Saturday, April 20, 2013

"If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn't" by John B. Carpenter

In a recent article published at The Christian Post website, yet another Reformed Baptist pastor has weighed in on the Family Integrated Church Movement. In an article entitled If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn't, John B. Carpenter, pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church (in Caswell County, North Carolina, in the Danville, Virginia area) has offered a brief critique identifying problems under eight headings:
(1) The sufficiency of scripture
(2) Divisiveness
(3) Contradicts Scripture
(4) Undermines the Authority of the Offices in the church
(5) The FIC Misreads Church History
(6) The FIC is a Cure for a Disease that's Not Prevalent
(7) Misdefinition of the Church
(8) Familism
Frankly, I cannot agree with every point made in this article, but I do think it raises some important issues. As always, we welcome feedback from the blog's readers.

22 comments:

  1. Repost

    I am in these discussions right now in our church. We have both perspectives presently. That is the typical reformed baptist view of segregated emphasis and then the FIC emphasis. There is honest disagreement - neither is a bullet-proof case, though both try and say this.
    Personally, I am uncomfortable with the FIC label and would prefer to encourage Age-Integrated instruction ( AI) with less emphasis on the "family" terms since the family is often composed of various fragments in the local church. That said, this author is making the same logical errors that he is trying to refute.
    Simply put

    1. Sufficiency argument. He tries to say that the FIC view forces upon Scripture no segregation by saying that actually scripture allows (implies need) for segregation. The clear model in scripture is no segregation. Some times of age-related instruction could be construed as given in Titus 2, but to say this is the current model we practice in our culture is folly. Our model is far more fragmented than Titus 2. The author is guilty of the errors he accuses the FIC folks. And Titus 2 may actually be defining the function of the various ages of the church body in terms of their life efforts, life callings and way they influence those around them in teaching and living. It can hardly be honestly stated that this passage is a mandate for age-segregation. That is a dishonest stretch of Scripture.
    2. Divisiveness - many things can be divisive in the local church and he "colors" this FIC concern with a castigating term. We do not believe in FIC, but the saints all learning together, the older modeling for the younger. This is hardly divisive. He uses a "hot" word to inflame the argument. Adult/youth ministry tensions are often the source of many "divisive" events in the local church. The author ignores this reality.
    3. Contradicts Scripture - As mentioned above this is a hard stretch to make Titus 2 the argument for all the fragmentation grouping we see in the local church of our day. The overwhelming indicators in the scripture imply by silence and some affirmation, that the saints were all instructed together, just like Eutychus - a young man. (In today's climate, we would put him in a HS or college class!) Titus 2 is hardly proof that we SHOULD segregate teaching.

    Continued in the second and final post…

    Gary Fore, Kirbyville, TX

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    1. Hi Gary,

      1. Sorry but Titus 2 clearly shows that the apostolic church practiced at least some age and sex segregated gatherings. I don't see how there is any way that Paul's instructions to Titus about how the older women were to disciple the younger women could be practiced without them meeting in groups for women. Further, one notes in Titus 2 (one of the few in the NT specifically about church practice) no mention of family integration nor even of meeting together as a family. You've simply ignored and twisted the meaning of Titus 2. Further, you ignore what the "sufficiency of scripture" means. It means that that scripture contains everything we need to know for faith and practice. Therefore, when it is silent, we don't supply what it does not say. Adding to scripture is as much a violation of the sufficiency of scripture as is ignoring what it says.

      2. It is divisive to insist the church do something that the Word of God does not say it must do. The FIC does exactly that. It founds churches and divides from existing ones on the basis of a practice no where commanded in scripture.

      3. AS above, Titus 2 is clear that the early church had some age and sex segregated meetings. Titus 2 commands the older women to teach the younger women. Obviously, this was not something done in the main assembly of the church or else Paul would be contradicting what he wrote in 1 Tim. 2:12. You simply are not seriously dealing with Titus 2 which speaks directly to the ministries of the church and says nothing like what the FIC says.

