Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reflections on the Baptist Distinctives Conference on the Family

Reclaiming a Biblical View of the Family, Womanhood and Manhood

The Baptist Distinctives Series conference this year at SWBTS was not only apropos for our nation, convention and school, but also for my own family. The conference was all about The Family: Reclaiming a Biblical View of the Family, Womanhood and Manhood. I’ve been to all three of the Baptist Distinctives Series conferences and, while the two previous were challenging and enriching, this year’s conference particularly stood out. I foresee it serving my family well for many years to come. I have been married for almost four years, have two children (two and a half and one and a half) and another child on the way in January. Needless to say, matters of the family matter very much to me. Thus, the reason why I am so grateful to the Lord for the men who presented at the conference.

In summary, Russell Moore challenged some of my complacencies in thinking and acting upon a sound theology of the family. Thomas White urged me to lead my family appropriately amidst the raging war on my family. Paige Patterson brought me to question my view and enactment of authority in my life and home. John Mark Yeats made a clarion call for orphans and adoption ministry in which I should have a vital part. Mark Liederbach confronted distorted views of beauty pointing to where I acclimate to the culture in what I view as sexy. David Jones championed biblical exegesis in matters of divorce and remarriage and pleaded with me to handle the biblical text well. Malcolm Yarnell was used of the Lord to bring conviction for my failures in family worship, especially with my wife. Richard Land urged me out of lethargy to actively advocate for unborn children, God’s gifts to the world to show off His glory. Finally, Tom Elliff caused me to reflect on the manner in which I lead my wife and how our marital unity has a massive gravitational pull on my children’s coming to know the Lord and persevering in the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. I would like to mention four sessions which were particularly helpful and used by the Lord to convict me of sin.

In plenary session one Dr. Russell Moore from Southern Seminary spoke on “Have Baptist Changed or Has Culture? The Baptist View of the Family.” Dr. Moore, in his characteristic modus operandi, spanned the horizon of cultural mores and Baptist ideals. I was challenged throughout his presentation to think biblically and act rigorously for the sake of my family and others coming to enjoy Christ by my family’s testimony to the gospel. He aptly wove his way through the contemporary Baptist scene in which many churches are “moving along the very same tide” as our culture which “empowers predatory men toward their appetites” noting that we “are just a little bit behind” our culture. He explicitly pointed out the fact that “issues of the family are gospel issues” claiming that we have lost the idea of a biblical husband, “Headship cannot be a grasping for privilege, but a burden of responsibility.” Dr. Moore dissected our Baptist theology of children and their need for me to share the gospel urging that “we don’t baptize babies, thus we believe that we have a special and unique responsibility to evangelize our children.” He attacked my own materialism, “The issues most often is love of money. We have men and women who want to live with the same standard of living as the people around them and are willing to grind their children down to get it.” He did not shy away from issues of deacons carting off their daughters to get an abortion, mommies dropping their children off at daycare so they can have significance in their career, the selfishness of parents unwilling to have multiple children or even adopt, the failed commitment men taking short pastorates to climb the corporate-church ladder and churches who have multimillion dollar family life centers who have no family life. Dr. Moore revealed that both Baptists and culture have changed, but they have remained the same as well. I was challenged not to be like the culture, rebelling against God, but to stand upon the sure foundation of Christ and the gospel as God’s appointed shepherd of my home. Thomas White echoed this last refrain.

Dr. White’s (Vice President for Student Services), presentation was entitled, “It’s Not Hillary’s Fault: A Discussion of Proper Male Headship.” From the outset Dr. White stated his purpose, “I’m here to talk about the major problem – the lack of male leadership in society. It’s our fault and our churches’ fault.” He shined the light on four models of fathering, begging the question as to which one I am, and which one I will be: the absentee leader, the abusive leader, the acclimatized leader and/or the appropriate leader. He made his case for me to be an appropriate leader with eleven scriptural insights found in creation. He then showed the three areas where an appropriate leader will lead: he will provide, protect and lead spiritually. I was prodded to “Cowboy up!” and lead with a knight’s valor, not blaming Hillary, but myself when I’m not appropriately leading my family. John Mark Yeats encouraged me to lead my family into adoption.

Dr. Yeats spoke on “The Biblical Model of Adoption.” I was thoroughly convicted and exhorted to “wake up and realize that [my] walk does not equal [my] talk.” He provided daunting figures reflecting the heart wrenching reality that our churches and I am not doing enough, much less our part. In the DFW Metroplex alone there are over 5,000 children who are awaiting adoption. Following his presentation, I had a long discussion with my wife in which we prayed and decided that we need to begin now making arrangements for the next child God brings into our home, Lord willing, via adoption.

David Jones’s presentation “The Betrothal View of Divorce and Remarriage” was instantly formational. I first heard of the view in Daniel Heimbach’s Christian Home class. I do find the betrothal position to be a convincing argument making best sense of the biblical and lexical data. I was challenged toward thoughtful, careful exegesis no matter the issue at hand.

I’m very grateful to our Father in Heaven that He made way for me to attend the conference. For there He used His servants to sanctify this servant’s shepherding of his family and those generations of Deevers to come. May He accomplish His purposes in my life and the life of my family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heard Dr. Jones speak on the betrothal view of divorce at a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society last year. A very humble theologian, who measures his words well. His lucid presentation was attractive in itself, the betrothal view even more so. This seems to be a growing interpretatation of the confusing "exception clauses" within Protestant circles.