Bill Gothard, Homeschool Movement, IBLP and ATI, Kevin Swanson, Modesty and Purity Teachings, Patriarchal-Complementarian Movement, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Women and the Church

Kevin Swanson Defends Bill Gothard’s Sexual Harassment Charges While Publicly Trash Talks Blogs

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Kevin Swanson defends his friend, Bill Gothard against accusations of sexual harassment, while accusing Spiritual Sounding Board and blogs of dancing on the grave of Christian fundamentalism and Biblical Christianity.

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Last week, I was notified by a Twitter friend/follower that Kevin Swanson had referred to my blog in a recent podcast:


Kevin Swanon, Generations Radio, Bill Gothard, ATI, Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 12.05.16 PM


Really?  I promote pro-gay, pro-evolution on my blog?  Where?  He was naming my blog,

Here was Kevin Swanson’s tweet that Chris had seen:


Kevin Swanson, ATI, Generations Radio, Bill Gothard, Sex Abuse Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 12.09.47 PM


If you haven’t heard the latest on Bill Gothard, this article should catch you up to speed:   Bill Gothard, Family Planning and Homeschooling Advocate, Accused of Sexually Harassing Young Women and Teen Girls

My assistant, Kathi, who helps me at the Spiritual Sounding Board Facebook page was coerced, manipulated,  volunteered to spend 6 – I mean SIX hours of time transcribing Mr. Swanson’s flapdoodle.  Earlier, I had transcribed only a couple of paragraphs and the verbosity with which Swanson was able to fit within 2 seconds of airtime was staggering.  Give that woman a raise already!

It is peculiar that Mr. Swanson publicly named two sites: and in his ranting.  Those who are familiar with know it is a large network of blogs beneath the umbrella of  At, you will find an assortment religious bloggers:  Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Mormon and even atheist bloggers.  But interestingly, Mr. Swanson does not identify a specific blogger at  But what does he say about my blog and this mysterious non-named Patheos blog?

Note:  Unless specifically noted, Kevin Swanson is talking. Notation is made when Steve Vaughn enters the conversation.  “KB,” who transcribed the document, contributed her commentary in pink.  Seriously, if you’re going to transcribe for 6 hours, you need an outlet.  As I was reading it, I obviously couldn’t keep quiet, so my editorial comments are in green.  I’ve only included the comments referring to the blog, but be sure to read the transcript or listen to the podcast as Swanson defends Gothard and blasts Spiritual Sounding Board and  The transcription begins below:


 Starting at the 6:00 mark:

You have this kind of thing happening a lot when people are ultimately ignoring the laws of God but taking on their own rules and regulations. Well, all that said, we’re gonna to talk about what is happening right now with fundamentalism, what is happening right now with the homeschooling movement, and precisely what is happening right now with Bill Gothard.

Okay. There’s [sic] some stories right now on,, which by the way are the apostatizing websites that are dancing on the grave of the old Christian west and certainly anything related to fundamentalism or anything relating to Biblical Christianity. They love it. They love it when they begin to see cracks in fundamentalism.


What is the Christian west, anyway?  Are we talking cowboys or what?  Sure, you can send me the Finding-Cracks-in-Fundamentalism t-shirt.   The fundamentalism that I’ve seen does not match up with the Christian conduct and character exemplified by Christ in Scripture.  

Now, friends, right now Patheos and Spiritual Sounding Board are the apostatizing websites working hard to drive another 10% out of the organized historical, Biblical churches to a pro-homosexual, pro-socialist, pro-evolution, pro-atheist agenda. I mean, they’re just so excited if they can…they’re sort of like the aprostalites <Made up word #4> of the left you know.


Actually, I consider Spiritual Sounding Board to be like the pooper scooper of Fundamentalist Pharisee-like crap of religious tyrants, but whatever, Mr. Swanson.


Can we get more to apostatize from the Biblical, spiritual faith, and they’re somewhat successful


mainly because whatever is out there that cloaks itself as a fundamentalist faith often times isn’t that strong anyway. So, anyway. Patheos and Spiritual Sounding Board are dancing on the grave of Bill Gothard and the whole A.T.I. thing right now. This is what’s happened. And the rumors on the street is that there was more sexual abuse of some sort. But here is the deal. As Christians we ought to be very careful when we see these things on public websites, new sites, presenting this information.


Yea, Mr. Swanson, because when 34 women come forward with their personal testimonies telling us that this “man of God” and Christian leader who has led countless families to have “character first,” we need to be careful about “rumors.”  To heck with the idea that Gothard is the head honcho of his organization and so there is no place for young women to climb the hierarchical ladder to complain.  

But let’s back up a bit.  He claims I’ve been (SSB) dancing on the grave of Bill Gothard and ATI, of Biblical Christianity, etc.  Did he even realize that I have not posted ONE story on Gothard until this one?  And this article is really not so much about Gothard as much as it is about Mr. Swanson and his foolishness.  I’ll get to Gothard on my blog soon enough.  There are already quite a few articles currently published in the blogosphere.  But right now, I’m calling out Mr. Swanson for his behavior as a Christian homeschool leader AND pastor in siding with another Christian patriarchal leader rather than dismissing the personal testimonies of nearly three dozen women.  


We ought to demand two or three witnesses in a proper church court or a proper civil court. That ought to be important to us. And, uh. You know. But Patheos and Sounding Board doesn’t really care that much about it. They just get very excited about the fact that there may be some problem, some compromise, in the life of a spiritual leader. And if they can find that, they kind find the compromise, the moral compromise in the life of a leader, they get very excited because now they know that they can toss out everything that guy ever said about God,



Jesus, honoring mothers and fathers, you know, etc., etc. First of all, how do you get a man who is running a parachurch organization to a proper church court?  What church court?  Who overseas the man?  Do you think Mr. Gothard would sit beneath a church court when they are not “over” him?   So, if that be the case, you know, they can throw all that out and they can do whatever they want. And how fun that can be, you know. I mean, you know. We don’t have to worry about this adultery thing anymore, don’t have to worry about homosexuality, don’t have to worry about incest, don’t have to worry about pedophilia, we can just celebrate. <Yes. ALL of the writers on Patheos and of course, SSB, is excited about pedophilia, incest and adultery!> You know, I mean we’re free from anything that this Christian leader ever said because there may be some moral compromise in his life. And that’s why


they get so excited, Steve, I think.


Yea, every morning I am excited to share yet another story of Christian leader’s moral failure.  I think NOT.   No, how about this – – if Church leaders would appropriately deal with sin among other church leaders,  blogs like mine wouldn’t need to call them out.  But when church leaders remain SILENT about abusive leaders like Gothard, Phillips, etc, that is when it causes mass confusion.  


“Silence in response to abuse declares victims to be worthless & builds walls of protection around perpetrators.”  ~Boz Tchividjian


SV: <Clearly the village idiot. Sure boss, whatever you say!> Yeah, and that’s. They want to be free from God. That’s why they’re worshiping themselves, or the whole humanist religion. Because they’ve been seeking to be free from God all their lives. And they can’t get free of Him. And it just, it’s like a cockroach trying to get away from the light to get into darkness. And they’ve found that they can’t get away from the light. And anytime that they can find any kind of darkness within the fundamentalist movement


SV (cont.): then they want to go hide there.

If you’d like to read more of the same drivel and appreciate KB’s hard work, click here.  KB nor I are responsible for the amount of time that will be wasted by reading this stuff.  Do so at your own risk.  Or . . . .you can tune in here.  It might make good background noise while vacuuming.


The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5


By the way, if you do happen to read/listen to enough of the podcast, after hearing the word apostasy and the many odd variations of the word, I think you might agree with Kathi and me that Kevin Swanson thinks  . . . . .

this is the dawning of the age of Apostasy, age of Apostasy . . . . . . . . APOSTASY!!!!



463 thoughts on “Kevin Swanson Defends Bill Gothard’s Sexual Harassment Charges While Publicly Trash Talks Blogs”

  1. Cindy:

    We seem to have lost Martin. If he was going to try to find the doctor and scientist who told Swanson about the embedded-fetuses-in-wombs gig, he might not be back for a while. I’d hate to see you spend so much time going through your files for nothing.


  2. Here’s the end of that post of Sproul’s. How does he know who is indwelt with the Spirit? Interesting, huh. Did he start speaking in tongues or something? (I was taught at a kid in the Pentecostal church that you could be saved and not have the Holy Spirit if you didn’t prophesy or speak in tongues. Sounds like what they say, not something I’d expect from a Presbyterian.)

    They are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But I have the Holy Spirit, and so ought to know better. My calling then isn’t to bash those saints who slander my friends. Nor is it even to call them to repent. My calling instead is to repent for my own sins, for my own slanders. My calling is to tend my own garden. May God have mercy on my soul.


  3. Oh, it was a quick google, and I’m glad that I looked it up. My husband brought up the “movement homeschoolers” with which Sproul identifies, and we started laughing about what the word “movement” brings to mind.

    It’s their own version of gnosticism, if you ask me.


  4. Hi, everyone, where is Martin? I wonder if we will hear any more abouthis agreement to contact Sproul and Swanson. The developments with Gothard have been huge over the past week, and I continue to pray for all who have been hurt by those more concerned about the appearance of integrity in their churches than helping the wounded.


  5. No, I’m signed up to receive all posts on this blog — I’ve not tuned out or turned a blind eye to these developments. I will follow through exactly as I promised (and because I believe in “Let your yes be yes and your no be no,” what I said here amounted to a promise). I’ve been working on the Joe Taylor allosaur issue for several days targeting a few important but time-sensitive matters and will take up where I left off with the specific controversies discussed here shortly.


  6. Martin,

    The issue with Joe Taylor is a good example of what I saw as evasiveness in our earlier exchanges here. You never addressed the question of Chalcedon’s reasoning for waiting so long to say anything.

    How is it that I contacted Chalcedon in 2007 and posted an open letter about Phillips, but the representative for the organization then lauded Phillips both privately and publicly? I was accused of being unreasonable, accused of breaking the Ninth Commandment, among other things. When I said that Phillips took legal action against critics, the person quibbled over this as though I was blowing stuff out of proportion, all while Joe was in the middle of Phillips’ abuse of the mediation process and his campaign to make Joe look like a kinist (when Joe had no clue of what a kinist was). I felt that making legal threats and abusing mediation differed little in principle from actually suing someone, but I was told that this was a misconception on my part. Phillips hadn’t actually sued anyone, so I was wrong, though he was well known for threatening people with lawsuits. Phillips was the consummate good guy according to Chalcedon in public and private.

    I also know that Joe went on to face a horrible situation in court in 2008 (at a result of Phillips’ actions), and no one with knowledge of what happened since then will tell me what happened to Joe. Beforehand, I understood that if he could not mount a successful appeal (< 5% are successful), Phillips and the DeRosas would have the right to seize all of Taylor's records, textbooks, fossils, tools – basically everything save his clothes and his toothbrush. I helped to raise money for Joe to pay for an attorney. This is years after my husband heard Doug Phillips bragging about how he wanted to have a creation museum in San Antonio, and the alousaur would be the centerpiece for it. He spoke about owning it, and I had the opportunity to go see it. It rightfully belonged to Joe (and the other two contributors that financed the dig), Phillips had absolutely no claim to it, his video about it was a fairy tale of lies, but Phillips still successfully managed to manipulate the legal system to gain possession of it.

    I can certainly understand your motive for coming forward to exonerate Joe, but I don't understand why that took six or seven years. And it is conveniently done after Phillips retreats to private life and Vision Forum is dissolved. (Isn't that a bit convenient? Doesn't that suggest that Chalcedon was hedging its bets and playing politics?)

    I was convicted that it was my moral duty to come forward about Phillips and the abuses in his movement. More than six years later, I read here in November that Chalcedon was giving money to Joe because they believed that Phillips was in the wrong and Joe was in the right.

