Monday, June 6, 2016

Dominionism and Evangelicalism PART 3: Presuppositionalism Has Poisoned Everything

This is Part 3 in my series on Dominionism, which in turn grew out of my post on Ted Cruz’s Dominionist connections. The previous parts:

In this third part, I want to look at some of the important philosophical roots of Dominionism, and how those ideas have poisoned American Evangelicalism. In my opinion, it is these roots that led to Rushdoony in the first place, and are at the heart of what is evil within American Evangelicalism in our present time. Without this fundamental idea - Presuppositionalism - Dominionism in its present form, both “soft” and “hard” would not have gained a foothold, and it could not be sustained. Furthermore, the very reason that Dominionism plagues Evangelicalism is that this idea has already corroded the brains and consciences of Evangelicals.

I’ll be honest here: I have really struggled with my continued participation in Evangelicalism over the last few years, like many of my peers. I have felt like Evangelicalism is committing a slow suicide - and it is doing so by requiring that many of us check our brains and our conscience at the door. Right now, I have my doubts that unless some fundamental changes occur, it will not remain possible for a person to be part of Evangelicalism and still be intellectually honest or morally and ethically decent. Such people will be increasingly purged in the name of doctrinal purity. And a big reason for this is the embrace of Dominionist assumptions.

I’m going to start by going back to the mid 1800s and the fallout from the Enlightenment. In one sense, religion in general took a severe hit during this period, as rationality replaced special revelation and church authority as the source of objective truth in many - some would argue all - areas of knowledge. For some areas, this made for tremendous advances. Scientific knowledge made astounding leaps in a few hundred years, and the revolution has shown no signs of abating. Politics too changed dramatically, and for the better. No longer would the Divine Right of Kings support despotism. (It is important to remember that Nazism and Stalinism were rejections of the Enlightenment doctrine of Human Rights, and were based on totalitarian ideology - akin to a theocracy of its own, not Enlightenment freedom.) As I noted in a previous installment, the foundation of our own nation was Enlightenment values, not Theocracy.

The Enlightenment posed some significant threats to religion, in any case, because it established the concept that objective truth can be discovered by non-religious means. For institutions - such as the various official state churches and political entities like the Vatican - this meant a loss of prestige, and also a loss of funding. It also meant that they had to adapt, or fail to remain relevant. Some did better than others at this.

A key figure in the Dominionist discussion appeared at this time. Abraham Kuyper was a theologian, and also a political figure in Holland. Kuyper is an intriguing character to me, because, like many of his time, he was a mixed bag when it came to his ideas. On the one hand, he stood for many good things. He believed in - and advocated for - the separation of church and state. He opposed Communism (fairly new back then) but sought to enact workplace reforms and wage laws to alleviate the pressure on workers that led to an embrace of Communist ideas. He was far ahead of his time in supporting intermarriage between races (particularly in Dutch Africa.) In his personal life, he seemed to be a decent person grappling honestly with the challenges of a post-Enlightenment world.

On the other hand, some of his ideas have borne seriously bad fruit in the 150 years since. He is credited with being a founder of the Neo-Calvinist movement, which is in many ways the locus of pernicious patriarchal ideas in American Evangelicalism. Naturally, one of his antagonisms was toward the Arminians whose revivals were bleeding members from the Dutch Reformed Church. As an Arminian myself, I would of course be on the other side of that issue from him in any case.

The worst of it, however, was in two ideas that were to be seized on by others and taken to their logical extreme.

The first was the idea of “sphere sovereignty.” It’s not a bad idea entirely, that the state, church, family, and academia/science each have their roles in society and that they should respect each other. In the circumstance he lived in, Kuyper’s idea was actually one that led to a better society, with more freedom and less antagonism. The problem was that it was adopted by Rushdoony later (and the Religious Right too) as a weapon to make whole areas of society off limits to the government. It was pretty obviously not Kuyper’s intention, but that’s where it led.

The second was also not intended to have the actual result. Kuyper believed that there was a natural antithesis between Enlightenment worldview, and that of the Calvinist Christian. The two were fundamentally incompatible in his view. Some of us might disagree with that - me included - but it wasn’t uncommon at the time. Now, Kuyper’s viewpoint on the antithesis has become essentially a litmus test for orthodoxy within Evangelicalism. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

One thing remained to change this idea into pure poison, and it wasn’t Kuyper’s doing. Kuyper himself believed in freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry. He believed, furthermore, in “common grace,” that is, that anyone, Christian or not, Calvinist or not, could discover, create, and contribute to the good of society.

