the less rational or intelligent than man; her reason is normally more practically and personally oriented in term of her calling as a woman, but she is not less intelligent for that” (Institutes, 346ff).

    I think what these men do is take a little here and mix it with a little there. Then throw in a good dash of broad-sweeping rhetoric and hype (like good ole’-fashioned America commercials) and presto! The audience is scared and worried but they have the solution to their fears.

    Even so, keep up the good work of exposing any kinism, racism and other “isms”.

  57. says

    “often comes in the form of a swinging pendulum does it not?”

    I agree. Families are enticed by the emphasis upon parental responsibility and hope of a new, mature generation of youth. But then the other bizarre and sometimes dangerous views and practices come to the fore and turn people off or even spiritual harm them.

    I am glad some have discovered a more balanced truth through the exposes online.

  58. says

    I am so very thankful for our Sunday School teachers. I usually take my 3 under 5 kids to church alone. If not for the Sunday School and nursery, I wouldn’t go at all. Biblical? I guess I don’t care what label someone puts on it. It works for my family and many others and I am grateful for the people who put their time and energy so that this tired mama can have a refreshing and much-needed break once a week (just so happens one of my kids is autistic, so I REALLY thank those wonderful people).

    As for youth group, I see many more problems with this than Sunday School. I do want my kids involved in youth group. But I plan on being 100% active in their group, hopefully a leader. I look forward to it, actually. My youth group experience was awesome and helped me grow so much. But our youth group was different than any I’ve ever seen. We actually thought studying the Bible was fun. I hope to implement the same ideas our leader used in any group my own kids are a part of. Our leader had such an impact in the lives of the young people he ministered to, that decades later we all still go visit he and his wife when we’re in the area. Even from states away.

  59. says

    @ Karen,

    You mentioned Henry Ryenga. I actually heard him speak at one of Kevin Swanson’s events about 4 years ago. I got his book which I thought was pretty good. He kind of dropped off the scene (at least from Kevin’s group). Is he still around and has he distanced himself from the FIC guys? Just interesting to see how people move away from destructive teachings.


  60. says

    Micah, Henry has left the family integrated church he founded and is pastoring a large congregation in the Chicago area. He is still very much an advocate for home discipleship and is involved with his ministry called Christian Leaders that is an online school for training men and women for ministry. I would never classify him as part of the patriocentric crowd,per se, especially given the fact that he is ordained in the CRC. However, I never underestimate the power of peer influence, even for adults!

  61. says

    Micah, I am not sure where you were reading but Henry Reyenga is the one who worked with us on the church plants in our area. (Central Illinois) One is still functioning, though has affiliation with the CRC in name only. The other one is pastored by James (Stacy) McDonald and, of course, is not part of the CRC.

  62. says

    @ thatmom,

    Thanks for the update. Even when I was on board with the whole partriocentricity garbage I could tell the H. Reyenga never fit in. He was always much more grace oriented. I am glad to hear that he distanced himself fairly quickly from that whole mess. It has been a while but I thought his book was a fairly good read. I will probably re-read it this winter.

    Since that one time he spoke at a conference I haven’t seen him on the radar since. It goes to show that the “leadership” is only willing to give platforms to people who have sworn total allegiance to the “system”.

    Thanks again,


  63. says

    bah! He closed the comments too quickly.
    Glad you and Adam got some comments in.
    Also note in the comments: Mr. Brown decided to speak out at his blog on challies’ review.

  64. Adam says

    Shawn, Karen,

    Yes, he closed the comments *way* to quickly. I was waiting to see how the person I was dialoguing with was going to deal with the fact that the second phrase of Proverbs 22:15 says “but the rod of discipline will remove it from him.” Throughout the book of Proverbs, discipline is seen as the antidote to foolishness. Therefore, if there is discipline in youth group, it will not be a problem if there is folly, as the discipline will drive it from them.

    I also could not figure out the argument that “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” is somehow universal. I also didn’t get the appeal to original sin. It doesn’t say, “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child when he is born.” Even if it did, that would be irrelevant to youth groups, as youth groups are rarely made up of newborns. The point is that children should be growing and becoming more and more wise so that, by the time they are a teenager, although they do still have a lot of growth to do, they have come a long way since they were a little child. I got the feeling that a person could not ever be considered mature unless they were 18, and these are the same people who argue that we should help kids mature sooner! The point of the text is to show the importance of discipline because children, in general, are not wise, and children who are disciplined will, in general, become wise.

