Christian Culture vs. Clan Culture

If the church fail in its duty, the temporal lords may rightly and lawfully deprive it of its temporal possessions; the judgment of such failure lying not with the theologian but with the civil politician.

Imagine a nation where such is the fundamental presupposition for all church-state relations: The civil government officials keep the churches under scrutiny and judge if a church is doing its job or not, and based on that judgment confiscate church property in favor of the state. What would you call such a nation? Communist, probably, or socialist, or Nazi. What would a Reformed Christian, who knows his Covenant Theology, say about such a practice? He’ll say that this statement gives more power to the state than what God has ordained, and that the state has no business judging the church. A society where the state judges the spiritual health of the church is a dangerous society to live in.

The above words were written by the “morning star of the Reformation,” John Wyclif, in his treatise On Civil Dominion, written in 1376. Yes, the same Wyclif who believed in the ultimate authority of the Bible and wanted to make the Bible available to all, in the language of the common people. That same Wyclif not only believed that the civil government could evaluate the spirituality of the church and confiscate church’s property on that basis, but that it could evaluate the righteousness of individuals and confiscate the property of those individuals who were deemed unrighteous by the King’s officials. To add insult to injury, he also believed that the property of righteous individuals could be confiscated too, for the purposes of the state, whenever the King decides; thus presaging the modern concept of eminent domain, so dear to all governments today.

Not that he didn’t know better. The concept of the sanctity of private property was known to the Western Christianity since the time of Bishop Ambrose and his harsh rebuke of Emperor Theodosius when the latter threatened that he would come and seize his church:

It is not lawful for me to surrender it nor good for you, Emperor, to receive it. By no right can you violate the house of a private person. Do you think that a house of God can be taken away from Him? . . . If you hope for a long reign, submit yourself to God.

Wyclif knew very well that confiscation of property by the state amounts to theft and falls under the Eighth Commandment. He knew the story of Ahab and Naboth in 1 Kings 21. And he knew the principles transferred down by the Magna Carta, a Christian document which laid the foundation for the English liberties; and especially Article 1 of that charter.

So, then, what made this righteous man, learned theologian, courageous Reformer, entertain such totalitarian views so contrary to his better knowledge of Scripture and of Christian theology?

He overreacted because of overzealousness.

His reaction was against the Church as an institution, as fallen and as rotten as it could be at the end of the 14th century. So mad was he, he would call for another institution – the state – to overstep its boundaries and impose a tyrannical rule over the church. Which, of course, is the old pagan concept of the state as a priestly organization, and of the ruler as a pontifex. If the Reformation had started with Wyclif, we may have ended up with totalitarianism in the name of Christ much earlier than totalitarianism in the name of Marx. There was a reason why God postponed the Reformation for another 150 years. It is possible that by the time of Wyclif the historical memory of the evils of statism had faded enough for him to not worry about going to an extreme position in favor of it. In any case, Wyclif was advocating one un-Biblical social and cultural practice as an antidote to another un-Biblical social and cultural practice.

In our day in America, the danger of statism is obvious to all Christians, and the historical memory of a church that overstepped its boundaries is quite fresh. What is lost is the historical memory of the pagan character of the family/folk culture, which the early church had to battle and vanquish, in order to build a Christian culture. If Wyclif lived today, with his temperament, he would have probably swung the pendulum far to the side of the family, advocating family/folk culture as the solution to the social evils of our day.

And he would have been disastrously wrong, just as he was disastrously wrong more than 600 years ago.

But we don’t need Wyclif today to give us an example of overreacting due to overzealousness. We have Christians in our own time who look to the family as the institution which, if emphasized as the foundation and the center of our culture, will help us restore the cultural values we have lost in the last two centuries. The extended family, that is, as it is imagined to have existed before the Industrial Revolution took its toll on it.

One of these Christians is Israel Wayne. His views on the importance of the family/folk culture as the supposed “Biblical” alternative to the modern popular culture can be found in his article, “Family Culture vs. Pop Culture.” I hate to have to criticize Israel, for I know he is a crystal pure character compared to me, a much better Christian in all respects, and a man I would be glad to give my life for. Unlike some other Christian authors I criticize, I can safely vouch for Israel that he is honest and sincere. But Israel is wrong in this article, his theology is going in the wrong direction, and I have the obligation to correct him as a brother, for his theology, if developed, will create monsters, just as Wyclif’s theology would have created monsters if God allowed it to develop. And unfortunately, Israel is not alone. Many more Christians have bought into the cult of the patriarchal family culture, mistaking it for a Christian culture. A Christian culture it surely isn’t; to the contrary, it’s origins are decidedly pagan. And in order to build a Christian culture, we need to understand the true nature of the family/folk culture, and understand how it differs from the Christian culture.