    If I had a moral duty to come forward then, why is it that Chalcedon did not? Doesn't that mean that Chalcedon was deceptive, saying one thing in public and doing something very different in private? Why is that? As admirable as it is to defend Joe now, why was this not done in 2007? Maybe if Chalcedon came forward then, it would have helped the other business people and followers who suffered greatly as a consequence Phillips' behavior. (Joe is not the only business person to suffer great loss.) People would have had a heads up that Phillips was someone to avoid. Maybe Chalcedon should have called him to account? Maybe you did, but even the supporters of the organization weren't allowed to know.

    Chalcedon approves of the Botkins, then they don't (another matter that I felt was avoided in November). You support Swanson, but you don't know anything about him. You supported Phillips, but then you didn't. I was admonished to just wait more than six years to see the truth come out?

    It seems as if you came here in November to be a champion of people who were abused by Phillips, but I feel even more confused and mislead by the group. At least when my opinions were challenged in 2007, I believed that Chalcedon was just ignorant of the harm that Phillips was doing. But you knew. Do you realize that this makes Chalcedon look fickle and that it sends a host of mixed messages?


  7. Cindy

    Very, Very, good questions. 😉

    Sounds like you’ve been in this battle with “Spiritual Abusers” and “The Corrupt Religious System” for a long time. Thanks for the information and your persistence with these “Clouds without Water.” Pharisees – Religious Leaders – Who appear beautiful outward, and say things they think WE, His Sheep, want to hear, but are within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

    And much agreement when you see – Martin as evasive. – Me Too…
    “The issue with Joe Taylor is a good example of what I saw as evasiveness in our earlier exchanges here. You never addressed the question of Chalcedon’s reasoning for waiting so long to say anything.”

    I do NOT know exactly what it is – BUT…
    When Martin writes – Warning bells go – Danger – Danger…

    It’s one thing to dis-agree about scripture and debate – argue…
    But, Even when Martin agrees – It just does NOT satisfy, compute…

    Sorry Martin 😦


  8. I followed the Joe Taylor situation from a distance but if I remember correctly, he was ruined financially. Would have been the right thing to do to publicly support him back then. But that is hard to do when some are playing the fence to see what would happen. Now that Phillips has no power, it is more convenient to pretend to be concerned.


  9. Cindy

    Yes – Very, Very, good questions. 😉


    How is it that I contacted Chalcedon in 2007
    and posted an open letter about Phillips, but
    the representative for the organization then lauded Phillips
    both privately and publicly?

    I can certainly understand your motive for coming forward
    to exonerate Joe, but I don’t understand why that took six or seven years.

    And it is conveniently done after Phillips retreats to private life
    and Vision Forum is dissolved. (Isn’t that a bit convenient?

    Doesn’t that suggest Chalcedon was hedging its bets and playing politics?

    If I had a moral duty to come forward then, why is it that Chalcedon did not?

    Doesn’t that mean that Chalcedon was deceptive,
    saying one thing in public and doing something very different in private?

    Why is that?

    As admirable as it is to defend Joe now, why was this not done in 2007?

    Maybe Chalcedon should have called him to account?

    Do you realize that this makes Chalcedon look fickle
    and that it sends a host of mixed messages?


    Some wise man said – If you have to ask the questions…
    Most likely, you already know the answers…

    It would just be a breath of fresh air if these “Clouds without Water,”
    “Religious Leaders” – Would answer the questions. – Honestly.
    NOT trying to protect their friends in high places…

    1 Cor 3:19
    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.
    For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own *craftiness. (*cunning)


  10. Cindy K,

    The logical conclusion of your position is that, in the interest of potential future victims, Chalcedon should have thrown Joe Taylor under the bus. The liquidated damages in his contract were compounded for every individual act of publicity, and nobody had the money to appeal the arbitration against him. The $5,000 that Chalcedon privately donated to Joe back then (to help fund his defense) was effectively consumed by a SINGLE count of publicity traced to Joe (and there were multiple counts against him). That is an absolute fact about that God-forsaken agreement that you’ve omitted to mention here. Was it convenient for you to omit it? It wasn’t so convenient for Joe when the authorities came to try to auction off the contents of his museum. Yes, Chalcedon could have recklessly disclosed many details, and then there would have been NO MUSEUM at all and Joe would have been totally ruined. Maybe these are acceptable “collateral damages” for you – but I don’t really think so. You wouldn’t have worked to help Joe if you had truly thought that he was just the means to some other end that you had in mind. You must truly have cared. So do we.

    I was asked, directly by Joe Taylor, for help. And it was Joe Taylor that I set out to help, and that I am continuing to help by preparing a full biblical/moral/ethical/legal review of his case to be published shortly. A couple of months back I brought an associate with me to fly in to Lubbock (and then drive to Crosbyton) to visit Joe for two days in sub-freezing weather, and all of us worked through over a thousand pages of documents (which I personally scanned for analysis). I also downloaded the original videos of the dig, all the while shivering in his unheated museum while our team labored to get its arms around the issues. The definitive story has not been told. We are preparing it for a proper telling. You can see that Chalcedon has invested far more than the original $5,000 to help Joe Taylor.

    I will have more to say about your other assumptions later.



  11. Martin,

    My apologies for the delay in my response. I spent all day and a good chunk of the evening burying an old car and securing a replacement. I’m still exhausted.
    The logical conclusion is that Chalcedon should have thrown Joe under the bus? What?! That makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    Sometimes, moral matters and legal matters don’t match up, and people often wrongly assume that they do. Sometimes setting moral matters straight can create legal implications that may not be wise. I understand that as well. I don’t understand why the full telling of this matter for moral reasons didn’t come much sooner if not immediately.

    It’s convenient for me to omit that Chalcedon gave him money and that Joe made some serious errors in judgement? Really? In my previous comment, I put up a link to the original discussion here on this site which clearly delineated that Chalcedon gave money to Joe to help him. (Had I not included that link, you might have an excellent point.)

    I stated in that previous thread that I’m glad that Chalcedon did give money to Joe – for it meant that at least some of my contributions to Chalcedon didn’t go towards supporting and strengthening the public standing of Doug Phillips and those like him, promoting the his panacea turned into idolatry of family and Darwinian social engineering which can result in the terrible abuse of women and children. Some of that money went to help Joe instead. That is a great comfort to me.

    The problem isn’t that you helped Joe then or that you’re helping to vindicate him now. And people deserve to know the truth about the matter.

    My question involves the timeline.

    Why did it take Chalcedon 12 years to move forward? If you were constrained for legal reasons that Chalcedon believed would have put Joe at risk between 2002 and 2008, then say that. If there was some kind of gag order after the appeal that perhaps just expired in 2013, then say that. (You seem to suggest that there might have been some legal constraint when you mention the museum here. The museum in question, I assume, is the one in Blanco which was a venture between Joe and his brother. And keep in mind that most of the people reading here know basically nothing about these events.)

    – The allosaur was identified by Joe before it came out of the ground, I believe in 2001.
    – Joe wrote the email about “raising the allosaur” (his words) before it actually came out of the ground.
    – It was removed from the ground in 2002 (and Phillips prevented Joe from being on site when it happened so that Phillips could claim that he found it, and how they did it is a soap opera).
    – The legal problems went public, I believe, in 2007. (Joe violated the terms of the “God-forsaken” legal mediation by speaking publicly about the matter – a mediation that he was told was a Christian endeavor for the sake of peace and didn’t realize that it was legally binding. Phillips was able to seize his property in lieu of the money owed to Phillips/DeRosa – which Phillips willingly chose to pursue and enforce. Each time Joe wrote a comment on a blog about the dig, he incurred a $ penalty for violating the terms of the mediation.)
    – The final appeal took place in 2008, so far as I am aware. That’s when people clammed up about what happened to Joe.
    – Howard Phillips (a friend of Chalcedon and Doug Phillips’ father) graduated to glory in April 2013.
    – Doug Phillips’ indiscretion becomes public knowledge in Oct/Nov 2013.
    – Chalcedon sets forth publicly to vindicate Joe in Nov 2013.

    (For a good chunk of that time, Joe struggled while Phillips jets around Europe and Peru, plays dress up on cruises, and had the boy staff chauffeur him around town while he lived rent free.)

    The Gavins have hosted for years, throughout the whole ordeal, telling the saga of what occurred, all while Phillips was marketing his “Raising the Allosaur” video, claiming to have just stumbled upon it. The Girominis also had information online on a separate website. They were not required to delete this information after the appeal in 2008. In fact, much more material was added to expand Raising the Truth after the appeal. They were personal friends of Joe and traveled all over the country making videos of people’s testimony, bearing witness against Doug Phillips’ fantasy version of events.

    If the Girominis and the Gavins could bring these issues forward publicly between 2002 and 2013, why was Chalcedon constrained from doing so? Was any attempt ever made privately to bring Phillips to account for his actions in that interim?

    It is my thought that Chalcedon could have and should have done something before now. Perhaps something was done. I believe that I asked that and that I did hint at in that previous thread discussing the matter. If the public is not permitted to know, then that’s fine. Say that. If the whole Board didn’t agree that it was something that they wanted to take on earlier but some board members did, then say that. Maybe Chalcedon itself was constrained legally? Maybe they didn’t want to say anything out of respect for Howard Phillips?

    I just don’t understand why more than ten years had to elapse before Chalcedon came forward to voice a position. If it had been done earlier, I think that it would have made a big difference, but you say that this would have made things much worse for Joe. I don’t understand that reasoning at all. Chalcedon may have been the only group that could have made Phillips accountable. They may not have been able to help Joe legally, but they could have addressed the moral issues. Or they may have been constrained for legal reasons. I don’t understand the reasons and believe that if disclosed, they would elucidate much.


  12. Cindy K,

    If I keep it short, I’m apparently hard to understand (but it looks clear to me when I re-read my prior post, but the points being made are apparently not getting through or are being taken out of context). However, when I provide details here at SSB, it has been known to be labeled “boring.”

    The mediation agreement did not use the conventional legal definition of disparagement (that a statement had to be both false and harmful to someone else’s reputation or business). The arbitrator held that disparagement didn’t hinge on the truth: a single true statement reflecting negatively on the DeRosas would cost Joe $5,000 in liquidated damages per instance. Multiply by about 25 instances cited across various websites and even private letters, and you get $130,000+ in damages that drove Joe to his knees. This agreement put a false story’s boot on the neck of the true story by legal force. In that light, is it wise to point out various websites where Joe can be held to be violating the agreement by being the presumed source of these pseudo-disparagements that will cost him $5,000 each? Should Chalcedon add a few more instances just to keep Joe penniless when they’re also adjudicated and Joe penalized?

    What are “liquidated damages” in this context? Normally, you have to prove you suffered financial loss because of a defamatory statement. But with liquidated damages, you don’t – the amount of the damage is predetermined up front, regardless of the fiscal reality (even if no fiscal harm was caused). This is the millstone tied around Joe’s neck by his fellow Christians.

    I won’t say anything further since SSB is monitored by more than just people legitimately concerned about spiritual abuse, and I do NOT intend to telegraph the startling results of our research to forewarn any principals who would misuse that information. However, I would entertain the possibility of sharing more information privately (as offered earlier) as I do trust you. I believe you simply don’t have enough information to fully wrap your arms around this issue quite yet. I remain grateful for your heartfelt support for Joe and your zeal for what’s right.

    Sorry you’re dealing with automobile troubles. At the old vehicle’s burial, did someone give a proper benediction? (With apologies to the movie Braveheart.)



  13. I won’t say anything further since SSB is monitored by more than just people legitimately concerned about spiritual abuse, and I do NOT intend to telegraph the startling results of our research to forewarn any principals who would misuse that information.

    My site is being monitored? Because you’re here?


  14. “My site is being monitored? Because you’re here?”

    I think Martin is simply pointing out that “the bad guys” may be reading here as well. You check out the websites/Facebook/etc. of Tony Miano/Kevin Swanson/etc. Don’t you think the same happens in reverse?


