Solus Pater Rears its Ugly Head Again

I have used the term “Solus Pater” [the father alone] as opposed to the great reformation principle of “sola scriptura” [scripture alone] to refer to the Christian Patriarchy movement. Again and again, it comes back to the father, and what he says. Never mind whether the father is interpreting scripture correctly, and never mind whether the person correcting him is interpreting scripture correctly. What scripture says is irrelevant to some of these folks. When the father has spoken, his word trumps even what scripture has said, and, seemingly, no one can correct the father with scripture.

That is why I have used the term “solus pater” of these folks, because the ultimate authority for these folks is not scripture; it is the father, and, more specifically, the fathers who are leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement. Now, there is truth in every error. Yes, I do think we have a problem with people not recognizing that God has set up delegated authority, not only in the home, but also in the church. However, that authority must always be correctable by scripture, and when it is not correctable by scripture, you have abandoned sola scriptura. As Francis Schaeffer used to say, scripture gives us the forms in which the Christian faith can have freedom. The reason why we have form is because we have the scriptures, and, when accurately interpreted, they are the ultimate authority. The scriptures also delegate authority underneath themselves to parents and to the church, but this structure reaches its limits when we talk about what scripture says. If scripture is being handled accurately, it is God speaking, and whenever someone disagrees with it, it is sin-whether it is a woman, a man, or a child who is accurately handling it. Hence, that gives us tremendous freedoms as well, as anyone can stand up with a Bible and say “You’re wrong.”

Recently, solus pater has reared its ugly head over on Karen Campbell’s blog. Now, I don’t agree with Karen about Scott Brown being invited to this conference as an example of the mainstreaming of the Christian Patriarchy movement. The reason is that the Christian Patriarchy movement has always been very good at political relations. They may not have good hermeneutics, but they have a lot of money to back them, and they have very good interpersonal skills. However, this comment by a guy named Michael Miller is the clearest example of solus pater I have ever seen, especially in regards to his comments about women. Here is his comment:

Dear “mom”,

Thank you so much for your pingback to our discernment conference on July 20th. While we are somewhat disturbed by your apparent contempt towards pastor Brown over an orthopraxic issue/question such as whether sunday school is Biblical; we do appreciate your letting people know that this conference is taking place. The question of whether sunday school is Biblical or not, regardless of where a believer stands on the issue, is a secondary one (although it is important). Surely it is not an orthodox issue which should cause one to treat a brother with contempt. But regardless, with the flippany and lack of theological training which occurs in sunday school, and the lack of it being an historical institution in the church; should cause all believers to question how these training programs (that is what sunday school is after all) should be conducted or whether they should be done at all. The question sister is this, who should be discipling children, and what means of grace has God given to train them. Clearly the Scriptures point towards parents, in particularly the father in this role. Not a youth pastor and not sunday school “teachers.” Sadly the teacher very rarely if ever meet the Biblical qualifications to teach or have that responsibility or authority in the church mandated by the Apostle Paul in 1 Tim and Titus. Usually they are simply the willing and nice, without any aptitude for teaching and with superficial theology at best, if not heresy. Who should teach according to the Scriptures? Only a few, and only those who meet very strict moral and character qualifications. That’s not me saying that, that’s the Apostle Paul. And what of James “be not many masters for we will suffer greater condemnation” and yet what do we see in sunday school? Young couples, and the elderly and Biblically disqualified teaching children theology, supposedly. The result dear sister has been chaos. Now you say, rather strawman-dishly (there is a new word for you) that Mr. Brown teaches that sunday school is the end of western civilization. That is not what the brother says. Western civilization has already fallen, it has already fell under the wrath of God. Do you not see the news dear lady? Do you not see God’s common grace pulling back from the world as it is given over to a reprobate mind and vile affections. No the issue is, how ought the church to teach children theology, in particular the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is, “fathers teach your children…” Again not Mr. Brown saying that, not me; but the Apostle Paul. That is the authority that is in question on this issue. And pragmatism like “youth group” or “sunday school” is not a Biblical argument, because only God can truly judge the eternal fruit of such ministries since our hearts can deceive us and spiritual fruit can easily be counterfeited with what appears to be religious and pious but which is, in reality, “wood hay and stubble”. So the church must go back to what the Scriptures say about these ministries. That is all Mr. Brown is saying; sola scriptural is wisdom. The man was a youth pastor for decades before he was brought, by the scriptures, to his convictions on this issue. Not his opinion, but his conviction on what the Bible teaches about this issue. Now in regards to the conference, Mr. Brown will be teaching on Biblical fatherhood. What does the Scriptures command of Christian fathers. Because, you can have all the ministerial bells and whistles in the world, but without true evangelism and the Gospel preached and lived within the home; children are in a seriously dangerous situation. So sister, who has true discernment on this issue? You, a “mom” who teaches theology supposedly, but where the Scriptures are clear that women are not to usurp authority over the man in the church. Or even further, where the Scriptures limit the role of the woman to teaching the younger women, or a pastor who, after years of struggling with the fruitless and carnal effort of modern youth groups went back the Scriptures and realized that it has much to say on this issue? Who should be listen to on discernment; you, some woman, or Phil Johnson, the executive director of Master’s Seminary who will be teaching alongside pastor Brown as a brother in Christ and co-laborer for the Gospel? Who has discernment ma’am? on this issue could it possibly be that, wise in your own conceits you are the one quite possibly who is standing against the clear teaching of Scripture? Should we listen to you, the non-descript “homeschool mom” or should we listen to the Apostle Paul. Sister, let me say this clearly, we would be seriously in error to put your teachings above the word of God. I pray that the Lord would open your eyes to this truth; much of what pretends to be Biblical teaching in the modern American church is not spiritual at all and strongly stands in direct contrast to the Word of God. And how many youth are being raised in complete contrast to saving faith and have no concept of Biblical assurance? What some .5% can even affirm basic orthodoxy from college age; have we not reason to question these practices sister? I would encourage you to come to the conference, listen to what is being said before you pass judgment. I would encourage you to study the scriptures on who should teach and who should teach children theology. Is it the unqualified Mrs. Bean the sunday school teacher, who knows nothing and is a pelagian? or the fathers of these children, supported by their Godly wives, and loving pastors and deacons who know the word of God and who meet the qualifications laid out by the Apostle Paul? Sola Scriptura sister, God is specific about His will on these things. Read Numbers, have you not seen the detail of the tent, the tent?! How much more specific do you suppose the Lord is in regards to the next generation. I urge you to reconsider yourself ma’am. and may God help His church. Sincerely in Christ, Mike M.

And here is my response:

Michael Miller,

If you are concerned about qualifications, I am actually a graduate student in Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Near Eastern linguistics. I would say your comments betray a totally unfair attitude towards Karen, and to those of us who are concerned with the hermeneutics that give rise to the NCFIC.

While we are somewhat disturbed by your apparent contempt towards pastor Brown over an orthopraxic issue/question such as whether sunday school is Biblical;

“Biblical” is a catch term that needs to be defined. For example:

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. (I 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)

You see, that is one of the problems with the NCFIC. Their definition of what is “Biblical” based upon patterns and principles, which, I would argue, is utterly linguistically indefensible. That is my concern with Scott Brown. The man’s hermeneutics are grossly simplistic, and lead him to many fallacious conclusions-the NCFIC and quiverfull being just two of them.

The question of whether sunday school is Biblical or not, regardless of where a believer stands on the issue, is a secondary one (although it is important). Surely it is not an orthodox issue which should cause one to treat a brother with contempt.

In the sense that we are not kicking Scott Brown out of the kingdom for these things. We are, however, saying that his views are grossly unwise, and show a complete lack of understanding of the complexity of linguistic meaning, and that these oversimplifications have consequences when it comes to how they run their churches. That is true of almost everyone in the Christian Patriarchy Movement. When you start saying that other Christians are not holding to “the sufficiency of scripture” and are following “Darwinian” based ideas, you are going to get a response, and yes, if the person is being sloppy in their hermeneutics, someone like Karen or myself are going to point that out.