Israel deplores the moral state of our time, he observes that we have lost that old extended family environment where all uncles, aunts, granpaws and granmaws, cuzns and nephews and nieces and little Johnnies lived together in an idyllic serenity and peace, in the same geographic place, and everything was just dandy until the Industrial Revolution came around and men left for the cities to “join the workforce,” and thus the old social model which was so family-friendly was lost. Now we have the machines, the factories, and the father doesn’t stay home all the time with his family because he has to go to work. In the old days, if the family wanted to play music, they made their own instruments, and played together, and there were no long-distance instant communications to break to pieces this dream way of living. But we now have our pop culture which has nothing to do with “accountability, community, resourcefulness and creativity,” as the old family culture. This new pop culture is all about “liberation, autonomy, spending aimlessly, and consumerism.”

Before I get to the theological analysis of that view, a few logical and factological problems with Israel’s article must be pointed out.

First, of course, he typed his article on a keyboard, and published it on an Internet site. He didn’t scratch it on birch bark to read it to his uncles and aunts and gramps and nieces. This should be enough to show how much he values that old lifestyle.

Second, he admits that this new “pop culture” has given us a lot of good economic “time-saving” resources which the old family culture couldn’t produce. One wonders how is it that “accountability, resourcefulness, and creativity” failed to produce such good things, while “spending aimlessly and consumerism” could produce them. I mean, he may be right about the imagined values of the old culture but what exactly did those values produce, so that we know that they indeed existed in the old family culture?

Third, Israel needs to learn some history. The breakdown of that old clannish culture happened much earlier than the Industrial Revolution or the War Between the States. It happened as early as the 1500s in Calvinist Netherlands, and then in Calvinist Scotland, and in Protestant England, and in Puritan New England, when those men, armed with the new doctrines of Calvin, went out to the ships to traverse the oceans and trade extensively in order to increase their own wealth and the wealth of others, as all Reformed confessions and catechisms required. The same impulse of leaving your extended family to follow the call of God was present in 1620 among those settlers who landed in Massachusetts from Mayflower. The breakdown was under way when the sons of these first settlers refused to abide by the rules of the old towns, took their brides and moved west to settle new lands. It was happening between 1680 and 1870 when millions of young men – Christian men, not pop culture deadheads – led their Conestoga wagons through the Cumberland Gap, across the Plains, and all the way to Columbia River. That breakdown was in action when the original 300 families of Texas left the security of the valleys in the East and challenged the scorching Texas sun, the Comanches, and the Mexican government. It was the wilderness in the West, not the factories in the East, that destroyed Israel’s idyllic world. The Western Frontier broke extended families much faster and more effectively than anything the Eastern industry could offer.

Fourth, Israel should keep in mind that the claim that the Industrial Revolution broke families is monstrously fallacious. Rural England remained demographically stagnant for centuries; it was the Industrial Revolution that created an unprecedented population boom, and that boom was in the cities, not in the countryside! Contrary to the modern perceptions, it was the British industrial workers who valued family more than anything else and married young and had many children. It was the British industrial workers who were the largest audience of preachers like Charles Spurgeon, leading Friedrich Engels to admit that of all men it was Spurgeon he hated the most. The countryside was lagging behind the cities, both in weddings and in procreation. Israel needs to learn his history before he makes his claims. Not only didn’t the Industrial Revolution destroy the Christian family, to the contrary, it gave it a boost stronger than any other social factor since the 1st century AD.

And fifth, Israel’s description of the “women’s liberation” movement is rather shallow, and it doesn’t even touch the true nature and reasons of feminism. The truth is, feminism wasn’t a reaction against the Christian order for the family, and its goal wasn’t to get the woman to the job market. Feminism was a reaction against the quasi-patriarchal order established on the ideas of the Enlightenment. Yes, you read that correct: The Enlightenment created a patriarchal order which kept the woman in the home and deprived her of the ability to apply her gifts and skills in the society. The women’s liberation movement was a reaction against this patriarchal order; and the reason it went in the wrong direction was that the Christians weren’t there to lead the charge against that patriarchal order. R.J. Rushdoony explains the problem in his Institutes, Chapter 7, pp. 349-353.

