Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Review of "Divided: the Movie"





by Buddy Hanson

When King Solomon counsels parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22.6) we should pay careful attention that the word “train” is used, and not the word “entertain.” Perhaps with the best of intentions, Youth ministries “entertain” the children in the hopes that once they attract them to their ministry, they can teach them the Gospel. But, alas, instead of “training them in the Gospel” they have “entertained” them, with the results being that when the children turn into adults, they do not “depart” from the entertainment. Hmmmm. Can someone see what’s wrong with this picture?

The movie “Divided” provides what to the typical American Christian will be an uncomfortable spiritual eye-opening experience. In the first place, the conversations with current and former Youth leaders, and pastors are based solidly upon biblical ethics. That is certainly something that most American Christians aren’t accustomed to hearing from their weekly sermons. Many who profess to be Christians won’t like the movie because it calls upon them to repent from an unbiblical practice of raising their children. While raising their children in an unbiblical manner is the last thing they would want to do, they are nevertheless doing it because “everybody else is doing something similar” and it could be that the people interviewed in Divided are the first who have had the caring concern to point out that they need to stop depending upon someone else to raise their children. 

It’s been almost five centuries since the esteemed Westminster divines wrote their culture changing Westminster Confession of Faith. The first paragraph of Chapter 21 is about the Regulative Principle of Worship. Few churches today care about this “regulative principle,” but they should because to obey it is to demonstrate that they believe that God’s Word is sufficient for instructing us in how to live, work, play, raise our children, self-govern ourselves, and worship Him. Apparently the attitude of many church officers is that they are smarter than God and out of the goodness of their heart are going to help Him out with unbiblical programs and methods (e.g. Youth Ministers).

If you listen closely to the interviews in Divided, you will hear that the root cause for the failure of Youth ministries is the same root cause for the failure of the 20th and now the 21st century American church, and that despite our repeated statements that “we believe that the Word of God is true,” we preach, teach and live as though our word is true. Before we can expect the church to “get” Chapter 21 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, we must disciple each other to “get” the other 32 chapters of the Confession, which collectively explain how to have a Regulative Principle of Living. When we “get” that we will stop delegating our (commanded!) parental responsibilities about educating our children, and begin home schooling them. We will also not delegate to someone else our responsibility to “train up” our children in God’s Word. The Bible is all about self-governing, not central governing. It’s about discipling our children, not delegating them to someone or some organization. Before you are tempted to say, “Hanson, you are not only talking about a serious chunk of time for me to spend with my children, (I may have to cut back on the time I spend at work) but a serious reduction in our lifestyle because my wife would have to stay at home and teach our children,” let me ask you what can be more serious to you than raising your children to serve God? Upon what biblical basis do you think God allowed you and your wife to have children just so they could be sent to God-hating public schools in order to serve the world, or to well-intentioned though unbiblical Youth groups so they can learn by example, that the church should conform to the world’s ways of doing things, rather than learning from you and your wife how to conform the world to God’s ways? As a pastor friend says, “If you send your children to Rome, you get Romans back.” Wouldn’t you rather send your children to the living room and teach them to live according to biblical principles and get a Christian warrior back?

The message is clear: If you are looking for a “check off” religion whereby you can ease your conscience by “checking off” that you attend worship services, outsource your children to Sunday School, and be an active participant in the various programs of the church, Christianity is not for you. After all, loving God with part of your heart is never suggested in Scripture. Indeed, Jesus teaches that the first commandment is that we “love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength.” (Mark 12.30) A true profession of faith is an all or nothing thing. That is what I would call “serious.”

Please watch Divided, hopefully with a group of your Christian friends, and as you discuss it afterwards, ask them if the biblical prescription for Youth ministries, is the same for everything else that ails the American church… that whether intentionally or not, the message it teaches is that God’s Word is true, but irrelevant to our day to day lifestyle: That we have to depend upon philosophers, psychologists, and/or legislators to solve those issues. No wonder our youth are dropping out, and no wonder large numbers of adults are dropping out as well. Why worship a god, and a religion that has nothing to say about how to live?

Divided is a call to repentance and faithfulness. If it is seen by large numbers of Christians, it could turn today’s church on its head, and that would be a good thing.
    

20 comments:

Carl G. Oehling said...