It is the next figure in our story that rejected “common grace” while retaining Kuyper’s antithesis idea that started the dark path to Dominionism.

Cornelius Van Til is best known for his philosophy of “presuppositionalism.” This is the belief that one’s very ability to see or understand truth comes from the presuppositional beliefs a person has. To Van Til, one must first believe in the truth of Christianity (specifically Reformed Christianity - Calvinism) and in the supernatural inerrant revelation of Scripture as the source of all truth before that person can know or understand any truth in any area of life, thought, or discovery.

This viewpoint has some troubling corollaries. As Van Til taught, because a non-Christian is fundamentally incapable of knowing truth, there is no common ground where Christians and non-Christians can agree and meet. Likewise, any “truth” arrived at by anyone who does not have the “correct” beliefs about God and the universe is suspect and unreliable, no matter what. Because that person is “totally depraved” to use the Calvinist term, he or she is incapable of seeing truth about anything without lying to him or herself about it. This is in contrast to his view of [the right sort of] Christians, who would naturally and inevitably come to superior conclusions because their theology was correct.

The topic of apologetics is beyond the scope of this post, although I hope to write about it in the future. It isn’t hard to see the influence of Van Til’s Presuppositionalism in modern Evangelical apologetics, however. It’s one area where the ideas have badly poisoned the discussion. I believe it has also poisoned the entire system of Evangelical thought.

Rushdoony would take this even further than Van Til by noting the rejection of “secular” thought and the embrace of scripture as the only source of truth, and building what he saw as the logical outgrowth of Presuppositionalism: Christian Reconstructionism, based on the literal imposition of Old Testament law on the world. In essence, if you cannot trust reason, science, or people with the wrong theology to be right about anything, what source do you have left to make decisions about political, social, family, or any other matters? Rushdoony's "solution" is a literalist application of Mosaic Law to everything.

Having given this introduction, I would urge the reader to read this article by Alan Bean from, which helped me in formulating this post. I won’t duplicate it all, but it does contain a good discussion of the Kuyper/Van Til/Rushdoony progression, and also the reality of hard-core dominionism.

In discussing soft-core dominionist ideas, the author makes a good case that three Dominionist ideas have become foundational for the Religious Right, and I thoroughly agree.

“Neither Michael McVicar nor Julie Ingersoll [authors of books on Reconstructionism] suggest that hardcore dominionism, in its full Rushdoonian glory, is the consensus opinion of the contemporary religious right. Many of the specifics of the founder’s vision have failed to gain traction; but Kuyper’s antithesis between Christian and secular worldviews, Van Til’s insistence that only God-centered thinking can be coherent and productive, and Rushdoony’s focus on the reconstructed family have become foundational for the religious right.”

In my experience it is this foundational idea of Presuppositionalism which has poisoned Evangelicalism more than anything else. It has led to intellectual and ethical suicide, to the point where many of us feel uncomfortable discussing key issues with Evangelicals - particularly the leadership.

The bottom line is this:

Theological “Truth”™ trumps objective facts, and believing the “right” presuppositions is the most important part of “faith.”

As the Baptist News article puts it:

“Political and religious liberals respond to men like Cruz, Ham, Mohler and Barton with the apparently obvious argument that objective facts matter. We are appalled when they refuse to budge.”

Peter Enns notes exactly why this is problematic:

Theological needs – better, perceived theological needs – do not determine historical truth. Evangelicals do not tolerate such self-referential logic from defenders of other faiths, and they should not tolerate it in themselves.

The poisonous fruit of Presuppositionalism manifests itself in most of the ways Evangelicalism is obnoxious and harmful at present. I hope to flesh some of these out in future posts, but let me just run through some of them.

Presuppositionalism has led to denialism of scientific facts - and to an overall hostility toward science. This stems from the fact that many scientific discoveries contradict or threaten doctrinal sacred cows. 

An astute point from a victim of an earlier era of Presuppositionalism

Presuppositionalism has led to the acceptance of historical denialism and revisionist history.

Presuppositionalism has led to the astounding arrogance of Evangelicals who believe that they automatically understand the world better than everyone else because they have the “right” doctrine.

Presuppositionalism has led to Evangelicals slandering outsiders.

Presuppositionalism (and Kuyper’s dualism) have led to an “us versus them” antagonism toward anyone who has differing views, whether other religions, atheism, or other denominations of Christianity.

