Back on October 16 I posted an entry entitled Reformed Baptists Address the Family-Integrated Church Movement. In it I gathered responses by Andy Dunkerton (one of the elders at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Mebane, North Carolina), Sam Waldron (one of the elders at Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, and Professor of Systematic Theology at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies), and Jason Webb (a graduate of the Reformed Theological Seminary and a member of Grace Fellowship Church in Bremen, Indiana).
Since these articles were written there have been a number of reactions to them posted by Scott Brown on the blog of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches. So far Brown has written three parts of a planned four part series:
In this post, Brown claims that his position is actually consistent with the Baptist Confession of 1689. For example:
It is a falsehood to say that the National Center for Family Integrated Churches advocates a “family of families” ecclesiology. In fact, our understanding of the nature of the church is consistent with the historic doctrinal statements of the faith including the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, and many other orthodox statements on the church. It is the same understanding I received as a young man when I was in seminary. We do not advocate a “family of families” ecclesiology. Rather, our ecclesiology is as rich and clear as the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Westminster confession.
In a post entitled “Family of Families” in the News, Brown indicates the fourth part of the series will offer “some insight on what we have learned from this experience.”
Brown also responds to one of Jason Webb’s assertions regarding the the Puritan approach in a post entitled Did the Puritans have a “Family of Families” Ecclesiology.
Somehow I do not think that this debate will be over any time soon, and it is clear to me that some of the key FICM advocates think that they are being badly misunderstood and misrepresented. But, while I think this may be happening to some extent, it also appears to me that they are responsible for much of the confusion themselves, most particularly due to their use of problematic language and an imbalance in emphasis on the importance of one’s biological family versus the spiritual family that is the Church.
At any rate, I thought it only fair that I inform the blog’s readers about what those on the other side of the issue have to say. I hope that FICM advocates continue to refine their position and the language used to describe their position, and I hope the writings of my Reformed Baptist brethren may be of assistance to them in this regard.
Update 13 November 2009
Scott Brown has posted The Church Family is a “Family of Families” — Part 4, in which he gets into more depth about the relationship of the Church family to the biological family.
I still can’t shake the feeling that what is in part a proper reaction to the destruction of family life in our culture has become an overreaction.
Update 17 November 2009
Scott Brown has posted yet another article in his series responding to Reformed Baptists objections. It is entitled The Church is a “Family of Families” — Part 5 and is subtitled “What have we learned from this controversy over ‘Family of Families’?” In this article Brown speaks to the way he believes FICM advocates have often been misunderstood and of the way NCFIC will make use of the phrase “family of families” in the future. Although he says that it no longer appears in current NCFIC literature and has been removed from their core document “A Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family,” he also states that “We have no intention to abandon the use of the phrase or the concept behind it. It is a very important principle that undergirds a biblical understanding of church and family life.”
So, while Brown obviously sees that the phrase “family of families” has been problematic when used as a descriptive term for the Church, so much so that it has been removed from all of the NCFIC literature, he nevertheless thinks that there is no need to abandon use of the phrase among FICM advocates.
Update 19 May 2011
I juts ran across yet another article by Scott Brown which seeks to clarify what he and Voddie Baucham mean by the assertion that “the church is a family of families.” The article is entitled Is the church a “family of families?”