How to Respond to a Tale-Bearer
Dr. Brian Abshire Models an Apologetic of Sound Reasoning and Christian Charity for Family Reformers
A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector, with the authority and mandate to direct his household in paths of obedience to God. (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 5:22 - 6:4) A man’s authority in the home should be exercised with gentleness, grace, and love as a servant-leader, following the example of Jesus Christ. Leadership is a stewardship from God. (Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 11:29-30; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7) The authority of fathers is limited by the law of God and the lawful authority of church and state. Christian fathers cannot escape the jurisdiction of church and state and must be subject to both. (Rom. 13:1ff.; Eph. 5:21; 6:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.) Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy
The Bible rejects the egalitarian doctrine of feminism. It expressly teaches hierarchy within the home, including the servant-like, Christ-honoring leadership of fathers. It expressly teaches differences of roles and responsibilities between men and women (although there are many areas of overlap). (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6)
The Bible does not, however, teach (a) the subjugation of women under the oppression of men; (b) the right of parents to brutalize or dominate children; or (c) the inferiority of women to men.
Nor does the Bible teach or encourage the notion that (a) women are barred from Christian ministry; (b) that the mind of a woman is inferior to that of a man; or (c) that women should not benefit from advanced training and higher education.
Yet the fact that there are no orthodox Evangelical ministries or preachers of note (of whom I am aware) who teach such things does not prevent immature, hateful, or merely misguided individuals from leveling all sorts of fantastical and sometimes humorous charges against ministries who fight for the biblical family and hold to historical Reformation views of male leadership within the church and home. (See the The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, Marriage and Family in John Calvin’s Geneva, The Role of Women in the Church, An Exegetical Defense of Women as Keepers at Home, Making Wise Decisions About College and Life After Home School, The Blessed Marriage, Discipline: The Biblical Doctrine, etc., etc., etc.)
We at Vision Forum have raised serious objections to: (1) the working-woman philosophy of the late 20th century; (2) the cultural depravity of the modern university; (3) the feministic philosophy of the anti-complementarian, pro-egalitarian household leadership; (4) the culture of death and self-gratification, with its emphasis on closing the fruitful womb; and (5) attempts by liberals or vendetta-driven individuals to viciously mock fruitful mothers as baby machines, etc.
While raising these objections, we have also discussed and published material addressing: (1) alternatives to traditional college for both men and women; (2) the importance of cultivating the minds of both men and women to the fullest (for example, training both to be vigorous entrepreneurs); (4) the necessity of holding abusive husbands (and wives) accountable through the local church; and (5) the biblical imperative that men act nobly and sacrificially for women and children first. (See So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God, The Wise Woman’s Guide to Blessing her Husband’s Vision, Strength and Dignity for Daughters, Defending the Fatherless: How the Body of Christ Can Help Single Mothers, Suffer the Children: The Blessing of Imperfect Children, Raising Maidens of Virtue, etc., etc., etc.)
These positions may be distasteful to some, but they are neither novel nor innovative.
Furthermore, we have stood with those menand womenwho are part of the growing chorus of concerned Christians who are exposing the deception perpetrated by “Christian” leftists, Marxists and/or feminists of many shades, as well as Internet assassins, dishonorable tale-bearing gossips and blog gangsters who have unscrupulously attempted to silence real debate and lodge their opposition by aggressively bringing a false witness against defenders of biblical principles of patriarchy and by attributing to them views which they do not believe and attitudes which they detest, as part of an effort to objectify individuals by painting Christian mothers as mindless drones and fathers as wife-denigrating tyrants.
Such behavior is nothing new to Bible-based reformation movements. Within the last fifty years alone we have seen similar tactics lodged against six-day-creationists, home educators, advocates of the fruitful womb and parents concerned about the modern birth control ethic, and others seeking to recapture the historical biblical principles of orthodoxy and orthopraxy embraced by Church fathers and Reformersalike.
And we believe that the message of Scripture is as true and applicable today as it was when the words were first penned by divine inspiration:
These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
But Christ’s message is not merely condemnation for the sowers of discord, the gossip-mongers, and the dividers of the brethren. Scripture exhorts a holy boldness for every mother and father who must endure the revilings of the Sandballats and Tobiahs (Nehemiah 4:1-7) of their day, while they as visionary parents seek to rebuild the walls of their family for the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel message:
Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. (Nehemiah 4:14)
Towards the Self-Government of Our Collective Tongues
Cults do exist. They are wretched abominations, which rightly should be denounced. But if people are going to raise the “C” word publicly, they had best be prepared to defend such a charge before the world, and if found guilty of defaming a legitimate work of Christ, they must be prepared to face the consequences which are rightly due to those who divide brethren and slander the servants of the Lord. Doug’s Blog, August, 2005
I wrote that comment more than two years ago, and I stand by it today. I stand by it because as a former attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, I have defended parents whose families and basic parental rights have been placed in jeopardy by reckless, talebearers who throw around such language before the world. (I watched innocent mothers and fathers undergo tremendous persecution at the hands of professing Christians who believed that it was weird and cultic to home educate.) I stand by it because, as Geoff Botkin pointed out, it is the tool of “infantile Christians” to send those brothers with whom they differ to the coliseums of the 21st century. I stand by it because one need only watch the news to see the comparisons that some in the Press are trying to make between Christians who teach role distinctions between men and women and militant extremist groups like the Taliban. Nor do we have to think hard to remember at least one case where American children were sent to their deaths by the Clinton administration because their parents were part of real cult groups.