  15. Julie Anne, your site has been monitored way before I ever posted anything here or on Jen’s Gems. In my opinion, it’s being monitored by people who want these sites to disappear, and failing that, to convince Christians to never visit these sites (as in “it’s an evil sin to do so”). I’m fairly certain that they sift through such sites looking for something to pounce upon. The fact that my first posts were detected immediately and quickly brought to my attention by those who objected to my participation is one of several reasons I know this to be the case. I doubt they’d bother if you weren’t in some way being effective.

    It all reminds me of the corporal in Catch-22 who maintains a list of “Feathers in my Cap!” and “Black Eyes!” — some people don’t respond well to the web equivalent of a mugshot gallery (the opposite of King David’s response to Shimei).



  16. Julie Anne, your site has been monitored way before I ever posted anything here or on Jen’s Gems. In my opinion, it’s being monitored by people who want these sites to disappear, and failing that, to convince Christians to never visit these sites (as in “it’s an evil sin to do so”).

    What a nice compliment. They are afraid of the truth being exposed. Oh well. People are getting their voices and they should be squirming.

    ::::::JA waves to all of her “silent fans”:::::::


  17. Martin,

    Here is the kernel that I was missing:

    Should Chalcedon add a few more instances just to keep Joe penniless when they’re also adjudicated and Joe penalized?

    Perhaps there were allusions made to this, but it was not clearly stated.

    Events were reported to me by first hand witnesses who petitioned me for help, but not Joe with whom I’ve never had contact.

    Let me ask you this: If I relate online a shorthand version of what happened to Joe, do I put Joe in jeopardy? Or has that penalty for talking about the matter been lifted from Joe at this point?


  18. “The logical conclusion of your position is that, in the interest of potential future victims, Chalcedon should have thrown Joe Taylor under the bus.”

    Oh my. That is the “logical” conclusion Martin came to from Cindy’s comments?


  19. Without giving away too much (at least here at SSB), let me say that I handpicked the associate who visited Joe Taylor with me a couple of months back very astutely. The ultimate goal is to get the penalties lifted and Joe out of danger (not to mention releasing the resulting stranglehold on truth once and for all). There is no obvious statute of limitations or expiration point in the prevailing agreement. That’s why we’re rolling up our sleeves.


  20. Cindy K, I’ve sent you the references that you requested earlier. 256 alphabetized references were sent to you through your blog’s email system. Please confirm that you received that material from me. Thanks!



  21. Martin,

    You wrote: I won’t say anything further since SSB is monitored by more than just people legitimately concerned about spiritual abuse, and I do NOT intend to telegraph the startling results of our research to forewarn any principals who would misuse that information. However, I would entertain the possibility of sharing more information privately (as offered earlier) as I do trust you. I believe you simply don’t have enough information to fully wrap your arms around this issue quite yet.

    Years ago, I was very curious when I first read about Joe Taylor’s experience with Phillips, for I knew of many others who shared unrelated experiences with him that were remarkably like that of his and the “esteem” that Phillips showed him. I never sought out information to satisfy my own curiosity but was rather petitioned for help by parties who were witnesses to the unfolding of the events that Joe endured, long before the mediation. My empathetic heart still aches because of the injustice and pain that many of these families still suffer because of their experiences with Phillips. (These others that I’ve contacted since November are still unwilling to come forward publicly like Joe did years ago.)

    And just to reiterate for the benefit of those who might have missed this in earlier posts, my husband and I were deeply convicted to speak publicly about the problems of doctrine and practice concerning Phillips’ system because of all of the support we’d given to ministries that helped to establish Vision Forum. We had resources that would help people, and we were first hand witnesses to many of the problems, including our experience at the same OPC where Phillips and many of his followers attended when he moved to San Antonio until the time he formally established his “assembly” in Boerne, TX.

    That said, I am still interested in helping those who have been victimized. It would be ideal to see them vindicated and restored (in this life) when that is possible. If you and I are pursing this same objective, and you have information concerning Joe that cannot be shared publicly at this point, I don’t see how that would help, save to satisfy my own curiosity. Obtaining secret knowledge was never my motive. I don’t understand how that will help Joe or anyone else, including me. If more information will be forthcoming from Chalcedon that will help others discern truth and wisdom that can also be applied to their own circumstances, then I am happy to wait for it along with everyone else.

    In the interim, because the subject has been reintroduced publicly by Chalcedon, and because many reading here do not understand even the basic history of these matters, I do believe that it is fair to them be told a curtailed summary. I’ve contacted Julie about how she wants to address this, if at all.

    The only thing that does not make sense to me related to Joe Taylor concerns Chalcedon’s very strong public support of Phillips circa 2007. Chris Ortiz who was the representative for Chalcedon at that time claimed that I’d broken the Ninth Commandment (a liar) when I sought to make the public aware of the danger Phillips posed to so many types of people in so many ways.

    Though I am comforted now by the fact that Chalcedon was concurrently helping Joe privately and that they are endeavoring to help Joe now, I still don’t understand the contrast between what was done publicly by Chalcedon in support of Phillips and what was known and done in private. I wish I had known then what I know now, for the grief and regret that my husband and I shared for participating with Chalcedon would not have been so great. (It still affects us deeply.)

    And I do appreciate your personal acknowledgement of my desire to see many of these matters set right concerning Joe. When we can empathize with those who suffer, though injustices of our own may never see temporal justice, we human beings tend to be encouraged in our faith and comforted by the vindication of others. I certainly hope and pray that Joe will see some justice in this life concerning all of these things and that it will bring glory to God alone. That’s what all of this is about anyway, and it’s nice that we get to be beneficiaries who can also enjoy at least some abundant life along the way and most definitely forever more in days to come. Is that not the heart of Jesus?


  22. I’m getting to leave home to get to an afternoon of appointments, but let it be known that Martin forwarded me a list of 256 references that pertain to his Liberty for Captives article (that were not made available with the article). I’m grateful for them, the effort spent in producing the list, and I look forward to going through them later. Thank you!


  23. Dear Cindy K,

    [Boring Answer Alert]

    My actual official obligation as a Chalcedon board member and Vice-President is to participate in a three-hour conference call once every year to approve budgets and projects. And that is it. I have voluntarily chosen to slowly expand my role at Chalcedon over time despite the fact I am a volunteer who has never been on Chalcedon’s payroll. When I do Chalcedon events on weekdays, those fall on vacation days from my day job – I basically give up my vacation days to work for free (= no actual vacation). I only get ten vacation days a year from my day job, so I triage them. When my wife died in January 2005, I had my hands full with my three sons, and when I remarried several years later, equally important obligations took precedence. When the financial bubble burst in late 2008, it took me months to find a new career to support my family and play catch up (going from optical physicist to software engineer). Only in the last couple of years have I been able to devote somewhat more time to Chalcedon. What you are interpreting as institutional foot-dragging is actually a very gradual shift of authority at Chalcedon onto someone’s shoulders who isn’t even included in the Foundation’s budget.

    I did not run the Chalcedon website. In fact, I never have had a dashboard or console to run it — and I still don’t. When I learned of how you (Cindy K) had been rebuffed, I took sharp exception to those criticisms (among similar posts by others that, in my view, also reflected poorly upon Chalcedon). When I issued a formal public apology for such posts (which I was not aware of at the time they appeared), it was regarded as inadequate because some felt that I should compel the former employee to apologize too (“you need to make X do Y, regardless whether X is still employed by the foundation you do your volunteer work for”).

    There is confusion over what, precisely, constitutes “my watch” (as in “such-and-so happened on Martin’s watch”). My watch is where I volunteer my time to actually watch and monitor issues, not where somebody attempts to bind a burden on my back that suits their mistaken notion of my job description (see the words “volunteer” and “working on my vacation days” above). I can CHOOSE to take on additional responsibility, and have slowly been doing exactly that year after year. As Matthew Henry said, “that which was originally destitute of authority in the process of time acquires it.” This process moves forward based on my ability to sacrifice more effort, which started when I volunteered to do technical editing on the books Chalcedon was publishing (e.g., Bible commentaries, etc.). That’s where my strengths actually lie. I’ve since taken on issues outside the realm of scholarship because I regard them as important enough to make my comfort zone irrelevant. God willing, I will continue to do yet more, and expand even further outside my comfort zone.

    Since its founding 49 years ago, I’m aware of no Chalcedon vice-president who has taken on as much as I have (it simply was never in the job description, and if it were, nobody would take on such a job at zero pay). I have, in effect, been breaking the mold – otherwise, there’d be no basis for how allegedly “influential” some web searches might consider me. Nor am I “passing the buck” because I’m actually working on the issues of mutual concern here, I have openly acknowledged the shortcomings of my predecessors and myself, and I wish to move in the direction of resolving issues in a godly, biblical way. Repeat: when I explain things like this, I’m not excusing any planned inaction or stonewalling, I’m saying I’m moving as quickly as humanly possible and, while I understand the frustration of impatience, I will indeed keep my promises. Am I not on the record here at this website? Yes, I am. So, pray for me as I continue to burn the candle at both ends. (Or to paraphrase a character in my one published book, a Christian science fiction novel: “he doesn’t burn the candle at both ends — for him, the entire paraffin factory is on fire.”)



  24. Cindy K,

    Out of curiosity I just looked to see if that list I emailed you included “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse,” and indeed, the victim I am collaborating with did read and quote from that work — it must therefore be in that stack of books in the photo that you saw on-line. I’ve already put that book up high in my reading list based on your earlier recommendation.



  25. CIndy K,

    I have long taught (in person and in print) that Job 31:1 is THE biblical text that falsifies the concept of Christian burqas for women. The problem is in the male, not the female, which is why Job says he made a covenant with his own eyes not to look upon a woman with lust. HE took the initiative, and when men take the initiative like they’re supposed to, they keep their covenant with their own eyes. Today’s male invokes the “environmental heresy” that elements in their range of view are the source of sin (wrong: their own heart is the source — they’re blame-shifting and twisting a moral issue into a metaphysical one, then cleverly fixing moral blame on a metaphysical factor, namely, the woman).

    Today’s young Christian ladies are taught to moralize, “I don’t want to cause the young men to stumble.” News flash: women in burqas also get raped. You can dress up till you look like Chewbacca (“the walking carpet”) and it solves nothing. We need to return to Job’s orientation, not that of Adam in the garden blaming everything but himself. The modern conception leads to men (and even women) twisting a subjective notion of modesty into a Pharisaical program so detailed that Job 31:1 loses all relevance. Who needs to make any covenants with their eyes or worry about holding their vessels in honor when you can dictatorially micromanage styles and fashions (control the external environment rather than your own heart)?

    Several years back, my wife and I visited a gathering where Doug Phillips was holding court for quite some time. Whether coincidence or not, I don’t know, but he decided to take time out to demonstrate how women in pants stand (invoking considerable laughter) – and my wife was the only woman there wearing capris. Some months later, my wife and I were preparing to run a Chalcedon booth at an event where Doug Phillips would be. Trying various outfits on, my wife came out wearing a sharp business suit. “How does this look?” she asked me. My answer: “Perfect. You look stunning! Let’s go.”

    I don’t believe biblical totalism is a problem if biblical liberty is a primary plank in that totalism: social conformity is only important if you’re trying to play god and micromanage people (usurping the Holy Spirit’s job, by the way), and God’s law blocks such nonsense and provides an infallible foundation for true liberty. The problem with many is not that they’re applying God’s law, it’s that they’re not applying it enough (starting with themselves) and failing to understand how it undergirds Christian liberty in ALL our relationships. (This might explain why some Vision Forum folks had issues with my Christian science fiction novel: there’s a female scientist right there on the cover, revolutionizing the world and breaking through the glass ceiling rather than quietly raising a family. I apparently didn’t get the memo.)



  26. Martin,
    On the moral/metaphysical issues concerning women and the conformity aspects of the totalism associated with Philips:

    Phillips as well as the Christian homeschooling movement was strongly influenced by Gothard. I believe that the reason why the lifestyle conformity issues figure so strongly hinges on a couple of things that Gothard certainly fostered.