But let’s get to the theological problems in Israel’s thinking.

To start with, Israel seems to have problems understanding the Biblical view of culture. His view of culture is tribal; he says that culture is “the accumulative sum of the beliefs and values of a people-group.” The central point here is the “people-group,” and that’s why Israel can speak of a “folk culture,” a culture that has something to do with the genetic proximity of people. The beliefs and values are secondary, since he talks about the “accumulative sum,” without really stopping to think that one can not “accumulate” just any kinds of beliefs and values. Such definition of culture is essentially materialistic for it defines culture by material factors (people-group, folk) while the spiritual factors (beliefs and values) are simply lumped together into an amorphous mass called “culture.”

This view is absolutely contrary to the Reformed view of culture. The Reformed view was summarized beautifully by Henry Van Til in his book, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture: “Culture is religion externalized.” From beginning to end, culture is the product of a faith statement. We all act according to ultimate beliefs, no matter what our family connections are, and no matter what our genetics is. The culture we build comes not from our “folk” or our “people-group” but from our fundamental beliefs about God. Different religions means different cultures, even if the people come from the same “folk.” That’s why in Israel a family-member was divorced or disinherited and turned over to the authorities in case of idolatry; he was of a different culture now. The same religion means the same culture, even if the family origin is different. That’s why Salmon could marry a Canaanite, and Boaz could marry a Moabite: By placing their faith in God, Rahab and Ruth were now of the Hebrew culture.

To make it simpler, according to Israel, the boundaries of a culture coincide with the boundaries of a “folk,” and whatever beliefs and values are in that “folk,” are mixed in one “culture.” According to the Bible, the boundaries of a culture coincide with the boundaries of a religion, and whatever peoples, families, tribes are within that religion, are mixed in one people. This means, contrary to Israel’s idyllic view of the folk and of the family, that there can be many cultures within the same family, simply because there can be believers of different faiths within the same family. There is no way the extended family can preserve cultural identity or pass on cultural identity, simply because, first, the extended family is not a carrier nor an agent of such cultural identity, and second, within the same family there can be multiple cultural identities, depending on the faith of the individual members of that extended family.

I don’t know the personal circumstances of Israel’s life, but I would suppose that his idyllic view of the extended family is based on his personal experience as an American, in a nation where there is historical memory of a Christian culture, and therefore his extended family is at least nominally Christian, if not necessarily self-consciously, creedally Christian. From such cloistered perspective, of course, it is easy to idolize the extended family as a carrier of culture. The picture, I’d venture to propose, wasn’t that rosy for some other Wayne many generations ago who decided to break with the pagan faith – and therefore with the pagan culture – of his “folk” and to accept Christianity which was becoming the popular culture at the time. I’d like to see Israel explaining to that earlier Wayne how important it is to reject the popular culture and stick to the extended family and its family/folk culture. Or I want to see Israel go to those early Christians in the Roman Empire who were persecuted because “they didn’t adhere to the traditions of their own ancestors,” that is, they weren’t happy with their family/folk culture and had accepted that popular fad, Christianity, with its modern cultural ideas. Actually, there is no need for Israel to go back in time. He can go to the Balkans, or to Africa, or to Latin America, where the family/folk cultures are laden with paganism, occultism, and barbarity, and the popular culture is influenced by the West and by its nominally Christian worldview. And of course, even the modern family/folk culture in the US, while nominally Christian, is not necessarily truly Christian, and I would say, there isn’t necessarily much there that deserves to be preserved or cherished.

In any case, the family is not a culture in itself, and can not be trusted at all times to provide a healthy culture; Jesus emphasized it many times (Matt. 8:21-22; 10:36; Luke 8:21; 14:26). Our Christian culture is not a family culture, it is a creedal culture, and the family has only a limited jurisdiction in it, just as the church and the state have limited jurisdictions. The family – extended or nuclear – must itself be judged by the creedal standards of the Christian faith, and if it falls short of them, its “culture” is just as destructive as are the cultures of statism or of churchism, and that culture must be rejected. The family/folk culture has no intrinsic value in itself, and more often than not in history the family/folk culture was pagan culture, vehemently opposed to Christ. (Read Fustel de Coulanges’s The Ancient City to learn about the pagan origins of the familistic-patriarchal social order.)