      John Carpenter

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    2. John,

      I am glad you have come to the blog to respond to criticisms of your article. I agree with your view of Titus 2. I am thinking of writing an article defending age segregated Sunday school as a Biblical concept (i.e. as in keeping with Biblical principles) this week, and it is one passages that figures in my own view as well.

      Keith

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    3. Hi Keith,

      Thank you for posting the link to my article and inviting me to comment here. I know it is a privilege.

      Actually, I'm not so interested in defending age segregation as I am objecting to the FIC's insistence that we can't use age/sex segregated meetings. Right now our church doesn't break up Sunday School classes by age but we all meet together. That wasn't intentionally planned; it just worked out that way and I think it's fine if a church decides they want to keep their meetings together. What is objectionable is making this issue the criteria by which to judge a church.

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    4. In my view, the Bible allows us the freedom of either approach, so I agree with you that it is wrong to insist that either one is the Biblical view.

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  2. Continued from previous post…

    4. Authority - there are some clear extremes of families who refuse to submit to spiritual authority a church where there are true godly elders, pastors, etc. But the same rebellion exists much more often in simply members of the "age-segregated" churches - rebellion of far more sinister action and effect. Fathers are charged to lead and direct the upbringing of the family, in the context of the local church. Fathers are to submit to leadership, but leaders should honor a father's oversight of his family. This author wants to "radicalize" this point to try and make elders interventionists in the family unit. The family does not last into eternity, but it is the general structure that God uses in NT and our day to build healthy churches. Not the youth group, children's classes, etc. Healthy families are the essential core of all healthy local churches. Without them, there is no healthy church. And also, there is the matter of many men who are the "authority" in the local church who are unspiritual men, men who fail to lead godly and many a father and mother rightly refuse to submit their children to such men. General respect and honor to them for the position they hold, but their life is evident that they do not have their own family in order and have no business leading the church. These are the kind of men that many a FIC family encounters in the church of our day.
    5. Church history - this is a huge stretch by this author. Church history clearly shows that normatively, the families gathered for worship and instruction, generally identified by family units as well as various individuals. He needs to prove his comment about meeting separately as the norm and substantive pattern. I do not believe he can. As to the founding of SS - this was a Moody invention largely - to reach lost children that were orphans and drifting in the society. It is a noble and worthy effort, but hardly justifies dragging the segregation into the local church. The Scriptures do not support this pattern. There is no substantial evidence that the instruction to the saints ( old and young)should take this form. SS cannot even honestly be defended as endorsed by Scripture. It is further irony that a RB pastor who believes in the doctrines of grace would defend the SS pattern, largely developed and promoted by Arminians.
    6. Familism - yes there are some excesses, but we have had 50 years of "children's and youth" class excesses and this author will not admit this historical reality. As I wrote at the beginning - if the emphasis in a church is generally AI, age-integrated preaching and teaching, the older will, by word and deed, teach the younger and the emphasis will always be upon Christ.
    This author does not write with any more balance than he accuses the FIC guys of lacking. AI is the general model in the Scripture. It is the way to proper balance to the extreme on either side.

    Gary Fore
    Kirbyville, TX

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    1. 4. Fathers are not "are charged to lead and direct the upbringing of the family, in the context of the local church". Elders are (1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17). The family is NOT "the general structure that God uses in NT and our day to build healthy churches." The Bible says no such thing. In fact, the Lord Jesus told us that if we love our family more than Him, we cannot be His disciples. He showed us that His true family is not His biological family but those who do the will of God (i.e. the church). You are subverting the church by making it a servant of the family.

      5. Church history does NOT show "that normatively, the families gathered for worship and instruction, generally identified by family units as well as various individuals." I did prove that segregating by age and sex has been long-standing and wide-spread in church history. Please reread the original article. It could be added to it that many of the Puritans segregated the main assembly of the church by placing the men on one side and the women on the other. The Sunday School movement came in the early 19th century, well-before Moody.

