in the community

[Long post, written ages ago.]

Traditionally speaking, the religion of highly conservative Calvinists is something that they carry with them into the everyday activities of general life. I mean, as you work with colleagues and interact with your clients and do your shopping and meet your neighbours, you deal with people as such. Even if they’re atheists, or non-Christians, or a different kind of Christian from you, you deal with them in a professional way, or in a neighbourly way. They are not a serious threat to your spirituality (there is a doctrine of the perseverance of the saints). Being a particular type of Christian hasn’t traditionally meant being afraid of the wider society which doesn’t quite share your views, or disapproving of it, or despising it, or being shocked by it, but just playing your part in it.

Whatever this means in terms of salt-and-light-type effects for non-Christians, it’s interesting to think of the advantages this way of life has for the church. I don’t mean any specific denomination, but believers generally. One thing in particular is that it keeps the church sensitive to the reality of scandal. When a Christian does something wrong, and the whole community knows it, all the other Christians in the community feel the repercussions straight away. Years of hard work come undone, and accusations of hypocrisy fly round the more readily, and the memories last a long time. You never thought anyone took any notice that ordinary Christians lived ‘soberly, righteously, and godly,’ until one of them slipped up, and then everybody decided that none of them did. Christians behaving badly is not only an offence within the church but a scandal in the wider community.

But this is only the case when Christians are part of the community. If it was the case that Christians herded themselves into inward facing ghettos, and feared secular contamination to the extent of avoiding contacts outside their particular congregation or even their particular family, then frankly, doctrine and morals would have scope to run riot and neither would the wider community barely care what they got up to beyond keeping well clear, nor would the paranoid folks in the ghetto have to face the reality check that the reactions of the wider community would communicate to them if they only had the kind of relationship that would make that possible.

* * *

Now what has prompted this rumination is a strange series of coincidences. The first was a friend sending me a link on facebook to a video called Divided. Divided is the American story of two teenagers who, we are asked to believe, went out on a personal voyage to investigate the failings of youth ministries in the (American) church. Making some perfectly valid points along the way, the movie turns out to be a vendetta against what the producers call “age-segregated” churches and a big plug on the other hand for “family-integrated” churches – all youth pastors might as well be fired, and their energies devoted instead to pastoring fathers into taking responsibility for how their sons (especially) are being brought up in the faith. “Mothers matter too,” I scrawled in a hasty reply to my friend on the then-latest new and annoying facebook messaging system, and thought little more of it.

Until I clicked on the hundred-odd comments on a Green Baggins post on feminism and the church. Now I should just mention that feminism and the church is an issue that holds very little interest for me. I’ll talk about it if I have to, but a certain over-familiarity with the lazy equation of feminism with lesbian socialism/ socialist lesbianism makes the discussion just too boring, and non-Pauline, to deserve an awful lot of attention (I’m also far from the only person to feel that the bitterly politicised gender debates of American evangelicalism are more than welcome to just stay over there). But this comment thread started to join up some dots for me, faintly. Someone mentioned the patriarchy movement, just as had popped up in conversation on facebook, and (naturally) I did some googling.

And discovered a third thing. Quite a while ago, someone showed me a highly dubious book of parenting advice for (American, again) Christians based mainly on the premise that child-rearing is some sort of all-out war between parents and their perpetually rebelling children. In this ongoing conflict the primary aim of the parent, as obligated by scripture, is to ‘break the will’ of the child by hitting them with implements if they cry, until they stop crying (sic). Here let me note the glaring fallacy of attempting to use physical means to change anybody’s will, and leave the other blatant problems to speak for themselves. Obviously we met this book with not a little incredulity and took it for granted that it was sufficiently nutty on virtually each page that nobody would be able to take it very seriously. Imagine my consternation, then, to see this book being recommended in the context of this patriarchy malarkey from whence also springs the family-integrated church idea.