But regardless, with the flippany and lack of theological training which occurs in sunday school, and the lack of it being an historical institution in the church; should cause all believers to question how these training programs (that is what sunday school is after all) should be conducted or whether they should be done at all.

First of all, Mike, would you guys please stop this *lie* that age specific education has a “lack of it being an historical institution in the church.” Shawn Mathis has written this article wherein he proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is untrue, and Shawn has actually told me that he has ran into someone who is close to Scott Brown who said he would inform him of one of Shawn’s articles wherein he discusses these things. If you have to rely on this kind of sloppy history, what does it say about the truthfulness of your position?

Secondly, yes, there are many bad Sunday School teachers, and many bad youth leaders. However, let me point out some of the really bad teachings in the Family Integrated Churches:

-Patriarchy [in the Vision Forum sense]
-The notion that women cannot run for public office
-The notion that the Bible calls women to be homemakers
-The Quiverfull Movement
-The notion that any model other than the Family Integrated Church is based on “unbiblical, evolutionary, and secular thinking.”
-The notion that you can’t vote for someone, unless they are a Christian
-The notion that you must stone incorrigible children, not recognizing that the law provides *maximum* penalties, not penalties which must be enacted every time an offense is given
-The Stay at Home Daughters movement of the Botkin’s
-Kinism
-Southern Confederate Idealism
-The Interpretive Maximalism of James Jordan and Peter Leithart
-The notion that delay of marriage is a sin
-The notion that there is some sanctifying power in marriage
-The assault on anything other than homeschooling [including Christian day school]

Now, the absurdity of those comments rivals *anything* taught in Sunday Schools and Youth Groups. The real issue here is how we treat the Bible. The problem with both the Family Integrated Churches as well as the Sunday School and Youth Group teaches who don’t know what they are doing is their hermeneutics. When you fix the hermeneutics, and you train these teachers to actually teach how to *properly* handle the text of scripture, you fix the problem.

The question sister is this, who should be discipling children, and what means of grace has God given to train them. Clearly the Scriptures point towards parents, in particularly the father in this role. Not a youth pastor and not sunday school “teachers.”

Of course, the problem is that the scriptures also point to the *church* to teach all of those under their authority, which would include the children. While I don’t necessarily agree with designating one pastor to handle the youth, I do recognize that God has given teachers to the church, as James himself said, and I recognize that one of the functions of the authoritative position of elder is to teach. Hence, the problem you have is that both the church and the parents are commanded to teach. In fact, the NCFIC itself affirms this very fact. In the context of dealing with misconceptions of the NCFIC, they write:

The NCFIC believes that that the church can only relate to family members through the father.

False. We do not believe that the church must always work through or communicate through a father. We believe that the church has authority to discipline and instruct every individual believer in the family not just the head of the family, or through the head of the family.

So, the Bible commands the church to teach and the Bible commands fathers to teach. There is no problem here, as the two statements are not self-contradictory. There is only a problem if you isolate the command for parents to teach their children from the command for the church to teach. In fact, a denial of the responsibility for both to teach is, I would argue, replacing sola scriptura with solus pater, because there is no way to correct the teaching of the father.

Sadly the teacher very rarely if ever meet the Biblical qualifications to teach or have that responsibility or authority in the church mandated by the Apostle Paul in 1 Tim and Titus. Usually they are simply the willing and nice, without any aptitude for teaching and with superficial theology at best, if not heresy.

And, of course, we could say the same thing about the NCFIC. Ever heard of something called “kinism?” Southern idealism? I am not saying that you hold to those things, but my point is that there are people in family integrated churches who hold to these things. Age integration, and getting rid of the authority of the church to teach children is not the answer. The answer is to train teachers how to accurately handle the scriptures. A father who teaches with bad hermeneutics is every bit as dangerous as a youth minister who has bad hermeneutics. The issue is how we handle the text of scripture to begin with, not whether discipleship is age integrated or age specific.