    I also didn’t get the whole argument that you can find universals in the book of Proverbs, and even in the aphorisms. You can find historical truths in the parables of Jesus, but does that mean that we take the parables to be historical accounts? Just because you can find statements of universal truth in the Proverbs does not mean that this is the *literary* force of the Proverbs, and you can therefore go in and take everything as universal. The Hebrew Wisdom literature is a very closely knit system of thought and hence, it requires more than a naive assertion of universality to understand and apply what is being said. Thus, there is an exegetical burden of proof that must be born to the person who says that Proverbs 22:25a is universal.

    I was also interesting that I could have sworn that it was Scott Brown who was posting under all of the names of the supporters of this movement. The reason is that the arguments sounded exactly 100% like the way Scott Brown presented them in his discussion with Todd Friel. Normally, when you learn a new idea, you start thinking through the implications of the argumentation, and you are able to understand the argument more broadly. I got the sense that these people had not done that, and were simply parroting what Scott Brown had said. The reason is, when I pointed out the implications of their reasoning, they wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole. However, when it came to the exegesis of Proverbs 22:15, they were all over me.

    That is disturbing. When you don’t think through the implications of what you are saying, and you just simply repeat arguments verbatim, it shows a tendency towards a celebrity mentality where arguments are accepted on the basis of who the person making the argument is, rather than on whether the argument is true. We should all be thinking about how great scriptural truths such as the sufficiency of scripture, not only should be understood, but also how they affect the rest of what we believe. That is why there was a slight irony in the way in which the proponents of this movie argued. They were using canards such as “sacred cow” to describe youth ministry, when, the way many of them treated the arguments of their leaders, one had to wonder who has the “sacred cow.”

    If you go over to the discussion section on the movie’s website, you will see that very explicitly. Many of the arguments critical of the arguments of the teachers in the film were answered with things like, “But he is such a Godly man.” Well, Godly men can be wrong, Godly men can overreact, and Godly men can use fallacious reasoning, and Godly men can mess up in their exegesis. That is why we are told to test all things, and hold fast to what is good. In that respect, I really pray that God will open up eyes and ears on this issue.

    God Bless,

  65. says

    Adam, it is sooooo true that the answers and insights all begin to sound the same after a while. One day I was reading one patriocentric blog where a dissenting comment was allowed to come through and it just sounded to me like it was a set up where the blog author had actually written that comment to be able to answer with a canned response. It was all too clean. Rarely is anyone willing to take things down under the surface.

    The business about their lovely families always cracks me up. I know plenty of lovely families in traditional churches. The dads lead in family worship, the moms are committed to their kids, the children are obedient, etc.

    The other day I was engaged in a forum discussion that was so frustrating. Someone was critical of a woman author whose goal is to promote women studying theology, stating that they believe the woman is a feminist. I then posted this:

    Sometimes it is helpful to define terms. For example, here is a short bio of one woman. Would she be considered egalitarian or feminist or would she be considered to be a godly role model for younger women?

    This woman spent many years as a single mother of one child on the mission field. Planting and leading a church, she taught doctrine to the men and led in their times of worship. In later years, she was a keynote speaker in the pulpit on Sunday mornings in many conservative churches across the country and even around the world, telling about her experiences. As a single women, she rented a room in her home to a single man who later became her third husband who was her personal assistant in her ministry; she did not take his name when they married. One of her most popular speaking engagements was to address young people, men and women alike, encouraging them to forsake all for the sake of the Gospel and to go to the mission field. She did not see a “woman’s role” as remaining at home under her father’s roof.

    Was this woman egalitarian or feminist? Was she a godly role model for our daughters?

    This woman was Elisabeth Elliot.

    Without engaging in this discussion, I was simply dismissed and the meat of it ignored.

  66. says

    Mrs. Campbell and Adam,

    I think at this stage in the game a combined e-book is the best option short of linking to each others articles on the matter. I still plan on writing an in-depth critique of both their “confession” and the book.

    Maybe John Holzmann would be interested.

  67. says

    Shawn and Adam, I have someone who is interested in working with us on a documentary film. I will be sending you both a note in a few days to see if it is feasible.

  68. says

    I do like the idea of an e book. Have also been thinking of some podcasts…we have everything we need to do that right now.