Patriarchy gets blamed for a lot by feminists. But this is patriarchy like you’ve never seen it before. We’re talking wives forbidden to question any decision their husband makes, daughters trained up to be “helpmeets” to (bizarrely) their fathers, women discouraged from voting, women forbidden from working outside the home, any problems in a marriage blamed on the wife for being insufficiently submissive to the husband, education dismissed as pointless for daughters since they only need to know how to look after babies and how to be submissive to the man of the house. Women are served the Lord’s Supper not by elders but by their own husbands or even their own sons. This is plain weird.

* * *

The thing is, you could probably just do an eyeroll at persistent cult-like craziness on the part of jumped up little demagogues across the pond who go to any lengths in twisting scripture to flatter their own egos, and in a kinder moment spare a thought for the poor hoodwinked women who are the primary victims of their loopiness – add it to the list of outrages in the world you lament but can’t change, and move on. This is the civilised UK, after all. But what prompted the facebook conversation in the first place was that this movement is calling itself Reformed. That, or it’s the principles and ideals of some independent patriarchy movement being insinuated into the Reformed scene. This puts it somewhere at least in the general region of our backyard, and calls for evaluation. Just to spell that out: it is ludicrous to find any connection between this “patriarchy movement”, this brand of “family-integrated” churches, and the principles and practice of the Reformation.

For Reformation principles, consider:
1) Conscience. The church has no right to go beyond what Scripture mandates in terms of the requirements it imposes on believers. The list of things which Scripture mandates, either explicitly or by good and necessary inference, is a lot more limited than some would have us believe. Voting (whether, and for whom) is not on that list. Education (how, and for how long) isn’t either. Organisations popping up to lay down the law on issues like these are acting contrary to the principles of the Reformation to the precise extent to which they load these requirements onto the conscience of church members.
2) Sin. Quite right to say that children are born with rebellious wills, but the principal rebellion is not against their parents, but against God. It’s not the parent’s job to break the child’s will, or somehow beat them into a converted state – they haven’t the power and they haven’t the right. It’s not a broken will that salvation involves anyway, but a renewed will.
3) Personal responsibility. The insistence on (women’s) submissiveness to (men’s) authority is misdirected – the supreme authority is not a man but God. People are directly responsible to God, not to any human intermediary, no matter if the church leadership is very authoritarian and a husband very domineering. If a husband starts expecting his wife to subsume her will into his – too late! her will is God’s already. Abdicating all your decision-making responsibilities and your critical thinking faculty to some man (any one) is devolving onto that person the power that God alone has, and for this to be made a requirement in the name of God and bolstered by alleged scriptural support borders on the profane.

And for Reformation practice, I meant it when I said this brand of patriarchy has never been seen before. There is no historical precedent for its practices within the churches of the Reformation. In fact, Christianity has brought emancipation and respect to women tangled in the very kinds of oppressive situations which this patriarchy movement now seems quite happy to emulate and extend. Rather than pushing some distorted notion of downtrodden “helpmeet,” the Bible expects Christian women to be intelligent, capable, doctrinally informed, and worthy of respect, in order to be “meet” or appropriately matched with intelligent, capable, doctrinally informed, and respect-worthy Christian men. Men who need to surround themselves with cowed, cringing drudges with all the gumption squeezed out of them in order to be satisfied that they’re fulfilling some God-given responsibility are in a very bad place.

* * *

If people were less fearful of the community outside their family and congregation and more engaged with it, there would be less likelihood of fads like this patriarchy movement gaining traction. Increased exposure to Reformation principles and the social history of the church would no doubt help as well, but in the meantime, a handy strategy would be to get to know your neighbours better. The fearsome spectres conjured up from contemporary social ills to persuade well-meaning parents to beat their babies and convince husbands to tyrannise their wives really don’t deserve the attention they’re getting. Society at large would react with outrage if a care home treated its children the way that some people are advising Christian parents to treat theirs, or if one colleague treated another the way some people are advising Christian husbands to treat their wives. For these things to be baptised as biblical, Christian, even Reformed is subversive of the bible, Christianity, and the Reformation – it should cause offence within the church as well as scandal in the wider world. Being part of a shrinking Christian minority entails enough differences between you and the non-Christian majority as it is. Importing unbiblical (and, frankly, abusive) theories and practices to magnify the boundary markers is just wrong.