Who should teach according to the Scriptures? Only a few, and only those who meet very strict moral and character qualifications. That’s not me saying that, that’s the Apostle Paul. And what of James “be not many masters for we will suffer greater condemnation” and yet what do we see in sunday school? Young couples, and the elderly and Biblically disqualified teaching children theology, supposedly. The result dear sister has been chaos.

Let me put it this way, it is not just moral and character qualifications, but it is also competency. You can’t simply look at two passages, and assume that those are all the qualifications. For example, Peter says the following:

2 Peter 3:15-16 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

So, what is the solution? The solution is not “age integration,” but it is to be taught and stable. What does it say when the NCFIC completely rejects and entire field of linguistic meaning in their argumentation, namely the field of pragmatics? All of the absurdities I mentioned above are the result of rejecting this particular field of linguistic meaning. It sounds like you are no better taught than are the Sunday School teachers who don’t know what they are doing. Handling the text of scripture is a big responsibility, and a person who is in a position of teaching needs to know how language works, and be able to deal with it accordingly. And yes, I would say that Scott Brown is woefully incompetent in that area.

Now you say, rather strawman-dishly (there is a new word for you) that Mr. Brown teaches that sunday school is the end of western civilization. That is not what the brother says. Western civilization has already fallen, it has already fell under the wrath of God. Do you not see the news dear lady? Do you not see God’s common grace pulling back from the world as it is given over to a reprobate mind and vile affections. No the issue is, how ought the church to teach children theology, in particular the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is, “fathers teach your children…” Again not Mr. Brown saying that, not me; but the Apostle Paul. That is the authority that is in question on this issue.

And, the apostle Paul also says that he has given some to be teachers in the context of service to the church. Please, do not be reductionistic here. Yes, I agree, western society is in shambles. However, the solution is not “age integration,” and the solution is not patriarchy, as fathers themselves are sinners. The solution is the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that message can only come forth if we have a hermeneutic that allows God to speak for himself rather than reading the text through the light of cultural problems. The apostle Paul’s authority *is* at issue here, and the question is whether or not you are going to allow *all* that Paul says to come through, or selectively leave out the texts that talk about the church being given teachers.

And pragmatism like “youth group” or “sunday school” is not a Biblical argument, because only God can truly judge the eternal fruit of such ministries since our hearts can deceive us and spiritual fruit can easily be counterfeited with what appears to be religious and pious but which is, in reality, “wood hay and stubble”. So the church must go back to what the Scriptures say about these ministries. That is all Mr. Brown is saying; sola scriptural is wisdom.

First of all, just because something is pragmatic does not mean it is wrong. Again, false dilemma. However, even worse, I *have* made a Biblical defense of age specific ministries based upon the field of pragmatics back when the movie Divided first came out. I have had only one person from the family integrated churches try to respond to it, and that person was fully refuted, given that they misrepresented the concept of speech acts, and given that they had to be arbitrary, and admit that they used a different hermeneutic for other issues than they used for these issues.

The problem is not that, given my view, scripture is insufficient; the problem is, given my view, Scott Brown’s hermeneutics are insufficient. We dare not confuse the sufficiency of scripture with the sufficiency of our hermeneutics. If there is a pragmatic level of language, if there is such a thing as the illocutionary force of a speech act, then the “sufficiency of scripture” argument is doesn’t work, because one can show consistency between age specific ministry and the illocutionary force of the scriptures.

The man was a youth pastor for decades before he was brought, by the scriptures, to his convictions on this issue. Not his opinion, but his conviction on what the Bible teaches about this issue.

The problem is that this can be turned around on Scott as well. Do you not thing that being a youth pastor, and becoming angered and what is going on in many youth groups today might influence the way in which he reads the text? It would be naive to say otherwise. You see, being a former youth pastor doesn’t make Scott a disinterested observer. Quite the contrary, it means that there is a real danger that he is reading these things into the text, as can be demonstrated by simply looking at the texts he uses to get this alleged pattern. Understanding the Ancient Near Eastern background of all of those texts, rather than imposing the modern problems of the weak teaching in youth groups and fathers who do not teach back into the text, shows that the scriptures simply do not view age integration vs age specific discipleship as significant in any way. It is an issue that has been made up due to our cultural problems, and read back into the text.