  69. Sarahbeth says

    It seems that my views on this video are different than just about everyone else that commented! I am not familiar with the organization that funded/created/distributed this documentary, so I can’t say anything about that. With that being said…

    I watched the video today. First of all, I was in youth group in high school and somewhat involved in a young adult group. As an adult, I helped with teaching a kids’ Sunday School class and helped with the youth group at my previous church. I thought it was all fine and good. And I still don’t think it’s “wrong.”

    Now, I attend a church where families are together and there are no separate children and youth ministries. There isn’t even a nursery. As a mom of 2 kids under 3 who attends without my husband, this isn’t exactly ideal for me. However, I definitely see the value of having my kids in the service at an early age. I think having families together where the church can truly be one body is a better way.

    A close friend, who started attending our church when I did, has 4 children, between the ages of 7 and 12, and they were all involved in kids’ church prior to coming to our current one. It has been such a testimony seeing how much they have grown spiritually in the last year! I’ve been moved to tears watching my friend’s husband and one of their sons kneeling at the altar together. That simply couldn’t happen if their children were separated from them, playing games and hearing a brief watered-down message in kids’ church.

    I don’t believe that youth groups are a sin or necessarily UNBiblical. I just don’t think there is any Biblical support for them. The older (more spiritually mature) adults should teach the younger (less spiritually mature) adults. So maybe, having a women’s bible study and a men’s bible study would be appropriate/acceptable? I think parents should be the primary teachers (at least regarding the Lord and Biblical principles) of their children, though.

    Another reason I’m not a fan of youth groups and kids’ church (I guess that’s also known as Sunday School?) is the division. How can a church be one body when there are multiple groups within that church? And what about the kids who go to youth group but never attend on Sundays? Based on my experiences, I wonder if they ever hear a message that truly challenges them.

    I am very thankful that my kids will be getting meat at church every Sunday for years. I am excited to be a part of their spiritual growth. Can I guarantee that they will never walk away from the faith? No, but I’ll do everything I can to prevent it!

  70. Deborah says

    From Adam

    It is the same thing with sunday schools and youth groups. Yes, if you look at the actual text of the Bible, you will not find sunday schools or youth groups mentioned, just as you will not find railings around the upper decks of baseball stadiums. However, the church is commanded to teach, and that is all that is necessary for there to be youth groups and sunday school, since these are simply forms of teaching.

    In fact, the real problem with youth groups like the ones they showed in that video is that there *is* no teaching of the word; it is totally geared towards the desires of the flesh, and if the Bible is even mentioned, the level of the information is so surface level so as to be virtually nonexistent.

    Yes, totally.

    Honestly, I’ve seen some great youth groups, ones that had heavy parental involvement (another thing that I think the lack of causes alot of the problems mentioned–parents not getting involved in the ministries to their kids so they ARE participating in teaching them and not just handing it all off to the church) and good, solid teaching. Great posts, Adam, really appreciated what you had to say. Youth groups and Sunday schools are tools, how they are used can be good OR bad.

  71. Adam says


    Wow, I am impressed at the marketing that these folks put out there! Apparently, the Christian Post has picked up on this movie:

    What I find interesting is that, other than the discussion between Scott Brown and Todd Friel, I cannot find these folks ever interacting with their critics in a back and forth dialogue.

    That is why I figured that another idea might be to have a podcast/webcast where we invite folks like Scott Brown, Voddie Baucham, and Kevin Swanson to have a dialogue with someone like Tim Challies, Shawn Mathis, and you. It would give people a chance to hear both sides.

    I guess the thing that concerns me about this whole thing is that, when you have marketing as good as this, you have only one side being represented. I especially am getting tired of hearing the whole “sufficiency of scripture” bit. I have many times defended the sufficiency of scripture against Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, and it seems like that phrase is being hijacked by this movement to suit their own ends. If you followed their definition of “the sufficiency of scripture” to its logical conclusion, it would lead to utter nonsense. Yet, no one has a public forum to point that out.