Presuppositionalism has lead to Evangelicals rejecting the life of the mind, insisting that the only legitimate use of intellect is to “prove” their pre-existing suppositions.

Presuppositionalism has led to hostility toward new ideas, new knowledge, and new understanding, because these threaten the presuppositions.

Presuppositionalism has led to idolatry of the past, and the claim that returning to the prejudices and injustices of the past will lead to “godliness.”

Presuppositionalism has led to an inability to think ethically or act with compassion, because having the right beliefs trumps both ethics and compassion. (This one needs its own post.)

Think about it. How many of the catastrophic errors of the past - and present - are due to this idea that doctrine trumps reality? Why should women stay and be beaten? Because the doctrine of Patriarchy trumps both compassion for victims and the modern idea of Feminism. Why are Evangelicals so desperate to be able to deny LGBT people housing and employment? Because believing the right things about sexuality trumps basic human decency. Why are Evangelicals convinced that science is a godless conspiracy? Because science threatens their view of the Bible.

And ultimately, Presuppositionalism leads to both Dominionism and Theocracy.

In part, because the only way to eliminate ideas and facts that threaten theology is to suppress the competing truths using government force. 

In part too because Presuppositionalism has led Evangelicals to the astoundingly arrogant conclusion that they know better than others about everything, and thus those who disagree are either stupid or evil or both.

As I said, I hope to flesh out some of these in future posts. (Some may have to wait until I can write without as much anger.) Unless and until Evangelicalism is willing and able to face the theological discomfort caused by new discoveries and ideas - and maybe rethink some of the presuppositions which underlie certain beliefs - it will continue to lose the battle for hearts and minds. Because Evangelicalism requires belief in things that are not, objectively speaking, true, it requires that an adherent check his or her brain - and conscience - at the door. 

I’ll close with a quote from John Pavlovitz that I believe is pertinent:

I’m tired of scientific ignorance being treated as if it’s a Christian virtue.

This could go for ignorance in general, and for the whole pile of denial that Presuppositionalism has left us.


Note on theological change:

One of the most astoundingly arrogant facet of this belief is that, even though theology has changed through the centuries (even compare the Old and New Testaments, to say nothing of slavery, witch burning, and other historical revisions), Evangelicals are damn sure they have it right this time, and that there shall be no more changes. Really?

The one thing I do not see in Evangelicalism right now - or in most (not all) Evangelicals I know - is a openness to idea that they might be wrong. Or even have an incomplete understanding of something. Instead, you just see ignorant statement after ignorant statement, usually quoted from some celebrity pastor, that directly contradicts proven historical or scientific truth.

It would be nice, instead, to see a little humility. We have been theologically wrong before. Our understanding of the world has changed dramatically over recorded history. We have in the past allowed new discoveries and paradigms to alter our beliefs. In many cases (see witch burning), this has led to an enriched understanding of the Divine. Even Saint Paul himself said that we only know in part - we see through a glass darkly. Unless and until we allow ourselves to evolve as we discover, we end up merely perpetuating the prejudices and injustices of the past. (To paraphrase Cass Sunstein)  


A couple of paired links for this part:

I believe that Presuppositionalism requires that we check our brains and our consciences at the door. It isn’t just one. Both are important to our sense of ethics - and I believe Christ called us to use both.


  1. I abandoned evangelism about ten years ago for many of the above reasons and because of its inherent legalism.

  2. "I’m tired of scientific ignorance being treated as if it’s a Christian virtue."

    1000 times this. This right here is making people walk away from the faith. And they still just don't get it, and keep insisting it's because "they don't want to be held accountable for their sin" or "they just want to sleep around" or some other such BS.

    The transgender bathroom issue is the perfect illustration. True: some of the science surrounding whether gender dysphoria has a biological origin is still up in the air. Also true: intersex conditions have been medically confirmed for 100+ years and thus the bills STILL discriminate wrongfully because some intersex people don't have a clear sex. But can you tell people this? No. You'll be accused of being an evil liberal weenie who hates the family, or something.

    1. Forget 100+ years: Saint Augustine wrote about intersexuals (although he was sexist about it, naturally).

      I'll be blogging about the bathroom issue soon. I've got the first part mostly written, and it is on intersexuality.

    2. YES. This is exactly what made me start wrestling with faith presuppositions - ironically, because my catholic and mainline evangelical upbringing held things in a pretty comfortable balance, and it wasn't until I was in college that I fell into more conservative sects that embraced things like young-earth creationism. It was attractive for a while - as anything that purports to have all the easy answers is attractive - but eventually my inner science geek rebelled.