Rest assured Satan reads the rules in the Bible. Why do you think he is leading the public schools to start pre-kindergarten classes if it is not to "train up a child in the ways Satan wants them to go?

polymathis said...

Mr. Hanson,

I certainly agree that modern "youth ministry" is entertainment. And that too many parents abdicate their responsibility to these groups. And that the RPW forbids youth pastors and children's "church".

What I do not agree with is this movement's insistence that age-segregation is inherently unbiblical and evolutionary. Neither were proven in the movie. The movie is really not the place to go to find out what these leaders believe and claim (that they are part of a revival without a Reformed gospel front and center):

I do not know how much you know about them, so I strongly encourage you to read the following:

http://www.weswhite.net/2011/04/family-integrated-mathis/

My movie review here:
http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-denver/review-of-the-christian-movie-divided-review

Thank you,

Tony said...

Shawn : Having been to the review that you suggest the author makes the same mistake most have done, and that is not to talk with those working with and in the NCFIC so as to get a clear picture of what he is criticizing. It is often put forth that the Gospel is being put aside for a side issue but the NCFIC churches I know of and the pastors I know involved in the NCFIC proclaim the full Gospel as much as anyone.

A look at the NCFIC site and the conferences, ( The Sufficiency of Scripture in 2009 and Love the Church in 2010 ) that they have put on would show we are simply seeking to see the church to rely on Scripture for its practices and worship and not pragmatism and other methods that are currently being used. Is family and segregated worship an issue in the church, yes, but this is not put forth on its own without seeking the support of Scripture. I would not want people to go to the link you provided and think that they have found a thorough and correct analysis of the NCFIC.


I would suggest reading Scott Brown's book A Weed in the Church as it gives much more biblical grounds for the things put forth in Divided. You can sign up for a free EBook book version here: http://www.ncfic.org/message_giveaway_form .

Also here are links to messages given at our last two conferences to show what we are putting forth:

The Sufficiency of Scripture Conference: http://www.ncfic.org/mediaorganizermodule/view_mediaorganizer/id/97/src/@random4a1fff0b0c23b/
The Love the Church Conference: http://www.ncfic.org/mediaorganizermodule/view_mediaorganizer/id/98/src/@random4a1fff0b0c23b/

To date I have not seen one substantive review of the NCFIC that includes talking to those in the NCIFC and those that support it. I realize that this is rarely done and when a message is put out publically this is not necessarily required but with so much confusion and misinformation put forth it would be good to see more effort put forth in the many reviews put out. This is not about having thin skin as we are always open to review so that we can change where change is required. This is about a fair analysis that includes digging deeper than the surface arguments that are bandied about.

I pray that you would look deeper into what the NCFIC is al about and if you still disagree after that you are free to do so.

Grace and Peace,
Tony

polymathis said...

Dear Tony,

If you wish to convince me of your position please kindly refrain from assuming what I did and did not read.

If you read the second link you will see that I recommend the book over the movie--why? Because I read it. Here is my review:

http://christiannurture.blogspot.com/2011/05/weed-in-church-review.html

As for you not wanting people to read my article I find that quite strange since Mr. Glick, a current member of Mr. Brown's church, employed with the NCFIC for 10 years and a one-time intern for Mr. Brown said my first article was quite accurate.

As for "talking" with the leaders, where is that a prerequisite when what they proclaim is public? I have read the confession--WHICH 7th DAY ADVENTISTS HAVE SIGNED [That's b/c its so Gospel saturate right?].

Mr. Brown knows about my first article b/c Mr. Glick told him. I saw no response. He can ask for a public dialogue with me. I'd give it to him. I've tried talking with some second-tier leadership but they stone-walled me a few years back. I even tried getting a hold of Mr. Brown a few years back.

I have listen to Mr. Phillips lectures from some conferences. And some of his articles. And Mr. Brown's lectures. And articles. And book. And movie.

Do not presume. It will make the discussion go much easier.

So, start dealing with the substance of my reviews and articles. Show my errors. And we'll go from there.

thank you,

Steve C. Halbrook said...

Mr. Mathis,
The following is from Buddy Hanson:

Mr. Mathis --
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree that as the only people on the face of the earth to know the truth, that we should be careful that we present the truth about history, ecclesiocracy, or any other topic. In a culture that is dominated by non-Christian ideas because the church has neglected to take our truths outside the friendly confines of our homes and churches, it is always difficult to keep errors from creeping into our thoughts. So, whether you're correct about there being age segregated instruction in the first century, I don't know. I do know that if you are correct, then more people like you should make it known.