The Biblical social order is not based on the extended family. Romanticized descriptions like the following are not to be found in the Bible:

Imagine with me, if you can, a culture where you are surrounded with people who know and love you. There are parents, uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents and even on occasion great-grandparents. Living, working, playing and worshiping with these loved-ones creates a wonderful sense of security and stability. You know who you are, to a great extent, because of your relationships with those of your surrounding family. Family can serve as a fixed reference point, linking you to geography and to the past in a way that no other friendship or community can.

Absolutely not. The only fixed reference point is the faith in God. The extended family isn’t, and is never mentioned as such. The Biblical family is always the nuclear family. The only family romantics in the Bible is the relationship between a man and a woman. Read the Song of Solomon. There are no uncles, cousins, and gramps there. The Bible is full of heroes who – much like those American settlers of old – left their extended families to settle in another land, and looked for their purpose and place under God in self-sufficiency and independence from their extended family connections. Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, and father, Lamech, were both alive when he started building the Ark, and nothing is mentioned about an idyllic picture of four generations (from Methuselah to Noah’s sons) working in harmony on the Ark. Abraham was commanded to leave his family. Jacob fled from his father and brother. Joseph fulfilled his life’s purpose by being sold away from his family. Moses learned to obey God and be a leader away from his folk. David, at an early age, spent long months away from his family, and thus learned to fight bears and lions. Rahab was blessed for betraying her folk, and Ruth was blessed for abandoning her family culture. Jesus, of course, is the prime example, both when, at 11 years of age, He stayed back in the Temple, and when later took up a ministry that had nothing to do with his extended family. None of these, of course, is to declare the family unnecessary or worthy of disdain. But all these examples must warn us against elevating family relationships above their proper place in the creedal culture of the Bible. The family is not a fixed reference point, contrary to what Israel claims in his article. Faith is. And in that Biblical faith, only the nuclear family has any covenantal significance. The extended family, even if it’s beneficial economically or relationally, has no covenantal significance, and therefore has no cultural significance. We love our grandparents and uncles and cousins; but as far as the Biblical culture is involved, their significance is only marginal. Faith is what matters ultimately; and as far as the institutional arrangement of that faith culture is involved, our spouses and our underage children are all we need. And the church. Clannish collectivism separates us from the Biblical culture just as much as churchist or statist collectivism does.

It may come as a surprise to some modern Christians, but not only the Bible is full of examples of people of faith leaving their extended families, the Law of God actually contains economic provisions for the break-up of the extended family. First, there is God’s promise to Israel to multiply them in the land (Deut. 30:5). Second, there is the system of inheritance which required that the land was divided between the covenant-keeping sons in a family (Deut. 21:15-17, see also R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 180; and Gary North, Inheritance and Dominion, Vol. 2, p. 592ff.). Third, there was the Jubilee regulation which prohibited the Israelites from selling permanently the family inheritance in the land; at the end of the 50-year period, the land had to return to the original owner (Lev. 25:13-17, 27:24). The combined economic effect of these three would mean that over time, the heirs of the original families would have grown in numbers to the point where the allotted land to each son would be insufficient to feed him and his wife and children. He couldn’t sell the land permanently but he could lease it out for up to 50 years to another person in the family, if that relative wanted to consolidate a few properties for efficient agricultural production. The owner, then, would have the funds to move with his family either to a city, where he could start a new career in a non-agricultural business (like Joseph, who was a carpenter), or buy land outside the borders of Israel where the Jubilee regulations didn’t reach, and the land could be permanently sold or bought. The economic pressure would force the nuclear families to leave the extended family (Joseph’s extended family was in Bethlehem but his business was far north, in Capernaum of Galilee) and to expand their area of dominion, either technologically or geographically. The Jewish Diaspora in the antiquity was the largest movement of nuclear families away from their extended families, and it was copied much later by the Phoenicians and the Greeks, who originally were patriarchal societies. (Not to mention being copied by the American settlers between 1620 and 1890.) Important to mention that the social and cultural result of the Diaspora was not new clans nor new extended families, but the synagogue.

