Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Are We Guilty of a Messianic View of the Christian Family?

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on August 11, 2011 at 8:18 am

What do I mean? I mean that the Bible is first of all about the gospel of Christ. There is one Messiah, and he alone is the hope of the world. He alone is the hope of our children. Our Christian families are not the hope of the world. The hope of the world in any sense that we may speak of an earthly institution is the body of Christ, the church, and not the Christian family. It was to the church and not the family that Christ said in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Our light should shine partly in our Christian families, but the light is mainly Christ in the church seen in its good works.

Let me say it clearly. The message of the Bible is Christ, and it is really, really easy to gradually in our minds and hearts to make our focus something else—like the Christian family. The hope of the world is the gospel of Christ, and it is really, really easy to put our hope in something else. It is especially easy to put our hope in something good like the Bible’s general promises of temporal welfare for moral living, like the Bible’s general promises to nations which have moral civil laws, and like the Bible’s real commands and promises about Christian living in the home.  – Sam Waldron

Read it here:

  1. Family-Integrated Church 7: Are We Guilty of a Messianic View of the Christian Family?
  2. Family-Integrated Church 8: Are We Guilty of a Messianic View of the Christian Family? (Continued)
  1. I think this is a good point. I think that in paedobaptist circles, also, there can be a tendency to see the Christian family as an institution: the oiko principle taken to its conclusion. While the family itself is an institution, and be all means, we should desire families to be Christian, salvation comes to the world through Christ via the church. Because God’s people are longer made up of those who are related by ordinary generation but by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, we must not forget Jesus’ warning in Luke 12:52-53 that houses will in many cases be divided. That does not mean that we should not catechize our children and raise them to fear God–on the contrary, it means we must do those things because they are not born Christians, but are born in Adam and need the gospel. We must do those things because we long to see them baptized into the body of Jesus Christ!

  2. As always Sam is clear, pithy, and on point. This little column needs to be shouted from the housetops and proclaimed from the pulpits, though it might get a few preachers in trouble to say that “Christian families are not the hope of the world.” But only Christ is the hope of the world. Only Christ.

  3. Observation: Many of those involved in the Family Integrated Church are not paedobaptist.

    A question: are you (including the two respondents above Dispensational or Amillenial in you eschatology?

  4. OK, I’ll bite. I’m amillenial. I agree with the high view of the church held by historic (Calvinistic, non-dispensational) Baptists. BTW, my own experience is not with the FIC movement but with “mainstream” American evangelicalism, where “family first” is just taken as a given and where the church (and I do attribute this in some small part to dispensationalism) is, well, pretty much despised except as an agency to serve “our family”. I rather doubt, frankly, that FIC people would directly challenge the statement that “Christian families are not the hope of the world.” Unreflective, mainstream American evangelicals, maybe. But anyhow, I’m curious, William, where you’re coming from with your question.

  5. Hello David, I will respond soon.

  6. Hello David, I will respond within a day or so.

  7. It is uncany how many in the FIC movement are Baptistic. It is as though the movements in it’s hard core manifestation is the epitome of the Federal Vision gone Baptistic.

    If I were a postmillenial and believed in baptismal regeneration (or even that baptism was an entrance into the covenant community) then I surely would follow lock and step – it’s only logical. What easier way could there be to usher in the Kingdom than to have lots of babies and crown the family as the primary building block of said Kingdom rather than the gospel ministry given to the church.

  8. To David Rasmussen:

    I am post-millenial and believe the family is an integral part of the church and therefore an important part of building God’s Kingdom. It is also one of the three forms of government God has provided for us (family, church, state – in that order). I also believe that splitting the family up at church with Sunday school takes away from the parents responsibility to teach their children.

  9. AJ,

    I am post-millenial and do not believe in baptismal regeneration. As far as the Federal vision heresy being attached to FIC I do not find that in any of there documents.

    I hope you will look into post millenialism, FIC, and the Federal Vision heresy a bit more. You may be surprised.

    Here is a starting pont regarding Federal Vision: http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakerWithinSource=&subsetCat=&subsetItem=&mediatype=&includekeywords=&exactverse=&keyword=Brian^Schwertley&keyworddesc=Brian+Schwertley&currsection=sermonsspeaker&AudioOnly=false&SpeakerOnly=true&keywordwithin=wilson&x=19&y=14

    and listen to some of the sermons at the last FIC conference: http://www.ncfic.org/mediaorganizermodule/view_mediaorganizer/id/97/src/@random4a1fff0b0c23b/

    William

  10. William,

    Brother, I am woefully aware of the heresy of Federal Vision and the differences. Let me try and explain my comment further:

    Federal Vision in my opinion, can be summarized as a logical progression of paedobaptism. Federal Vision is also inseparably tied to post-millenialism and more importantly reconstructionism. This heresy subverts the kingdom, and it’s growth, and makes it subject to the family, being led of course by the patriarchal priesthood. Make babies, baptize them, train them to be faithful to the covenant, and even get them in law if your really good, and thereby christianize the world and usher in the kingdom.