      6. In the church, it is not the older generation in the family that is called to teach the younger members. It is the elders. There is not one word in scripture commanding age integration. There is, instead, the Lord's warning that the family can be an idol that we must be willing to put away if we're to be His followers.

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  3. Gary,

    You have raised some good points, brother, some of which I agree with wholeheartedly. Thanks for contributing to the discussion. I have been trying to report fairly what is happening in the discussion/debate of family-integrated churches, weighing in here and there with my own perspective on particular points, and I welcome your contribution.

    As for the issue over whether or not age-segregated Sunday school classes are Biblical or not, I think I might write a blog post on this issue this week.

    Thanks again!

    Keith

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  4. Perhaps I should chime in and make it clear that I do not regard myself to be a part of the FICM. Although I sympathize with a number of their concerns and agree with some of the points they make (as most Reformed Baptists do, in my experience), I am in substantial disagreement on a few key points as well (as, again, are most Reformed Baptists, in my experience).

    So, I line up more closely with John's perspective than with Gary's, even though I think both of them have made some good points. For example, in addition to the agreeing with John's take on the import of Titus 2, I agree that John's understanding of the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is better than Gary's. I think this will be evident in the forthcoming article I intend to write and have mentioned in previous posts.

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  5. Keith and John,

    I have repeatedly stated that I do not believe in the EMPAHSIS on family integration. I am not defending FIC as much as countering this hostile position that an integrated church violates the Word of God. What I have argued that the Scriptures demonstrate is AGE integration as the norm. You do not see any repeated, on-going pattern in the NT of the ages segregated. We meet all together for SS in our church. But, we do not "control" our children, regulating them so that we must sit and function as one family unit singularly and uniquely, not interacting with others during those meetings. The idea of fathers giving their own family communion, etc. is unsupportable in the Word - a clear FIC view in some churches. I totally agree with the opposition to these extremes.

    However, you are abusing Titus 2 to claim that it is the proof of age-segregation as a norm in the church. Obviously some age grouping occurred in some settings, but hardly able to say it is the repetitive normal. Look at the groups addressed. Older men. Older women. Young women. Young men. Bondslaves. This excludes the very ages that are focused upon in most modern segregation. Babies, toddlers, little boys and little girls. Children. The great irony. If Titus 2 is supporting all these ages "segregated" off, then why are they not addressed? You have to add to Scripture to make this idea fly for the young ages.

    Further, we cannot say that the form of most age instruction today is even close to the content that Paul is states to in Titus 2. Are we in fact literally teaching little girls ( while they are little girls) to "love their husbands", "love their children"- this makes no sense to these ages. We can teach them to be sensible ( or can we at very young ages?) And pure ( little children?) and "workers at home" ( no sense?). We can teach them to be kind - yes. We cannot teach them to be subject to their own husbands, when they don't have one and will not for many many years...

    Even the young ladies (high school, college, unmarried) - we are not typically teaching these specific directed content matters. In most churches, they would be offended if the elders said they should teach to this content, not all the other that we typically teach to. If we are going to say that this text is the proof of age-segregation instruction, then it must also be the standard by which we teach in content. And I am not about to believe that most age-segregated classes are teaching these truths expressly to their young girls and young ladies. If we did, we would have more homemakers. Instead, we have the opposite - almost no homemakers, only career women.

    My point - we cannot decide what content we want to teach in this supposedly scripture endorsed segregated instruction. If this is the model and the model is emphatic, then the content for the model must be limited to the content stated, or closely related. RB churches (and non RB) are not doing this in any consistent form, week by week in their classes. In fact, to be fair, it would be the FIC groups that probably are doing what Titus 2 is saying more than any other group.