Finally, I stand by my statement of more than two years ago because our ministry receives too many reports of mothers and fathers who are mocked, belittled, and accused of being “cultic” by fellow Christians, because these parents home school by conviction, or actively desire the fruit of the womb, or spank their children, or educate their college-age daughters at home instead of thousands of miles away at a defiling university, or embrace courtship and betrothal over the dating model when it comes to their children’s marriages, or believe men should be leaders in the church and the home, etc., etc..
This brings me to the heart of the article before you:
For all of the above reasons, I applaud men like Dr. Brian Abshire who help the Christian public understand the tactics of “infantile Christians” who lightly use the “C” word to discredit those Christians with whom they personally disagree.
I applaud him for many reasons, one of which is Geoff Botkin’s point: If men like Dr. Abshire do not take the time to address the reckless public name-calling of undisciplined, professing Christians, tension within the Body of Christ is likely to escalate. If the Body of Christ does not learn to control our collective tongues and be a self-governing household of God for the glory of Jesus Christ, there could be very hard days ahead of us. History is replete with stories of the inhumanity of professing Christians against professing Christians. It may very well be that the immature or unscrupulous “Christians” — filled with self-righteousness, intolerant of differences that clearly fall within the pale of orthodoxy — will be the ones who pave the way for a new wave of statist tyranny and destructive family intervention. And if the Lord is merciful, and none of this ever happens, we would be foolish to believe that there will be no spiritual consequences on a Church so immature that the viciousness among professing members towards each other exceeds anything directed at the world itself.
Dr. Brian Abshire Helps Christian Students, Parents, and Pastors Model a Charitable Response to Tale-Bearers and False Accusers of the Brethren
Enter Dr. Brian Abshire — pastor of Highlands Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Abshire recognizes that the plague of talebearing is a heartache to the Church, and that those who use the Internet to traffic in tale-bearing, as well as those who receive the tale-bearing, are guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment.
He finds especially distasteful talebearers who use words like “cult” or “cultic” as a fear-mongering tactic and to attack the credibility of ministries, mothers, fathers, and pastors who reject feminism and hold to historic Reformation doctrines of the family. In fact, he finds their behavior sufficiently distasteful that he has authored a devastating response to one of them.
In the course of his article, Dr. Abshire defends himself, Vision Forum Ministries, and, indirectly, innocent men and women who embrace the same principles of family leadership, honor, and generational faithfulness advocated by the Reformers and embodied in documents like this.
In my view, Dr. Abshire’s article is a charitable, logical, and an accurate response to an individual who has set aside fundamental rules of brotherly conduct and journalistic integrity to traffic in accusations which are characterized by imprecision and falsehood.
And because this sort of behavior is becoming so very commonplace — especially on the Internet — articles like this are instructive. Dr. Abshire has given parents, pastors, and students a helpful model of how to respond to reckless, uncharitable, ungoverned Christian brothers who err by using the Internet and other means to bring a false witness against their neighbor in violation of the Ninth Commandment.
Specifically, Dr. Abshire’s rebuttal is quite instructive because he exposes the numerous basic fallacies, errors in logic, research omissions, unbrotherly conduct, lack of elementary principles of academic and journalistic integrity, and outright falsehoods employed by an individual who was unwilling to retract his accusations after being confronted in writing and verbally. And Dr. Abshire makes his case with manly firmness, but genuine Christian charity, ever willing to give the benefit of the doubt to an accuser who was most certainly not willing to do the same for him.
Below are just a few samples of the categories addressed by Dr. Abshire in his response:
Dr. Abshire on Equating Personal Differences with Cultic Teaching
...you declare Christian brothers to be teaching “false doctrine” when in reality, they are simply teaching something that you may not personally believe. You then imply that they are “cultic” using a pejorative term that you deliberately associate with heretics and false religion. This is NOT fair, equitable or honest; it is propaganda — it is the straw man argument. Simply because YOU disagree with an interpretation of the Scriptures (and as will be shown later, an “application” of the Scriptures) does not necessarily mean that those who propose it are “false teachers.”
Dr. Abshire on Accusation without Attestation
...most of your essay makes accusations without attestation; in other words, you SAY that someone believes “such and such” but provide no actual quotes from essays, articles, lectures, books, etc., where the person actually makes such statements. And since when you DO actually make an attribution, as in the case of my unnamed essay and you leave out important qualifying statements or ignore the context, it leaves me wondering just how accurately you have represented other people’s views.
Abshire on Talebearing, the “C” Word, and Willful Misrepresentation
You take statements out of context, ignore qualifying statements that actually DENY what you say we believe and implicitly call us “cultic” when our views are Right Square in the middle of historic Christian orthodoxy. I am afraid that I must say that it appears you either did not understand the issues, or you deliberately misrepresented our views for some reason...My point is that you declare Christian brothers to be teaching “false doctrine” when in reality, they are simply teaching something that you may not personally believe. You then imply that they are “cultic” using a pejorative term that you deliberately associate with heretics and false religion.