So sister, who has true discernment on this issue? You, a “mom” who teaches theology supposedly, but where the Scriptures are clear that women are not to usurp authority over the man in the church.

The problem is, when the scriptures are being handled properly, it is not the woman who is speaking, but it is God himself who is speaking. So, when you do not listen to a woman who is accurately handling the word of God simply because she is a woman, *you* are usurping the authority of God himself, setting yourself up as if you do not have to listen to your own creator. That is why I have said that this movement is an attempt to replace sola scriptura with solus pater. If we are truly practicing Sola Scriptura, then anyone can stand up with a Bible and say “you’re wrong,” no matter what position of authority the person to whom they are speaking has. If they are accurately handling the word of God, it is God speaking, and to ignore God speaking is the height of idolatry.

Or even further, where the Scriptures limit the role of the woman to teaching the younger women,

Sorry, not seeing where the scriptures *limit* their role to that. Again, if they are accurately handling the word of God, it is God speaking, and anyone who is unwilling to listen to God speaking is usurping God’s authority. I can certainly see where women cannot hold official *teaching offices* in the church, such as elder or pastor, but that has to do with the authoritative preaching of God’s word, and the leadership of the church, and not whether or not a woman can teach a man. That is made clear in the context of 1 Timothy 2, where Paul goes on to enumerate the qualifications for elder after he says that he does not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, thus limiting what he is saying to the context of the eldership.

<blockquoteor a pastor who, after years of struggling with the fruitless and carnal effort of modern youth groups went back the Scriptures and realized that it has much to say on this issue?

Or, someone who went back to scriptures, and read into them the problems he was having in youth ministry? Again, it is naive to think that Scott Brown’s experience in youth ministry has nothing to do with how he is not handling the text of scripture. It seems to me that I should be very careful to believe someone who has shown himself to have this background, and to have very bad hermeneutics.

Who should be listen to on discernment; you, some woman, or Phil Johnson, the executive director of Master’s Seminary who will be teaching alongside pastor Brown as a brother in Christ and co-laborer for the Gospel? Who has discernment ma’am? on this issue could it possibly be that, wise in your own conceits you are the one quite possibly who is standing against the clear teaching of Scripture?

It depends. Who is handling the scriptures aright? Trust me, presidents of seminaries are not immune to bad interpretations of scripture, and I have caught several of them in errors. Doesn’t make them bad interpreters of scripture, but it does mean that they are not always right. BTW, as far as I know John MacArthur’s church where Phil Johnson is an elder, has age specific ministry, which is interesting that you would even bring Phil Johnson into this debate. Could it be that, given your lack of training in hermeneutics, that *you* are the one who is wise in *your* own conceits? That you are blindly following celebrities, rather than going back to scripture to test whether these things are so? Arrogance is a dangerous thing in hermeneutics. Trusting in celebrities is a dangerous thing in hermeneutics. So, the answer to who is right is to be found in the scriptures, and in order for the message of scripture to come through, you must have sound hermeneutics, which doesn’t bode well for the NCFIC.

Should we listen to you, the non-descript “homeschool mom” or should we listen to the Apostle Paul. Sister, let me say this clearly, we would be seriously in error to put your teachings above the word of God. I pray that the Lord would open your eyes to this truth; much of what pretends to be Biblical teaching in the modern American church is not spiritual at all and strongly stands in direct contrast to the Word of God.

We should listen to the apostle Paul, but not your interpretation of the apostle Paul, because it is wrong, and leaves out an entire level of human language that you had to use to write this post. Do not confuse your interpretation of Paul with what Paul said. Interpretations must be proven, and I don’t get the feeling that you or anyone in the patriarchy movement have any idea of the complexity of human language, and what it takes to adequately prove an interpretation as valid.

And how many youth are being raised in complete contrast to saving faith and have no concept of Biblical assurance? What some .5% can even affirm basic orthodoxy from college age; have we not reason to question these practices sister?