    And, if you believe this is the proof for age-segregation, then what about youth ministry and children's ministry meeting DURING worship which is a natural extension done by many churches, maybe even some RBs? If you claim Titus 2 as the mandate to segregate and ignore all the other evidence that the saints all meet collectively together as normative, mixed ages, then you are going to have difficulty arguing against shuffling the children off into "children's church" during worship and the youth "worshiping" on their own in their own age-segregated setting. Surely you would not defend these practices?

    I will continue in a second post below.

    Gary

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  6. So, in wrapping this up...

    Again, I am NOT embracing the FIC model in all its' forms. I am saying that the pattern of the Word is that the saints meet in most settings together. The content limitations of Titus 2 would not allow you to do anything like we presently do in the modern examples of age-segregation. I believe you have abused the Word of God to force Titus 2 as this evidence.

    John, you say that you offer proof from Church History, but you give no reference, not actual facts, etc. Most modern segregation is based upon the Moody model, which is the substantial pattern for modern Sunday school classes. Moody is hardly the model for doctrinal orthodoxy. And even if you press back to 1800's, this is relatively late in church history and you do not find substantial evidence of this prior. If it truly exists in the main gatherings of the church throughout church history, please provide some clear, documented proofs.

    The modern demise of the local church, particularly the young who defect from the faith is clearly connected to the fragmentation in the local church and the selfish-age catering of weak content that we have given them--the demise of doctrine as we split the church up catering to age groups. Whereas, standing starkly in contrast is the local church that preaches and teaches the whole of the Word of God to all their ages and trusts the Holy Spirit to draw and redeem the hearers, even young, granting them the grace to believe in Christ and to grow up in Him.

    My original post was not so much trying to flatly argue that the ONLY right way is to NEVER have any age -segregated groupings. I am arguing that the overall pattern of the Word is that the saints of all ages are together when the Word is given. I am stating that John wrote imbalanced in that his arguments against FIC are just the pendulum swing in the opposite way. Yes, the family can be an idol which is wrong, but considering that most of our churches have made idols out of youth and children's ministry, I would say that the errors are just as grave, if not vastly worse.

    If we believe in the power of the Word through the work of the Holy Spirit, then we ought to trust our children and youth to that Word and not our methods. We have produced 100 years of pitiful discipleship by this age-segregated model. Shall we continue with such a dismal means in this present century? I would say "no" - not on my watch. A body is not cut apart to function, but functions only when completely interrelated and interconnected. So it is with the local church and what she preaches and teaches.

    Do some worship the family as superior to the local church? Yes. Is it sin? Yes. But the fact is that many worship at the altar of “Age Segregation” to the demise of many church bodies. Both extremes are wrong. That was why I responded in the first place.

    Gary

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    1. Hi Gary,

      First, Titus 2 shows that the early church had at least some ministry done to specific age and sex segregated groups. The Apostle Paul tells Titus to have the older women instruct the younger women. Obviously this wasn't done at the same meeting as all the church met together or else he would be contradicting his own instructions in 1 Timothy 2:12. We can infer, therefore, that the other groups (older men and younger men) were also instructed separately, although that's not clear.

      Second, you can make a better case that the modern demise of the church is caused by people forming churches for narrowly-considered constituencies, likes those who demand to keep their kids with them in the worship service.

      Your statement that I don't give actual facts from church history is plainly false and suggests you didn't read the article. Please do so now. I note the segregation into men's and women's groups in the early church that gave rise to monasticism, Jonathan Edwards, and the Sunday School movement. I could have added that many of the Puritan churches separated men on one side of the church and women on the other. It is the FIC that is a modern movement, one arising from the failure of individualists to understand what the church is.

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  7. Gary,

    Thanks again for your responses. As I said in an earlier comment, I am planning to write a post on a Biblical case for age segregated instruction of children in the churches, so I will focus my attention there, and I will deal the import of Titus 2 in that post as well.