38 thoughts on “in the community

  1. Greetings from across the pond. Your perspective is quite fascinating. I concur with the thrust of your analysis. And the claim that patriarchy and family-integration have Reformed roots is pushed aggressively over here. Unfortunately, it has even attracted conservative Presbyterian churches to sign a family integrated church “confession” along side all kinds of other Evangelical and Seventh-Day Adventist churches. Prayerfully, this “movement” won’t come out your way.


  2. Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for commenting.

    I find the idea of such a “confession” very strange. Nothing about it says “Reformed” to me.

    I have the feeling these are the kinds of trends that appeal to (my perception of) generic American Christianity more than to Christians in the British Isles (although that could just be me).

    Not that that means there’s no danger of it crossing the pond though – there are always panicky people over here who can’t seem to help identifying US problems in our context and then trying to apply US solutions, recipe for disaster though that’s bound to be.

    An obvious example that I’ve blogged about before is the attempts to harness evangelicalism to particular political parties – the mix of religion and party politics is a characteristically “American” thing that we can really do without over here.

    More on topic with the stuff mentioned in the post would be importing the “culture wars” and the family-integrated/patriarchy variety of (extreme) response to things that are currently worrying the socially conservative. I really hope it doesn’t come our way!


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  4. AMEN! I am so fatigued by the patriarchy movement, and am amazed to hear of young women in my own circles endorsing it. Your statement about men who need “cowed,cringing drudges with all the gumption squeezed out of them” is absolutely pithy. I just discovered your blog this evening, so I can see that I have plenty of catch-up reading. Greetings from Canada, Marcia


    • Thanks Marcia! It’s pretty new to me, but I’m already hoping I don’t have to get any better acquainted! I’d be interested to hear your views on what actually attracts people to this movement? women especially, perhaps.


  5. This movement has strong support within reformed circles in my area and has left a dreadful taste in my mouth. Thank you for being a voice of clarity and reminding me of some of what I originally found lovely about reformed theology.


  6. On an unrelated note – I see that you live in Edinburgh. A friend of mine just moved there a couple of days ago! She’s been in England for years, but is South African – and reformed!


  7. Hi Laurie,

    It’s very weird. I know the term reformed can be quite elastic, depending on who’s using it, but the totalitarian, unbalanced, oppressive vibes I got from just a bit of googling really don’t fit very well with the Reformation principles most of us have been brought up on.

    Edinburgh is a beautiful city and I’m sure your friend will love being here! (Feel free to drop me an email if there’s anything useful I could do.)


  8. From an American who’s dealt with some of the fallout from these doctrines, thank you very much indeed. Your measured incredulity strikes just the right note.

    I’ve been privileged to contribute a few bits of writing to a website (and book) you may find illuminating, with firsthand experiences of emotional and spiritual abuse within the movement itself.


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  10. Cath, the “weirdness” you are feeling is from the more (in my humble opinion) Baptist orientation of the movement: it was started by Reformed Baptists. Couple this with a strong temptation in American Presbyterianism to function like Independents then such a confession makes sense.

    If Vision Forum or Doug Phillips comes out your way, you’ll be forewarned. You’ve not even run into the homeschooling hype and “it’s a revival” rhetoric yet.

    Anyone interested in a critique of their movie, book and movement, my blog’s got it covered:


  11. Well, here in America, the label “reformed” or “Reformed” is quite “elastic”. It can mean “of the reformation tradition” – which is pretty general. More often it means “holds to at least four of the five points of Calvinism”. This means that it includes not only Presbyterians, but also Reformed Baptists (non-paedobaptists), some Episcopalians (Anglican) – though not many in my experience, some Southern Baptists, and any number of non-affiliated churches who happen to hold to the Doctrines of Grace.