    God Bless,

  72. says

    Adam, I can’t hardly turn around without seeing glowing reviews of this movie! And I understand it because I was once there! Having a discussion with the proponents sounds like such a great idea but there is one reason alone that it cannot work: the FIC is not a single issue, it is part of a much larger dominionist agenda. Phillips, Brown, and Swanson promote these views (not sure where Voddie is) and they have agreed to use the homeschooling market to promote them. At the 2009 Homeschool Leadership Summit, Phillips listed getting EVERY HOMESCHOOLING FAMILY into an FIC as one of their top priorities. This movie is one of their steps in working toward that goal. Control of religious thought and bible interpretation is absolutely crucial to accomplish the agenda, too. This is why, I believe, there has to be control over young people, not teaching them how to think but uploading them with propaganda. Their definition of a biblical worldview is much different than ours…just look at their worldview conferences. This is also why Bible study helps and inductive Bible studies are never part of the picture and why women are defined by one role. It is all part of what Phillips declares as the “grand sweep ofrevelation.” They do not see themselves as on an equal playing field with other Christians where we could discuss these things. Rather, they are our instructors and dwell in the upper area of hierarchy. I will never forget that one of the patriocentric teachers said he was getting him little girls toys that were really “tools for dominion” when they were small so they could be prepared to rule over a household of servants.

  73. Adam says


    I see; the difficulty would be getting them to do it when they have nothing to gain and so much to loose.

    I guess this is what happens when dominion theology abandons the gospel as the means to conquer the world, and puts, in its place, something external. It is really sad to see postmillenialism and dominion theology go from the hope of the gospel to the hope of a patriarchal system.

    God Bless,

  74. says

    I’ve been thinking about this, too. I think the first step in all this discussion is for churches to redirect this conversation and to take real steps toward promoting and encouraging home discipleship, making it the standard in the church. The second step is to acknowledge that there are myriad problems in youth ministry as it is done in many churches and looking at it objectively and separate from the family integrated church paradigm. There also needs to be a huge infusion of parents and grandparents into ministries that are geared for working with junior and senior high youth and even college kids. And one of the big issues I see is lack of a very specific commitment to teaching and training young people, really the church in general, in Biblical worldview issues. When these things are absent, homeschooling families are going to trickle over to family integrated churches and unwittingly become entangled in cult-like groups, thinking they can overlook the foundations these ministries are building upon. Any concrete ideas about how to do this?

  75. says

    Sallie, I wish I had that quote to reference! One of my online friends attended a homeschooling conference in North Carolina a few years ago and heard this statement from one of the patriocentric guys. She tried to get a tape of that conference but was unable to do so. I am not surprised, though. One homeschooling vendor who travels around to various conventions recently told me of one of these speakers gave messages that where so over the top radical that the event organizers didn’t feel they could even release the tapes in their post-convention Mp-3 sets. Another vendor also told me of one convention that had invited a popular keynote speaker but after signing the contract, heard some disturbing things on a tape and had to invite in another popular but nonpatriocentric woman speaker to bring balance to the presentations. Eventually only the state run approved groups will welcome in these people.

  76. says

    Shawn, thanks for that link. Interesting read. I have tried to find pertinent data on the core doctrinal beliefs of churches who call themselves “family integrated.” Since the movement is only about 10 years old, there is little out there available. I have corresponded with George Barna and his only recommendation was to read his book called Revolutionary Parenting, which I had already done and that makes a case for parents being mentors. It is a really good read based on things parents did and did not do with their children and the results. One of the most interesting points he made is that the results of individual child raising methods is not seen for years! I think this is one of the things that we really need to keep in mind when it comes to children from FIC backgrounds. We have no real data to support the claims they make of their superior approach. And the most troubling thing to me is that they are completely ignoring the number of young adults who are fleeing their homes. In fact, many of them have been written off as “rebellious” for leaving their family integrated groups even though they have not left the faith. How are those scenarios supposed to be evaluated? We have to remember that to many of these people, “leaving the faith” means adult daughters moving out of the home to attend college or sons working for someone other than their dads.

    There are just some many more layers and factors of this movement that people are ignoring, which proves to me that they are more interested in preserving the paradigm than in the faith of young people.

  77. Adam says


    I checked out the link. I am not a church historian, so maybe you can correct me if I am wrong, but the difficulty in going to the regulative principle to defend Scott Brown and the Divided video is that even the regulative principle has qualifications that show that there is still issue of application of language to various situations.