Indeed, historically, family-and clan-centered societies have never exercised dominion. They have remained stagnant and have disappeared from history even if for a short time they have achieved military or technological successes. There isn’t much left of the old clan societies of Germans and Celts. The clannish-tribal structure of the Native American tribes not only made them powerless to oppose the Christendom’s nuclear families’s assault on the American West, it was also a source of constant internecine wars and acts of savageness and brutality of natives against natives that kept their population numbers and economic endeavors at very low levels. China, a stable civilization for several thousand years which made many of the technological discoveries that built the West, was exactly the same in 1911, socially and economically, as it had been 2,000 years before. Some clannish societies managed to survive for a longer period of time only because they gradually evolved into statist societies; for the natural evolution of a culture based on the extended family, see Fustel de Coulanges’s book, The Ancient City. Islam, after the initial conquests, also stagnated because it had nothing comparable to the Biblical Law but instead incorporated old tribal and patriarchal laws. The Ottoman Turks were able to continue their conquests only because their old tribal system evolved into a statist/collectivist system very early.

The only cultures that were able to exercise long-term dominion – geographical, scientific, technological, literary, educational – were the Old Testament Judaism and modern Christianity (and especially Protestant Christianity). They followed the Biblical model: nuclear families, united not by the extended family but by the institutional church (or the synagogue), in a creedal culture where the only fixed reference point is faith. Our modern industrial capitalism and economic globalization, with its unprecedented technological and economic growth, is not a force that developed independently of Christianity, neither is it a force hostile to Christendom and the Christian culture. To the contrary, it came as a direct result of Christianity and of the Biblical worldview. Industrial capitalism and global trade and communications are the Christian economic and social model, and they stand or fall with Christianity, not war against Christianity, contrary to Israel’s assumptions.

There is a good reason for the historical success of the nuclear families and the stagnation and decay of clannish societies. The nuclear family is oriented toward the future; the extended family is oriented toward the past. When the family is defined as only a man and a woman and their underage children, the purpose of the family and the whole life of the family is naturally focused on bringing up these children and making them independent of their parents so that some day they fulfill Genesis 2:23-24:

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Since the Biblical culture requires nuclear families as over against extended families, we should expect it to be focused on parents teaching their young children for the future, not on grown up adults trying to conserve the past by hanging around with their relatives. Indeed, the Book of Proverbs is all about a father teaching his young son how to prosper righteously as an independent man. From the very beginning the book assumes that time is coming when the son will be independent and will be in an environment of sinners where he will have to make his own decisions (Prov. 1:10); the father, obviously, doesn’t share Israel Wayne’s affection for the extended family, and therefore doesn’t advise his son to remain back home on the porch where no enticement from sinners would come. The son’s independence and his leaving the family and going into a foreign, spiritually dangerous environment are taken for granted. In fact, without such assumption, the whole Book of Proverbs becomes meaningless for a young man. A young man today who follows the advice in Israel’s article would only read Proverbs as an intellectual exercise; it won’t have any practical significance to him – unless, of course, we assume that the extended family is full of sinners who are enticing their own relatives, in which case Israel’s thesis becomes absurd. This anticipation of that future time when the son will have to leave the home and face the spiritual challenges of life as an independent, self-sufficient man, places a heavy emphasis on preparing for the future. The past is only for learning, not for returning to it.

The extended family, on the other hand, by trying to stay together, is bound to only conserve the past. In fact, that was the motive of all clannish societies: extended families stayed together only because change was demonic, dangerous, and the future held all kinds of unspeakable horrors for man. The motive of preserving the past was dominant in all pagan societies; the future had to be fended off by any means. The idea of progress originated with Christianity; pagans had no such idea. And preserving the past was possible only by making everyone stay back home with their family; and, naturally, when the clan failed to preserve the past and to stop history, the state was charged with this role, and the Emperor/King proclaimed to be the Father of a greater clan, the state. The official reason of the Empire to persecute the early Christians was that they “had abandoned the beliefs of their own ancestors.” When a young man’s main concern is how to please his ancestors and find a fixed reference point in his extended family, the result is inevitably idolatry of the past, and neglect of the future. The patriarchal society is by nature and essence a stagnant society. Israel Wayne’s family/folk culture has been defeated in our modern times exactly because by its very nature, it is powerless to foresee or prepare for the future. It will die out naturally because it is not a Biblical culture.