    Gothard must have been strongly influenced by the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement. He uses Bob Jones’ materials for his own homeschooling program. And I was not surprised to learn this week that his organization called upon David Gibbs to investigate the recent sexual abuse charges made against him, the attorney who is heavily used by the IFB, particularly to defend churches and offenders when violated lambs in their congregations bring allegations and charges. In addition to repeating ideas concerning women advanced by John R Rice, many pastors affiliated with the IFB teach what I have dubbed “the strange woman” doctrine. Anyone who gets molested or raped, including children of any age, are said to have the soul of a prostitute and have willfully enticed their offender. This makes them the first cause in their own assault. Some of the proof texts cited for this include the apocryphal writings and are melded with Old Testament references. Gothard teaches many of these same doctrines about sexual assault, in addition to things like rules for sex after pregnancy (as one example) which he has also pulled from the apocryphal texts. In fact, I believe that Kevin Swanson has been influenced by many of these mindsets, for it is evident in his approach to the topic.

    [John Piper was also strongly influenced by Rice and the IFB, and I believe that this is the source of many similar ideas that are now propagated by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Piper’s parents were very close friends of both Bob Jones (moving their family to Greenville when the school was built), and they were close personal friends of Rice. So not all of this material came from Gothard, as some of it has been filtering down through Piper and CBMW for decades at this point. Gothard isn’t completely responsbible, and CBMW creates yet another vector for communicating many of these ideas.]

    The other problem with Gothard concerns his Roman Catholic-like redefinition of grace (which is actually worse than anything taught by the Catholic church). Here is a curtailed version. One first receives salvation by faith, but thereafter, Gothard teaches that grace is almost a tangible substance that must be merited through good works (such as social conformity through dress). One gets spiritual power for ministry by meriting more grace, and you can bank it up (like meritorious works). Since God gives grace to the humble, he also teaches submission (if not obsequious servility) as a way of accumulating grace. When you strip it down, it sounds almost like diviniation. (Gothard loved the Higher Life / Keswick Movement, BTW.)

    Gothard is eccentric in his ideas about providence and human agency. He borrows ideas from both Arminianism and Calvinism, and he appeals to both groups. But what results is an anti-Reformation idea that by conforming through behavior, a person can affect and change the purity of their soul. It becomes a type of salvation by works, even though they would give most of the right answers to the critical questions about justification. He falls apart on sanctification (but this is also a doctrinal problem in CBMW circles, too, oddly enough). It undercuts real grace as God’s unmerited favor.

    Though a person involved in homeschooling may not have had any contact with Gothard, certain imperatives became part of the social culture of this group of homeschoolers through this influence and the very manipulative way he teaches these things to his following. Evangelicals have been broadly influenced by CBMW as well, so these ideas are coming at Christian parents from multiple directions. It is often easier to follow the social code than question it, and some of these influences make individualism much more difficult. It is subtle but effective. Fear also seems to be a path of least resistance, and faith is usually work. People in general will usually do anything to avoid work. Following legalistic standards also relieves an individual of the work of critical thinking and that following the Spirit thing, too.

    I brought up the matter of the Botkins and how Chalcedon seems to have a favorable view of them. Geoffrey and Vicky Botkin were recruited into the very cultic and demanding Great Commission movement on the campus of Oklahoma U in Norman in the 70s. They didn’t break direct contact/involvement with the movement’s founder, Jim McCotter, until 2002. Botkin treated his own daughters almost like Geisha girls. Geoff would have the girls remove the shoes of adult male guests, and Geoff felt that this was a tool of Christian evangelism. My point is that the Botkins had to change nothing of their cultic social conformity training in their sect of origin to fit in perfectly with Vision Forum. (They LOVE Gary North.) I would be happy to connect you with seminary trained and credentialed staff at Wellspring Resource and Recovery Center (founded by Christians who left the Great Commission) who would be happy to talk with you about the history of the Great Commission movement and McCotter. You would love Larry Pile. I’d bet that Chalcedon was unaware of this history before Andrea Schwartz recorded her podcast with Elizabeth and Anna Sophia. I believe that you would find it significant. (One of the other books [] on spiritual abuse that I recommend was written by Steven Martin who now runs Wellspring.)

    And I will state again that I know that Rushdoony opposed many of the things taught in the movement so strongly affiliated with Phillips and Botkin. He was not opposed to birth control, though I know that he was opposed to people who rebelled against God’s will by refusing to have children for the sake of convenience. He thought that alternatives to government schools were not cloisters for terrified parents to hide their families away from a fallen world. They were seen as the most effective means of preparing strong, well-educated Christian ambassadors so that they could be best equipped to effectively and zealously engage the secular world for Christ. He warned against many of the things we see in this group of people, so I was very shocked to see Chalcedon’s favorable portrayal of the Botkins.

    Martin, I’ve got one more comment coming, but I’ve got to go be a productive domestic wonder for the rest of the day. Thank you for taking the time to responding here. I am encouraged by the exchange, and I believe that others will be as well. The Word says that God will bring us together in the knowledge of the truth, but it doesn’t say that this will be an easy and effortless ride. Though Jesus has overcome the world, we still have the our own struggles. I believe that all of this time has been well spent.

    More later.


  27. “News flash: women in burqas also get raped. You can dress up till you look like Chewbacca (“the walking carpet”) and it solves nothing.”

    Thank you for that, Martin. I lived in the Middle East, and found this to be true.


  28. Wow, Cindy, I’ve told you I thought you were like a living encyclopedia. You are proving yourself today. Ok, you mentioned John Rice three times. Who is this guy?


  29. Cindy K: Brilliant post. Just brilliant. Anyone who teaches that the child is responsible for sexual abuse at the hand of an adult is a damnable pervert. Evil and sickening. Makes me want to puke.


  30. Meh. Just go over to this post:

    And re-read this:
    “Julie Anne, not to be sentimental, but I want to apologize, as a pastor. I know that it doesn’t necessarily help with the harm that has been done to you or the people you’ve had to walk through with tears and weeping as they’ve dealt with hurts, but at least I’d like say that I apologize for any pastor or person who has misused their power to harm you or harm your family. My prayer is that we can facilitate a dialogue where there is healing and there’s love. I think there’ll be more leaders rising up and there’ll be more safe places and I think that’s the ultimate goal.”


  31. I’m taking a quick break from ironing.

    Let me start with my personal experience with John R Rice, because it will give you what I think are the good and the bad sides of him which are very different contrasts of him.

    I moved from public/govt school to Christian school in eighth grade, and I took a “Christian Growth” elective, along with another called “Missions.” I ended up reading a couple of his books as a result. The first one that I encountered through this curriculum was “When a Christian Sins.” I thought it was excellent, and I’ve quoted from it on my blog. Well written, sound, good stuff with solid basic Christian doctrine from a generally fundamentalist perspective (in the textbook def of the word, not necessarily what it may connote now). My two most influential mentors in the faith worked at the school, both from a Church of God background and well educated, read Rice’s magazine “Sword of the Lord.” Rice was presented to me as a really sound and effective evangelist for whom they had great respect. (In fact, when I spoke to one of these mentors about what I see as the negative side of Rice, he had absolutely no clue about the material whatsoever.)

    Rice was friends with Bob Jones and Jack Hyles, and they teamed together with Jerry Falwell at some point, in protest to what was seen as a type of ecumenism and compromise on basic, essential doctrine by Billy Graham. (I don’t remember the dates — I think there was contention in the ’40s that came to confrontation in the ’50s.) These were the seeds of the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement and their “Doctrine of Separation” (from other Christians who didn’t respect basic doctrine and Biblical authority). This conflict galvanized what we now know of as the IFB. This is the very general stuff. Someone like Camille Lewis can give every detail of this history and the connections between these people, with plenty of documentation. (Piper’s dad was close friends with Bob Jones and John R, Rice, but his dad remained firmly committed as an SBC pastor. He built the SBC church across the street from BJU. I’m grateful to Camille for helping me find this piece to the gender debate puzzle.)

    Rice was also well known what I will call an “anti-woman prejudice” which is scathing — what my mentors didn’t even know about, so I guess they kept this material out of the magazine. He wrote a book called “Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers,” and he taught a very extreme doctrine concerning hair and dress for women. The book and his teachings, and the ones that come from it but may not be owned publicly outside of the IFB, are miserable and many would argue that they are hateful and misogynistic. I am inclined to think that Rice did not draw from the apocrypha himself to support these doctrines and I haven’t seen the book in years. (I haven’t spent any significant time studying his material. Life is too short to read screed, IMO, and that’s how I perceive his writing on this subject.) I do have evidence of contemporary sermons from IFB ministers and have heard from too many women about the counsel that they received that was drawn from the apocrypha. What I do respect about Rice in terms of the gender debate is the fact that he didn’t succumb to anything remotely like the Eternal Subordination of the Son Doctrine promoted and demanded by CBMW. For as bad as some of his material on gender may be to me, at least he didn’t rewrite the Doctrine of the Trinity to garner more “Biblical” support for his views.

    I struggle with the subject of Rice which is why I’ve presented him this way. He was a great evangelist, and I admire his willingness to stand up for doctrinal truth. I also respect his work that I’ve read concerning basic Christian doctrine, too, even in my own right. But then, there is this stark contrast in my opinion about him concerning his doctrines of women.


  32. Keith,

    This really is repugnant. Here’s a blog post that I wrote about the strange woman stuff, to give you some context and history. There’s a link in there to a sermon about it that you can both read and listen to yourself if you want.

    This is the type of thinking that has resulted in the controversy that pressured BJU to hire Boz Tchividjian’s GRACE team to investigate how the school handles reports of physical and sexual abuse from students and staff. Women are the demonized scapegoats and men are never at fault, basically. We see more than a little of this in Kevin Swanson’s discussion of the complaints about Bill Gothard.

    I have several more, but as hard as they are to listen to, they are worse for a non-transcriptionist to type. It’s that same experience had by Julie Anne and her ministry partner person who typed out Swanson’s podcast. But this stuff is much worse, IMO. (Not to suggest that Swanson is not hard either.)


  33. Julie Anne, I’m not a living encyclopedia. I’m just angry at the injustice and the perversion of not only liberty but also what the Bible teaches.

    I am very respectful of people who don’t believe what I do, particularly because that has changed so much over time. My best hope is that I am a whole lot less heretical or questionable in my beliefs when I move on from this life than I was when I started. I am continually learning and want to grasp all the fullness of God that I can, and I expect to grow and change. We go from glory to glory in Christ and come into greater truth all of the time as we are conformed into the Image of Christ. If you can make and defend a Biblical case for an idea, then you deserve respect. That case may be weak, but if it is sound and support it, I will be full of liberty. (I aspire to it anyway.)

    What I struggle with is the distortion and twisting of the meaning of Scripture. When it is deliberate or when it becomes abusive, or just clearly wrong, wrong, wrong, I don’t seem to have much of a problem remembering it. I can tell myself that God has his enemies in derision all day long and that He will not be mocked, but I still really struggle, sometimes more than others. It seems that my frustration seems to help me remember some of these details quite well.

    I pray and hope that those who read this will agree that God will watch over His Word to perform it in all of these matters of spiritual abuse. And I don’t pray enough.


  34. Cindy K: Interestingly, I was just over there reading that article when i refreshed this page. This stuff is truly evil. I had never heard of it before. What a nightmarish world for the little victims of pedophiles. My heart is really heavy over all this stuff. I knew there were some odd beliefs out there, but did not know the extent of it. How can a child be at fault for this abuse? The ‘men” of the church should be talking to the police, not re-victimizing a child.

    i have gotten to the point that I need to take a break from all this.


  35. Cindy K, thanks for so beautifully using your rare combination of com-passionate heart and clear mind.

    “My best hope is that I am a whole lot less heretical or questionable in my beliefs when I move on from this life than I was when I started. I am continually learning and want to grasp all the fullness of God that I can, and I expect to grow and change. We go from glory to glory in Christ and come into greater truth all of the time as we are conformed into the Image of Christ.”

    My hope and delight, also. God is SO good.