    As you have no doubt already discovered, I am not firmly planted on one side of the issue or the other in some respects, seeing many aspects of the issue not as an either/or proposition but rather as a both/and sort of thing.

    I welcome further comments and thank you for your willingness to take part.

    Keith

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  8. Keith,

    I do appreciate being able to call for some balance on the matter. Terms often become "inflamed", like sores on our skin. Then too often we use these terms to browbeat anyone who does not concur with our view.

    Whether FIC, RB or other - we all like to gravitate to the extreme. Personally, as a deeply committed Calvinist, (I once was not- many years ago) we sometimes act so arrogant to those who counter with an Arminian view, as if we Calvinists have every perspective correct and our brothers are total heretics. AW Tozer was certainly not a Calvinist, but who cannot awe at the way in which he taught us about the holiness of God, the majestic attributes of God, etc. Humbling.

    I do see serious excesses with the FIC ideas, but they are often a backlash against a corrupted 20th century model that divided and destroyed many local churches and their members, including the families. In many ways, the RB churches need to learn from this and not be so unwilling to glean the good from those in the FIC camp. Are there now errors that the FIC guys need to address? Of course. But are the RBs really above some need for legitimate evaluation and correction? Many RB churches and Presbyterian churches are actually very worldly in their practices. We see this regularly. Oh in the worship function of the church, they are ever “holy”, but not so in their personal lives.

    Maybe I am reacting to the absolutism of the author who implies that a renewed emphasis upon building godly families within the context of the local church, with fathers who are very active and very involved with how the decisions of the local church will edify or harm their own children, are a threat to that the leadership of such a church. These are fathers who are willing to challenge the age-segregation perspective, because they have seen all the errors and ruined lives. Too often, the leadership response in a given church reacts, imply that these fathers are defiant, errant and undermining the authority of the elders.

    Elders are not called to be overlords; they do not have the corner on all truth - they are leaders with clay feet; they are to be leaders who are godly, tender and patiently leading, trusting that the Word of God will change the individuals and families over time, by the power of the Spirit as folks are constantly immersed in the Word. These elders should be men who prayerfully intercede for the flock, praying for the Lord to bring about oneness in the flock as they all learn to seek Christ as a body.

    If such elders exist in the local church, most men who hold an integrated view of ministry in the church will be willing to support them- gladly: because they are humble men who love the Truth.

    The last 50 years have proven how many times elders have been wrong in church ministry, to the demise of much sound doctrine and sound practice, to the demise of the church local and subsequently the demise of many families and the souls in them. All we have to do is look in the nation to see this rotting fruit. Experimentation has taken place at the hands of such unwise church leaders; leaders looking for “results” and age-segregated ministry was a way to give the appearance of successful results.

    Therefore, some fathers in our day have rightly concluded that age-segregation is a core part of the problem. These fathers are determined to defend their families from unwise “elders” in the church, who are abusing the Word of God. They want their children to know Christ in all His fullness and joy. These same “godly” elders often do not even have their own children walking with Christ as their sole pursuit in life. So, why would a concerned father want to follow such poor, unwise leadership?

    Thanks again for the opportunity to post. Whether we agree or not on all the details, may the Lord change us all into the image of His dear Son, so that He is glorified and the gospel is proclaimed, sometimes in spite of us.

    Gary

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  9. Hi Gary,

    Titus 2 shows the Apostle Paul using age and sex segregation. Sacrificing the church on the altar of the family is wrong.

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  10. Hi Gary,

    Titus 2 shows the Apostle Paul using age and sex segregation. Sacrificing the church on the altar of the family is wrong.

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  11. yeoberry,

    I agree that the Titus 2 passage is important in this discussion, as I will demonstrate in Part 3 of the current series of articles I am writing (having just posted Part 1 yesterday).