Isn’t it interesting that you have all of the absurdities listed above being taught in your own circles. Someone sent me a survey one time that 85% of homeschooling families believe that man is made right before God by his works, and not by faith alone. That is disturbing. Parents teaching their children is not the answer. The answer is to go back to the word of God and handle it competently. We are just not doing that as a church, and we are suffering the consequences. *That* is what we need to fix, and until it is fixed, nothing will change. “Age integration vs Age specific ministry” is nothing but a side show. The real problem is bad hermeneutics which do not allow the gospel to shine through.

I would encourage you to come to the conference, listen to what is being said before you pass judgment.

Michael, I have listened to Scott Brown speak many times, and I follow his blog. The man is incompetent in his handling of scripture. He mostly relies upon historical figures, even when their interpretations have been refuted by new evidence from the Ancient Near East, or discoveries in the field of linguistics. I don’t attribute malice to the man. There is a great quote from Napoleon Bonaparte that Shawn Mathis posted one time here: “Don’t attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.” That is true in Scott Brown’s case. I have made up my mind on that from reading his comments, and listened to him speak on this topic, and from studying this field at the graduate level myself, and thus, knowing the literature. I consider the man to be simply incompetent in this field.

I would encourage you to study the scriptures on who should teach and who should teach children theology.

I would encourage you to rethink your interpretation on who should teach and who should not teach children theology. Interpretation is crucial here, and to blindly assume your interpretation is correct without justification is naive at best and dangerous at worst.

Is it the unqualified Mrs. Bean the sunday school teacher, who knows nothing and is a pelagian? or the fathers of these children, supported by their Godly wives, and loving pastors and deacons who know the word of God and who meet the qualifications laid out by the Apostle Paul?

What about the unqualified man who teaches absurd things about patriarchy on the basis of ignorance of the patriarchal system of the Ancient Near East? What about the man who reads things like Age Integration into a text that had no concern for the topic at all? What about men who have become elders on the basis of politics, and are grossly incompetent for the task? More than that, what if Mrs. Bean is able to refute them with scripture? Who do you listen to? I say, I listen to the scriptures through Mrs. Bean, and I reject what the others have to say, no matter what their position of authority is. *That* is what sola scriptura means.

Sola Scriptura sister, God is specific about His will on these things. Read Numbers, have you not seen the detail of the tent, the tent?! How much more specific do you suppose the Lord is in regards to the next generation. I urge you to reconsider yourself ma’am. and may God help His church. Sincerely in Christ, Mike M.

Again, I don’t believe you hold to Sola Scriptura. If you did, you would recognize the nature of God speaking, and would not treat those who seek to correct your errant understanding of scripture in the way you have in this post. Those who hold to sola scriptura care about what scripture says above all, and are willing to listen to God speak. From what I can see, you care more about position of authority than whether what that position of authority says is consistent with scripture. That is dangerous, and a complete abandonment of sola scriptura. Scripture is the ultimate authority, and anytime scripture is ignored, even if it is because a woman is saying what scripture says, you are overthrowing its authority.

Secondly, when I was at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I had a friend who studied under D.A. Carson. She told me something Carson said one time that has stuck with me. That is that evangelicals have a tendency to confuse the notion that the Bible was written *for* us with the notion that the Bible was written *to* us. Your statement about the temple detail is a perfect example of that confusion. The reason why God gave the Israelites such detail is because he was writing *to* them. We cannot demand that God write *to* us, and address the issues we want him to address. Worst of all, we cannot read the scriptures as if they were written to us because we want them to address the issues we want them to address. Such leads to a total abuse of scripture. Before we can decide what scripture says about a given issue, we first need to understand what it meant to the people to whom it was written. Only after we do that can we then understand its significance for today. To confuse those two things is very dangerous.

Worse than that, when we seek to first understand what it meant to the original audience, something interesting happens. We begin to see the concerns of scripture in its own context, and some things we think are important [such as age integration] start to pale in importance. Problems such as not being able to understand the gospel, and having bad hermeneutics start coming to the forefront. Finding what it meant before we find what it means acts as a control, so that we don’t read what we want to be important back into the text. I fear that is the foundational error of the entire NCFIC hermeneutics, and it is very dangerous.