The Biblical culture, instead, is one based on faith, instructed by the church, and driven by nuclear families who break out from the clan. This is the only culture that can exercise dominion successfully, and conquer the future. The past can teach us principles but we can’t return to it. As Joel McDurmon said in his article, “Freedom in Education: How to Get It Back,”

When we talk about restoring freedom, we have to be careful not to be too romantic about the past. It is one thing to survey how things used to be free, and lessons we learn there we can certainly apply to modern times; it is another thing, however, to think that the goal is to return everything to the state it was in back in 1776. We can’t return to that world, socially, technologically, culturally, geographically, demographically, economically. But there are certainly, as I said, many ideals we can take from then and restore for today. After all, ideals such as liberty and neighborliness do not change; the highest morals and ethics of Christianity do not change; the ideals of life, liberty, and property do not to change. The ideals don’t change: rather, it is how committed we are to the ideals that makes changes in society.

Don’t be romantic about the past. Paul said in 1 Cor. 3:21 that the present and the future belong to us. He missed one thing: the past. Let the dead bury their own dead (Matt. 8:22; Luke 9:60). You take your wife and your children, get out, and go find your own 160 acres to till, or your own carpentry shop to build. This is the Biblical standard. And as you go, train your children to be independent and self-sufficient to survive alone among wolves, for they will have to, if they are to obey Genesis 2:23-24. Staying with the extended family may seem fun and idyllic and safe, but it doesn’t conquer the world. It will only make you stagnant, and eventually you will be either wiped out from the map, or made a slave to the state as the biggest extended family.

In conclusion, I am sure that Israel Wayne is sincere in his desire to find solutions to the spiritual evils of our day. But his article is a good example of over-reaction to the evils of our pagan times by trying to swing the pendulum back to other, long-forgotten pagan times, when other pagan social structures dominated. The extended family was the norm in the old pagan societies – as it is the norm in many pagan societies today – and Christianity fought against this social structure because it was hostile to the faith. The nuclear family is the Biblical standard, and our modern industrial capitalism is not only not hostile to the Biblical culture, it is itself a product of that Biblical culture, and in itself encourages righteous dominion by faithful Christian nuclear families. There is no spiritual value in returning to the imaginary idyll of playing family music on the porch with family-made instruments. That idyll never really existed in the first place (otherwise young men wouldn’t leave their homes to settle new lands), and as an ideal, it is stagnant, unproductive, past-oriented, and ultimately self-defeating. The obsession with the past is essentially a product of a pagan worldview, not of a Biblical worldview. The Biblical Christian forgets what lies behind and reaches forward, taking from the past only the faith of his spiritual family, that is, the Church, and not the beliefs of his extended family, the clan.

This was the legacy of the Early Church, and this is our legacy from the Reformation.

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About Bojidar Marinov

A Reformed missionary to his native Bulgaria for over 10 years, Bojidar preaches and teaches doctrines of the Reformation and a comprehensive Biblical worldview. Having founded Bulgarian Reformation Ministries in 2001, he and his team have translated over 30,000 pages of Christian literature about the application of the Law of God in every area of man’s life and society, and published those translations online for free. He has been active in the formation of the Libertarian movement in Bulgaria, a co-founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty and its first chairman. If you would like Bojidar to speak to your church, homeschool group or other organization, contact him through his website: http://www.bulgarianreformation.com/

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16 Responses to Christian Culture vs. Clan Culture

  1. Isaac November 28, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    Martin Luther one said, “… If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ… Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.” While you are certainly not flinching at any point in the battle – you are a fierce warrior for the truth – I think you may be fighting your battles in the wrong place. Rather than defending the faith against its enemies, or those who are endangering the faith with unbiblical doctrines, you have been aiming a good deal of your recent writings towards your fellow theonomists – people that are on your side!
    While it’s one thing to hold our Christian brothers to a high standard, and correcting one another when we deviate from Scripture, you seem to be so preoccupied with pointing out errors in writers who are already holding to a Biblical worldview that you’ve stepped away from “where the battle rages.” Whereas your previous articles at Christendom Restored have been positive, laying “the intellectual foundation for the restoration of Christendom” as it were, your recent works, especially those at BM.com, have to a large degree been negative critiques of your allies and friends.
    Not that I think you should never write such critiques, I thought your stance on Romney during the election season was a good thing, however picking apart Israel Wayne’s article on recovering a culture that values the family, as opposed to our current culture’s disintegration into autonomous, rootless individuals, is the epitome of picking at straws. You compare the vision that he laid out as one equivalent to John Wyclif’s overzealous call for the state to usurp the jurisdiction of the church. How can you possibly reach that conclusion? Nowhere does he call for family alone to save society, or for the family to subsume church and state; he merely makes the assertion throughout that the family has broken down, not just in the sense of geographic location (i.e. I’m pretty sure he approved of people settling in America) but as a unit; with fathers, mothers and children all living separate lives, both parents in the workforce and the children in government schools. He claims that rather than the current pop culture of “autonomy… and consumerism” Christians need to be working towards a culture that holds that the family is of vital importance. Is that some sort of revamped pagan tribalism? Hardly.
    I hope that you jump back onto the front lines. Thank you and God bless.