    I also agree that "Sacrificing the church on the altar of the family is wrong," but I would be quick to add that most FICM families I know do not make this tragic mistake. In fact, I have several families in my own congregation who prefer the FICM approach but who are also some of the most supportive people in my congregation of the church's ministry. I have also been very impressed with the way they have sought to balance church and family considerations.

    Thanks for your input.

    Keith

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  12. When I posted John Carpenter's article above, I did so because I have been trying to keep my readers up to date on what has been going on concerning the Family Integrated Church Movement (FICM) from within the Reformed Baptist community. However, I also was sure to acknowledge that, “Frankly, I cannot agree with every point made in this article, but I do think it raises some important issues.” And then, of course, I posted comments from someone defending the FICM as well, while admitting that I personally am not a part of the FICM myself. In other words, I have tried to be fair to both sides while acknowledging that I see good points on both sides. Now I would like to point what I think is right about the article as well as the specific disagreements that I have with the article.

    First, although I agree that the FICM appeal to the sufficiency of Scripture is often weak in that it typically appears to assume that this means that we must have a specific command in Scripture in order to justify a ministry practice, I am not satisfied with John's description of the sufficiency of Scripture either. In the article he writes, “But the sufficiency of scripture doesn't mean that people can't think and devise new ways and strategies where scripture is silent. It means that when scripture speaks, in prohibiting or commanding something, it should be followed. And when it doesn't speak it shouldn't be added to.” But this assumes Scripture speaks only through either prescriptions on the one hand or prohibitions on the other, doesn't it? Yet – as I have pointed out in the first article in my series entitled “Is Age Segregated Sunday School Biblical?” – this too is an inadequate assessment of how the Scriptures function authoritatively in our lives. For example, there is much to be learned also through Scriptural precedents and principles as well. So, I think John was right to point out the unduly limited concept of the sufficiency of Scripture often assumed in the arguments of FICM advocates, but I think his own description is too limited as well.

    (continued below.)

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  13. Second, while I appreciate John's point regarding the divisiveness that all too often characterizes FICM advocates, I am not sure the point was entirely fair as he stated it. For example, I have attended an FICM conference in which I witnessed the leaders repeatedly call for their people to avoid being divisive in churches and to be especially careful not to show disrespect for their pastors. And I think that some of the FICM people who have elected to start other churches have done so in order to avoid being a divisive presence in churches that disagree with their views. I would also point out that some of them have done so only because they have felt that they had no other choice due to the strong reaction of their churches against their ideas. One could begin to sympathize with some of them as being in a “no win” situation here.

    As for me, I frankly think that we should be open to dialog in our churches concerning the issues they raise and agree to disagree if need be. In fact, I have several families in my congregation who prefer the FICM point of view, and I have even told them that they could start a family integrated Sunday school class if they wish. But they declined because they thought it might be too divisive to do so and simply requested that they be able to bring their families with them the adult Sunday school class just as they do for the worship service (since we are against the notion of “children's church”). I and my fellow elders have heartily agreed to this. In fact, whenever someone with FICM convictions has visited our church, we have always told them up front that they can bring their children with them into the adult Sunday school class if they wish, provided that they understand that the class is geared to adults and not to children and that they understand that we fully intend to continue with our age segregated Sunday school ministry. In other words, we are willing to agree to disagree in love if they are willing to do so. So far, so good. And the result of such an openness and willingness to listen and to allow for such differences has been a stronger church, for I have found these families to be some of the more mature and committed in my congregation. We have lived in peace with one another, recognizing that what unties really is much more important than what divides us. In fact, I think they have been a very good influence on me as a pastor, and I wish I had more people like them in my church.

    The upshot of this is to say that perhaps the FICM folks sometimes start other churches because they are divisive, but perhaps they sometimes do so because they are left no other choice by churches who cannot find it within their hearts to accommodate their differences in such matters of conscience. But who is being divisive in that case?