Dr. Abshire on the Duty to Perform Basic Research
There is a recurring problem in your essay; a failure to do basic research...It is basic scholarship that if a statement is controversial, especially critiquing another person’s view, you MUST show that this is what the person actually said. This you fail to do throughout your essay.
Dr. Abshire on the Misrepresentation of Actual Citations
...you write, ‘...women cannot be trusted as decision makers but are at their best when micro-managed by their fathers or husbands.’ You then give a long quote which has NOTHING to do with your assessment. The quote simply does not say what you said it says. In fact, the quote rejects autonomy, especially in regards to a girl following her ‘heart’ and affirms her trust in her father to help her make decisions on some basis other than emotions. Nowhere does this quotation imply, necessarily or otherwise that fathers are to “micro-mange” their daughters or that women are not trusted to make decisions on their own...Therefore, the question becomes this; if when you DO give an actual citation, your assessment is clearly contrary to fact, how can anyone trust your assessments when you do not provide the citations? You either horribly misunderstood the quotation, or you deliberately misrepresented it.
Dr. Abshire on Historic Doctrines vs. Modern Feminist Assumptions
...the view that you propose here is at best about forty years old, originating in Liberal universities and mainline theological seminaries in the late 1960’s and filtering into evangelical ones in the 1970’s...
Dr. Abshire on Tale Bearing, the “C” Word, and the Duty of False Accusers to Repent
Will you repent of your false accusations, or maintain them? Please remember-this is not an attack against you... you have publicly accused us of being cultic and teachers of false doctrine... If we do not believe it, then you have born false witness against us, breaking the Ninth Commandment and slandering the brethren. Therefore, you need to recant here, publicly and confess your sin to your readers.
The War against 1900 Years of Established Church Orthodoxy
Multi-generational faithfulness is not a new concept. Male leadership in the family, church, and state is not a new concept (Ex 18:21ff; Prov. 31:23; 1 Cor. 11:3ff; Eph. 5:23). Biblical femininity(Prov. 31; Eph. 5:22-24; 1Tim. 2:9ff), women as “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5ff) and helpmeets to their husbands is not a new concept. The duty of fathers to protect their daughters until they are “given in marriage”(Dt. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:37-38) is not a new concept. The importance of seeking the Lord for children as His reward is not a new concept(Ps. 127:1-5). All of these are important elements of principles of biblical patriarchy.
These are not new concepts, nor are they concepts rooted in cultural traditions or pagan precedents. We maintain that they are exegetically defensible, biblical concepts rooted in the creation order itself, communicated through the dominion mandate and subsequent law revelations of God, and reflective of His transcendent character and eternal righteousness.
And the weight of church history and biblical scholarship favors these understandings.
Critics of these principles who claim to be Christian within the historical Reformation tradition, but who don’t want to be called “feminist,” have their work cut out for them. Because, in the end, they have to pick a fight with scholars and teachers far more astute than most of the best ones alive today: They have to pick a fight with the likes of John Calvin, John Knox, Martin Luther, and Martin Bucer— just to name a few. (Frankly, the positions adovcated by Vision Forum Ministries are mild and tempered compared to some of the conclusions advocated by these men.)
But these critics appear disinclined to do so. At least no credible individuals have done so to date. True, there is a spate of liberal university scholarship arguing for an anti-hierarchical, anti-patriarchal, anti-complementarian, pro-egalitarian view of Scripture. (And much of it follows the rules of civil dialogue and discourse.) But most of these individuals do not claim to be within the pale of the historic, conservative, reformation or evangelical tradition. They are liberals, and they are honest about that fact. They are honest about their feminism. Some of them are even excellent scholars — like Gordon Fee (Author of numerous books on evangelical feminism). I just happen to disagree with them.
My criticism goes out to those who pretend to be neither feminist, nor liberals, but who have adopted the premises of both and who resort to the type of disreputable tactics, which Dr. Abshire has rightly censured. These are the half-cocked and sometimes agenda-driven commentators. From such we have come to expect an avoidance of documented, confirmable facts, in favor of ad hominum attacks, caricature, and whopper stories which appear designed to present as freaks and cultic those proponents of family reformation who sympathize with the type of ideas summarized in the first paragraph of this article.
At this point, more and more people realize that there is a big difference between a sloppy diatribe, on the one hand, and a real argument marshaled by reputable sources who have done their homework, on the other. Brian Abshire’s exhaustive refutation of an episode of serious talebearing demonstrates that people who resort to shadowy tactics have disqualified themselves from the right to be taken seriously — at least until they clean up their act and turn over a new leaf.
Dr. Abshire’s article accomplishes one other important goal: It brings encouragement to fathers and sons, moms and daughters committed to family reformation — and there are many — who have been subject to unfair harassment or vicious talebearing. It should encourage them, not only because of his charitable spirit and reasoned argumentation, but because his article is a sign of what can be — reasoned, brotherly discourse for the glory of God.
Click here to view the article.