Monday, December 01, 2008

Patriarchy, the Pearls, and the Truth

Michael Pearl, author and founder of No Greater Joy Ministries, has decided to publically distance himself from the teachings of so called Biblical Patriarchy popular with many Christian homeschoolers. He has written two articles so far:

Cloistered Homeschool Syndrome:

"I laughed the first time I hear of the Patriarchal Movement. “It will never fly,” I said, “People are not that gullible.” But they were. Daddies who were never in charge of anything, maybe not even their wives, were finally given justification for assuming the throne. Yippee!

It is now become a disease of epic proportions. We call them PDFs, Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families.
The response to the article was so great that he wrote, Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families Part 2:
"They plod on in blind faith trying to do better, but they blame their failure on their children...When things don’t work out like the model they have been presented, they shut the door tighter against the world outside, not realizing that their failure... is actually a universal side effect of a very bad idea.

Despite my own concerns about some of the Pearls teachings I am glad that, for whatever reason, they have decided to examine the ideas promoted as Biblical Patriarchy. The discussion needs to happen among Christian homeschoolers for the benefit of all. (That's also the reason I wrote my review of Debi Pearl's book, Created to Be His Helpmeet.)

We are a Christian homeschool family that believes in Biblical patriarchy. Which, at one time, we believed was the same thing that Christian homeschoolers such as Doug Phillips believed. (We were very early supporters of Vision Forum.) However, having read the Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy shortly after they were first published and some other writings by men within Vision Forum, we began to see that what they purport as biblical patriarchy isn’t exactly what we see in Scripture. There are places where their scriptural justification is not sufficient for the claims they are making. (This is also why the recently announced Mens Homeschool Leadership Summit to lay out a vision for home education was of concern.)

This difference I, the Pearls, or anyone else has with another's ideas would, in and of itself, be fine. This wouldn’t be the first time that disagreement occured between believers over doctrine. What is often troubling to me is that any disagreement is seen by those that adhere to certain teachings as an attack on them personally. Those who have supported and encouraged the various ministries over the years are often surprised to find out that those who ask legitimate questions or disagree are viewed as the enemy simply for saying that perhaps this isn’t quite right or supported in Scripture. Why?

Don’t misunderstand I’m not saying that others must agree with me. But isn’t there something between total agreement and total enemy?

Can sensible bible-believing Christians disagree with the tenets of patriarchy as written by Doug Phillips or the idea of biblical submission by Debi Pearl without being considered a feminist, a Jezebel, or thwarting God’s restoration of Western Civilization?

Our focus as believers should be on truth. As I have said many times, truth will stand up to the toughest scrutiny. It is we who must have the courage to accept what the truth reveals about us and what we believe. Clinging to an idea simply because the messenger has been right in the past, or his idea have been personally helpful, is insufficient to believe an idea is Biblical or that the teacher is consistently right in all areas.

I know how easy it is to have someone tell us what to believe. Following someone else who has studied and found what they believe is easier than doing the work ourselves, especially if we like what they've taught in the past. But we are called to study to show ourselves approved unto God and workman that need not be ashamed rightly dividng the word of Truth. Doing the work of a believer prevents us from falling into error and allows the teachers to know they are accountable for the words they teach; in the end the body of Christ benefits.

Accountability isn’t to be feared; it is to be embraced. When we hold ourselves and those we allow to teach us accountability, error is exposed and the purity of truth shines forth.

Hearing or accepting the truth is often uncomfortable because it requires something of us. Dr. George Grant wrote,

“None of us like to hear that we are wrong, that we have to make changes in our lives, that we have to adjust our way of thinking, or that we have to admit our faults. We are loathe to confess that are in need of repentance, forgiveness, or forbearance. And we persist in our pride even when we know the truth."

We don’t want to admit that we or someone we admire might be wrong. But the truth will set us free. I am thankful for the honest crticism and feedback others provide to me about what I say or do. It's humbling to know that I'm wrong, but it is far better than clinging to my "rightness" and continuing to believe a falsehood.

There is a inherent danger in any man or woman misapplying what the Bible says about Patriarchy or any biblical issue and misleading others in the process. The remedy is for each of us to apply the unchanging standard of God’s Word to our lives and those we allow to teach us. This should not be viewed as an attack or threat by anyone truly seeking God’s Truth and His alone.

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