  36. “Women are the demonized scapegoats and men are never at fault, basically. ”



  37. “He wrote a book called “Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers,” and he taught a very extreme doctrine concerning hair and dress for women.”

    The first time I heard of that book was when Cheryl Schatz did a blog post with that title. Blows my mind. Bobbed hair! “:o)


  38. Okay, I can’t resist. If you already know this joke, be gracious.

    Dr. Rushdoony told the following comical story with delight to demonstrate the dubious scriptural support that is often used to force women to conform to certain style standards (in this case, hair). I don’t know if it’s in the Rice book or not, or if it truly relates to bobbed hair per se, but the sense of the story rings true.

    The fundamentalist pastor railed from the pulpit, asserting with force that various ways of tying women’s hair into a knot atop the head was sinful. Suspicious of his biblical support for these contentions, a group of women approached him after the service to ask him a few questions. “Is there a verse in Scripture that teaches what you were preaching today, pastor?” asked the leader of the women. “Absolutely,” he replied. “In the gospels you’ll find the command, ‘Top-knot, come down!’ You’d best be observing our Lord’s commands, ladies.” The leader of the group of ladies was surprised to hear there was such a verse, as she couldn’t remember anything of the sort from her regular Bible readings. At home, she combed through the gospels until she finally found the verse the pastor had quoted: “Let him who is on the rooftop not come down.”



  39. You know, Martin, at first I was certain those ladies were going to be rebuked for questioning their pastor. Then I had to chuckle, because I have a bun on the back of my head.


  40. Martin,

    From what you’ve written above, I take it then that Ortiz did not accurately represent the spirit of Chalcedon when he was in his former position. (Over Thanksgiving, I did search unfruitfully to see if I could find anything about his departure.) It seems that you’re saying that if you had been in his position in 2007, your response to me would have been much different. I don’t doubt it, as I did think of you as consistent with what I call the “old guard” at Chalcedon that didn’t support many of these spiritually abusive ideas. That has been tough to sort out during this past decade. I appreciate that you’ve taken time to address the matter. (For all I knew, I could still be considered a “tale bearer,” and Chalcedon may have just changed favorites from Phillips to Swanson.)

    I know personally how rough the volunteer work can be for non-profit groups, and times have become more difficult economically. My husband served as a volunteer dean at a small seminary, taught there, and also worked on another graduate degree. It is definitely demanding to do such work, particularly when it is so needed. I am glad, however, that God gives us what we need to do His work, but I know that it can be overwhelming sometimes. Thank you again for spending time considering these matters. (And I specifically wish you well in your dealings with Swanson, as well as those who voice dissent for making the effort to post here. That can only create more work and distraction for you.)

    It will take me some time to work through the list of references, and I greatly appreciate that also.



  41. Boy, about the hair issue: I’ve heard some interesting stuff, but I thought that it was mostly social. Some pentecostals have some interesting rules about it, and I know that certain places actually taught a particular way of wearing long hair. They didn’t have any creative and interesting proof texts for the practice, however.

    It is funny. My mom’s generation felt that once you married, it was more appropriate for a woman to wear short hair, particularly once you were out of your twenties. My godmother became born again when she was in her mid-thirties through a relative that was a United Pentecostal, so she went to their church to get baptized through immersion, per her conviction. They told her there that they would baptize her and did, but to attend there, she would have to grow her hair out and then wear it pinned up in a particular way. (She ended up going to the Moravian church instead.)

    It’s so interesting how we tend to roll our extra-Biblical baggage over into standards for ourselves that some expect everyone to follow.


  42. “Some pentecostals have some interesting rules about it, and I know that certain places actually taught a particular way of wearing long hair. They didn’t have any creative and interesting proof texts for the practice, however.”

    My former church wrote an entire book on the topic of dress and hair for Christians. It was chock full of interesting proof texts. 🙂 It also bred some repelling elitism. We did not cut our hair, and wore it up in some fashion. The women are often described as looking Amish-like. Many Anabaptist sects also follow these patterns.

    “It’s so interesting how we tend to roll our extra-Biblical baggage over into standards for ourselves that some expect everyone to follow.”

    I believe that is the key. I guess other’s freedom in Christ allows them to follow their convictions as they feel led by the HS. When they begin to judge everyone else according to their convictions is when problems arise. Barb Orlowski sent me a very interesting article explaining the passages where Paul addresses a woman’s hair being her covering in a way I’d never heard before — something about it being an issue of propriety within a given culture for the sake of the gospel. For instance, there was an attached paragraph where a woman explained how she dressed modestly when in a Muslim country.


  43. Martin,

    I’ve had several days to think about our exchanges here, but I’m still not settled about them. I keep going back to what I’d written before concerning circumlocution. We’ve learned all sorts of things about you personally – about your interests, personal convictions, opinions, personal tragedies, demands on your time, your accomplishments and more. Someone said that you could “talk a dog off a meat truck,” a colorful expression I’d never heard before, validating my own impressions. Someone else privately suggested to me that you’re here to do an infomercial for your own activities, echoing my my original question about your motive(s) for posting here. Another person I talked with thought that you were being evasive because you seek to soften the hard edges of reconstructionism while distancing yourself from the now controversial Phillips. Those comments haunt me, too.

    Though there has been an effort made to foster discussion for which I am grateful, I don’t know that much has been accomplished that helps us understand Chalcedon.

    I asked two people for advice about how to respond to some of your comments to me. Your appeal to your personal challenges in one of them made it nearly impossible for me to question anything without looking like a heartless, uncaring person. There was also the “you didn’t call me” comment, and this suggests to some extent that I wasn’t committed to resolving things because I hadn’t fully cooperated with you. In the words of another, you “painted me into a corner” wherein I had to be sympathetic and understanding on all counts because of the tragedy and the pressures you mentioned along with the matter. (This and responses like it come across as manipulative and passive aggressive.) One of these people also said, “Why didn’t the guy just say, ‘We’re sorry on behalf of Chalcedon. We treated you wrongly’?” Instead, you offered a few paragraphs. One comment appears to be an apology on behalf of Chalcedon, but it’s not, really – and another reader thought that you were trying to correct me indirectly but end up trying to diffuse the conflict and detract from the questions put to you. It also reflects your personal thoughts on how you would have treated me as a contrast against the actions of Chris Ortiz (Chalcedon’s former VP during Phillips’ active attack on Taylor – the VP position that you hold now).

    Though I found Ortiz’ treatment of me telling, I didn’t bring that up here for personal reasons but rather to point out the confusing behavior and the zeal of Chalcedon in its public esteem of Phillips years ago. I think it may have been missed that 95% of my concerns are ideological and only about 5% are personal, yet the personal element ends up as the focus. You stated that part of concealing Chalcedon’s private support of Taylor had to do with the fact that “Chalcedon was adjudicated” and would have made Joe Taylor’s situation much worse. But this still does not explain the strong public support of Phillips. (There is a difference between saying nothing and freely electing to praise someone.) It seems that you may be disowning Ortiz here as a renegade of sorts who created many problems, but your comment is vague enough that I have to wonder. (You won’t name him, for example.) He seemed to me to have aligned with affiliates who are on board with Swanson and the Vision Forum paradigm concerning women – from which you seem to distance yourself here, but I don’t know that for sure, either. What if Chalcedon as a whole still believes that I was bearing false witness on some counts (the ideology and lifestyle promoted by Swanson, Phillips, Einwechter, Botkin, Morecraft, Strackbein, ad nauseum) but not others (Phillips personally)?

    Concerning Chalcedon’s position on the Botkins, again you shifted that discussion to one of hair and attire, and you again noted your personal thoughts about these things. Frankly, I don’t take any issue with these preferences – mere window dressing on the underlying, elitist, high demand lifestyle. I’m far more concerned about the reasons behind these rules.

    You wrote something about totalism being okay in regard to conformity if the purpose is good? I’ve thought more about that comment, and I find this very troubling. I think that this was stated evasively, too. It’s wordy enough that it takes the sting out of what I think you may be advocating. I hope that you can clarify exactly what you meant.

    It’s important because I want to flesh out whether and to what extent Chalcedon is “on board” with the belief that young women are owned by their fathers until they are given in marriage to another male overseer, and whether the Swanson/Botkin interpretation of the “stay at home daughter” model is consistent with Chalcedon’s system. I’m also very concerned about Chalcedon’s esteem of the methods used to accomplish these things, especially in light of your mention of totalism.

    You wrote, “I don’t believe biblical totalism is a problem if biblical liberty is a primary plank in that totalism: social conformity is only important if you’re trying to play god and micromanage people (usurping the Holy Spirit’s job, by the way), and God’s law blocks such nonsense and provides an infallible foundation for true liberty.

    In my opinion, this was written evasively (or vaguely), and this statement keeps haunting me, too. Totalism’s dictionary definition is “the complete and unrestricted power in government.” When talking about totalism in religious groups, I understand that totalism is far more than social conformity. It is a conversion of thought to the extent that you are not allowed to think or do anything at any time that is prohibited by an authoritarian belief system. (The military is authoritarian but not totalist. When you are not on active duty, you’re not required to conform in behavior, and you’re permitted to entertain your own thoughts of dissent. You never sign away your right to conviction and opinion. In a totalist group, you must sign everything away to merge with the group.)

    Are you saying that the totalism that we see in the patriarchy and quiverfull movement is a good thing? If you have a benevolent leader, then it’s okay to enforce strict, authoritarian social conformity? Can you expound on that, especially regarding how this applies and what it looks like concerning how families manage themselves? How do you tell improper totalistic micromanagement from “good totalism”?

    I’m concerned that you may be like my friend who says that regardless of Geoff and Vicky Botkin’s methods, it’s okay because “those girls are beautiful, good girls.” What if in your vagueness, you just omitted that Chalcedon still does think that I am in error and am bearing false witness by opposing the Swanson/Botkin/Phillips/Sproul model concerning women, children, and procreation? I’m not asking about your personal views but about Chalcedon’s position as an organization.

    I think that this is the germane question for the readers here. Championing Joe Taylor and writing about spiritual abuse is all well and good and should be done – and I know that this is no light matter. I’m concerned about how closely Chalcedon aligns with Swanson’s quiverfull/patriarchy ideology since you appeared here in this thread in support of him?

    I’m going to work on some bullet point questions for you about these matters, and I hope that you will provide direct answers to them, if that is possible for you. I will try to make them fair and as close ended as I can when appropriate, so that it will be easier for you to respond, providing clarity for the reader here.


  44. Cindy K,

    Chris Ortiz was never the Vice President of Chalcedon. He began as art director and that evolved by default into communications director until his departure from the staff. Chalcedon doesn’t permit individuals to sit on any board that determines how much they’re paid. One board member’s wife works for Chalcedon, so when her wage is being discussed, he must recuse himself and leave the room. He may not participate or influence the discussion. This rule prevents abuses from arising. Hence, Chris Ortiz was not the Vice President (he could then have voted on his own salary). But … his asserting things on the new website (that previously wasn’t configured for such functions) inherited the color of authority and created such issues as you describe. Had I been aware of the posts, I would have requested they be revised and corrected and amends made. I have done all that can be reasonably expected given when I actually did learn of the problem. My apology was and is both personal and institutional (I speak for Chalcedon) and utterly sincere.

    You and I have completely different definitions of totalism. I delivered two back-to-back multi-hour lectures on biblical totalism at Christ College in Lynchburg eight years ago, and provided the correct framework for understanding the term. As my lectures were focused on linguistics, I laid out in detail the subversion of vocabulary that needs to be recovered so that discourse doesn’t keep running aground on hijacked or deteriorating meanings. I granted you a concession on “antinomianism” because it alienated those perceiving that the label targeted them. This is not the case with “totalism.” Totalism is not a synonym for totalitarianism, and shouldn’t be permitted to merge with it. Totalism refers to the extent of God’s (not man’s) authority. When you shift this to human authorities exercising tyrannical power, this is the opposite of biblical totalism and a denial of God’s authority. And the fact that I illustrated the application of biblical totalism to the theory of linguistics (not social power relations) illustrates that shoehorning the term into a “power abuse modality” as you’ve suggested is to misconstrue the term, and to then use the faulty definition to condemn the truth behind the term. Find the online issue of FFAOL with the cover story “Worldview Contamination” to see what is meant by biblical totalism (it is a heavily condensed version of my two lectures on linguistics). The behaviors you described as “totalism” are forms of human totalitarianism erected on illegitimate pretexts. The answer to our problems is “the whole counsel of God” and that is the core idea of totalism (because humanism can only fragment knowledge). Because God’s jurisdiction is unlimited, human jurisdiction is extremely limited. That is biblical totalism. Any deviation from this liberty, to the extent of the deviation, is a return of humanistic totalitarianism.