However, the core issue of the film is not about which denomination does what, but who should be instructing our children. "Divided" reminds us that it is the parents responsibility, and it also does a good job of convicting us that since only two percent of teenagers have a Christian worldview (Barna research), the church is doing a lousy job. But why should we expect for the church to do anything but a lousy job when it is blatanly disobeying God in that area?

If America is to survive we need to repent and replace the current paradigm of conforming to the world's ways and begin living-out our faith so the world will conform to God's ways. That's why I pray that many Christians will see this video. They probably won't like it, they probably will rationalize something to the effect of "Well that's just what those people say," but discussing whether "those people," whoever they are, are correct or incorrect, is only a branch issue. The core issue is that we are not obeying God in the matter of raising the next generation for Christ.

I have a lot of ideas on how to do that, and I suppose you do as well, but we must get that conversation started, because nothing will begin to improve in our culture if we don't.

Let's keep the main thing the main thing.

Buddy

polymathis said...

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Thank you for your gracious reply.

I concur with the substance of your reply, that the bulk of American churches are teaching dangerous error and hurting families. Youth ministries as normally defined are horrendous.

"However, the core issue of the film is not about which denomination does what, but who should be instructing our children."

There is much truth in that. Yet it clearly (even by its title) paints a broad brush theologically and historically against age-segregation in particular. It is the particular that makes all the difference.

However, the movie was not created in a vacuum but in the rhetoric of the NCFIC, its confession and its leaders. They claim revival. They claim non-FIC are evolutionary in thought. These are not claims to ignore.

Please if you have not any of the links, read my first link, What is a Family Integrated Church (above) as wes white's site. It is endorsed by Rev. G.I.Williamson, various pastors and professors. It will change the whole context of the movie.

It is important to discuss what is actually said (or not said). I hope to further that discussion.

PS. As for the history see my blog post, ChristianNurture.blogspot.com --FIC proponents are aware of my historical facts and not one has rebutted them.

Tony said...

Shawn:

Let me first say that I am sorry you misunderstood my comment on your first link. My comment was not intended convey that one should not read the article but that I did not feel your article was as informed as it could have been and I would want people to understand that before reading it. Again, sorry if I was not as clear as I could have been.

With regard to Mr. Glick’s approval of your article I am assuming it was with regards to the second link as I did not see him say as much with your first article in reading the many comments.

As far as speaking to the leaders of the NCFIC it may not be a prerequisite but I would think it would be prudent and helpful. We are not talking about some huge organization that is inaccessible. I would also hope that being hard to get hold of a couple years ago would not deter you today. But at the end of the day that is your choice.

As far as the 7th Adventist issue I would agree that things need to be sorted out and that is in the works. When the NCFIC started 10 years ago there was what I would probably term a less rigorous statement that was to be agreed to and I would guess people were not questioned as to the validity of their acceptance of the statement they agreed to. Can we do better, yes, and over time I pray the church site will be cleaned up. However, while this is not an unimportant issue with the NCIFC it does not take away form its message and should not be used as such.

With regards to interacting with your article, the first link, if you read the comments you will find I did do so at the time.

There is much more to the NCFIC than simply being about age segregation. At the crux of what we put forth is a belief in the sufficiency of scripture for all of worship and age segregation is not part of that life of worship. If we turn one area of the life of the church over to other than scripture what stops still other areas being given over to other than scripture. As you would have read in Scott Brown’s book he does give scriptural support for doing away with age segregation and thus that is our goal, to seek to encourage the church to return to scripture for all that it does.

If I offended you in any way I apologize.

Grace and Peace,
Tony

polymathis said...

Mr. Tony,

Thank you for your gracious response. The way you opened your original comment was with an assumption. I'm glad you retracted that assumption (e.g., talking with people).

As for my part, for clarification, I wrote in the context of our past discussions. Perhaps you have forgotten but most of this ground has been covered.

As for Mr. Glick--current NCFIC worker, church member and former intern for Mr. Brown--this is quite germane--his endorsement trumps anyone else I've met unless Mr. Brown were to speak up:

"So, in answer to your question, overall, the description was accurate and I greatly appreciate all the references. Some have slammed us and not even attempted to prove that it was so. That said, in all respect, I disagree with much of the analysis."