So, I would call on you to rethink your entire hermeneutics. I would challenge you to read books on the topic, and to read books by professional linguists. I would recommend Yan Huang’s excellent textbook on pragmatics as a start. I would also recommend textbooks on Discourse Analysis as well. Also, I would recommend texts on Ancient Near Eastern background, as I would books on Hebrew law such as anything by Christopher J.H. Wright. Read, study, learn, and then apply what you have learned to these ideas. I have, and once you do, you find that there really is a real danger in taking authority over scripture. I pray that God would change your heart, and give you a desire for truth rather than authority. I leave you in God’s hands for that.

God Bless,
Adam

Now, I never heard a response to that. I would love to have a back and forth on this topic, but I doubt that will happen. Solus Pater was very clearly demonstrated in that post. It doesn’t matter whether the woman is handling the text of scripture properly. The woman is not to teach, and so, we must completely disregard what the woman has said. Of course, because scripture is God-breathed, whenever it is being handled properly, it is not the person speaking, but it is God speaking. However, we don’t have to listen to it, because it is a woman who is pointing out what God has said. It is the ultimate overthrow of sola scriptura, and we must see it for what it is.

Now there is another clear example of solus pater, and that from an unexpected source: Voddie Baucham. Normally, Voddie is one of the more mild proponents of the Christian Patriarchy movement. However, in this video, he says things that are simply absurd from any Biblical perspective, and, again, are an overthrow of sola scriptura for solus pater:

Voddie Baucham on Corporal Punishment and Shyness in a Young Child from Under Much Grace on Vimeo.

The first think I want you to notice is Voddie’s use of “Your world revolves around me.” The authority of scripture has just been thrown under the bus with that statement. No, the toddler’s life revolves around God and his word, as does the life of the parent. When you make the world of the toddler revolve around yourself, you are setting yourself up as an idol, and demanding that this child commit idolatry. The parent’s job is to train the child to know God and his word, and not to make his world revolve around himself. It is pure, unadulterated idolatry to suggest anything else.

Next, where in the world is Voddie getting the idea that Ephesians 6:1-4 presents stages in the correction of a child? Here is the text:

Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. 4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Tell me, where in this text is there anything about “stages?” Again, complete and total eisegesis. I have said it many times, like his mentor Albert Mohler, when Voddie deals with issues all Christians agree on, he is very good. However, when he tries to get cute and “countercultural” with his exegesis, there is hardly anyone worse.

As far as spanking goes, Voddie is completely misunderstanding the concept of the rod in the Ancient Near East. The rod was used as a *teaching* tool. Look at the text again:

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

This is a common theme in the book of Proverbs, namely that discipline [מוסר] drives away folly [אולת]. However, this rod is spoken of as a “rod of *discipline*,” [שבט מוסר] that is, a rod used to teach and disciple a child. If the rod is not being used to teach the wisdom of God, then the rod is not being used properly. In fact, in Egyptian Hieroglyphic, the determinative for a “teacher” is a man holding a rod. The two were intimately linked in the mind of an Ancient Near Easterner, and to connect it with what the father wants rather than the wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord is a total abuse of this passage.

More than that, the book of Proverbs do not present universal truths. Try reading Proverbs 22:6 in a universal sense. If you do, it will contradict Isaiah 1:2. Anyone here want to suggest that when God raised up sons, he did not do so properly? The intent of the Proverbs must be understood in the light of their own world. For example, this statement must be understood in the light of the Lord being the one who gives wisdom-not the parents. It must be understood in the light of the Lord being the head of creation, establishing it by wisdom. More than that, it must also be understood in the context of the other elements of discipline spoken of by the book of Proverbs. There are many different ways to discipline a child-the rod being one of them. Understanding precisely how to use the rod and other instruments of discipline is an issue that requires, well, wisdom. It requires a practical understanding of the situation at hand, and how it relates to the world of the text.