    (By the way, don’t appeal to a dictionary definition until you’ve read my heavily-researched linguistic critique of dictionaries in the above-mentioned article. You might just be in for a shock.)

    I will speak to your other questions tonight.


    Sent from my iPhone


  45. Martin,

    I have to alter my list of questions, based on what you’ve written here. Totalism is a tricky term here, and I think that it deserves some serious consideration.

    One of Robert LIfton’s observation about the nature of totalist groups involves their use of what he called “Loading the Language.” I think this is a big, big problem for Theonomy and gives way to the informal logical fallacies of equivocation, specifically linguistic booby traps and/or amphiboly. Terms that are used mean one thing to one person in one group and are misunderstood when taking away from their own subgroup bubble. Totalism is a big problem, perhaps more than the use of the term antinomian.

    Are you suggesting that the term “totalism” belongs to Theonomy and originated with it? Lifton first published “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism” in 1961, based on his devoted research that he began in 1953.

    If you reread my comment, I believe that I contrasted totalitarianism from totalism. I’m not conflating them or suggesting that they are the same things. Is is also separate from but related to authoritarianism.

    Authoritarianism requires strict hierarchy and standards of conduct/procedure. It requires people to think and act in a prescribed way. Though it may connote something negative to people, it is not inherently wrong. Used appropriately or as a preferred personal style, it is an effective tool, such as is is in the example of the military. Though spiritual abuse prefers authoritarianism, this method or style is not the problem.

    Totalitarianism is authoritarian in nature and describes the politics of a system that seeks control over as many aspects of public and private life as is possible, and power is centralized within some form of autocratic leader. It describes the type of control used to govern a group.

    Totalism, as it is used in social psychology and in the study of high demand ideological groups, is an authoritarian system that requires an inner transformation of its subjects. Those over whom it has authority do not have liberty to behave differently when they are outside of the group. It differs from indoctrination because the ideological totalistic system’s body of knowledge centers on changing a person’s nature without their knowledge. Communication is one-sided, and it does not encourage full awareness on the part of the follower. Indoctrination is not inherently wrong by stressing narrow learning to accomplish a specific goal, while totalism demands transformation so that followers will become more “deployable.”

    Now, every specialized group develops specialized language as a shortcut to convey concepts within it’s subgroup. When my husband took a job with the military a number of years ago, he started spouting acronyms that I’d never heard before that were entirely meaningless to me. I love this example of specialized language. “What on earth is an NCOIC?” (non-commissioned officer in charge) There’s nothing wrong with specialized language, in and of itself.

    One of the many problems with ideological totalism and a powerful device that it uses concerns the subtle redefinition of language which contributes to equivocation — or misunderstanding because of ambivalence in the way terms are used. What it may mean to the speaker doesn’t line up with what it means to the listener. This was a major problem with Federal Vision which subtly redefined language and common, established terms like “imputation.” Vision Forum misused and reapplied “normativity.” This amounts to a logical fallacy and gives way to other fallacies, but most people miss them. In a system where people are discouraged from asking too many questions, or answers to questions are not direct and concise, then this is a huge problem. It becomes fallacy and Pharisaism which creates elitism. If you’re “in the know” and a real part of the group (or if you’re really smart), you understand what becomes the secret and double meaning to language. If you don’t know it, your ignorance becomes a sign of your ignorance and your lack of holiness. You’re not as special to God.

    You are here, talking to a group that is predominantly ignorant of Covenant Theology, is largely Dispensational, and most lack an understanding of Theonomy’s distinctions, too. Consider the audience.

    Do you see that this unique or novel definition of “totalism” is inconsistent with prevailing ones and how much it contributes to misunderstanding?

    Can you understand also why Theonomy comes across as elitist in the larger Christian culture? While your use of language and understanding of things may not be intended to deceive, can you comprehend that these matters pose a lot of problems here? Many of these issues seem to me to be consistent with how David Henke (echoed by Johnson and VanVonderan in the “Subtle Power..”) describes spiritual abuse.


  46. If the language of Theonomy is devoted to Biblical Authority and accuracy, I’m concerned that the complicated taxonomy gives way to misinterpretation, both inside and outside of its own subculture. This is a problem.

    #13. Confused Definition “A biblical term is misunderstood in such a way that an essential Biblical doctrine is distorted or rejected.”

    #14. Ignoring Alternative Explanations “A specific interpretation is given to a Biblical text or set of texts which could be, and often have been, interpreted in quite a different fashion, but these alternatives are not considered.”

    #17. Esoteric Interpretation “The interpreter declares the significance of Biblical passages without giving much if any explanation for his or her interpretation.”


  47. Humanism can only fragment what kind of knowledge? I’m going to offer a more absurd example which also demonstrates how limited and misunderstood the language of theonomy can be. It is hard to communicate with you outside of that theonomist bubble, Martin. You use many expressions that are sweeping and just too inclusive/exclusive. That, too, can give way into informal logical fallacy.

    If I call a plummer who is a humanist to fix my toilet, does this fragment the pragmatic and functional (banal?) knowledge of physical science? Naughty boy Ben Franklin was the first person to create a second floor flushing toilet design, and I think that one could argue that he was a humanist. Some foundationalists would superstitiously avoid if not refuse a humanist plummer, making a proprietary claim over physical science.

    I don’t see many pragmatic secular disciplines as in conflict with Christian thought. All knowledge is God’s knowledge (a phrase that Another Tom who comments here used with me in recent correspondence, and I love how it rings as a description of my own epistemological style).

    I hope that I have given some food for thought about why I see theonomy as exclusive, and that is often an exclusivity that works against liberty among believers. It saddens me greatly.

    We’re again getting over into epistemology that sounds a bit like Clark and less like Van Til.


  48. I’ll get back to working on questions, ASAP. It may take me a bit, however.

    Right now, my head is reeling at the suggestion that Robert Lifton, the Harvard trained expert who titled a book with “totalism” in 1961 and thousands of credentialed experts in the fields of philosophy, psychology, social psychology, the study of cults, and the Christian apologetics arm that concerns itself with the study of cults has been misconstruing the term for more than 50 years. (I drew my definiton of totalism from them, particularly considering that the term was used to describe social conformity in a high demand system.)


  49. Cindy K,

    These are some brief responses to your earlier post today…

    CK: “In a totalist group, you must sign everything away to merge with the group.”

    As stated in that sentence, it sounds like the group is assuming the position of God. Only God can make such claims on a person, and no group (least of all a group claiming to be acting for God) can make or insinuate such a demand. To do so is to usurp God’s authority, trample His law underfoot, and establish such men at the apex of what you call (rightly, it seems to me) an elitist system. I see no resemblance between this and what Scripture lays out as the standard. The Bible is clear that only God can bind a human conscience; no man or group of men can do so under any circumstance.

    CK: “Are you saying that the totalism that we see in the patriarchy and quiverfull movement is a good thing?”

    The greater the biblical totalism (let’s contrast that term with raw “ideological totalism” for clarity’s sake), the greater the liberty of conscience and the closer we get to the ideal Moses spoke of in Numbers 11: “Would to God that all His people were prophets, that He would put His spirit upon every one of them.” To the extent any efforts at developing “totalism” in these movements ends up binding the conscience of men or women or children, I don’t believe we can possibly argue such a deviation from Scripture is “a good thing.” Such an approach sounds like a policy that needs to be reformed, and quickly, before even worse harm to the Lord’s people occurs.

    CK: “If you have a benevolent leader, then it’s okay to enforce strict, authoritarian social conformity?”

    Absolutely not okay. Such a leader is not benevolent.* Such “benevolence” is a facade that would be exposed as such were biblical totalism to be applied.

    CK: Can you expound on that, especially regarding how this applies and what it looks like concerning how families manage themselves? How do you tell improper totalistic micromanagement from “good totalism”?

    Will try to answer these later this evening. These are good questions!


    *Such a leader distrusts the Holy Spirit’s work in His people, elbowing God out of the way to “do the job right,” namely, the job that God (following this logic) has screwed up or neglected to do properly. It’s like Saul offering a sacrifice in Samuel’s absence: an evil act of presumption masquerading as something “for the greater good.” There IS no greater good than what God’s Word requires. Such men essentially say, “we had to destroy the Word of God to save the Word of God.” They don’t believe the Bible is sufficient, or that the Holy Spirit is omnipotent. Their benevolence is part of the apparatus of manipulation. They need to take care of God’s flock GOD’s WAY — and this they refuse to do (on a multitude of pretexts).


  50. Totalism refers to the extent of God’s (not man’s) authority.

    You’ve got to add a concise and clear modifier on this to convey that meaning. I think that it’s intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise.


  51. Martin, considering that we are using two different established definitions of the term, and I used the one that I know well in context, I think that the Bible is clear on the matter and we would likely agree. You’ve since defined what I think is an esoteric or novel definition of totalism — a definition that never would have occurred to me considering the huge, huge amount of literature including many texts written by Christians who use the term very differently to describe spiritually abusive groups.

    I’m grateful for your effort to clarify, but I wouldn’t spend too much time answering any remaining questions I posed related to that because we’re talking about two different usages.


  52. Cindy K,

    “Humanism can only fragment what kind of knowledge?”

    For the moment, I’m only going to provide a simpler response to this rather than a fuller, more complicated answer (which, like you said, would drill down into issues of epistemology, the doctrine of knowledge).

    John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, in his book, “Dumbing Us Down,” told us what his mission as a teacher was: “I teach the fragmentation of all things.” Every fact is disconnected with every other fact, every subject from every other subject: everything is dissociated by design. We can express this in more complex, more formal language and explain the philosophical background to the problem, but Gatto said it clearly enough that there’s no need for me to embellish it or expand upon it further. This is a fairly well-known issue. The question arises why Ben Franklin could design a flush toilet, but this misses (1) the nature of the fragmentation and (2) man’s response to it (to operate with hidden baggage). Since you mentioned Van Til, I assume you’re aware of how this would be developed if we discussed it further.

    Again, my essay on “Worldview Contamination” lays out the exact same phenomenon in detail and probes its ramifications (dealing with the question, Why has English been in a continuous language crisis for the last four centuries?).



  53. FWIW, speaking of a crisis in language, I was surprised by the use of the term “biblical totalism” … I’ve never ever heard the term “totalism” used in any kind of positive way in the 20+ years since first reading through some of THE defining work on the subject, which was first published over 50 years ago and remains the starting point and standard on the subject, and that is Robert Jay Lifton’s *Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘Brainwashing’ in China.*

    So, to talk about an idea of “biblical totalism” either automatically suggests a Bible-language-using cult (in both theological and sociological senses of the term “cult”) or an oxymoron. I find it quite confusing, as one who has a social-science frame of reference on violence, trauma, and political-sociological-spiritual abuse.


  54. Any tidbits aimed at answering these kinds of questions will be helpful to many, I believe, and I understand that answering them frankly will probably get you into a ton of trouble.

    — Does Chalcedon’s position on proper behavior for mothers and daughters and how family life should work as it relates to them differ from the model embraced by Swanson and others named here (affiliates of the defunct Vision Forum)?
    Could you post the specific statement that you alluded to that was published in Chalcedon’s journal, calling for changes in the Botkin Daughters’ book, “So Much More”?