He acknowledges the difference between recitation of facts and analysis. I would encourage you to read the discussion between Mr. Glick and myself. It is the only substantive dialogue between two-sides of this debate that I have encountered.

As for the original article, if there are factual errors please point them out.

Now that my previous comment has established my credential as one who has seriously studied this issue, I think we can move on to specific issues of substance.

As for myself I would like to continue this discussion with one question if I may:

Is family and/or age-segregation ever allowable? If so, when and why?

thank you,

PS.(You mentioned "we"--are you part of the NCFIC organization?)

Tony said...

Shawn, I will need to get back to you with regards to there being a time for age-integration as time is short tonight and I want to give more than a quick answer.

Also, I am not on staff with the NCFIC but do work with them when needed and did give a talk at a conference and manned a booth at a conference for them. So my use of "we" may be more of a term of camaraderie in a common cause than an official "we".

Grace and Peace,
Tony

Tony said...

Shawn:

After thinking about a response the following is what I would offer:

With regards to whether there is a time for the church to meet in an age-segregated manner I would simply ask you to turn to scripture and see what manner of worship is found there. If age-segregation is present then we should seek to follow that practice and if not then we should avoid it. If we as a church seek to truly live out that the scriptures are sufficient for faith and practice, for all of life for that matter, then the scriptures are where we are to find our answers.

I will be backing off of this conversation due to time constraints and as I think what needs to be stated has been, here and in comments to a post of yours in the past..

Grace and Peace
Tony

polymathis said...

Dear Tony,

I was hopeful to continue this conversation along a slower pace with specific questions since so many defenders I have met are not willing to dialogue.

Just to keep it short. You wrote: "With regards to whether there is a time for the church to meet in an age-segregated manner I would simply ask you to turn to scripture and see what manner of worship is found there."

I am puzzled why you mention "worship". You said you read my article and posting. I never said anything about "worship". I believe in the regulative principle of worship.

What I do *not* believe in, nor has been proven, and is against the Confessions and history of the church, is the "regulative principle of education" (see the NCFIC latest blog post).

take care,

Ryan Glick said...

Shawn,

To set the record straight, I did not work for the NCFIC for 10 years, but rather 2 and a half.

Also, I said the description, not the article, was "overall" accurate. You are using that statement out of context and I would prefer you not reference it anymore.

I did not endorse your article as you claim above. I would like to request a retraction of that statement.

Thank you,
Ryan Glick

polymathis said...

Mr. Glick,

Thank you for correcting my poor memory of your employment at the NCFIC--you were ten year at a FIC church not with NCFIC.

As for quoting you, my quote was accurate given the context (see below for links to the actual comments). Please tell me exactly what my misquote was? Perhaps you did not like my use of the word "endorse"--which was used in the sense of "factually" accurate. I admit "endorse" (used once) is a poor choice of words.

As for the quote it answered a question of my as you state and used the word "overall"--a summarizing word:

"So, in answer to your question, overall, the description was accurate and I greatly appreciate all the references. Some have slammed us and not even attempted to prove that it was so. That said, in all respect, I disagree with much of the analysis."

The "answer to your question" was my earlier question:

"May 4, 2011 at 5:27 PM
Mr. Glick,

I am desirous that I accurately portray the NCFIC.

Since you did not deny my summary of this organization’s position and beliefs (even of the leaders), can I assume that I have stated the positions correctly?

thank you,"

Then you responded in detail:

"May 5, 2011 at 8:45 PM
Robert, I’ve had a beard for the last 7 years I think. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have it!

Shawn, I really appreciate your willingness to have an honest discussion and your willingness to make sure what you have written is accurate. Thank you. I have great respect for that...I actually have time at the moment to answer part of your question about your description of the NCFIC. So, what do I think of the actual article? I’ll just make a couple comments:"

You proceed through 13 points (most of which were not germane to actual factual errors of the article because you never demanded I change my article.) Most of it as I recall were some subtle nuance that we later talked about but never finished discussing (use of "comprehensive," etc.)

Anyway what is germane to my quote of you is that I quote you as evidence of the *facts* of my article. I quoted you explicitly then stated: "He acknowledges the difference between recitation of facts and analysis."

Is this note true? Do you wish to retract your answer to my question?

thank you,

puritancovenanter said...