      I can't tell you how many deba---uh, conversations I've had wherein "liberal" college professors or "atheist agendas" were blamed for somebody's kid walking away from their faith (though possibly that is happening less and less, as it appears to me that most people who are that invested in their literal interpretation of scripture tend to NOT send their kids to secular colleges, nor, unsurprisingly, do they tend to begat scientists). An intelligent young person, when presented with scientific fact in the form of actual geology, paleontology, astrophysics, evolutionary biology, etc, is going to have a faith crisis if s/he has been raised on A Beka textbooks. Whether s/he survives that crisis with faith still intact has everything to do with whether s/he feels free to question the doctrines in light of the facts. But questioning the doctrines is Not Allowed in these circles - and thus it is their insistence on their own presuppositions that drives the child away. Not the evil liberal education, which is only the means by which the door is opened to the questions.

      I had to give up arguing about it, though. It was the proverbial head-->stone wall.

      It's very frustrating to see the anti-science bias spreading into arenas beyond origin theory, though. There was a time when, for example, the bias against modern medicine was the domain of liberal granola types and a few obscure cults. Now it's rampant within conservative churches - at least, from my observations.

    3. You nailed it.

      Ironically, I was raised on A Beka science, but my dad was as far back as I can remember and old earther. (Probably because he grew up in an era when Dinosaur Denialism was the flavor du jour - except he had seen the bones in their original sites.

      I too have been appalled to see the embrace of quackery (aka alternative medicine) despite ludicrous and obviously wrong claims.

      I'm convinced that the reason that my faith survived my rejection of YEC and embrace of modern science is that I never *really* in my heart of hearts could believe that doctrine trumped science. I've taken some hits from friends and family over my "coming out" as an evolutionist, though, I must say.

    4. We still have very little understanding of the actual workings of the human brain. It wasn't exactly helped that up until the 20th century it was considered "unethical" to even consider monkeying around with it...

  3. Augustine, for all his flaws, is great for exploding the myth that a bunch of issues are new, weird, or localized to 'Merica. I'd like to smack him for leaving the woman he had a 16-year-old with just because he figured he should be a monk to make up for shagging everything that moved for half his life, but I confess I'd also really like to sit and listen to him talk for a while.

  4. There are two issues with Presuppositionalism (heavens, the spelling is going to give me tremors... "presup" from here out?) for me.

    The first is, of course, that it makes no sense--there are non-Christians who discover, promote, and articulate truth all the time. Demonstrably. I have seen them do it. This is not up for debate, it is a fact, like the existence of Iceland. Not just in philosophy, but in fiction, math, music, film, science, medicine, plumbing--a thousand places. I think some folks have to deny this, ironically, because they're not convinced down in their bones that Christianity is true. They're afraid someone will disprove it with rogue endocrinology. (Which makes one curious what their definition of Christianity IS, that it is so fragile?) Yet God is truth--all truth is His truth--so nothing anyone discovers should dismay us. We can learn more about what the Bible means and about the character of God through ALL of His revealing. The conflict between Revealed Truth and Observable Evidence just doesn't exist. They supplement and inform each other. It's like having two eyes.

    The second issue, to me, is that many people whose thought is very much shaped by presup don't realize that it is and can't articulate it. (This is not everyone, by any means, but most people just don't have time or the inclination to read.) There are plenty of people who manage to imbibe the *attitudes* of presup ("I'm right, you're dumb, my job is to batter you into agreeing with me") without understanding the *basis* for those attitudes. This is where you get, I believe, the maddening repetition of trademarked Gotcha Answers, which are treated as closing the discussion.

    (I refuse to discuss anything with someone who throws Gotcha Answers at my head. I'm fourth-generation Evangelical. I cut my teeth on Gotcha Answers and proof texts. *They have already occurred to me.* If I'm discussing a thing, its because I find the Gotcha Answer inadequate.)

    This isn't weird for humanity--almost all cultures, for example, call themselves something like "the people" and outsiders something like "the barbarians". But there's a reason why the New Testament keeps insisting that social distinctions are irrelevant in the kingdom of God. And there's a reason that the Bible takes a dim view of those who are impressed with their own knowledge.

    Hilariously, presup folks LOVE to quote verses about pride to *other people*. One of the hugely dangerous things about presup is that it enables one to turn all the Biblical warnings about pride, idolatry, cruelty, dominance, oppression, etc., outward. It's a fine armor against actual sanctification. God save us from it.