    The kinds of “loopy” teachings you refer to in your post are spread mainly through conventions and websites for homeschooling families. From there they are passed hand to hand and mouth to ear within the churches frequented by said homeschooling families. The most popular of the discipline books you describe are not even written by Reformed authors. They are popular because in many cases the advice “works”, in the sense that with it you can raise eight kids who sit perfectly still through a two-hour worship service on threat of physical pain. Many of these families believe in having as many children as possible, and so, to prevent chaos from reigning are desperate for methods to control their broods. The methods are not Christian (much less Reformed); they are a form of behaviorism cloaked in Christian lingo and linked with bits of Christian and Old Testament doctrine to make them palatable.

    I was dismayed to learn of the prevalence of these various teachings (patriarchy, child-“training”, Christian Reconstructionism, family-integrated-church, subjugation of women, etc.) among Reformed believers. Like you, I could not square them with what I knew of Reformed doctrine. Although, some of it can be more easily understood considering the esteem with which Puritans are regarded in American reformed circles. I was deeply immersed in Puritan doctrine for a few years. There is a lot of good to be found there – but there is also an emphasis on soul-picking and a mindset which says “I am a worm and not a man”. (This attitude can easily extend itself to a devaluing of all people – for all are worms. When in fact, Jesus didn’t die for worms, but for men who He intends to recreate after His own image.) For me, a fairly new Christian at the time, it led to fear and depression due to a constant doubt of my standing in Christ. I lost all assurance of my salvation and was constantly looking for or trying to work up evidence of my election and salvation. Unlike the “Arminian” kind of legalism in which works are undertaken to be/stay saved, I was constantly looking for proof that I really was saved, and feeling hopeless to do anything about it if I wasn’t – because I had already called out to Him and looked to Him as my only hope. What was left for me to do if that wasn’t enough? It is a tribute to God’s faithfulness and lovingkindness that I now walk in hope and assurance.

    You might find it interesting to know that many of these reformed patriachy-types name John Knox as a their hero. They blame our nation’s ills on the rule of women, and the weakness of the church on the wimpy-ness of its men. Some have even made a movie to make that point called “The Monstrous Regiment of Women”. You can watch part, if not all, of it on You Tube.

    I’ve told my friend about your blog. You may very well be getting comments from her once she gets settled in.


  12. Thanks, Laurie. This is very informative. Interesting to think of homeschooling as a means to an end like this. Also, what you say about the search for a Method That Works would seem to make sense of the feeling that the whole thing is a fad – a culturally defined attempt to solve a cultural problem, as distinct from, eg, the historic faith of the church in all ages and places.

    John Knox eh. Well, that’s a bit misguided, considering all the efforts expended by everyone from Knox himself onwards to undo the damage from that unfortunate polemic. Ie:
    * that it was essentially an ad hominem political attack on the Catholic queen Mary
    * that his colleagues among the contemporary Reformers were mortified by the political damage caused by his intemperate language
    * that they weren’t too fussed about (the Protestant) Elizabeth becoming queen straight after Mary
    * that certainly nobody minded the next Queen Mary, who co-reigned with William after the Glorious Revolution
    * or Queen Anne who reigned straight after
    * or indeed Queen Victoria, some time after that.

    I searched on YouTube and decided you couldn’t mean the Terry Pratchett novel. Anyway, I watched the trailer and the bits that weren’t totally local to the American context (all that vicious ad hominem against Hillary Clinton? yikes) didn’t seem to be engaging with anything more than gross stereotypes, or is that just me.

    As for the Puritans, I can’t help feeling again that any support for patriarchy etc from that quarter can only be based on a distortion of what the Puritans actually said and did. The major contribution of the Puritans considered all together was not theology itself but theology lived out in everyday life. So a distortion could be in one of two directions – one, that this patriarchy movement does not share the same basic theology and is therefore trying to recreate their perception of a Puritan lifestyle without sharing the basic principles which gave rise to that lifestyle in the original Puritans themselves – or, two, that even when people do share elements of the theology, they’re trying to recreate the entire package of a Christian lifestyle wholesale, including all the incidental circumstances of its expression in 17th century England, disregarding the fact that living out the teachings of the Bible is always done in some particular time and place and not everything that one generation of Christians did will be equally applicable or worthy of replicating in another.