    For example, I have heard scholars of the Westminster standards talk about something called “circumstances.” These would be things such as starting worship at 10:45AM or meeting at the corner or Euclid and Ontario Street, things common to human experience. Also, as John Frame has pointed out, you have the problem of where the Bible says to “read Psalm 91.” No one would argue that it is wrong to read Psalm 91, and yet the Bible nowhere specifically says “read Psalm 91.” Frame called these the “forms” of worship. The point is that, even on the most strict reading of the regulative principle, there needs to be some “give” to allow for the application of the principle to various contexts and situations.

    If this is correct, then teaching in the context of a Sunday School or Youth Group would simply be the *form* of the teaching. Still, as you have pointed out, the strict application of the RPW has not historically applied in this context, so exactly what the point would be, I do not know. It would seem that an argument therefore must be given for this extension of the RPW, but none appears to be forthcoming.

    God Bless,

  78. Adam says


    If I may, I think that I can give some insight here. I just recently had a very personal experience with this movement and the socio-psychological power that it has, and one of the things that was terrifying and wonderful all at the same time was the love and the care and the concern that they show for one another. The people in this movement stick together, and look out for each other, and it is a place to belong. That is something that can be very attractive to people who have come out of shallow youth groups where they were largely ignored because they were not part of the popular group. Even more powerful is the attraction to someone who has been hurt in the past. The idea of belonging, and having people who care about you is very attractive.

    I will be honest and say that I have learned a whole lot from studying these guys. The difficulty with this movement is that they are attacking right where we are the weakest. We are very individualistic. We don’t care about training up our Children in the way of wisdom, and yes, when one member of the body of Christ hurts, rather than hurting ourselves, most of us don’t even care. I think there is a lot we can learn from this movement in that regard.

    Still, the problem is that they are replacing these real problems with something that is false, and, in the more radical forms of this movement, something heretical [i.e., confederate idealism]. The difficulty is trying to, on the one hand, acknowledge the problem while, on the other hand, pointing out the fallacies in linguistics and exegesis on the part of those who promote this movement.

    It is hard because, as you say, we as a church need to really clean up our own act if we are going to withstand this movement. The question you ask is very appropriate, Karen, and that is, “How are we going to do that?”

    I think the first thing is that we need to encourage those who would like to marry, and be active in helping them find a spouse. That may sound totally unrelated, but I believe it is *extremely* significant. Why? Because it shows that the church is going to support people in their service to God in marriage. While I certainly disagree with the idea that delay of marriage is a sin [I have argued against that elsewhere], many churches take that to mean that the members of the church should not play an active role in getting people together, and helping them move towards marriage. That is a false dilemma. We need to start recognizing that marriage and children, although not required, are things that are good and honorable ministries within the church, and we need to start setting up systems whereby we can get people together, and get them married.

    Second, I think we need to break apart the individualism that exists in our churches and societies. Cliques are everywhere in churches; politics are everywhere in churches, and yes, unfortunately, arrogance, self-centeredness, and backstabbing are everywhere in churches.

    I think finally, and maybe most importantly of all, we need to get back to teaching proper hermeneutics in churches. This is an issue on which I can say I am putting my money where my mouth is, as I am currently teaching hermeneutics to a group at our church beginning this Tuesday night. We need to show that, when we say “The Bible says x,” we didn’t just make that up, but we can justify it, using rules that we use to come to the meaning of any other text.

    When people know that you care about your family, that you care about them, and that you care about the accurate handling of the scriptures, it builds a network whereby the leaders of the church can then communicate with parents the need to take seriously their role as teachers to their children. If their church is a place where they see good sound hermeneutics modeled on a daily basis, where they found their wife, and where they find comfort in hurt and pain, they will know that what is being said comes directly from the scriptures, and is said out of concern for them, and not something that will require some kind of movement of popularity or authoritarianism in order to promote. I think that this will naturally lead parents to want to get involved in things like youth groups and Sunday schools.

    I realize that what I have said is a mouthful, and that many will think that these things are totally unrelated. However, I have become convinced, after being in many churches in my lifetime, that these things are the real problem. When you don’t care about marriage or getting people married; when you don’t care about each other, and you don’t care about the accurate handling of scripture, I would say that these results are inevitable.

    God Bless,

  79. says

    Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of people who are making these life-changing decisions for their families have never even heard of or considered the RPW and many who have discount it to wit!