    — Can you reckon this public call for changes in the book with Andrea Schwartz’ support of the Botkins when she interviewed them on the Chalcedon podcast? Does Chalcedon as a whole support Schwartz’ opinion of the Botkins, or was she just expressing her personal, apparent wholehearted support of the Botkin model for daughters? (Again, I know that your personal views may differ, but I am concerned about Chalcedon’s position. This is vital to this discussion and this thread.)

    — Does Chalcedon believe that adult daughters need a male overseer (their father or surrogate) until they are “given in marriage” to a husband as a new overseer? (Is it sinful for an adult daughter to follow a career that is unrelated to domestic work outside of the home? May or should she attend college? Is she permitted to live alone and own property? Is she permitted to vote in civil government elections? Is she bound to “serve the vision of her father” until she marries? Are women free moral agents? You know, that sort of thing.)

    — If you’re familiar with these teachings, do you concur with Botkin’s “200 Year Plan”? Or maybe Bill Einwechter’s take on how sins of a parent will result in punishment of children for four generations, or does faith in Jesus change the consequences of this old Mosaic Law? Are daughters “not dead ends” because they are the means by which young men “extend their dominion into that of other families” as Einwechter believes?

    — Does Chalcedon have an opinion about the “prairie muffin” concept and/or an opinion on Carmen Friedrich’s outspokenness who also supports the model for women that Swanson embraces?

    — Does Chalcedon offer any position statements on procreation for Christians (apart from the obvious and willful rejection of children for the sake of convenience ~ a rebellious act)? Does that position differ from the Swanson/Sproul position?

    — Does Chalcedon support the idea that polyphiloprogeniture is a Biblical mandate, essential (not just beneficial) for taking dominion, and/or a matter to fear in light of “demographic winter” teachings concerning the disproportionate population between the old and young? Does Chalcedon take the position on the idea that the primary way of winning the world for Christ depends primarily on growing covenant families? How might this differ from social Darwinism?

    — Do you believe that it is important or beneficial for Chalcedon to develop specific position statements on these matters? Would Chalcedon be willing to pursue this?


  55. “Humanism can only fragment what kind of knowledge?”

    Martin can answer for himself, but let me chime in here. Can anyone know anything apart from God? On the most basic level, the answer is “No”, because we wouldn’t even exist apart from God. But on an ever deeper level, humanism necessarily fragments knowledge.

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

    Any system of thought that doesn’t begin (and end) with the Lord can never provide unified knowledge or a unified view of reality. Even Plato couldn’t reconcile his “forms” with observable reality because he had no way that the immaterial could interact with matter.


  56. Brad, Ph.D. sociologist here. My understanding of totalism is the same as yours and Cindy’s. It seems unwise to redefine it.


  57. Why do many Calvinists lack the ability to express themselves concisely? Copia verborum seems to be the preferred approach. Calvin did not go on and on. Simply answer the questions. Attempt to do so in fifteen words or less.

    Martin: Does Chalcedon believe that daughters are owned by their fathers until marriage? Yes or no will suffice. Or, if applicable “no Position”. But please answer briefly.


  58. Marsha … good to know. Thanks for the confirmation. As a trained linguist and a research writer, I understand the need at times to adjust a term or coin a related one. But given the history and depth of meaning for the term *totalism* it simply seems dicey at best and definitely opening the way for some severe criticism.

    Here’s something I compiled a few years back on Robert Jay Lifton’s 8 criteria on totalism/authoritarian cults.

    Click to access liftons-8-criteria-for-identifying-authoritarian-cults.pdf


  59. Wow…you guys all lost me at “hello”. Can someone please re-interpret the last few hours of dialog in English please? Explain all this as if I am a two year old. Big words get me nowhere. Dick and Jane Book style English would be helpful. I’m getting a headache trying to figure out what in the hell that Cindy and Martin are talking about. I know that English isn’t that complicated, people.




  60. Ed,

    I’m not going to insult you as though you are a two year old. (Part of what I’m doing is using what I understand of Martin’s language, since I have trouble understanding his, apparently.)

    The big question that will clarify much about where Chalcedon stands on Swanson’s model of women and family.

    I am also unclear as to why a former rep for Chalcedon strongly praised Phillips while they were giving money and encouragement privately to someone that Phillips set out and actively crushed professionally. So I asked questions about that.

    I was taken to task in 2007 by a Chalcedon rep for publicly challenging the Phillips. Martin apologized. But… I am unclear as to whether they treat women and adult women as property who require a male overseer like Swanson and Vision Forum believe.

    I think that people here would benefit from knowing whether Chalcedon and Swanson share these same primary views (as opposed to just learning about Martin’s personal views on clothing and hair for women). So I asked again (after mentioning it here on SSB when communicating with Martin at least six times over now and during Thanksgiving).

    Today, I thought I was asking for clarification about Chalcedon’s position on the “stay at home daughter” thing, because they seem to approve of it. They did a very favourable podcast about it, and made it seem like the Botkins were just super. In a journal article a couple of years ago, though, they apparently called for changes to the Botkin girls’ book that they felt were in error. What’s their official position then?

    Martin said that he approved of totalism, so long as it wasn’t an attempt on someone to play God by demanding social conformity (concerning comments about dresses).

    I went a little nuts, because per the wide, well established, 50+ year use of the term “totalism” in the larger world, it references conversion of a person’s very identity through surreptitious manipulation, a focus on purity, and conformity. I defined my understanding of the terms and similar terms, because Martin corrected me, seeming to claim that I thought that “totalism” and “totalitarianism” were the same thing. I explained why I didn’t which he missed in my earlier comment.

    Martin came back and said that Theonomy’s definition of the term is a misuse or a perversion of the right meaning of the term. He said it is a term describing the extent of God’s sovereignty which I take as “total.” According to Martin, I’m the one who misused the term, not him. (My jaw is on the floor.)

    We then had a little talking past one another because we weren’t talking about the same meaning of the same word.

    I pointed out that misusing language and redefining it is a technique used by cults. Ironically, it is a technique of totalism.

    (This is not the first word mentioned by Martin in this thread that means one thing in his belief system and a very different thing to Christians who don’t share his theology but are still Biblical Christians.)

    Martin then basically said that we can’t trust dictionary definitions of words, and to glean this hidden knowledge, I have to spend time looking up an eight year old set of lectures that are hours long so I can understand language.

    (To quote a telling statement by commenter who may have been Brad, the Bible is sufficient, but Rushdoony/Chalcedon is essential to understand what it really means. I guess this applies to dictionaries, too.)

    Martin then said something else.
    Humanism can only fracture/fragment knowledge. I asked for the context of what this really meant.

    Concerning pragmatic matters, I believe that humanists can be very good at elucidating truth about the physical world. I mentioned foundationalism, a style of epistemology or how we know what we know.

    This is a statement that is a huge topic – and it highlights the different ways people understand truth as true. A big and ugly controversy took place many moons ago between famed Calvinists about this. Gordon Clark accused Corneilus Van Til of being a materialist/evidentialis because he (Van Til) saw pragmatic evidence from the physical world as a reflection of truth (all truth is God’s truth, be it physical or theoretical). Clark said that if you didn’t start with theoretical truth in the Bible, and you used evidence for stuff in the physical world, you were sinfully selling out God. Clark was a foundationalist – the source of truth is the Bible or theoretical and was in tension with empirical evidence from the physical world. Van Til was a coherentist who believed that truth would hold up in both realms and were not in conflict. That’s what that little segway was about.

    How’d I do?


  61. Re: the term “totalism.” I apparently have a bigger tent than other folks. Neither here nor there, better or worse. But it is crystal clear that (1) other definitions of “totalism” were being used concurrently with the “preferred” version appearing in Robert Lifton’s 1961 book, being allowed to freely circulate without being suppressed as somehow inadmissible variations. Lewis Feuer devotes a chapter in his 1975 book to totalism, Neil Parille finds no fewer than “four types of totalism” in the writings of Ayn Rand, and Theodore Sider (1991) uses it to describe one of the approaches to utilitarianism. Wolsterstorff criticized the “religious totalism” of Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) in 1989. And if you insist that none of these sources count because Lifton used the term first, you’d be wrong by at least seventeen years: Goetz A. Briefs published his essay on Marxism, “The Roots of Totalism,” in March 1944.

    So, the fact of the matter is, there ARE different types of totalisms out there (even a musical totalism). I’m content to live and let live and permit things to sort themselves out over time. Only a totalist (in the bad sense) would insist on using only a single definition and enforcing conformity, right?

    And, yes, in each instance above, the term was used in a negative sense… BUT, notice that one of those (Wolsterstorff’s objection to Kuyper’s “religious totalism”) illustrates the point: Kuyper’s view was passed to Van Til and beyond — that is (approximately) the form of totalism I was referring to (as improved and corrected by Van Til and later Christian scholars). That strand of totalism goes way back, a half century before Briefs. That is the meaning and idea that I believe is worth fighting for (not to take anything away from Lifton’s landmark work).


  62. Keith asks (echoing a very similar question by Cindy K):

    “Martin: Does Chalcedon believe that daughters are owned by their fathers until marriage? Yes or no will suffice. Or, if applicable “no Position”. But please answer briefly.”

    My answer: No.

    Why I have to explain my answer: I have met individuals who teach that the authority of fathers over sons and daughters persists even AFTER those grown children are married. So, if I were one of the individuals who held to that view (which I do not), I could answer “No” but I would actually mean “No, they are not owned by their fathers until marriage, but until they die … whether or not they ever marry.” So you see, a simple No will not suffice.

    So here is a stronger answer to your original question: the daughters are not owned by their fathers at all, at any time, ever.


  63. I’m inclined to think that by the context clues here that Goertz Briefs was using the same definition that Lifton used. Lifton didn’t make it up, but I cite him because you mentioned “totalism” in the context of high demand religion. (Genetic fallacy or counting noses, anyone?) I can’t even begin to count the people who have used the term in the manner in which I have defined it here. I just read it two days ago in Daniel Shaw’s recent book.

    So Martin, are you saying that Theonomy owns the term?

    Doug Phillips had a favorite saying. “He who defines, wins.”

    I don’t have anything more to add on this matter of “totalitarianism.” I think that I’ve made my position on this clear enough, and I appreciate the validating statements by other experts.


  64. I appreciate the validating statements by other experts.

    Experts is a good choice of words, Cindy. It’s one thing to be an expert knowing the meaning of a word used in a closed theological environment and a whole other thing to understand it within the context of the world/society around you.


  65. Why I have to explain my answer: I have met individuals who teach that the authority of fathers over sons and daughters persists even AFTER those grown children are married. So, if I were one of the individuals who held to that view (which I do not), I could answer “No” but I would actually mean “No, they are not owned by their fathers until marriage, but until they die … whether or not they ever marry.” So you see, a simple No will not suffice.

    It seems that you want to change the question to answer the question that you want. (I’ve done this in college to try to get at least a partial grade if I wasn’t rock solid on the answer I knew they wanted but wasn’t ready to expound on it well. I then answered that question.) Is that what you’re doing here?

    Why do you need to do that? My first guess is that people like Swanson who are involved in Chalcedon will get more upset than they already are if you alienate them. That’s my guess.


  66. Ok, either I missed Martin’s response to that question or we were typing at the same time. Thanks for the direct response, Martin.

    Ok, big question now: why does Chalcedon not call out that bad teaching about fathers owning daughters that is endorsed by Phillips, Swanson, Botkin, and so many others?


  67. “Only a totalist (in the bad sense) would insist on using only a single definition and enforcing conformity, right?”

    My, my, my … clever back-handed insult, Mr. S., and I suppose I deserved that. But then, perhaps it’s accurate — I guess I really must be a bad totalist, or close thereto. So might as well play the assigned role:

    I sit corrected on the reality of other coterminous uses of *totalism* in at least political, philosophical, and theological contexts. However, I still stand by my understanding/opinion that it is rather terminal to an attempt at dialogue here on a spiritual abuse survivors’ blog and use the term with what would normally be to us primary Liftonites an otherwise secondary- or tertiary- or etceteriary-level usage, preceded by the adjective “biblical.”

    Conflation! Confusion! Conundrumization!