    1. Good comments, Breanna. In discussion with most evangelicals, I watch in amazement as they throw old, prepackaged objections that I have heard so many times before.

      As a former passionate evangelical, I used many of those proofs and objections myself--and felt that they were the final word; I won!

      Trouble is, I am also a thinker and eventually saw through those 'proofs'.

    2. As always, Breanna's comments are outstanding. A agree on the "gotcha" texts. That's one reason why I have a comment policy that states I will delete talking points comments. Been there, heard that, it doesn't work for me anymore.

      I love your bit about the fragility of a "christianity" that can't take any sort of questioning. It is absolutely fear based, and I have to feel that the people who are most abrasive about apologetics are at a subconscious level whistling past the graveyard.

    3. Thank you, Tims. ;) I haven't quite left Evangelical churches yet--we have so far been able to find good ones. I may be a subversive force wherever I go, however.

    4. I got sidetracked with "rogue endocrinology" - casting my doctor as some sort of "thyroid physician by day/ritualistic pagan by night" Which begs the questions: exactly what is he doing with all those thyroids he has removed? ;-)
      But I love your comments Breanna. As well as the dialogue of this site.

      I've always been fascinated that the nation of Israel was so named as to be the people who are known to wrestle with God. My own personal sense of alienation evanglicalism is because I want to intellectually wrestle and consider it the only way to deepen my faith, and feel unwelcome to do so.

      So my question right now: where do I/we go from here?

    5. I wish I could answer that question for myself right now. I worry that at some point my refusal to just drink the koolaid will result in my having to start all over without the connections I have made in 40 years of life. Some will persist, obviously, but it gets harder to maintain many other relationships now that I am an "apostate."

  5. Fiddlrts, I feel better educated after this post.

    For example, I had problems with Van Til from the moment I first read him, but I did not realize his foundational impact on Christian Reconstruction. There are many other examples in which I feel better informed.

    Thanks for this series; I look forward to your further posts.

    1. Thanks! I am likewise enjoying and learning from your posts.

  6. Just out of curiosity, you do know Van Til's seminal work is titled "Common Grace and the Gospel", and that his assertion is that it is precisely that doctrine which gives antithetical worldviews a point of contact, throughout his work? I share your distaste for Rushdoony, but a large part of my work over the last 8 years has been outlining how a humble, confessionally and systematically aware Christian is the only sort that should be using presuppositional apologetics. It is easily abused, and its popularizers have, in many cases, poorly understood it. Anything can be abused. That it has been abused is not reason enough to reject it. It is, in contrast, the reason to show how not to abuse it, and how it should be used. Fair enough?

    1. I'll confess I have not read Common Grace and the Gospel. However, my understanding from my research, the book deals with a specific theological question: how to reconcile passages in the bible which appear to assume free will – and common grace – with the Calvinist doctrine of election. Specifically “double election,” the inescapable conclusion that God has elected some people for damnation with zero choice on their part. The “common grace” in this argument is in contrast to “saving grace.” I can’t find any indication that Van Til is using the more expansive definition of “common grace” I use, which encompasses the ability of non-Christians (and non-Calvinists) to understand and discover truth, even without the presuppositions; and the idea that all of us contain good and are capable of good. (This contrasts with the Calvinist doctrine of “total depravity,” of course.)

      The greater body of Van Til’s works create the full picture of his teaching, which is that all systems of knowledge in all fields: philosophy, logic, reason, science, history and the rest included, will end in nonsense unless the presuppositions are believed. Once Van Til tore down the possibility of knowledge and truth from outside the presuppositions, it was inevitable that someone would step in to answer the question of how one determines truth. I have no idea whether Van Til would have been pleased with Rushdoony’s “solution,” but I believe it was the logical and inevitable result of Van Til’s presuppositionalism.

      I will agree with you that just because something has been abused isn’t a reason to reject it. Fair enough. But I will counter thus:

      Fruit matters. If you find that an idea is constantly, continuously abused; if it leads to teachings that cause harm (I mentioned just a few); if it leads to a disconnect from reality; maybe it isn’t just a coincidence. Maybe the whole tree is rotten.

      I also want to point out that presuppositionalism is a really poor foundation for a philosophical argument. Among other faults, it assumes a lot of things (you’re probably familiar with Basic Beliefs) to be true first, then tries (in a circular way) to slide a belief in a deity under that foundation. And then, before you know it, you have to assume a couple of other things to be Basic Beliefs, namely that the deity in question is the Christian God (or, more specifically, the Calvinist God), and that scripture is the one true message from that god. It’s problematic on that basis alone to many of us.