  80. says

    Adam, so many great points. I heartily agree that it is valuable and important to encourage and support good marriages in the body of Christ. Sadly, one of the areas I am greatly troubled by in regards to Christians marrying is the lack of commitment I am seeing to the Biblical truth that Christians are to only marry other Christians. Most recently someone was sharing with me the horrible fruits that are coming out of churches where “missionary” dating is practiced. And we are talking about solid, Bible-teaching congregations.

    I would also like to mention that I have witnessed the “teen hierarchy” of youth groups within FIC families as well as power and control issues that harm all traditional churches. FIC’s certainly are not immune to this. In fact, in many ways it is worse when families who do not practice all the “rules” spoken or unspoken, visit. One mom I personally know shared with me how their family attended a local hymn sing at an FIC and her girls were not spoken to once the entire evening. Since I know these children to be outgoing and always surrounded by friends, both young and adult, I recognized the same things they were telling me. There is a list of externals that have to be in place in order to be accepted because some of those externals are marks of not being “like-minded.” Another woman told me her great attraction to the FIC was that the girls were all wearing dresses, a sign, to her, that she could feel comfortable with her sons finding the “proper” wife in these circles. Externals are a HUGE factor in the friendliness at these churches.

  81. Adam says


    I hear ya. I feel like I am one of the few Christians left on the face of the planet who believes that it is wrong for a Christian to date a non-Christian. Deuteronomy 7 sums it up best. When Christians start dating non-Christians, eventually, the non-Christians will not be won; instead, the Christians will be won to the idols of the non-Christians. I am not saying this always happens, but it happens enough to destroy an entire nation, and that is why God commanded against it.

    Also, that is an interesting story about the hymn sing. Honestly, I do think that too many girls do not dress modestly today. Girls do not know how much dressing properly affects a guy in the right way. I remember one girl saying how she decided that, for one week, she was going to wear a dress every day just to see what happened. She said that she couldn’t believe the change that came over the guys. Guys started holding the door for her, picking up her things when she dropped them, paying attention to her. She said it was amazing.

    Still, to make whether or not you do this a matter of Christian fellowship is absurd. I guess it goes to show that the idea of belonging can be applied to manipulate people into believing certain doctrines or dressing a certain way, just as surely as it can be used to manipulate people into doing drugs.

    God Bless,

  82. Adam says


    Now I know what you mean by you saying that you commented on that post. I initially thought you meant that you commented on your blog.

    I would have expected the response that you got, unfortunately. After a while, you begin to get a sense of the people who are thoroughly indoctrinated into this stuff, and I got the sense in reading that post that the guy who wrote it is deeply involved in this kind of thinking.

    However, his response to you was deeply irrational. Can you really only criticize something if you have talked to the adherents? Does that mean that we cannot know that murder is wrong unless we talk to murderers? Can you really only know that the Watchtower Society is wrong if you talk to Jehovah’s Witnesses? That line of thinking is absurd. The standard of right and wrong is the Bible, and if these folks are binding things to the conscience of God’s people that are not found in the word of God, then they are wrong, period, whether we have talked to them about it or not.

    Also, I sorta feel left out. These guys always retreat back to the “Sufficiency of Scripture” argument, and when I come along and show that they are being inconsistent in using that argument, and that their version of “the sufficiency of scripture” actually destroys human language, they usually get very quiet, and don’t give me an answer. Again, I sorta feel left out.

    God Bless,

  83. Adam says

    Wow, what is up with the NCFIC going after Tim Challies! Two blog posts with links going after Challies’ review of Divided this morning were posted on the NCFIC’s blog.

    I did agree with one thing that Kevin Swanson said; this is an issue of the application of the scriptures. The problem is that these folks are inconsistent at precisely this point.

    Still, there are several others who have written reviews of Divided, and their reviews, to my knowledge, have not been touched. Why is Tim Challies the one who is taking the heat? His review has been up for a while now, and it seems like every NCFIC blogger has a post about it. What is up with this obsession over Tim Challies’ review?

    God Bless,

  84. says


    “Shawn, thanks for that link. Interesting read. I have tried to find pertinent data on the core doctrinal beliefs of churches who call themselves “family integrated.”

    I went through their sign-up list for their confession (first footnote in my first FIC paper): 7th Day Adventists (cult!) to Reformed Baptists. It’s all over the board.

    That is why my third article in my series, Uniting Church and Family, stressed the Gospel! How can a 7th Day Adventist unite church and family the same way as classical Protestants?