Mr. Glick said. 13. “The views documented here are integral to the NCFIC’s very existence.” So, in answer to your question, overall, the description was accurate and I greatly appreciate all the references. Some have slammed us and not even attempted to prove that it was so. That said, in all respect, I disagree with much of the analysis. There are many things which need to be said that I simply skipped in favor of dealing with your description of the NCFIC, but I will have to deal with those in later comments."

It sounded as if you said the "overall, description" of the NCIF was accurate. I wouldn't take that your comments lead one to believe you endorsed the article because you disagreed with some of the analysis but you did say the descriptions were accurate. I see no need for retraction. It does appear that you endorsed the truthfulness of the descriptions laid out by the article. You were very appreciative of it also. I believe that is all Pastor Mathis is getting at. Maybe I am incorrect.

Tony said...

Shawn:

As I stopped by the blog I saw see that Mr. Glick had responded and I think his issue is how you are using his quote. You say:

“As for Mr. Glick--current NCFIC worker, church member and former intern for Mr. Brown--this is quite germane--his endorsement trumps anyone else I've met unless Mr. Brown were to speak up”

At issue would be your use of the word “endorsement.” What Mr. Glick seems to have said is that your references to the NCFIC site and quotations may have been accurate, and he appears thankful for that, but that is far from endorsing your article especially when he did say he would disagree with “much” of your analysis.

By the way that is what I thought when I read your use of the quote, that you were using it incorrectly, but as it was not a quote of me I left it at that. Since Mr. Glick has clarified his desire that you do not use his quote it would seem the correct thing would be not to use it. As brothers in Christ I would hope you heed his wishes in this area.

polymathis said...

Dear Tony,

Reviewing what you wrote, I admit I was defending myself from part of what you wrote and not the other:

1. You mentioned twice the need for accuracy in your first post:
a) "...so as to get a clear picture of what he is criticizing"
b) "with so much confusion and misinformation put forth it would be good to see more effort put forth in the many reviews put out. "

2. So I responded to the question of accuracy with "Mr. Glick...said my first article was quite accurate."

3. I *assumed* you were writing about my article's accuracy. Were you? If not I was mistaken and should not have *assumed* anyway.

4. What you wrote in the first post was this: "I would not want people to go to the link you provided and think that they have found a thorough and correct analysis of the NCFIC."

5. I took that as *accuracy* but if it is about my *analysis* [read: critique] but not the *accuracy* of the views of the NCFIC then I was wrong.

So, were you writing about the factual accuracy of my article about what the NCFIC stood for? If not, then I was wrong.

thank you for clarifying,

Tony said...

Dear Shawn:

To me at least the issue is that “facts” placed alongside “analysis” are difficult to separate. One can place “facts” in such a way, purposefully or not, so as to be seen in context of the analysis instead of the context of the “fact” itself. So, while there may be a difference between “facts” provided and the “analysis” of them it is in most cases, again, difficult to separate them and it is decidedly so for those on the outside looking in

I leave this conversation with a thought I have already stated and that is: The goal of all of God’s people should be to seek to live all of life, not just some segment of it, in line with God’s word. It is a life lived in accordance with His word that most glorifies God and in truth brings the most liberty, well at least liberty as biblicaly defined. History and confessions may be good sources of information but at the end of the day they are secondary to God’s word and when I speak of God’s word I mean all of it as it is God’s word that prepares us for “every good work’ (2 Time 3:16-17).

Thanks for the conversation and may God bless your journey to see lives changed to live for His glory by His standard.

Grace and Peace,
Tony

"Cricket" Renner said...

Tony and Ryan,

I must agree with Pastor Mathis and puritancovenanter about the use of Ryan's quote. It definitely did not imply endorsement of Pastor Mathis' analysis--in fact, he clearly stated his opposition to it. HOWEVER, he did state that he agreed with, and even appreciated, Pastor Mathis' accurate description of the NCFIC 'confession.'

And, as a final aside, Tony, I encourage you to look closely at the NCFIC's "confession," and especially look up their proof texts for their assertions and denials. I'm not seminary-trained, but I can only say they have some agregious exegesis to prove some contentious points ...

In His service,
"Cricket"

polymathis said...

Flagrant misquote in the movie Divided:

http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-denver/flagrant-misquote-the-movie-divided

polymathis said...

Denver pastors discuss family integrated churches and like matters