    • Bojidar Marinov November 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

      Thank you for your concerns. They are not necessary. This is an important battle. Read Galatians 2 to find out where Paul was fighting some of his battles in the midst of a pagan culture, with enemies surrounding the church from everywhere. The covenantal structure of the Biblical culture must be understood BEFORE we know what we are going to build.

    • Bojidar Marinov November 29, 2012 at 1:41 am #

      Also, I am not sure about this one:

      “you have been aiming a good deal of your recent writings towards your fellow theonomists – people that are on your side!”

      Which theonomist have I criticized except Gary DeMar for his support for Romney?

  2. Jacob Stonehouse November 29, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    This whole article is just the re-tooled attack on Rushdoony that Gary North made years ago in his book “Baptized Patriarchilism.”

    The author needs to read Carle Zimmerman’s “Family and Civilization,” This book was profoundly influential on RJR’s thinking and one that he highly recommended. I would recommend all readers to find that book and read it in order to sort out in their own minds the subtle but significant mistaken nuances of the article aboive.

    I could write a several page rebuttal to the above article but since the author is famous for his ability to be corrected of error, I will end with a quote by RJR.

    “The domestic family is a weakening of the family’s powers, with the state as gainer. It is a transition stage to the atomistic family, when the totalitarian state is the on-going life and power, the main heir and the controller of inheritance, and the source of direction for a society.”~~ R.J. Rushdoony

    Clearly RJR believed in what the author of this article is calling Clan culture and he could do so becuase he didn’t create false dichotomy between Christian culture and Clan culture. RJR understood that Christian cultue and clan culture could be one and the same.

    Can people make idols out of family? Certianly but then people can make idols out of anything and so to suggest that Clan culture is automatically evil is just nonsense.

  3. Bryn Middleton November 29, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    The author also cites R. J. Rushdoony in defense of the view that the nuclear family is the “Biblical” family. But here is what RJR wrote about the matter:

    “Carle C. Zimmerman has pointed out that there are three types of families in history: the trustee, the domestic [nuclear], and the atomistic families. The trustee family has central authority in a society: it is the basic power and institution, and most government is in its hands. The trustee family sees its possessions and its work as an inheritance from the past to be transmitted to the future. The family wealth is thus not for private use but for the family’s on-going life.

    The domestic family is a weakening of the family’s powers, with the state as gainer. It is a transition stage to the atomistic family, when the totalitarian state is the on-going life and power, the main heir and the controller of inheritance, and the source of direction for a society.”

    Clearly the author is either not familiar with RJR’s works or he is seeking to manipulate his material for his ends

  4. Jesse December 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    Hi Bojidar,

    As always, I am intrigued by your viewpoints on such matters, and am typically in agreement with you.

    I have to admit I am struggling a bit with this particular article- while I agree with everything you have stated in general, I guess I would like to hear from you in the same context as above, how you would incorporate the command of God to “Honor Thy Father and Mother” which Paul refers to as the “first commandment with a promise”? Obviously our Lord requires us to regard at the very least our parents (extended family) as worthy of special consideration. There also doesn’t seem to be any qualifiers for this command- we are to honor them regardless of their status of faith or creed. After all, the Israelites who received this command from Moses were the children of the disobedient generation who perished in the wilderness. They were a part of the covenant though they did not receive the blessings of the covenant nor did they uphold the faith (as we learn in Hebrews).

    Your thoughts are appreciated!

    • Bojidar Marinov December 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

      Very simple: This article is about the proper foundation for culture, and the proper place of the family, and the covenantal nature of the family. It is not about the Fifth Commandment. There is no need for a married man to remain under the covenantal authority of his father and mother in order to honor them. Honoring them means economic provision in their old age, not remaining under their covenantal authority. (And remaining under their covenantal authority would mean violating the Biblical rules for the family anyway.)

      There also doesn’t seem to be any qualifiers for this command- we are to honor them regardless of their status of faith or creed.

