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A Critique of Family Driven Faith: Part Three

By Jerry Wragg By Todd Murray | 05.07.15 | The Expositors Blog

A Critique of Family Driven Faith: Part Three

    On Monday, in Part 1 we covered…

    • Why we wrote this critique for our church
    • Why Family Driven Faith is imbalanced and, at times unbiblical, when it equates having children involved in a church’s ministry with parental abdication.

    Yesterday we looked at…

    • Why Family Driven faith puts the family and the church in opposition to one another.

    Today, we will finish our series with,

    1. FDF so freely mixes clear biblical principles and Baucham’s chosen methods of applying those same principles that, at times, the two are virtually indistinguishable.

    The danger of FDF is that it presents the FIC methods as the sole expression of faithfulness to scripture. Baucham is so convinced of his chosen methods for fulfilling his spiritual responsibilities to his family and his congregation that he equates the FIC’s chosen worship structure with “New Testament worship” (p. 149) and that “the homeschooled movement, and the family integrated church movement constitutes a modern revival on the American landscape”( p. 171).

    The strong impression that one takes away from the book is that anyone who takes seriously their biblical mandate to teach their children must: First, adopt Baucham’s preferred method of formal family worship (pp. 137-150). Second, attend a local church with this preferred ministry structure. And third, never even consider sending your children to public schools. Baucham asks “How can I effectively ‘make disciples’ of my children if I send them off to the government school forty-five to fifty hours per week?” (p. 125). He encourages parents to “Do everything in your power to avoid the influence of government schools that are incapable of bringing our children up in the ‘discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (p. 128).

    In his evaluation of local churches, Baucham fails to differentiate clearly between biblical non-negotiables—church discipline and baptism, expository preaching, church planting, and government by elders—and preferential matters like family integration ministry structure (p. 175). A serious concern about the influence of FDF is that parents don’t often see the difference between strongly held personal preferences and explicit biblical principles, and therefore their consciences often become the “rule” of what defines a “godly” home life.  It isn’t long before various forms of elitism and legalism can have the appearance of more “spiritually faithful parenting,” and particular preferences (e.g. prescribed, formal “family worship” times, educational choices, etc.) are viewed as biblical mandates. 

    Families are vulnerable to these ideas because many conscientious parents—desiring the most biblical approach to parenting—are already easily beset with sinful fears about cultural influences without the balance of a strong faith in the sufficiency and protection of God’s word (Ps. 23:4; 37:18-19; 112:1-8; 127:1).  Elevating personal family preferences to the level of biblical mandates plays on those sinful fears, the net result of which is the temptation to manufacture “godly” children through external controls. Even the cover of the book encourages “doing what it takes to raise sons and daughters who walk with God.” There is no parenting method that can guarantee such a desirable outcome! Only the grace of God can accomplish that goal! While dependence on such intervening grace is no excuse for parental laziness, it is unfair to create the expectation in parents that following any the parenting advice between the covers of FDF will guarantee a regenerate child.   

     In summary, FDF narrowly focuses on the problem of parental misuse of the church rather than exclusively on biblical answers. Sadly, the ultimate flaw of FDF is that its author seems to have neglected to follow his own counsel:

    “It is very important that we live by biblical standards. However, it is equally important that we continually examine those standards to ensure that we don’t fall prey to legalism. When we begin to make hard and fast rules based upon cultural norms rather than on the Bible, we will always end up in trouble. And if we have convictions that are not necessarily scriptural, we should admit it. We must be able to say, “This is a personal condition to which I hold myself not a standard to which God holds us all.” (p. 89)


    Jerry Wragg and Todd Murray (professors at The Expositors Seminary and pastors at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida) collaborated to write this three part critique of Family Driven Faith.

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