    The Puritans did after all have a high view of the dignity of man(kind). Part of the problem of sin is how it degrades human beings, because (exactly as you say) we were made in God’s image and salvation includes our re-creation in God’s image. Perhaps, no words can adequately express how degrading sin is – and yet, this isn’t so much relevant for our relationships among each other, as if sin in one person gives license to another person to tyrannise over them. Take that talk of “worm and not a man” – that’s really only appropriate when the interaction is between a sinner and God – not between man and man, so to speak. Ie, there is a certain place for people to confess before God that they’re vile miserable etc wretches ruined by sin – balanced, hopefully, by some grasp of the reality of pardon and forgiveness and reconciliation – but this kind of confession and self-abasement really stays private between the soul and God himself: it’s not meant to characterise our interactions with our fellow human beings. What may be appropriate in the relationship between holy God and sinful creature is most unlikely to be appropriate in our *human* relationships (parent:child, spouse:spouse, colleague:colleague, neighbour:neighbour) – we’re all sinners together (and still, sinners and all, have to treat each other with respect and honour).


  13. Gross stereotypes indeed. As I recall, it opposed the women’s suffrage movement, and anything else that hinted at female equality or that women should busy themselves anywhere but the home. At any rate, it’s been about four years since I saw it. The bad taste remains.

    Agreed on the other points as well. As I said, I got a lot of good from the Puritans, but have had to learn never to stop reading at Romans 7. It is followed by Romans 8, and for that I am ever thankful. I must always look to the glory that awaits and that Christ is working into us even now as He continues to sanctify us. God is so dedicated to conforming His children to the image of His only begotten!

    Yes, yes, YES, regarding Knox. Calvin himself advised him against the folly, citing Deborah and Huldah as examples. As you say, Knox spent years living that down.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response.


  14. Hello Cath, Perhaps you can help my historical study of Christian nurture of covenant children.

    The patriarchy types out our way strongly push homeschooling and denounce Sunday schools, day schools, etc. In my studies (showing them demonstrably wrong) I discovered that Scotland in the 1600s had catechism classes on Sunday between services (at least in some places) and some of the towns required school attendance within certain age-groups.

    Can you point me to more information in that direction? What I found has been original collections or records at Specialty books on this topic are hard to find (for me at any rate!).



    • Hi Shawn,

      I don’t know very much about this, other than that John Knox is usually credited with writing the blueprint for “a school in every parish” where children would be educated.

      (This vision of Knox’s is part of the reason why not so many Scots have embraced homeschooling.)

      This isn’t much help, but I’ve emailed a couple of people who may be able to give you more info, and will let you know what I hear back from them.


      • Thank you for your willingness to pass this on Cath.

        I do have much info on Christian education and may publish it someday. Scotland had four laws passed during the 1600s pushing parish schools. Puritans first started public schools in New England. And the Dutch had schools from before the Reformation.

        The American scene needs this knowledge because of the rank secularization of the public schools (which can push people to be completely against public schooling as such). And, of course, the push for homeschooling as *the* biblical approach.

        (a shorter version for anyone interested in the history of homeschooling, schooling, etc. at, A Very Short History of Christian Education)


    • Historically, Scottish catechism was generally conducted by the minister, and consisted of the whole congregation in one group, young and old together. If you read the old Scottish biographies, you’ll come across a number of anecdotes which describe this. (I’d be happy to cite examples if you would like.)

      I don’t know of any resources that focus specifically on catechism, but there is quite a bit of info about catechism on this blog:
      …and I’m sure you could contact the author of that blog (Rev. Ives) for more info, as it seems to be a subject he has studied extensively.