    Uniting Church and Family:

  85. says

    A self-described “worldview” thinker, Fred Wolfe (whom I have had a comment-dialogue with on my first two articles) wrote a rebuttal of Challies:

    Unfortunately, Challies, I believe, set himself up. Wolfe does capture some of Challies less-than-accurate language. For example, the movie never denounced the typical school classroom. BUT, Challies captured the spirit of the RHETORIC of this propaganda piece. I knew this type of word-parsing would occur b/c I witnessed it before. Thus, my FIC papers carefully quote the authors and bring out implications with questions not assertions.

    Even so, Mr. Wolfe is wrong. And he attacks easy targets (Challies has not studied the issue as he admitted himself I recall). Easy targets are the name of the game for NCFIC as near as I can tell.

  86. says


    My point about the RPW is that is applies to Public Worship (cp. Deut. 12–I just preached on it). However one wants to parse words (as Frame does–sorry, he’s not my main man to understand the RPW or Van Tillianims as Bahnsen disagreed with Frame too) and ideas of the RPW all sides know that it is about public worship not everything outside of a Sunday worship service.

    More importantly, as my Rejoinder points out (link below) the real issue is that they need to EXPLAIN and PROVE their “Desert Isle” test argument-from-silence premise. Such a hermeneutic does NOT exist in any Protestant confession or systematic theology. And is contrary to the historic practice of Christian nurture (as I’ve documented and Mr. Wolfe ignored).

    Here is Mr. Wolfe using the Regulative Principle of Education: “Ministry to youth, if one would agree then, should be practiced according to the infallible revealed Word. Since modern youth ministry is absent in scripture, I for one, would not presume that it in fact Glorifies the Lord.”

    Yes, it should be practiced “according to the infallible revealed Word.” But WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Doe it mean the Word micromanages education? Rather, the general rules of the Bible and sanctified common sense give the boundaries of what is acceptable. That is the debate.

    No one yet has offered a clearly detailed argument from the Bible that age-segregation (or anything similar) must have a positive warrant. No verse says, “X [outside of public worship] must be prescribed else it is forbidden.” The entire debate hinges on this simple point.


  87. Adam says


    That is simply sad about Tim Challies. I was also thinking the other day that Tim Challies is a guy who, although not incredibly popular, is popular enough that, if he uses less than accurate language, it will be an easy target for them to, not only refute, but also to get their message out there.

    I think I understand what you are trying to say about the RPW argument you are presenting. What I hear you saying is that this application of the RPW to Christian discipleship, or the desert isle test, is unknown historically in the reformed tradition, and hence, when folks such as Scott Brown try to use reformation rhetoric, and claim that they are just going back to the reformation and following its principles, they simply are not.

    I am really seeing more and more that this whole “Sufficiency of scripture” argument that they always put forward is the key. If that comes down, then the whole system of thought collapses.

    God Bless,

  88. Adam says

    Just a general comment with regards to this “sufficiency of scripture” argument.

    Over on the Puritanboard, someone posted a link to a guy who was using the same arguments the Divided movie uses to argue against age specific education to argue against courtship. He argues that courtship needs to be replaced with betrothal, since that is the “Biblical” model [using Biblical in the same sense that the movie Divided does]. Hence, courtship is “unbiblical,” and those who promote it are denying “the sufficiency of scripture.”

    My first response when I saw it was to dismiss what he was writing, because he made several exegetical errors. However, if you take the arguments of Divided to their logical conclusion, I don’t see how you can avoid this guy [Vaughn Ohlman’s] arguments if you accept the premise of the movie “Divided.” Betrothal is the only “Biblical” method of getting to marriage, in the sense that the Divided movie appears to be using the term “Biblical.”

    I think his argument is sound. Yet, there are many people associated with this movement who support courtship. It is funny how he is a Vision Forum affiliate, but his works don’t get much recognition from them. However, I think he has taken their arguments to their logical conclusion. It would be interesting to see how those who support courtship as well as Divided would respond to his arguments.

    God Bless,

  89. Dave A says

    Guys & Gals, the NCFIC just put out an email this AM about a national conference call they are doing tonight at 8:00 PM EST to answer the “critics”. The instructions say to call 1-218-862-1300, conference code 730738. Scott Brown, Peter Bradrick (Divided director), Tony Hernandez (marketing director) are supposed to be leading the call, whatever that means. I bet everything is edited.

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