    Third, I agree that an insistence that the practice of age segregated education necessarily contradicts Scripture in itself contradicts Scripture. And I agree that Titus 2 is important here, both for the precedent it establishes and for the principle it teaches regarding the concept of age segregation as an appropriate consideration in the Church's teaching ministry. I will be speaking more about this passage in an upcoming article (in what will be Part 3 of the aforementioned series entitled “Is Age Segregated Sunday School Biblical?”).

    (Continued below.)

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    1. Oops! I meant to say that "what unites us really is much more important than what divides us." I don't think there is any issue that "unties" us!

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  14. Fourth, I agree that the FICM sometimes undermines the authority of the offices in the church, and for the reasons John has mentioned. I have witnessed these ideas in some of the FICM advocates with whom I have dealt in the past. My response was to dialog with them about it and to share a more fully informed and Scriptural view with them. Sometimes they received the correction and sometimes they went elsewhere. Yet, as my own experience recounted above has demonstrated, this anti-authoritarian attitude has not been the norm for me in dealing with FICM advocates. I have also observed that, as the movement has continued and has been challenged, this tendency has diminished from what I used to see, especially since the more prominent leaders of the movement – such as Voddie Baucham and Scott brown – have been so vocal in decrying this tendency.

    Fifth, without getting into a lot of details and a debate I would rather avoid, I will just say that the FICM often misreads Church history. It isn't too hard to find examples of age segregated instruction of children before the nineteenth century of one looks hard enough. If my memory serves, for example, Calvin helped to start a school for children in Geneva.

    Sixth, I don't think I can agree at all with John's assessment that the FIC is a cure for a disease that's not prevalent. Although I would agree that it certainly isn't prevalent, for example, in the Reformed Baptist churches with which I am familiar – and to assume it is because we may have age segregated Sunday school is patently unfair – I nevertheless think the problem is pretty widespread. And the “disease” or “problem” I have in mind is the disintegration of families that is happening in so many churches – and right under their noses – due in large part to the very kinds of issues that FICM advocates have raised. In fact, despite my disagreement with them that age segregated Sunday school or youth programs are necessarily a large part of this problem, I think they have nevertheless done a great service for many churches in calling them to rethink what they are doing and why they are doing it. But, again, I do not think it is fair for them too so often lump so many Reformed Baptist churches (among some others) together with the more extreme examples of churches that use Sunday school and youth programs to do more harm than good to young children and their families. At least in my area, and from what I have heard from pastors in other parts of the country as well, the average youth group, for example, operates with a mindset that has more to do with worldly principles and wanting to seem “relevant” than it does with following Scriptural principles.

    (Continued below.)

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  15. Seventh, as I have written in a blog article of my own (entitled “Jeremiah 31:31-34 Confronts Two Current Errors About Church and Family”) the FICM has been guilty of a misdefinition of the Church as a “family of families.” And, despite their qualifications of the phrase, its continued use by the leaders of the FICM will only lead to further confusion on the matter. See my article addressing the matter here:

    http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/2010/06/jeremiah-3131-34-confronts-two-current.html

    Eighth, John's point concerning what he calls familism is well taken. I agree that, despite the formal assertions of the FICM's leaders, this problem has been an issue at times for FICM adherents. However, I would also be quick to add that I have heard some leaders of the movement decry the problem even more forcefully than John does! For example, I recall hearing Scott Brown speak very strongly about this matter at an FICM conference a couple of years ago. I will also add that I do not see this form of idolatry as an issue with the the FICM families who are a part of my congregation, for they would denounce it as sin as well.

    I will end my comments simply by pointing out that reactionary movements often overdo it in their early days and that sometimes they mellow out as they are confronted by their brothers. It is like the guy who is riding a bicycle and starts to fall over. He then leans way too far the other way in order to try to regain his balance. But hopefully he does regain his balance. And I am very hopeful that the FICM will regain its balance as well, especially if we are all open to constructive dialog. That is one reason I keep updating what is happening with the movement on this blog.

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