  15. After reading Laurie M.’s comment above, there is little that I could add. However, to address your question directly: the women (girls!) with whom I am acquainted who endorse the patriarchy/quiverfull mindset are minimally educated, married young, and seeking to validate their choices in life. If that is the life which one chooses for oneself, I have no quibble with it, but I think it is wrong to say that any other choice is ungodly.
    By any chance was the book you read written by M/D Pearl? They are dangerous – quite literally – their methods being linked to a number of child abuse deaths in the US. I borrowed the book awhile ago to see for myself what they had to say (the Amazon reviews should have sufficed) and didn’t make it half way through before returning it. I wanted it out of my house!
    As for why men are attracted to the movement, on the surface it would seem to be a fantastic ego massage to have his wife nod approval to every word, and to have his daughters bow to his will. But honestly, only a wimp of a man needs that level of subservience, wouldn’t you agree? My husband enjoys engaging conversation and I wouldn’t have married him if he didn’t.


    • Minimally educated and married young – say no more. :-(

      Yes, it was the Pearl book, I’m afraid. It made me very angry, in places – we found it hard to take seriously, because if you did, it would be pretty sick.

      Yes on the subservience thing – I totally agree!


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  17. Great comments, Cath (from across the pond as well, I am)

    I really agree with your thoughts on conscience. I’m struck by how much liberty is absent in this kind of movement, having read and been influenced by it’s teachings then rejecting it clearly. I’ve come to see how stunted people can be in this kind of mindset, with it’s pre-packaged set of living requirement… but life isn’t that tidy and God always seems to break up those utopian ideals with some sort of reality check or circumstance.

    I can’t imagine stunting my wife with any restrictions. Gee, we’re both made in the image of God. It grieves me to see and hear of the lack of respect from other husbands.


  18. Hi David,

    From my brief acquaintance, it does seem to be very much a ‘one size fits all’ approach, both in the sense that there’s so little leeway for individual differences, but also in the sense that there’s this near-obsessive level of interest in The Family and relationships within the family so that sin and salvation are reduced to behaviours associated with the family. But this is not being faithful to the emphases of Scripture itself, and when people start laying down the law in a way that doesn’t reflect what Scripture teaches, it’s inevitable that they will start binding the conscience or infringing people’s liberty of conscience. Which is completely at odds with the principles of the Reformation and seriously calls in question this movement’s right to call themselves “Reformed” at all.


  19. True, and your thoughts about how the Reformation was really an appeal to *have* and *use* one’s conscience, not blindly following the so-called “learned”.

    This thinking sadly has it’s episodes where it’s clear they don’t want people thinking for themselves. A while ago, an acquaintance of ours was in a discussion board on one of these ministries’ sites. A man asked a question about a certain issue and asked, “Well, we need to hear what [major leader of the movement] has to say about this”. To which our acquaintance wrote that they need to be like Bereans and find out for themselves what the Word of God says about this, and not look only to a leader for the answer.

    And then, to our dismay (and not surprise because this is really common among groups that don’t promote freedom and liberty of conscience), we read of how a whole series of comments around the Berean comment were removed. (Fortunately, a person posted a copy of the whole exchange in a different forum to show how censorship took over.) So it was clear they didn’t want people using their brains. Don’t worry, we’ve got it allllll figured out. We’re the elders.

    Sad. Darn sad that those who don’t teach liberty resort to censorship and control.


  20. I came across your blog when I was searching for information about your former minister, Rev Hugh Cartwright, at the time of his death. Hugh was a good friend and my husband’s Best Man when we got married 44 years ago.I am sure he is sorely missed. Your article “In the community’ was a ‘breath of fresh air’ and articulated what I have been trying to say for some time. I sent a link to others and I meant to respond right away.When I returned others had commented so I’ll only add a couple of points.

    I don’t think it is fair to lay all the blame on the men. There are some very strong-minded women involved in this movement too. They write blogs and books. One woman tells men to marry submissive women even if they are not Christians. She affirms that men can make their submissive wives “Christian’. I have encountered some of these women in the Home-schooling Movement and they are far from being down-trodden women.They are very opinionated and refuse to discuss some of the cult-like aspects that are being spread through Home-schooling material and Conferences. Churches are being divided and ministers are having ‘break-downs’ over these issues.

