This is, I think, the last of my blogs on the subject of the Family-Integrated Church movement. I have attempted to commend the movement where I could. I have also tried to present my critiques of it (where they were necessary) in an irenic fashion. I hope I have succeeded. I have also tried to distinguish the several streams which make up this complex movement and not paint with too broad a brush.
I want to conclude by stating my genuine respect particularly for those men in this movement who hold (as I believe) my own 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. Scott Brown and Voddie Baucham seem to me (judging from their books) to be men with whom on most subjects I have deep, precious, and all too rare agreement. In my view we should find ways to express that agreement—even if we cannot agree on exactly the same philosophy of ministry for the church.
There are obstacles to the unity for which I am pleading in this blog. Too many Reformed Baptist churches have been disappointed and injured by their experiences with those who claim to represent the Family-Integrated Church movement. Such folks sometimes have done things in the name of it that, I believe, would make Scott and Voddie shudder. On the other hand, it is possible that some who represent the Family-Integrated Church movement have not been received by Reformed Baptist churches with the grace, patience, and redemptive love we owe to all Christians. James 3:2 remarks: “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” Psalm 139:23-24 adds: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
In my view we should not divide over a difference of this kind in the philosophy of ministry we adopt as local churches. It may be that different views cannot be combined in the same church and in the same eldership. But this does not mean that two churches which differ on their philosophy of ministry, but revere the same Confession of Faith, cannot hold fellowship as churches. For myself, I grant liberty to such Family-Integrated Church folks to practice their views in their churches. I may think their views unnecessary, imprudent, and unwise, but I do not think them sinful. I only wish that they would grant Reformed Baptist churches the same liberty. It seems to me that given what they believe they should be able to do this. It seems to me that objectively speaking we are not that far apart and that there is very much more which unites us than divides us.
Ephesians 6:23-24 states my last thought: “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.”
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.