    But then, I guess my summarization of your dissertaitons would be that Theonomy is biblical authoritarianism without any bad connotation, and biblical totalism would be biblical/God’s authority as infused into all domains of life and therefore a good thing. But the problems I had with my readings of Theonomists and presuppositional thinkers and theoretical thought purveyors 3-4 decades ago was that eventually, it actually boiled down to they were 100% right and everybody else was … uhh … not. With dire consequences due thereto. Hence, I did dispense with all of that.

    But then, I suppose because I profess to adhere to cultural contextualization as a biblically legitimate missional practice, I should allow said usage of adjectivized and theonomized terminologies. But on Julie Anne’s blog, that isn’t exactly my prerogative either way anyhow.

    Good thing I’m not a moderator on SSB though. I mighta zapped it. Bad bad semi-totalist that I am!

    And thus ends my role of playing the fool. For the day.


  68. I’ll answer one of Cindy K’s questions, then I need to feed five dogs, two rats, and a tarantula. TMI? Maybe.

    ” Does Chalcedon support the idea that polyphiloprogeniture is a Biblical mandate, essential (not just beneficial) for taking dominion, and/or a matter to fear in light of “demographic winter” teachings concerning the disproportionate population between the old and young? Does Chalcedon take the position on the idea that the primary way of winning the world for Christ depends primarily on growing covenant families? How might this differ from social Darwinism?”

    Charles Hodge based his optimism about the population of heaven on the large quantity of souls who died in infancy or in the womb. He didn’t premise it on the Great Commission or the Holy Spirit’s work — and this was a big mistake. And, yes, the idea that “we win because our children will outnumber the children of the humanists” completely misses the fact that salvation is driven by God changing hearts, entering in where men despair to go. Technically, having more children simply brings more sinners into the world: it’s not a foregone conclusion it brings more Christians into the world.

    The demographic warfare approach puts the emphasis on birth, not rebirth (the far greater miracle). The position implies that God can’t work with the humanity that’s already out there: He’s not powerful enough to save them, so we have to give Him new people to work with — otherwise, the Kingdom cannot grow as it should. Considered as a “motive” for having a large family, such a view cannot be theologically sustained. God depends on absolutely NOTHING. We are to go out into the world with the gospel, which is nothing less than the power of God unto salvation — and we should also raise our children in the faith. The latter obligation doesn’t replace the former obligation: they coexist. First-century Christians turned the world upside with their message, not their wombs. (The early Church in its compassion rescued abandoned babies under the bridges and so some church growth could be attributed to this, but that cannot account for the spreading flame of Christianity during this period of time. Besides, the early Christians, for all their trouble, were accused of cannibalism — eating those babies.)

    You know, at one point God seem to didn’t mind starting over, dumping all of Israel and beginning anew with Moses (who interceded in protest against God’s proposal). God doesn’t seem to be in a rush. He reset the clock once before with a Flood. He strikes me as a God more interested in quality than quantity. Better a dish of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred with it.



  69. From the moderator, JA:

    “Ok, big question now: why does Chalcedon not call out that bad teaching about fathers owning daughters that is endorsed by Phillips, Swanson, Botkin, and so many others?”

    Answer: This is being pursued with deliberation.



  70. Cindy K.,

    OK, Now I understand.  I got that “Explain this to me like I am a 2 year old” from a movie, The Siege, where Denzel Washington asked the question to his colleagues.

    My simple English take on it all…For all of you reform people:  STAY OUT OF PEOPLE’S LIVES.  God gave people INSTINCT on how to raise their children.  I think that about sums it up.  Even the birds of the air, and the beast of the field.  Leave the HUMANS alone.  If they want your spiritual help, they will go to you.  But here is the deal.  You people want to dictate to people how to live their CARNAL lives.  That isn’t spiritual at all.  You people really think that you have the authority to tell a woman how to wear her hair?  That’s as nutty as the Pentecostals.  Leave the women alone.  Leave the daughters of men and women alone.  Preach it to your own spouse and children, but leave people outside of your own family alone.





  71. Cindy K: “Why do you need to do that?”

    Because Keith wanted a Yes, a No, or a No Position. I gave him what he wanted, but since I knew a proper answer needed to be even stronger than a simple No, I explained the evasion current in various circles, and then I expressed my No in the strongest possible terms to defuse the evasion. But I didn’t want to fail to give Keith the short answer he asked for. He got that first, and then I followed up to close the loophole.

    I don’t see this as being contentious — simply thorough.



  72. Cindy K said,
    “It seems that you want to change the question to answer the question that you want. (I’ve done this in college to try to get at least a partial grade if I wasn’t rock solid on the answer I knew they wanted but wasn’t ready to expound on it well. I then answered that question.) Is that what you’re doing here?”

    My response:
    I see that all the time on the Sunday Morning political talk shows. A journalist will ask a politician a question, and the politician will respond, “Well, the real question is, blah, blah, blah…” I’ve only seen a handful of journalists retort with, “that isn’t the question that I asked, however.”



  73. Martin,

    Thank you for a balanced view on procreation, and I’m glad that Chalcedon supports the promise that the Word is effective when it is preached to the sinner who does not yet believe. Salvation is always by grace through faith, and we are called to preach the Christ and Him crucified to the lost, especially to those who have never heard the message. Salvation comes through the Cross, not the womb. That is not argue against that being raised in the nurture and admonition of God or raising your child is not a blessing and honor and joy. It is also not to argue that intimacy should not bring fruitfulness. My heart resonated with joy and agreement when I read what you wrote.

    I could not help but think as I read, however, that Kevin Swanson is one who needs to read and understand and accept that very message. I pray that God delivers him from the fear that he must feel day and night, for it drips from his oft’ outrageous words. God watches over His Word to perform it, and it accomplishes everything that He sends it to do. His grace if sufficient for us, no matter what we face in life — especially for our children whom God loves deeply.

    Thank you for that, Martin.


  74. Martin,

    You wrote “this is being pursued with deliberation” in regard to what Chalcedon is doing to declare a position about the teachings among your contributors and supporters that render females as property.

    Does this mean that Chalcedon is deliberating what they want to say and how they want to go about it? (I imagine that this must be quite a challenge.)

    May I ask if this is a new endeavor? I have the hope that it is something of a perennial discussion and that it has been deliberated on for years.


  75. Martin: Thank you for the concise response. Do you have equally concise responses to the questions posted above?



  76. “Any system of thought that doesn’t begin (and end) with the Lord can never provide unified knowledge or a unified view of reality. Even Plato couldn’t reconcile his “forms” with observable reality because he had no way that the immaterial could interact with matter.”

    Sure he could. Very generally– Augustine pretty much merged pagan Greek Philosophy (Mani, Plato) into his version of Christianity. The forms became “Christianized”: Material world, evil. Spiritual worldl, good. That was the beginnings of what became total depravity, imputed guilt, etc that spread like wildfire west. That thinking was systematized by Calvin in his Institutes. That thinking is why church/state mentality so accepted and why guys like Luther had no problem wiping out the peasants, hating Jews, etc. It is why Luther wanted to ditch the book of James.

    And above it all are the philospher kings who are somehow specially enlighted to tell the rest of us how to think and live.


  77. “Answer: This is being pursued with deliberation. ”

    In other words: Trust me.



  78. Cindy K: That is a little funny to me, as my friends know, I have never met a person from Baltimore that I really liked:). But no, I am not from Maryland. There are a lot of good people there, though, especially the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland.
    I am from Virginia. Whenever I post on Christian sites, i just use my real name.
    Oh, and I hope you are not from Baltimore! I am sure there are a lot of good people there.


  79. Keith,
    I lived closer to Annapolis for about 5 years, and I worked in Baltimore for half of my time there. I went to seminary on Eastern Shore and would have loved to live there, were it not for the commute.


  80. Oh Marsha,

    I would no longer recommend it there at all, though I take your question as a great compliment. I’d look into Gordon Conwell distance learning programs if I wanted to do this kind of thing again. (I really just wanted to learn Greek [from a hired gun professor], looking for a theophany. I wanted to be like Enoch who walked with God, and I figured that it was my next step.)

    It was Chesapeake Bible College and Seminary, formerly called “New Covenant” which was then in Queenstown. In addition to being quite cultic (which we didn’t realize until we became entrenched there) my husband and I ignorantly fostered a big split there. They ran off a fanastic hired gun professor by deciding that they couldn’t pay him. About the time that we figured out how cultic they really were (submission/suffering doctrine and complementarianism which were concealed initially), my husband was told as academic dean to pass church elders who had miserable failing grades. We ended up leaving over that. The new hired gun (another excellent teacher) and a big chunk of the students in the advanced classes followed us. We were then told that “God would get us” for defying the will of the president/founder/chancellor who pulled six of Lifton’s eight thought reform criteria out of his bag of tricks in the process of pronouncing his curse.

    The thought reform stuff I learned from the International Cultic Studies Association. Our annual meeting this year is in DC/Silver Spring, and I’m giving a presentation with John Weaver on the abuse of nouthetic counseling. The other presentation in our breakout is about Zimbardo and social psychology as it applies to culitc religion. It’s in the beginning of July. You should come if you’re in the area.

    Nouthetic counseling became the seminary’s next claim to fame/cash cow. As part of our growing discomfort with things, as R&D director which I think was just a title to shut me up, I protested the fact that the program excluded any and all training in anything clinical, if only to understand when to refer a person to a clinician for serious pathology. I was punished by isolation and exclusion from the project until our exodus.


  81. Thanks so much for your reply, Cindy. I will look into the distance learning option. There is a Bible College about an hour from where I live which is compatible with my beliefs. After taking four required undergraduate courses, I can enter the master’s in theology program. The only problem is that they want a recommendation from my church and right now that is Spiritual Sounding Board and Wartburg Watch while my husband and I look for a local church.


  82. Martin, I sure hope you’ve had the opportunity to see the media barrage with regard to Kevin Swanson and his ridiculous comments regarding the movie, Frozen. Here are the top Google entries when I did a search for Swanson & Frozen. Swanson is an embarrassment to Christianity. This is not pastoral behavior.


  83. Enter your comment here…Julie Ann, this is not unlike Pat Robertson calling on the CIA to take Chavez out and later having to retract it, or the fundamentalist preachers who have urged people not to watch “The Golden Compass”. I can’t help but wonder where the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is in all this; it makes Reformed Christians as a whole look like idiots. I did a google search too, and the L.A. Times, Time, The London Daily Mail have all picked up the story.


  84. I took my family to watch this movie. We rarely go, as it is so expensive. I did not see anything to support the contention that it is pro-homosexual propaganda. Why do some people read a sexual theme into nearly everything?

    The two articles I read do not cite any specifics about the movie. Does anyone know what aspect of the movie he complains of?

    I do think there has been an attempt over the past years to feminise men and boys, but don’t see any advocacy of male or female homosexuality in this film.


  85. The precedent was set back in 1977, when a broad swath of evangelical leaders (Baptists in the lead) were picketing NBC Studios in protest, demanding they NOT air Franco Zeffirelli’s multi-part film, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Now, mind you, these Christian pastors and leaders had never even SEEN the film. They adopted a “can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” approach with Zeffirelli (as a person), and the Italian director made the inadvertent misstep of saying that his film depicted “the historical Jesus,” which, unbeknownst to him, meant something very specific in theological jargon: the “historical Jesus” means a demythologized, no-miracle, no-supernatural, no-resurrection Jesus.

    So Christians with signs marched on NBC’s studios without ever having seen a frame of the film. NBC finally coaxed some Christian leaders to a preview showing of the film, who immediately realized they’d severely misjudged the work and had led their flocks astray. Nicodemus in John 7:51 asks the scribes and Pharisees, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” Christian leaders operated consistently with the scribe/Pharisee contingent in this instance and ended up with their feet in their mouths (while putting their congregants in the same boat).

    If we don’t understand this history, we will continue to repeat it in countless variations. Our leaders must be discerning when trying to embody the principle of Jeremiah 3:15, where God says “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”



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