    The Vision Forum crowd seem to desire to return to the Victorian era when women knew ‘their place.’ In that era my grandmother was running the croft and raising seven children while my grand-father was away from Monday morning until Saturday fishing for herring. My grand-mother was considered a godly woman who knew her theology and the issues that divided the church and had her obituary in the Free Presbyterian magazine.

    I’ve lived in Canada for over forty years and I’m still amazed at the weirdness that infects the churches here .It comes to Canada from the U.S and I pray that it doesn’t get spread to Scotland through the Home-schooling movement..Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against home-schooling.I just believe that people should have freedom to educate their children in the way they deem to be best for their own families.


  21. Flora makes a good point. In fact, the Monstrous Regiment movie was brought to our ladies’ Bible study, by a lady. Many of the loudest proponents of these movements are women who think living this way is the key to godliness and future vitality of Christianity of America. Generally speaking, the leading ladies of these movements are promoting views shared by their husbands. Practically speaking, at the local level, these teachings are often spread from woman to woman. I have heard from many women who finally gave up these teachings only upon the insistence of their husbands, who didn’t enter into marriage looking for this version of “submission”.


  22. Ironically, the video you refer to and others in a similar vein are produced by a Scot, Colin Gunn. who now lives in Texas. We’ve already had links to these videos sent to us from Scotland.

    I am so thankful for a solid grounding in the Shorter Catechism and Westminster Confession of Faith.


    • Must be one of those entrepreneurial types, then – quick off the mark to spot a niche market! – since there weren’t that many patriarchs in Hamilton the last time I visited.


  23. “future vitality of Christianity of America”–some homeschooling leaders have pushed this point home, especially with the emphasis on producing more children; they plan to “outproduce” the unbelievers, coupled with their radical homeschooling and family integrated churches. Doug Phillips:

    “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.


  24. I’ve read and studied a great deal of their material. What bothers me most is the lack of emphasis on the Gospel and necessity of the New Birth. They seem. to assume that they can train their children to become Christians. Sadly they call themselves Calvinists and take random quotes from Calvin, Knox,Ryle, Spurgeon etc. Some who argue against them seem to think that they define ‘Calvinism’ and Reformed Theology. What a travesty this is!


  25. How very true, Flora! I read on a blog awhile ago statistics about the superiority of homeschooling because a far greater number of the children become “Christians.” You are correct about the lack of emphasis on the new birth within this movement. Not to say that a godly upbringing is worthless, but let’s not forget that only the LORD changes the heart.
    I had to smile when I read your comment about the opinionated women who propagate these ideas. My experience has been the same. The ones who seem to be barking the loudest about their submission are quite strong characters.


  26. Just to pick up on Flora’s comment too – this observation does seem to fit with the over-emphasis on husband-wife relationships and child-rearing. It’s as if, once you get the behaviours right, that’s all that matters. When what’s missing is the heart-change that the Reformers and Puritans were *all about*.

    The mistake is to define a godly lifestyle in terms of reaction against some contemporary social/cultural problem (breakdown of marriage, etc), and at the same time, to lose sight of the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate and sanctify Christ’s people.

    Homeschooling is *not* the mark of a revival by any orthodox standard. Vastly more encouraging would be the kind of return to the Shorter Catechism and the Westminster Confession that keeps homeschooling firmly in its place as a ‘prudence’ issue rather than a sign of or means to greater godliness.


  27. Pingback: Yes, more links today! | A Quiet Simple Life

  28. Greetings from another dismayed believer from across the pond. While not of the Reformed tradition myself, I have been a bit puzzled by the connection with the Calvinist tradition.

    I did some research arising out of some controversial statements made by a prominent leader within the Patriarchy movement, and found some disturbing background information. Philosophically and “theologically,” if you can call it that, they are descended from Confederate theologian Robert Lewis Dabney. The extreme separation stems from his believe that the wrong side won the American Civil War, and that all the evils of modern society are directly due to women’s sufferage and racial integration.

    I wrote up a rather long post, with links to the primary sources as appropriate. I’m afraid it doesn’t speak well for American Christianity that this group seems to be gaining influence over here.


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