      R.J. Rushdoony seems to disagree with this statement of yours. On page 482 of his Institutes he says that the unconditional devotion of children to their parents “regardless” of the actions of the parents is a “faulty interpretation of the Law.” He gives two real-life examples where he believes children must discontinue their support for their parents if certain conditions are not met and kept by the parents. In one of them he plainly states that a disabled father has no place in the home of his daughter to be taken care of by her, if he doesn’t meet the conditions of two-way responsibility; and therefore must be thrown our of the home to take care of himself. Seems like R.J. Rushdoony doesn’t share your view of unconditional devotion to one’s parents, no matter what. Again, the standard is not the family, but faith. Blood relations can’t trump faith; and neither is the Fifth Commandment meant to imply that they do.

      • Jesse December 18, 2012 at 1:59 am #

        To clarify-

        First, you quote “Seems like R.J. Rushdoony doesn’t share your view of unconditional devotion to one’s parents, no matter what.”

        How did I imply that the command of our Lord to “Honor thy father and mother” equates to “unconditional devotion to one’s parent’s?” Devotion is distinct from honor. Honor implies glory and recognition based on the dignity of the office held- the office of parent is to be held in honor, and no matter how wicked our parents were or are, we must defer some respect to their office regardless of their actions. It is not about devotion to parents, but devotion to God as the Creator of those whom he has given the responsibility to be parents to us (and not to mention, His instruments of grace by which He brings us into the world and gives us life). Even if they are wicked Satanic unbelievers, their office of parents must be respected and given deference to to the extent that it conforms to God’s law. Moses reaffirmed the commandment in Deuteronomy after 40 years of the Israelites wandering in the desert when much of the previous generation had already died off.

        Which brings me to my second point, which is that if Moses reaffirmed the commandment to an audience of hearers whose fathers and mothers had died off already, how does honor comport to “economic provision in their old age”? If the command was reaffirmed to people whose parent’s were dead in the wilderness due to disobedience to God, how are they to “economically provide” for them? Honor means something else, or at least something much larger than the narrow definition of “economic provision in their old age”. I can see where you can make the Biblical argument that economic provision is certainly an aspect of honor, but it is not the sole meaning.

        Thirdly, you state the article is about the proper foundation for culture, the proper place of the family, and the covenantal nature of the family- then you say that this is not about the Fifth Commandment. But, I’ve been reading your articles for years and you always point to the fact that the “proper foundation” for culture, etc, is found in the Word of God and specifically in the Law of God- so how can your article not be about the Fifth Commandment? If God’s Law is to be the foundation for social order for the individual, the family, church, and the state, and if God Himself refers to His Law as covenant, then what about the Fifth Commandment with regard to the family? By your response above, I am further confused. Am I missing something here? Jesus certainly spoke about honoring parents, so did Paul. Is the Fifth Commandment not about the covenantal nature of the family nor the proper place of the family nor the proper foundation of culture?

        • Bojidar Marinov December 18, 2012 at 9:34 am #

          Well, since you mention Jesus, I take Jesus’s interpretation of the Fifth Commandment in Matt. 15:4-6 and Mark 7:10-13. If there is another interpretation of “honor your father and mother” in the Bible that you know of, that contradicts what I wrote in my article, I would like to know about it. Especially, I would like to know if there is an interpretation that requires that a married man remain under the covenantal authority of his parents, or that the extended family is the “fixed point” for culture.

          Devotion is distinct from honor. Honor implies glory and recognition based on the dignity of the office held- the office of parent is to be held in honor, and no matter how wicked our parents were or are, we must defer some respect to their office regardless of their actions.

          OK, if we separate the parents from the office, I have no problem with that. We give honor to the office, irrespective of the parents, that’s what I see you arguing for. OK, what’s the big deal then? How does that contradict what I have written, and what exactly are you “confused” about?

          Which brings me to my second point, which is that if Moses reaffirmed the commandment to an audience of hearers whose fathers and mothers had died off already, how does honor comport to “economic provision in their old age”?

          That argument would have been very solid if we assume that the Ten Commandments only applied to that one generation. If we assume they applied to many more generations that that one, the argument is simply moot.

          Thirdly, you state the article is about the proper foundation for culture, the proper place of the family, and the covenantal nature of the family- then you say that this is not about the Fifth Commandment.

          Yes. The Fifth Commandment is ONE Commandment out of TEN. It is not the whole Word of God. We do not build culture on one Commandment. We build culture on the Word of God. This is what you are missing.

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