      I don’t really want to make this into an endless philosophy discussion, but I used to be in the presuppositionalist camp, and I can no longer hold to that argument.

    2. On a different note, I rather suspect you and I are on the "same side" on a lot of issues, although perhaps not the Calvinist/Arminian one. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  7. I appreciate this post very much! I need to think through my presuppositions a bit more.
    Have to think more about the idea of Christianity being "fragile"...
    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I too have had to do a lot of thinking about "fragility." In some ways, whenever you start reading and thinking outside of a particular paradigm, there is the genuine risk that you might change, and change is not my favorite thing.

      Just an example of this fear in action occurred today when a friend (who is on an unfortunate apologetics kick at the moment) declined to read a book I suggested because it was "empty philosophy" and he had already made up his mind. Best not to disturb a sleeping dogma...

  8. Great post! I'm enjoying your series very much

  9. In the evangelical seminary I attended, I was taught to question the world view in which I approached Scripture, and to understand that culture bias exists for everyone, which is why we need a community and paradigm of Bible interpretation which includes many cultures and all history. My basic conclusion from this is that I necessarily have some interpretation wrong.

    Many of my professors articulated a view of appreciating truth more in line with J. Budziszewski's ideas on natural law than devoted to Van Til and certainly not Rushdoony. And while the circles I have been in are just as lacking in discernment and prone to the errant embracing modesty culture and cult-like following as ATI/VisionForum, et al, I tend to think it is a lack of discernment rather than true Dominionism. Certainly Dispensational thought differs from Dominionist thought greatly in philosophy and doctrine, if not in practice in our current political climate.

    1. It is kind of intriguing that both Dispensationalists and Postmillenialists have ended up sounding *mostly* the same about everything else. One reason I believe that Evangelical culture isn't really organized around ideas, but around tribalism and an "us versus them" rallying cry.

      Great point, though, about cultural bias. I think it would be a great improvement if we acknowledged that. It might lead to a bit more humility about our conclusions.

  10. Yes. My husband and I are waiting for the next wineskin God has for his Church. Our last pastor told us "You not only disagree with me, you disagree with the whole of the Evangelical church" -- shocking me very much -- when we tried to express our concerns. After considering this for a moment, my mild-mannered, diplomatic, Bible-believing, conservative husband responded, "You know, I think you're right." I thought "NOOOOOoooooo!!!!" But ... yeah. I'm afraid it's becoming more and more true.

    I don't see the new wineskin yet. Small groups, like, house churches? That's where we are now, waiting.

    1. I agree that new wineskins are needed. My personal feeling (and I'm certainly no prophet) is that before there can be something new, the old needs to lose power. I expect that there will be a mass exodus from organized Christianity in America in the next generation, followed by a financial collapse of the church-industrial complex. Those left in Evangelicalism will become less and less distinguishable from White Supremacists, and will be consumed with hate for those outside the group. At that point, I think the greater number of "dones" will have to figure something out. What that will be, I don't know. If history has shown anything, it is that it is really hard to anticipate the next new thing. I would be more hopeful about the home church thing if I hadn't already experienced it. It sure seems that most of the ones I have been in were organized around an idea of "returning to the NT church," which meant in practice a return to Roman cultural norms as the goal - and silence for women. And for that matter, all the home church format seemed to do was to allow less competent leaders to dominate a smaller pond.

      But I do agree with you that there will be something. Those who seek to follow Christ will always have a way somewhere, somehow.

    2. The trouble with many house churches, in my experience, is that many of their members still carry in their hearts the ideals of order, lay/clergy separation, and imposed doctrine from organized denominations. True equality and free exchange of truths will not come until those ideals are discarded and we truly acknowledge the Divine Grace God has given each one of us.

  11. "It would be nice, instead, to see a little humility. We have been theologically wrong before. Our understanding of the world has changed dramatically over recorded history. We have in the past allowed new discoveries and paradigms to alter our beliefs."

    What I find worse than this refusal to entertain the idea that they could be wrong, is the sudden push by crazy Fundamentalists that the fact that science is updated and corrected and sometimes abandoned as new evidence appears, somehow proves that it is inferior to a literal reading of the Bible. This insanity is messed up in more ways than I can describe, but you definitely mentioned a few here...