To see how that works itself out practically, Voddie uses the example of the shy child. His parent tells him to say “hello,” but he goes and runs behind the leg of the parent. Voddie’s entire argument hinges upon this notion of this being “disobedience,” and a violation of the fifth commandment. The problem is, again, Voddie has not understood the fifth commandment in its context. Even the ten commandments have, as their foundation, the notion of the total Lordship of Christ as found in the first four commandments. In other words, as Christopher Wright said, the Torah provides us with a value system, and each scenario must be evaluated in terms of the value system of scripture, with God as the ultimate standard being first and foremost.

Let us use another example. Let us say that a child is bothering his parent, and the parent tells him to go outside. However, the child just stays there, and doesn’t listen. The father tells him again, and, again, the child doesn’t listen. Then, the father thinks that he must spank this child, so he walks over, goes to take the child over his knee, and while he is doing that, he looks up, and to his horror is a copperhead snake right at the doorway. Had that child listened to his father, and went outside, he would have been dead. Now, the child disobeyed his parent, but for good reason. He did so in order to obey the command to protect human life, which the Bible clearly views as more important than whether or not the parent is obeyed. This, of course, has interesting implications for marriage as well, especially when it comes to some of these teachings, such as militant fecundity, which can be threatening to the life of a woman. The authority of the father must be understood, not only in terms of the actual commands given in scripture, but the value systems given in scripture. When the father sets himself up over the value system found in scripture, even if he is not asking someone to contradict a black and white command, he has sinned.

Let us return to Voddie Baucham’s scenario. There is one fact that struck me the moment I heard all of this, and that is that Voddie Baucham used to be a football player. He is a *huge* man physically, and he is *not* someone you would want to get in a fight with in a back ally. Do you not think that a little child might be the slightest bit afraid and intimidated in such a situation? And if he is afraid, do you not think he is obeying the Biblical command to protect his own well-being by hiding behind his parent’s leg? You see, if the rod were actually used for what it was supposed to be used for, in this situation, the child would need reassurance that everything was okay, and that no one was going to harm him. Such would be the kind of discipline and teaching he would need at that moment. However, recognizing such would mean thinking of what God has said first, and not making the child’s world revolve around you.

We also have to deal with other problems as well such as autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. There are some children who may be highly intelligent, but may have certain neurological disorders, such as autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, which makes it hard for them to interact in social situations. In such a situation, the child is not being “disobedient” or “rebellious;” the child has a disorder, and that disorder makes him unable to comply with the command itself. In such a situation, spanking the child teaches them nothing, since the treatment for autism and Asperger’s is ongoing, and not something that can be cured by spanking a child once. It would be like a parent telling a child with schizophrenia to stop having hallucinations, and then spanking him when he doesn’t stop having those hallucinations. Such is utterly foolish, and does not recognize where the child needs to be taught, and how the child needs to be taught, again, completely ignoring the rod as a tool of discipline, not a tool to get the child to do what you want him to do.

One error leads to another here. Solus pater is adopted, and then, the world of the parent becomes ultimate, instead of the world of the text of scripture. That leads to an error in how to use the rod, and, more specifically, how the Lordship of Christ relates to honoring your father and mother, and obeying them. Children are to obey their parents *in the Lord,* not in the parents themselves. We honor our father and mother in the context of having no other gods before Yhwh. Hence, we place obedience to parents in the context of the rest of the values of scripture, and if obeying your parents causes you to commit idolatry, or if obedience to parents is something that is just not possible at the current time, because the child is ill in some way, then, obviously, obedience to parents would contradict the other values of scripture.

In sum, parents must make the world of the child revolve around the world of scripture, not the father. To do so is a gross violation of sola scriptura. It is pure idolatry. It is easy to understand why this is being done. We do have a lack of respect for God’s delegated authority today. It is a sad thing to see, but that does not justify raising the delegated authority to a position of authority over scripture. Fathers are sinners, and fathers can abuse authority. If the scriptures are not there to correct them, then there is no telling the evils that will happen.

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