    The FIC movement, or at least a large segment of the FIC community, is built on a similar foundation only without the paedobaptism. In other words, it subjects the primary responsibility of kingdom growth on the shoulders of patriarchal, multi-generational visionary, priests/fathers.

    Therefore my comment – FIC = Federal Vision gone baptistic!

    They share the same error, they hold the family responsible for kingdom growth rather than the church, to whom the great commission was given. The NT epistles were written to pastors and local churches not fathers of local families. The erroneous priority in many FIC churches is family worship over corporate worship (many cancel corporate services so fathers can lead their families at home rather than sitting under the preaching of ordained ministers of Christ). In order to “fix” a legitimate problem (fathers relinquishing their God-given responsibility to the church), many in the largely baptistic FIC movement has swung the pendulum in the same extreme as the paedobaptistic Federal Vision (churches relinquishing their God-given responsibility to convenantal fathers).

    Hey brother at least you’re consistent. If I was post-millenial, I’d too follow the FIC movement, if nothing else, as the most pragmatic approach to usher in the kingdom. It is a logical progression!

  11. AJ,

    “The FIC movement, or at least a large segment of the FIC community, is built on a similar foundation only without the paedobaptism.”

    I believe the FIC has become too diverse for such general statements. For example, men such as Scott Brown would not fit this description. Like Reformed Baptist, the FIC is a mixed bag.

    I believe there are several things we could learn from the FIC (or better from the Scriptures). For example, (1) that having more than 5 children is OK, (2) that fathers should be involved in giving their children (esp daughters) away, (3) that a church can survive (even thrive) without nursery, children’s SS, and youth groups, (4) that our daughters don’t have to be sent away to out of state post-grad schooling, (5) that our sons can look for the best jobs within state and even with the same church as their parents, etc…

    With some of our churches asking, what should we do to keep our young people from leaving or moving away, we may be wise to (at least) consider some of these things.

    Mike Waters
    Heritage RBC

  12. As I am not Federal Vision nor does FIC hold to Federal Vision, although there could be some who lean that way, I am not aware. Please take the time and opportunity to look into the resources I have provided.

    That’s about all I have to say.

    may the Lord bless you with the truth,

    William
    Pr 16:9

  13. Mike,

    I didn’t intend to make a general statement about all in the FIC. Let me try it this way; the fundamental errors in the foundation of the movement, lends itself to an unbalanced view which places a priority of the family over the church. The church, the fullness of Christ who fills all in all, is typically what ends up suffering in “movements”. The pendulum has been swung too far, Scott Brown included.

    This is not to say that there are beneficial aspects of any movement, including FIC. But the better question to ask is, “Is a movement necessary?”. As I peruse over the five particular examples you give, I find none of them that are new or exclusive to the FIC movement. Time and space do not permit me to cite examples of pastors, churches, and families I personally know that have thrived in godliness before NCFIC was ever a twinkle in Scott Brown’s eye. Sorry, but biblically balanced reformed churches were enjoying doctrinal preaching and teaching on godly family life long before the FIC came along. Sure, I’ll concede that the FIC has been beneficial to the church by raising the standard for men to lead their families, but those who have allegiance to the movement should also concede the unbalance and inevitable division caused thereby.

    We don’t need movements in the church, we only need faithful teaching and preaching leading to repentance and godly living. We don’t need to reinvent the church or design a new methodology. We only need God’s word (remember Sola Scriptura) for our rule of faith and practice. Believe it or not, a church can accomplish that using age appropriate discipleship (aghast, did I really say that!) as well as gender segregated classes (which many in the FIC hypocritically utilize).

    I only wish we could grow through balanced biblical doctrine and avoid the “movements”!

  14. AJ,

    I largely agree. I have held to the above examples before hearing about FIC. Furthermore, the church (historically and generally speaking) has as well. These are not new but old things. My only concern is that Reformed Baptists reconsider certain practices that have been embraced. For example, sending our daughters off to college to become 50-60 thousand dollars in debt, marry a man we’ve never met, wait 5 yrs to have only 2 children, and live five states away to make the most money (sorry it this offends). Should we make rules about every detail here? No. There is liberty. But doesn’t the Scriptures have something to say on some of these things? The FIC men think so. I tend to agree.

    mw

  15. Pastor Mike,

    I hear you brother. I am the father of five wonderful blessings ten years old and younger, and my sincerest desires for my children fall lock in step with those in the FIC. The blessing of children vs. the idolatry of materialism, multi-generational legacy, large families, homeschooling, courtship, etc. are all near and dear to my heart. It only grieves me that many dear brothers in the FIC movement can’t seem to distinguish a healthy revival of biblical teaching on family matters from dogmatically imposing family prioritized precepts upon the church.

    May God grant us to be gracious and united as we labor to maintain doctrinal balance.

  16. AJ,

    Amen brother. I too have five little ones. May the Lord make each of these blessings His own.

    mw

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